Bar associations are membership organizations designed to raise the standards of the legal profession and to encourage professionalism. Each state has its own bar association. In the majority of states, membership in the bar association is mandatory. There are also a variety of national, local, and special-interest bar associations. Many bar associations sponsor programs intended to broaden the availability of legal services and to familiarize the public with the legal profession. They also conduct extensive continuing legal education programs to help members update their skills and their knowledge of the law.
With over 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. The ABA sponsors a number of programs dealing with legal education, law reform, judicial selection, and professional responsibility. The ABA also promulgates the “Model Rules of Professional Conduct” as an example to the states of the ethics standards that they should enact and enforce in regulating the practice of law in their jurisdiction.
Additionally, there are local and national chapters of bar associations for lawyers from minority groups. Among them are the National Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the National Native American Bar Association. Their websites provide information about events that they sponsor. You may also find useful information in LSAC’s Diversity in Law School section.