History of the ABJA

  • Position of secretary to a federal judge classified at JSP-10 in 1958
  • Federal Judicial Secretaries Association (“FJSA”) organized in 1972
  • In 1976 the Federal Judicial Secretaries Association requested a grade increase; disapproved by Judicial Conference. Position reclassified by the Judicial Conference as JSP-11 in  March 1978
  • The Association of Bankruptcy Judges’ Secretaries, now known as the Association of Bankruptcy Judicial Assistants (“ABJA”), was organized in 1989

The Association of Bankruptcy Judicial Assistants (ABJA) was chartered in 1989 by 14 secretaries as the "Association of Bankruptcy Judges Secretaries" with a purpose to promote the general welfare of its members, to encourage the highest standards of conduct among its members and 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.

Since its inception, our members voted to change the name of our organization to the "Association of Bankruptcy Judicial Assistants," established and adopted a set of by-laws, and designed the ABJA logo.  The ABJA is a national organization.  All secretaries/judicial assistants holding appointments by United States Bankruptcy Judges are eligible for membership.  Associate membership may be retained after retirement from employment as a secretary/judicial assistant to a bankruptcy judge.  Additionally, Certified Bankruptcy Assistants (CBA) (anyone who has taken and passed the CBA exam and maintains their Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits) are eligible for associate membership in the ABJA.  One of the primary objectives of the ABJA has been the development of educational programs for our members and the bankruptcy legal community.  Understanding that certification in a particular field can promote and maintain professional standards, our CLE Committee has developed a "Bankruptcy Certification Program" for non-lawyers, and it is the only bankruptcy certification program for non-lawyers in the United States. 

The CBA Program enables secretaries/judicial assistants in the legal profession to keep pace with new developments and is an effective quality improvement mechanism for employers.  Bankruptcy law has developed into a very unique, sophisticated and technical area of expertise, and the legal ability and proficiency of those who practice in this field are becoming more demanding.  It is imperative that as judicial assistants, legal assistants, and paralegals, we develop expertise in this highly specialized area of the law.  The initial certification examination was administered in October 1999 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Since that time, annual training programs and examinations have been held in cities throughout the United States.