Member Resources

Become a Member

Membership is by invitation, only.  Any trial lawyer who is of high personal character and honorable reputation, and who is a member of the Bar of the State, province, district, territory or country in which he or she practices, and who has met the qualifications listed below, may become a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates upon nomination, election, and payment of initiation fees and dues.

Requirements

Regardless of the number of trial experience equivalency points an applicant may have accumulated, an applicant MUST have tried at least 10 civil jury trials to jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel for the minimum requirements to have been met, and those civil jury trials MUST be listed on the application. (All applications must first be approved by a local Chapter of ABOTA).  

Membership Application Procedures

SPONSOR CHAPTER:

Check the ABOTA website for the most recent applications and worksheets or request them from the ABOTA National Office. Failure to use the most recent forms will delay the approval process.

The sponsor and a chapter executive committee member must sign and date the application. The local chapter must approve the application prior to submittal to the National Office.

Send one copy to the National Office (membership@abota.org). Applications not received in the National Office by the published deadline will be held over for the next meeting.

APPLICANT:

  1. The current application form and worksheets provided on the website should be used.
  2. Fill in all appropriate blanks on the application form. On the worksheets, provide as much of the requested information as possible.
  3. Worksheets must be completed. Jury sheets, verdict report sheets, etc. are not acceptable as attachments in lieu of completing the worksheets.
  4. The applicant must sign and date the application and the worksheets certifying the information is true and correct.
  5. Attach a $300 check payable to ABOTA to the application to the local Chapter. The local chapter must approve the application prior to submittal to the National Office.

Membership Benefits

Networking Opportunities
In addition to local chapter special events and seminars, all ABOTA members are invited to attend the four National Board Meetings held each year. ABOTA hosts three domestic National meetings and one international meeting annually. These meetings provide all members an opportunity to be more involved with decision-making in committees, learn about what other chapters are doing, and enjoy world-class special events to network with fellow members.

Voir Dire
Voir Dire is the award-winning flagship publication of the American Board of Trial Advocates. The magazine is sent to all members of the organization, as well as to state and federal judges and law schools across the country. ABOTA is committed to producing a publication that is legally, journalistically and editorially sound with articles expanding the discussion about the Seventh Amendment, trial advocacy and professional growth.

ABOTA Briefs email updates
Our e-newsletter provides the accumulating insight of a year’s full-time dedication to serving the interests of ABOTA’s diverse membership across a national landscape of similarly diverse challenges and itineraries. The newsletter is a quickly available forum for chapter news, publications, promotions and pronouncements towards our cherished preservation of the Seventh Amendment.

ABOTA Logo Use
All members are permitted use of the official ABOTA logo on their individual biography pages on their websites, as well as letterhead and other correspondence to show colleagues and clients the notable achievement of attaining membership in this organization.

American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable Legislative Analysis Fund
The ACTBR is a semi-annual meeting of the nation’s most influential jury trial-focused organizations. It articulates a broad-based consensus among the leadership of America’s civil trial bar and is sponsored by ABOTA. The Fund is sustained by members’ voluntary contributions to support the Roundtable and the consulting fee of ABOTA’s legislative analyst.

Code of Professionalism
A listing of the ethical and professional requirements for the profession of law. It is an appropriate framing for every office and place of focused litigation preparation.

Juror Bill of Rights
A code for the maintenance of the independence and integrity of the jury system itself.

Protocol for Responding to Unfair Criticism of Judges
In a world where judicial independence is more frequently under attack, ABOTA has established a responsive methodology to defend the Third Branch of Government against ignorance, prejudice and political influence.

Chapter Leadership Guide
The National Office has published a number of toolkits, templates, and other guidelines for local chapter activities.

The National Jury Summit
The Summit was held for the first time in 2005 during the presidency of Donna D. Melby, opening the door to a continuing dialogue of effective measures and practical steps to further our commitment to the Seventh Amendment. The National Office has available copies of the talking papers and articles from the Summits.

ABOTA Foundation
The ABOTA Foundation is ABOTA’s charitable education arm dedicated to preserving the Seventh Amendment. The Foundation’s civics and professional education programs spread this message to thousands of student and lawyer attendees each year.

National Leadership and Staff
The National President and Officers are always available to respond to your chapter’s invitation to share in your chapter’s efforts to honor our past by preserving our future. ABOTA’s National Past Presidents are also often available to visit your chapter. Your National Officers and staff at the National Office in Dallas are always available as a resource to members to assist with programming and resources. The National Office also provides access to the historical archives and publications from the 60 years of ABOTA work.

