I appreciate this opportunity to serve as the MCB’s 107th president. I expect the next 12 months to go by very quickly, so I plan to concentrate my efforts on a couple of specific priorities.
My first priority is membership value. You all know that ours is a mandatory bar. If you live or work in the county, you must belong to our bar. We’re 5400+ strong now, but what would the number be if we were a voluntary bar? I think the answer to that question would depend on the value you place on your membership, so we’ll spend some time this year evaluating our value proposition.
I look forward to this task because I think the evaluation will show that there is great value in our dues. Likewise, I’m sure we’ll find room for improvement. I expect one such area for improvement may be our CLE cost/structure. Historically, the MCB has relied on the income from CLE to support the administrative work that goes along with planning and presenting CLE programs, but CLE fees also support other MCB committees and programs. This may continue to be the case going forward, but we’re going to look at it to see if it still makes sense.
To accomplish this review, I plan to appoint a membership value taskforce that will be led by board member Anne Tompkins. I believe her previous experience running the U.S. Attorney’s Office – which included budgeting and program management – make her the right person on our board to take on this task. She will be assisted by MCB Treasurer Heath Gilbert, other Bar volunteers and our Bar staff. President-Elect Chris Lam and I, and the rest of the MCB board, will provide oversight--and our opinions I’m sure.
My next priority is membership inclusion. In 2016, the MCB conducted a comprehensive survey of our members. The survey queried our members on a range of topics, including what our members view as the Bar’s most important activities, such as networking and CLE, and the relative value we place on pro bono activities and diversity and inclusion. If you have not reviewed the survey results, I encourage you to do so now. They can be found on our website, MeckBar.org. One point gleaned from the survey responses is that many of our members think the MCB is too focused on big firms and lawyers who work uptown. I know that’s not our intent, so we’ll be thinking of ways to make sure our lawyers who aren’t in big firms and who may work in Ballantyne, Huntersville or elsewhere, or who may be in small or midsize firms, feel connected to the work the MCB does.
The MCB has a Membership Inclusion & Diversity Director and a recently formed Membership Engagement Subcommittee. The subcommittee is in the planning stage of determining how to better serve all our members. We’ll be sure to include on the subcommittee a diverse cross-section of attorneys from the Bar. Early ideas include taking our Bar activities on the road - we love our newish facility, but recognize it’s not convenient for everyone - and reaching out individually to every new Bar member. If you want to help, let us know.
While working through these two focus areas this year with the assistance of our wonderful staff, the board, MCB committees, and sections will continue to do the work they’ve been doing so well for so many years.