AABA Pathways Program

AABA Pathways is our comprehensive professional development program.  Pathways is unique in that it spans the entire professional pipeline, from pre-law to law school, learning to practice law, developing mid-career attorneys, and supporting attorneys to grow into law firm partners, general counsels, and judicial officers. 

Pathways launched in 2019, responding to a need identified by a comprehensive members survey conducted by a consultant from the American Bar Association's (ABA) Division for Bar Services. Through the survey, members identified professional development as the largest area of need.  AABA's board took the member feedback to heart, and make professional and leadership development a centerpiece of AABA's 2019-22 Strategic Plan.

Through the broad-based AABA Pathways Task Force, the program unified and refined AABA's existing professional development and mentorship programming.  The Task Force takes a holistic look at how AABA's discrete programs can integrate to best serve our members.  In addition, new programs and services were added, including the mid-career Leadership Education for Attorney Development Program (LEAD).  The Task Force also created programs and tools specifically tailored to the needs of AABA's Co-Chairs, including Co-Chair leadership development programming and the creation of the AABA Leadership Portal.   

Whether you are considering law school, learning how to first practice law, seeking a mentor, or aiming to become partner, general counsel or judge, AABA through its Pathways Program offers you the opportunities and support that can help you every step of the way.

The elements of AABA Pathways are:

  • Pathways to Law (for college students interested in law school)
  • New Attorney Pathways (for new attorneys)
  • AABA's Mentorship Program (for young attorneys seeking a mentor in the field)
  • Leadership Education for Attorney Development (LEAD) program (for mid-career in house, law firm, government and public interest attorneys)
  • Pathways to General Counsel (for IHC seeking to move into a GC role)
  • Pathways to Partnership (for attorneys seeking to make partner)
  • Pathways to the Bench (for attorneys seeking a mentor to guide them in joining the bench)
  • Co-Chair Pathways: leadership development programming specifically for AABA's Co-Chairs

Pathways to Law is an annual SF Bay Area pre-law conference designed to encourage high school, college, and post-college students, especially those from diverse backgrounds, to consider law school and the legal profession.

AABA's Mentorship Program matches law students and young attorneys with more senior attorney mentors experienced in particular practice areas (which range from criminal and corporate law, to in-house and government practice, to public interest and immigration law), forming distinct “families” that can offer guidance in every aspect of professional and personal development.  In addition, we offer exclusive events throughout the year just for the families in order to facilitate and foster the relationships between mentors and mentees. 

Leadership Education for Attorney Development (LEAD) for mid-career attorneys. LEAD is a transformational year-long leadership training program that focuses on the unique challenges facing mid-career attorneys. LEAD brings together a cohort of 24 California-based lawyers--10 from law firms, 10 in-house, and 4 government/public interest.

Pathways to General Counsel is a one-year program (with quarterly sessions) directed towards high-potential senior in-house attorneys who are on the path to the General Counsel spot. The program will be comprised of a small cohort of senior in-house attorneys (maximum 10), who commit to the one-year program, and attend all four quarterly sessions. Each quarterly session is to be led by at least two different seasoned (or recently retired) General Counsel, who will each lead a fireside chat/discussion on personal and career development – e.g. soft skills, strategic thinking, aligning with the business, etc.


Pathways to Partnership is a mentorship program specifically designed to help talented senior associates at law firms develop a strategy to achieve their goal of becoming a law firm partner. Pathway to Partnership will match senior associates who are in the “zone” of partnership with law firm partner mentors from different firms, as well as in-house counsel mentors. Pathway to Partnership will help senior associates develop a strong business plan, identify potential obstacles and challenges in their way, and build strategies to reach the eventual goal of partnership.

Pathways to the Bench is AABA's Judicial Mentoring Program, focused on connect interested applicants with a judge mentor to guide you through the process of putting together a judicial application.

Co-Chair Pathways is leadership programming and tools tailored to the needs of AABA's Co-Chairs.

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