Reinventing the CBA: How We're Staying Relevant and Growing Our Membership, 0519 COBJ, Vol. 48, No. 5 Pg. 4

PositionVol. 48, 5 [Page 4]

48 Colo.Law. 4

Reinventing the CBA: How We're Staying Relevant and Growing Our Membership

Vol. 48, No. 5 [Page 4]

Colorado Lawyer

May, 2019



What do country club homes, can openers, and professional organizations have in common? Many millennials want nothing to do with any of them. It is said that millennials have eschewed golf as a hobby and don't want to live on a golf course.' Property values in golf course communities have dropped. And millennials have little interest in storing canned goods (and can openers) in their kitchens.2 Thus, tuna and soup cans now come with pop-tops. Finally, millennials have a healthy skepticism about the value of membership in a professional organization. For some, it is simply a matter of cost. For others, it is uncertainty about the organization's potential to have a career-enhancing impact.

A Short History Report

Certainly those of you who have practiced law for 25 years or more will recall the days when little thought was given to joining the CBA. When I joined Holland & Hart as an associate in 1979, enrolling in the state bar was the thing to do. As a result, baby boomers dominated the CBA roster for years, and retaining members was relatively easy. At some point around the Great Recession of 2008, however, things changed. Law school admissions rose as college graduates avoided a weak job market, only to create a glut of attorneys with significant law school debt three years later.

Around 2010, with the economy still struggling, the number of unemployed attorneys growing, and bar passage rates falling, law school enrollment started to decline. This downward trend continued for the next seven years, ultimately hitting a 43-year low in 2017.3 During this period, some law schools closed while others dramatically and intentionally reduced the size of incoming classes. Meanwhile, competition for professional membership dollars increased as specialty bars became more popular and law school debt required millennials, particularly those running their own practices, to become more budget-conscious.

Market share in the CBA and most voluntary state bar associations has been declining at a slow and steady—but almost imperceptible— rate since the mid-1980s. The decline really started to pick up around 2015, once baby boomers had finally rebuilt their savings and began retiring in large numbers. While the...

To continue reading