Common Myths About Joining the ABJA

There are no benefits to me to join the ABJA.

  • Perhaps I can best answer this one with the Purpose of the ABJA:
  • The purpose of this Association shall be to promote the general welfare of its members, to encourage the highest standards of conduct among its members and in the profession at large, to promote the continuing education of its members, and to foster among its members a feeling of camaraderie and mutual confidence. 
  • Obviously, one of the benefits is to be a member of an organization that cares about the profession and each other. At the annual conferences you will find sessions pertinent to your everyday responsibilities and meet people who perform the same work functions as you in very similar situations. We are also a  great source of information when questions arise. Also see: Why YOU should join the ABJA.

The annual fee of $30 is too much.

  • Almost any organization you could join would charge you more than $30 a year. We have tried to keep the cost down. If you are a CBA, perhaps your law firm/employer would pay the $30 for you to join a professional organization.

If I join the ABJA, I have to attend the annual conference.

  • You do not have to attend the annual conference to be a member. CBAs must provide proof of continuing education credit each year, and those credits can be easily acquired by attending the annual conference. However, attendance at the ABJA annual conference is not a requirement of members or associate members. 

I can’t afford to attend the annual conference.

  • If you are a CBA, your law firm/employer may help you with the travel and registration fee. If you are a JA, your Court has a Chambers Training Fund. See the Guide, Vol. 19, Chap. 4, Sec. 420.40.10. Unfortunately, the Government is tightening the budget, and we don’t know what lies ahead. Travel is expensive. You might  decide to attend the conference every two years or so, or you might attend when it is held in a more convenient area of the country for you. 

If I go to the annual conference, I won’t know anyone and will be alone.

  • No one likes to feel like a loner in a room full of people. That’s why we have a Mentor program. At your first annual conference, if you would like a Mentor, we will have someone to meet you, answer any questions you may have, and make your experience at the conference as pleasant as possible. 

I would have to take the CBA exam to be a member of the ABJA and I might not pass it.

  • If you are a Judicial Assistant, you do not have to take the CBA exam to be a member of the ABJA. If you do not work for a United States Bankruptcy Judge, you do have to take the CBA exam to be an associate member. The CBA exam is offered every year immediately prior to the ABJA annual conference.  There are four sections of the CBA exam, which include U. S. Bankruptcy Code and Rules, Ethics, Legal Research, and Grammar/Usage/Writing. You will receive full training from qualified instructors for a day and a half, and then take the exam in the afternoon of the second day. The exam itself consists of multiple choice, matching, and/or true/false questions. A passing score of 70% is required. You can retake any sections you fail to pass within two years. As scarey as taking a test is, the instructors will cover everything you need to know to pass the test. More information on the CBA program is available on www.abja.org, CBA program. 

If I joined the ABJA, I would be pressured to join a committee or expected to volunteer my time.

  • No one is pressured to do anything. You can sign up for a committee at the annual conference if you want to do so. You may be asked by a Committee Chair to join their committee, but you can always decline. Each year, the Nominations Committee asks for volunteers to run for Circuit Representatives or Officers. The  incoming President for the year ahead selects the Committee Chairs. As with most organizations, most of the work is done by a small percentage of the members. We would like more participation, since many of our more active members will be retiring in the near future, but you will not be made to feel uncomfortable if you cannot volunteer. For more information on committees and/or volunteering see this page.

I already know enough to do my job to the satisfaction of my Judge/employer.

  • None of our positions are as secure as they may have been at one time, therefore, it is necessary to have as much knowledge as possible to be as indispensable as possible.

All the ABJA members and associate members are exceptionally smart, talented, and efficient.

  • This one happens to be true. See, you would fit right in.

I hope these myths have been busted for you. If you have any further questions, please contact me at rebecca_woodrum@ilcb.uscourts.gov or 217-431-4817.