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Strategic Planning – by Carey R. Dunne

I am proud to be President of a bar association that is prominent locally, nationally and internationally and that has earned great respect within the legal profession and in the wider community. To ensure that the Association maintains this role while providing support to its members and service to the profession and the public, our Executive Committee has been engaged in a strategic planning process. Its aim is to articulate the Association’s broad mission, understand how well we are addressing the mission and identify the major areas in which the Executive Committee should concentrate its efforts to enhance the Association.

We formed a subcommittee, chaired by Jane Sherburne, to do the preliminary work, and began by turning to our members. We surveyed the general membership and committee members, and also surveyed non-members, to learn what they thought of the Association and its programs and activities, and to collect specific comments and suggestions. Our thanks go out to those who responded to our surveys. You gave the Association and its committees high marks. You also gave us valuable input and many constructive comments, including where and how we can do better, many of which we have begun to implement.

We also examined information about the Association’s operations and conducted interviews with some constituent groups and individuals outside the Association – in law firms, corporations, academia, government and other legal settings – who had valuable perspectives to provide.

The subcommittee evaluated the results of the surveys and its research and developed a strategic planning approach in a series of meetings, which led to an Executive Committee Retreat in late April. As part of this process, the Executive Committee formulated the Association’s mission as follows:

  1. Harnessing the expertise of the legal profession to identify and address legal and public policy issues in ways that promote law reform, ethics and the fair and effective administration of justice, and a respect for the rule of law at home and abroad.
  2. Elevating the profession by enhancing diversity and encouraging appropriate standards of professional and judicial ethics, competence, civility and integrity.
  3. Addressing unmet legal needs, especially the needs of traditionally disadvantaged groups and individuals.
  4. Mobilizing the legal profession to engage in activities that promote social justice, human rights, and democratic values and principles.
  5. Supporting individual attorneys through professional development, assistance, continuing legal education, programs, written reports, presentations of professional and public interest, networking and career opportunities, and service on committees.

The Executive Committee concluded that the principal activities of the Association are consistent with and well support this mission. The Committee then developed the following six strategic priority areas that should be the focus of the Executive Committee over the next few years:

Committees: Supporting and overseeing the Association’s committees in developing and meeting their objectives, and providing increased opportunities for committee participation.

Globalization: Capitalizing on the Association’s historic focus on international activities, its location in the world’s nerve-center city and the global nature of the legal profession to enhance our international profile.

Membership: Increasing membership to involve a higher percentage of the Bar in the Association’s activities, and providing programming and involvement that meets the needs of the various components of our membership.

Governance: Reviewing governance practices to make sure the Association’s policies and practices are consistent with the best practices of other boards of not-for-profit organizations.

Continuing Legal Education: Continuing to pursue the goal of providing high-quality CLE programs that are financially self-sustaining, and bolstering our online CLE presence.

Technology and Infrastructure: Undertaking a major assessment of the Association’s space and technology utilization and needs, with a view toward what upgrades and improvements are necessary.

Over the next year, the Executive Committee will develop ways of implementing and pursuing recommendations in these areas. For example, we have established a Membership Committee, and I’m delighted to say that my immediate predecessor, Sam Seymour, has agreed to chair it. We recognize that strategic planning is an ongoing, vital aspect of the Executive Committee’s responsibilities and is essential for keeping the Association a vibrant, productive organization. Once again, we thank our members for your interest and participation, and we welcome your suggestions regarding strategic planning for the Association.

Carey R. Dunne is President of the New York City Bar Association.

 

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