Committees: The Work of the City Bar

Patricia M. Hynes, President

March 2010

Patricia M. HynesIf you’re interested in serving on a City Bar committee, now is the time to apply, as committee members are generally appointed in the spring to begin serving a three-year term in September.

If you’re new to the City Bar and haven’t thought about committee work, you should. Committees are how the City Bar’s work gets done, and working on a committee can open up a number of career doors, including some you might not anticipate.

Committees are made up of lawyers from all practice settings, including large firms and solo practitioners, private and public interest organizations, government, corporations, academia, and the judiciary. The City Bar seeks diversity—not only in gender and ethnicity but also in years of practice—on all of its committees.    

Generally, committees draft reports on substantive legal issues, analyze legislation, and present programs for the Bar and the public. Committees are also encouraged to take on public service projects, which may involve working with schools or non-profits, training lawyers, or providing pro bono services to a needy population. Committee members can find themselves testifying on legislation, drafting and submitting amicus briefs, or proposing improvements to the legal system.

Both the words “committee” and “commit” are derived from the Latin committere, to come together, unite, join, engage. Committee membership does require a commitment. Committees generally meet once a month at the City Bar, and members are expected to engage actively in committee work.  However, the rewards can be significant as you shape the law and public policy, often with visible and meaningful impact on the bar and the public.

In addition to its societal benefits, it’s hard to think of anything better for a lawyer’s career development and networking than committee work. Working with others on a committee leads to the exchange of expertise, and active participation can provide you with a chance to speak at or moderate committee programs, allowing you to gain valuable leadership skills and recognition in your field. Committee chairs are often quoted in the media.

Committee work takes place in a collegial environment with attorneys from other firms and law offices whom you might not otherwise have the chance to meet. Many attorneys have stories about how committee service led to unexpected career opportunities.

If you’re interested in joining a committee, here are some things you should know. Committee appointments are made by the City Bar President on the recommendation of the committee’s chair. Membership on each committee is limited; the broader your scope of committee interest, the more likely you will be placed on a committee that you will find worthwhile and enjoyable. You can find a list of the City Bar committees along with a brief description of each and an application form on the City Bar’s website.  With 160 committees, there are bound to be two or three that interest you.  

To begin the application process, please fill out and submit the form along with a statement of interest, resume, and a brief bio. We will advise the relevant chair of your interest to serve on the committee. New committee members are generally notified in late spring or early summer.  

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the appointment process or about the City Bar committees.  We welcome your participation in the City Bar and look forward to working with you.


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