By the time you read this I will be more than half-way through my year as your President. Has it ever gone by quickly. I have been reflecting on some of the lessons learned.
The Importance of Continuity
To have any hope of making a contribution as President you need to have worked on the Branch Executive and learned from the actions and wisdom of prior Presidents and previous Executives.
As a member of the Executive, in my case I am in my 4th year, you need to understand the history and context of the organization.
CBA is Complicated
I am also on the Board of the CBA. Last year, as Vice President, I was an observer on the Board. Without the benefit of the observer status, my contribution and perhaps the Branch’s contribution to the work of the Board would be less effective. The interaction between the CBA National and the 15 Branches is necessary, but at times can be complicated and puzzling.
Not All Interests are the Same
Members are not necessarily in agreement with the views of other members, Sections, Conferences or Forums, at the Branch or National levels or even with some of the priorities or activities of the organization. It is hard to please everyone.
Consensus is always the goal, but when you cannot reach unanimous agreement, majority rule is how our decisions are made. Process is important, but so are results.
Communication is important at all levels, but that is easier to say than to do in a large organization with so many parts. Technology will help us improve in the area. The impact of social media may help and can hinder.
Many have given a significant amount of time every year for many years to the CBA. Recently, I was talking with someone who is not a member and not a lawyer, and she remarked that she had never encountered such dedication to an organization and to a profession.
Membership Profile is Important
The CBA membership numbers are declining for a number of reasons. We need to understand what former and younger members want, and how to attract and keep them in the CBA.
Every organization needs to learn from its mistakes and become better.
The value of the CBA in Canadian Society
The CBA represents the interests of lawyers in Canada, but through its work it also protects and improves the lives of all Canadians – whether they have been here all their lives or are new arrivals. The work of our organization is extremely important to the fabric of Canada.
Maybe you are reflecting on lessons learned as a volunteer. Feel free to share them with me or any member of our Executive.
Alex A. Shorten