American Bar Association


American Bar Association (ABA) is the largest voluntary organization of lawyers and law students in the United States and the world. The ABA was founded on August 21, 1878.

Although half of all attorneys were members of the ABA in 1979, that number has dropped to less than 15%. In fiscal year 2017, for example, the ABA had approximately 194,000 members who paid dues to the organization.

The ABA is known for setting academic standards for law schools and developing model ethical rules for the legal profession. The ABA created the American Law Institute (ALI) and the Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which encourages uniformity of statutes and judicial decisions to promote the fair administration of justice.

The ABA created and maintains ethical standards for the legal profession called the Model Code of Professional Responsibility (1983). Several versions of the Model Code of Professional Responsibility have been adopted by 49 states and the District of Columbia. Although the State of California, for example, did not adopt the model rules, several sections of the California Rules of Professional Conduct closely follow the ABA version.

American Bar Association

Logo of the American Bar Association


ABA Attorney Search

From the ABA website, you can find a list of state bar directories that offer lawyer finders. The attorney finders offered by the bar organizations and bar associations help the public find a qualified attorney.

The ABA's Legal Services Division used to use as a public service provider to help the public find a lawyer.

Benefits of Membership in the ABA

One of the main focuses of the ABA is to provide resources to help and nourish members to become better lawyers. Each year, the ABA creates more than 3,200 hours of CLE and hosts 800 face to face events around the World. The benefits of becoming a member of the ABA include:

  • Subscriptions to the monthly ABA Journal and weekly eJournal;
  • Access to the Career Center and online job board;
  • Access to Practice Management documents and other resources;
  • ABA CLE courses including the Premier Speaker Series who allows the attorney to earn up to 18 hours of free CLE credits;
  • Access to programs concentrated in your practice area through sections, divisions, and forums;
  • Advocacy and pro bono opportunities such as the Military Pro Bono Project;
  • Opportunities for authorship and speaking engagements; and
  • Discounts on brand-named products and services, member-only pricing at the ABA Webstore and through ABA Advantage.

ABA members are encouraged to join sections that range in size from 3,500 members to more than 50,000. The ABA sections are divided according to specific areas of the law and focused on topics such as ethics and professional responsibility, judicial selection, and lawyer referral services.

Additionally, ABA members can join various committees concerned with topics such as public interest law, elder law, or malpractice.

Organizations with ABA-Accredited Certification Programs

The American Bar Association has accredited certain private organizations so that these organizations can award specialty certifications to attorneys in specialty fields of law. Each state has its own rules and regulations for advertising the designation including certain disclaimers that must accompany the communication.

The ABA has accredited the following certification programs:

August 1993
  • Criminal Trial Advocacy - National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (formerly the National Board of Trial Advocacy);
  • Consumer Bankruptcy - American Board of Certification; and
  • Creditors’ Rights - American Board of Certification.
February 1995
  • Medical Prof. Liability - American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys; and
February 1996
February 1999
  • Family Law Trial Advocacy - National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (formerly the National Board of Trial Advocacy).
February 2004
August 2004
February 2005
  • Social Security Disability Law - National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (formerly the National Board of Trial Advocacy).

ABA Publications and Journals

The ABA has published more than 1,000 books, magazines, and journals. With over 1,000 online forums, the ABA provides members important networking opportunities.

ABA publications include Student Lawyer magazine, numerous books authored by lawyers, periodicals, journals and newsletters pertaining to the latest legal topics and information. Each month members of the ABA receive the ABA Journal which is also available online.

ABA Membership

Membership in the ABA is available to lawyers, law students, and others interested in the law and the legal profession. If you would like to become a member of the American Bar Association you can sign up on the ABA Membership page. ABA members can renew at myABA.

Types of membership in the American Bar Association (ABA) include:

  • Lawyers - For lawyers currently practicing in the United States, the ABA Lawyer Membership gives licensed legal professionals access to current events and information, career resources, and networking opportunities with other legal professionals.
  • Law Students - Law students can join the ABA today to start building their professional network. The ABA Law Student Membership offers law students access to affordable special interest groups with webinars, networking events, discounts on study aids, bar review courses, valuable health insurance options and numerous publications to help foster legal educations. Students will also benefit from the intrinsic value of membership, recognized by colleagues. This can be particularly helpful when applying for internships, fellowships, clerkships, and public service volunteer opportunities.
  • Student Associate - The ABA Student Associate Membership provides an opportunity for persons who are ineligible to be Lawyer or Law Student access to membership benefits. This includes persons enrolled in college or university level post-secondary educational studies and those who have an interest in the work of the American Bar Association.
  • ABA Associate Membership - Membership in the American Bar Association is open to all enthusiasts to the promotion of the law. With an ABA Associate Membership, a person can join and have access to member benefits, if they are a lawyer licensed outside the U.S., a legal educator, a paralegal or a legal assistant, a law office administrator, a law librarian, a consultant, or someone seeking access to the wealth of ABA benefits to develop a competitive advantage in a law-related field.

ABA’s Legal Career Central

Another benefit of joining the American Bar Association is access to the features in the ABA's Legal Career Center. The center makes recruiting top attorneys for your organization easy. The email feature gives law firms and other organizations the ability to reach passive job seekers who are not actively looking for a new career.

The American Bar Association’s Legal Career Central gives the user the ability to reach the most coveted group of candidates in one place.  

Features of the ABA’s Legal Career Central include the ability to:

  • post open jobs where the most qualified candidates will find and apply to them on any device;
  • email your jobs directly to ABA’s members and job seekers via our exclusive jobs email; and
  • search the resume database containing more than 9,700 resumes and contact qualified candidates proactively. 

Contact Information for the American Bar Association (ABA)

The national headquarters for the ABA is located in Chicago, Illinois, with another an additional office in Washington, D.C.

Chicago Headquarters
321 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 312-988-5000

Washington DC Office
740 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-662-1000

: 800-285-2221
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Central Time Zone)

More Information on the ABA

  • ABA Journal - The ABA Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association, covering the people, trends, and finances of the legal profession. The ABA Journal website is updated daily with breaking legal news. The ABA Journal magazine is read by half the nation's 1.1 million lawyers.
  • ABA Consumers' Guide to Legal Help - Provided as a public service by the American Bar Association's Division for Legal Services provides information on finding a lawyer, hiring a lawyer, paying a lawyer, and finding free help. The committee provides support and assistance to local public service lawyer referral programs that provide information on appropriate, quality legal services to the public. Also, the ABA Lawyer Referral and Information Service offers a number of resources for local bar leaders and lawyer referral programs.
  • ABA TECHSHOW - The ABA TECHSHOW brings lawyers and technology together each year. The conference includes seminars and CLE courses on using the iPad, effectively utilizing practice management software, technology solutions for solo and small firm attorneys, how to use the cloud and social media and the best apps for attorneys. Attendees also get access to the EXPO Hall where legal technology vendors demonstrate their products and services. The ABA TECHSHOW 2016 will by on March 17-19, 2016, at the Chicago Hilton. It will celebrate the 30th anniversary of TECHSHOW.
  • ABA on Wikipedia - Learn more about the American Bar Association including the history of the ABA and recent criticisms.
  • ABA's Criminal Justice Section - Learn more about the Criminal Justice Section of the ABA which was founded in 1920. The Criminal Justice Section of the ABA has more than 20,000 members including criminal defense lawyers in private practice, state and federal public defenders, prosecutors, appellate and trial judges, law professors, correctional and law enforcement personnel, law students, and other criminal justice professionals.