American Bar Association - Division for Bar Services

Mecklenburg County Bar - Operational Review

December 5, 2008 - Download the full report here (pdf)



A.  Statistics

B.  Governance

C.  Policies

D.  Financial Management

E.  Staff Management and Administration

F.  Program Administration and Development

G.  Communications and Membership Outreach




From governance to staff administration, policies help to provide the necessary infrastructure to support the bar's activities. Throughout the non-profit and association worlds in general, and the bar community in particular, there are certain best and recommended practices. They are guideposts for addressing issues and processes with our staff, our members, and the public in legally, ethically, and transparent ways. To be effective we must not merely have the policies; rather, they must be followed equitably and consistently. The MCB not only has the appropriate policies, but also adheres to them.


Overall, the MCB administrative, staff, and governing policies are excellent and serve as a model for other bar associations to emulate.  They are specific enough to provide guidance and general enough to allow for flexibility in management and governance. A review of the board's minutes indicates that various policies are reviewed on a fairly regular basis although no regularly scheduled review is in place. The board is attentive to changes and modifications.


Exemplary Policies

  • The fraud policy is unique and can serve as a model for other bar associations.
  • Financial polices not only adhere to best practices but they also are strong and well-articulated.
  • Policies governing CLE are comprehensive. Their inclusion in the board manual emphasizes the board's fiduciary responsibilities.
  • Dues dissent policy and statement of purpose are straightforward and consistent with the stated purpose of the association.
  • Rule/Statutory requirements for open meetings and public records are complied with.


Recommended Areas of Attention

  • Consider establishing an amount for which written contracts are required to execute work on behalf of the MCB. For example, the purchase of goods and services for an amount greater than $2,500 could require a contract or purchase agreement.
  • Consider establishing limits on the sole contracting authority of the executive director.
  • Consider adopting an anti-trust policy that includes the staff and addresses issues such as members electronic discussions or exchange of information at bar-sponsored events.
  • Consider developing and adopting a succession planning strategy and policy. It anticipates how the organization will cope with and plan for the retirements of senior staff members. These plans generally chart a timeline and focus on the key people who will be involved in the decision-making in choosing a successor to the executive director and how the transition will be handled.
  • Consider creating an audit committee to complement the existing financial policies and to provide oversight to the review process.

Next Section:  D.  Financial Management


Previous Section:  B.  Governance