Membership FAQs

The minimum requirements for membership as a Member, Associate, Advocate and Judge can be found in Article III, Section 2 of the ABOTA Constitution. They are also on the back of the most recent application for membership form, which can be downloaded by a member from the ABOTA website: www.abota.org. Or you may contact the National Office for a copy of the most recent application form and worksheets. It is important that you use the most recent application form and worksheets. The minimum requirements can be summarized as follows: Regardless of the number of trial experience equivalency points an applicant may have accumulated, an applicant MUST have tried at least 10 civil jury trials to jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel for the minimum requirements to have been met, and those civil jury trials MUST be listed on the application.

The most recent application form and worksheets can be obtained online at www.abota.org by an ABOTA member, or you may request one from the local chapter membership chair. If all else fails, you can request a copy from the National Office. It is important that you use the most recent version of the application form and worksheets in order to speed up the approval process and eliminate the need for supplemental information, which delays processing and approval of qualified applicants.

Supply as much information as is possible and the National Board will review for sufficiency.

First, membership is by invitation only. Each chapter may adopt its own procedure for inviting qualified applicants to apply.

Second, the local chapter must approve of the applicant in accordance with Article III, Section 3 of the ABOTA National Constitution, which requires a 75% affirmative vote of the chapter Executive Committee and a 75% vote of the membership in attendance at a meeting or by mailed ballot.

Third, the local chapter must submit a completed application form and worksheets and the initiation fee to the National Office for processing and presentation to the National Board.

NOTE: Please use the most recent application form and the worksheets which can be obtained online by a member at www.abota.org, or from the National Office. The application must be signed by the applicant, the sponsoring ABOTA member, and a member of the local chapter executive committee, where space is provided.

Fourth, the application, if complete and containing all the required information evidencing the necessary qualifications for membership will be presented to the National Board for action at one of the four meetings held during each year. The National Board must approve the applicant by a 75% vote of those present.

Fifth, members who wish to apply for Change of Status Applications are to be current on their dues in the year they are applying for a change of status. Change of Status Applications are Senior Status, Inactive Status, and Emeritus Status. Please connect with your chapter to learn your membership application deadline process.

 The jury must have returned a verdict. Directed verdicts, settlements, dismissals, mistrials (other than due to a hung jury), and nonsuits, do not count as “to a jury verdict.” A minimum requirement is that the applicant must have tried at least 10 civil cases to a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel. Trial experience equivalency points CANNOT be used to meet the minimum requirements, but may be used to qualify for admission at a rank higher than the rank of Member.

Lead Counsel is an attorney substantially responsible for the personal representation of the client during the trial. “Substantially responsible” means, at a minimum: (1) Selecting a jury, or opening, or closing, and; (2) Presentation of live witnesses through direct or cross examination.

If one of these events occurs before the voir dire panel is sworn, they do not count under any scenario. If one of these events occurs after the voir dire panel is sworn, they count for one-half (1/2) of the points of a trial to jury verdict under the point system. These trials count toward points only, not toward the ten (10) civil jury trials to a jury verdict minimum requirement. However, a mistrial due to a hung jury counts as “to a jury verdict” for full credit.

Yes, if the trial is a General Court Martial with a jury it is treated the same as felony trial for determining rank and the accumulation of points. But, it does not count toward the required minimum of ten (10) civil jury trials to a jury verdict.

After the application form and worksheets are completed, they should be sent to the local chapter for approval and if approved, the local chapter will send the application and copy to the National Office along with the initiation fee. Please make sure to use the most current application form and worksheets. The most recent application form and worksheets can be downloaded by a member from the website www.abota.org, or you may obtain copies from the National Office.

The member is suspended if dues are not paid within six (6) months of the due date and is terminated if dues are not paid within one (1) year of the due date. When suspended, the member loses all rights, privileges and benefits of membership until past dues are paid.

In order to be eligible for inactive status, the member must meet the qualifications set out in Bylaw V, Section 9 of the Bylaws. A written request setting forth the reasons and qualifications for inactive status must be submitted by the member to the local chapter and approved by a ¾ vote of the local chapter executive committee. If approved, the request and written approval of the local chapter executive committee must be sent to the National Office for presentation to the National board at the next meeting. The National Board must approve the request by a ¾ vote.

Yes. You must complete and submit the to your local chapter. The local chapter executive committee must approve your request by a ¾ vote and if approved, submit your application along with the $300.00 application fee, plus $750 annual dues for the year of the application, plus state and regional dues assessment, to the National Office. The request will be submitted to the National Board at the next meeting and must be approved by the National Board by a ¾ vote.

You may apply, at any time, for elevation in rank from Member to Associate or Advocate, or from Associate to Advocate and, after three (3) years of membership in the rank of Advocate, you may make application for elevation to the rank of Diplomate. Application for elevation in rank is made by submitting the elevation in rank application  and fee to your local chapter for approval. Worksheets or trial listings are not required to be submitted with an elevation in rank application.

After approval, your local chapter will then forward your application and fee to the National Office for processing and presentation to the National Board for approval. The application form can be downloaded from the website www.abota.org, or you may obtain one from the National Office.

