Ways to Become Involved in the Legal Community

Bar and professional associations, their practice area sections, and the American Inns of Court provide law students with resources, connections, and service opportunities that can be useful as they consider potential areas of practice and develop as professionals. They can help law students learned about different practice areas and help them demonstrate interest in a particular practice area. Pro bono and service opportunities can help law students develop their networks as well as learn and practice skills. Finally, social activities provide law students with connection-building opportunities and informal mentoring by lawyers.

Even associations, sections, and Inns of Court without formal student memberships often allow or welcome students at various events or activities. Contact the association, section, or Inn of Court for information, or check with a member to see if you can participate as their guest.

Local Bar Associations

Collin County Bar Association: Student dues are $30.

Dallas Bar Association: Student dues are $10.

Dallas Asian American Bar Association - Free for law students

Asian American Bar Association of Houston

South Asian American Bar Association of Houston

Dallas Hispanic Bar Association

Hispanic Bar Association of Houston

Mexican American Bar Association of Houston

Dallas LGBT Bar Association

Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston (LGBT Bar Association)

Denton County Bar Association

J.L. Turner Legal Association - the African-American Bar Association of Dallas, Texas

North Dallas Bar Association

Plano Bar Association of Texas

Tarrant County Bar Association

Tarrant County Family Bar Association

For a complete listing of all local bar associations in Texas, click here.

Student Bar Associations

American Bar Association for Law Students

National Black Law Students Association

Texas Bar Association Law Student Division: Cost is $15.

American Inns of Court

The American Inns of Court is a national legal association of more than 24,000 federal, state and local judges, lawyers, law professors and law students in 350 chapters across the United States. The Inns promote ethics, civility, and professionalism through meetings, conversations, mentoring, and educational programs. Nine Inns are in Dallas/Fort Worth and in North and East Texas. Each Inn has young lawyer members (2-5 years out), barrister members (5-15 years’ experience) and benchers (generally, federal and state judges and more experienced lawyers). Four area Inns invite law students to become members for a year.

The William “Mac” Taylor Inn (named for a federal district judge and informally known as “the SMU Inn”) is a generalist Inn for judges and trial lawyers. Each year, it invites a dozen or so SMU and UNT law students who have completed 58 credit hours to become student members. It meets from 5:30-8:00 on the second Tuesday of the months of September-November, February, and April.

Traditionally, each of these monthly meetings includes cocktails, dinner, and a program. The benefit to students is to eat, drink, and network with area litigators and judges and to see and participate in the programs. Many past student members have thought highly enough of their experience to rejoin their Inn after they have entered practice. 

Typically, Inns meet two to three hours once per month from September to June, with breaks over the holiday season. Meetings usually include a social/networking period, dinner, and an educational program. Informal mentoring occurs through the interaction between the student members and more senior members in the pupillage teams. Many Inns also conduct formal mentoring programs, where student members are paired or grouped with more senior attorneys and judges to address specific questions of practice management, ethical concerns, and professional expectations.

Each Inn of Court determines its own dues structure for student members. In many cases, the Inn covers all of the cost of student members, while other Inns may require student members to pay a small dues amount to have “some skin in the game.”

These are the Inns of Court located in the DFW area:

State Bar Associations 

State Bar of Texas

Texas Young Lawyers Association is a department of the State Bar of Texas. All licensed Texas lawyers 36 years old or younger are automatically members of TYLA. TYLA is commonly referred to as the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas. TYLA’s primary purposes are to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. Law students may join the Law Student Division for only $15 per year.

For a complete listing of all state bar associations, click here

National Bar Associations 

American Bar Association provides free and premium ($25) student memberships to law students. Students are able to join a number of the ABA’s practice specialty sections as a part of their complimentary membership.

Federal Bar Association

Federal Circuit Bar Association

Hispanic National Bar Association: No Cost to Join

International Bar Association

Latino Justice PRLDEF

LGBT Bar Association

Minority Corporate Counsel

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

National Association of Black Prosecutors

National Bar Association

National Women’s Law Center

Native American Bar Association

Professional Associations 

Dallas Association of Young Lawyers (DAYL): Law student dues are $25.

Texas Young Lawyers Association : Law Student Division Membership dues are $15.

Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association

Dallas Trial Lawyers Association

Dallas Women Lawyers Association

Christian Legal Society

Tarrant County Young Lawyers Association 

Collin County Young Lawyers Association 

Austin Young Lawyers Association

Arlington Young Lawyers Association

Special Interest Professional Associations

ABA Business Law Section

American Association of Professional Landmen (Registered Landman)

American Immigration Lawyers Association

American Health Lawyers Association

American Intellectual Property Law Association

Association of International Petroleum Negotiators

Black Entertainment & Sports Lawyers Association

Independent Petroleum Association of America

Minority Corporate Counsel Association

National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations 

Texas Association of Defense Counsel

Young Professionals in Energy