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Idaho maintains a relatively low ratio of lawyers residing in-state per capita with roughly 23 lawyers for every 10,000 residents. Currently, there are 5,306 attorneys licensed to practice in Idaho but only 3,627 actually practicing in-state. Every lawyer licened to practice in the state must hold an active membership with the Idaho State Bar. As the mandatory statewide bar association, the Idaho State Bar functions both to regulate the practice of law in Idaho and to provide support to the lawyers licensed to practice in the state. As the regulating body for the legal community in Idaho, the Idaho State Bar directly controls who becomes a licensed attorney and also ensures that all professional complains are addressed in the legal community.
The Idaho State Bar is not the only mandatory bar association in the state; each judicial district also operates an association that must be joined prior to initiating a local practice. The district bar associations are primarily concerned with supporting the local legal community by offering continuing legal education seminars and providing networking opportunities.
Similar to the mandatory district bar associations, there are other bar associations in Idaho that mainly focus on benefiting the legal practices of its members. However, these bar associations are entirely voluntary and are focused only on assisting particular subsections of Idaho’s legal community. For example, a number of these bar associations were created to support minority groups present in the state’s legal community, such as the Idaho Women Lawyers. The vast majority of Idaho’s statewide voluntary bar associations exist to promote specific practice areas in the legal profession. Popular statewide bar associations include the Idaho Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association, and the Idaho Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.