No, one can only join as a Member, Associate or Advocate. After three (3) years of membership in the rank of Advocate, a person can make application for elevation to the rank of Diplomate.

 See Bylaw V, Section 10 of the Bylaws for eligibility to transfer. All such requests must be in writing and approved in writing by the chapter to which transfer is sought before submission to the National Board, through the National Office. The initial request must go to the chapter to which transfer is sought for approval and if that chapter approves, it is to send the request and the chapter approval, in duplicate, to the National Office.

Emeritus membership is an honorary status. Emeritus status is granted solely at the discretion of the National Board, after the local Chapter has approved the Application for Emeritus Status . In order to recommend to the Board that Emeritus status be granted, the Chapter must specify via the application and supporting letter that the member has served ABOTA with distinction, has been a Fellow of the Foundation for at least five (5) years, has been a member of ABOTA in good standing for at least ten (10) years and has ceased active practice by reason of one or more of the following: age, illness, injury, infirmity, or other reason satisfactory to the local Chapter and the National Board. Acting as a mediator or an arbitrator is considered the active practice of law and as a result disqualifies a member for Emeritus rank. One must be an active dues paying member, in the year of one’s submission, in order to be considered for a change in rank or status. Please connect with your chapter to learn your membership application deadline process. 

An Associate, Advocate or Diplomate who has been a member in good standing for ten (10) years and has reached the age of 75 qualifies for Senior Membership upon application. Alternatively, an Associate, Advocate or Diplomate who has ceased to engage in the active practice of law due to illness, injury or infirmity may, at an earlier age, apply for Senior status. Acting as a mediator or an arbitrator is considered the active practice of law and as a result disqualifies a member for Senior rank.

Upon recommendation of the Membership Committee and approval by the National Board, Senior status will be granted and such member will thereafter be obligated to pay 50% of the ABOTA National annual dues. Such member shall remain subject to any amount assessed by a state or regional organization of ABOTA.

One must be an active on dues paying member, in the year of one’s submission, in order to be considered for a change in rank or status. Please connect with your chapter to learn your membership application deadline process.

While, by invitation or consent, members can participate in multiple Chapters, dual or split membership between two or more Chapters is not an option provided under ABOTA’s Constitution & Bylaws.  Not only would such dual or split membership result in the member having two votes in ABOTA National and ABOTA Foundation elections, since the number of National Board Representatives for each Chapter is determined based upon Chapter membership, it would also potentially create an opportunity for overrepresentation of a Chapter.   As a rule of thumb, the location of the member’s primary practice should be the location of the Chapter to which the member belongs.

Membership Ranks

MEMBER
Shall have completed (10) civil jury trials to jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel. The applicant shall further possess the other and additional professional and ethical attributes and accomplishments as becomes one committed to the preservation of the Seventh Amendment. Each such person shall be admitted to the rank of “Member” and shall have all the rights of any other class of membership.

ASSOCIATE
Shall have at least five (5) years of active experience as a trial lawyer and as a member of the Bar of the state, province, district or territory in which he or she practices, and shall have tried a minimum of twenty (20) civil jury trials to a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel or, in the alternative, shall have tried a minimum of ten (10) such civil jury trials and twenty (20) felony criminal trials to a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel or, as a second alternative, shall have tried ten (10) civil jury trials to a conclusion in a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel and have acquired 200 points under the trial experience equivalency provisions as defined by Bylaw IV, Section 1.

ADVOCATE
Shall have at least eight (8) years of active experience as a trial lawyer and as a member of the Bar of the state, province, district or territory in which he or she practices, and shall have tried a minimum of fifty (50) civil jury trials to a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel, or, in the alternative, shall have tried twenty-five (25) civil jury trials to a conclusion in a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel and shall have acquired 500 points under the trial equivalency provisions as defined by Bylaw IV, Section

DIPLOMATE
Shall have at least twelve (12) years of active experience as a trial lawyer and as a member of the Bar of the state, province, district or territory in which he or she practices, shall have held the rank of Advocate for a minimum of three (3) years and shall have tried a minimum of one hundred (100) civil jury trials to a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel or, in the alternative, shall have tried fifty (50) civil jury trials to a jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel and shall have acquired 1,000 points as defined by Bylaw IV, Section 1.

JUDGE
Any judge who by reason of his or her standing in the community and his or her contribution to the advancement of the cause of justice under the jury system, and who is a member or a former member of a State Bar Association and prior to becoming a judge has acquired the minimum qualifications required of a Member, shall be eligible for admission to membership, provided he or she has received an affirmative vote in accordance with Article III, Section 3, Subsection 3. An applicant under this class of membership shall be required to pay an initiation fee equivalent to that of an associate member and shall be subject to the payment of dues and assessments.