The Value of Membership: Why Should You Join the Family Law Section of the NCBA?

By Lisa LeFante

I have been a member of the NCBA Family Law Section for nearly 22 years.  If you asked me why I joined back in 1997, I probably would have said, “because that’s what you’re supposed to do, and Marc Sokol is paying for it.”  If you ask me today, my answer is still the same (well, partially, Marc is no longer paying for it, although I wouldn’t mind if he did) because that’s what you are supposed to do.  The real question is why is joining the Section something we are “supposed to do?”

I am a member of a Section that is some 1,000+ lawyers strong, most of whom dedicate their careers to family law.  From this Section, I learn not only about developments in family law, but also about camaraderie, professionalism, and public service.  I learn how to be a better lawyer, and perhaps in turn, a better person.

Many years ago, I went to my first Family Law Section Annual Meeting in Atlantic Beach (again, on Marc’s dime).  I had just moved to North Carolina and started practicing family law.  I knew no one in the Section.  I didn’t really even know family law.   I sat by myself.  I still remember to this day, the late Cynty McAllister coming up and introducing herself to me during the break.  I was so grateful that she would extend herself that way; and I remember it each and every time I see a young lawyer in court, who clearly needs a little help.

Family lawyers are a hardy bunch. We see people at the lowest points of their lives and we’re expected to magically fix all of their problems.  We don’t always succeed, but we certainly give it our all.  Then we go home and compartmentalize the really difficult and ugly ways people deal with each other.  It doesn’t stop us though.  Family lawyers come out in droves for 4ALL to answer phones and offer free legal advice to those who desperately need someone to just listen.

As Co-chair of the Membership Committee for the Family Law Section, my goal is to get every lawyer who regularly practices family law to be member of the Section.  I want each of them to have the resources of our listserv—to have 1,000+ lawyers available when they don’t know an answer to a question.  I want each of them to develop relationships so that when they need someone to cover a hearing because their child is sick and their partner is out of town, or when they need to simply vent about the lousy day in court they had with someone who understands the unique challenges our field of law presents (really, I did not tell you to sleep with your neighbor, there is only so much I can do to get you out of this).

So, I encourage you all to find someone who is not a Section member and invite them to Asheville this May for our Annual Family Law Meeting.  Help him or her see the value of Section membership and hopefully join a wonderful group of lawyers and people.