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




The MCB staff is professional, competent, creative, and well-managed. There is a sense of shared mission among the staff for serving the members and goals of the particular program areas in which they work. There is a purposeful partnership between the volunteer leadership -such as section and committee chairs and the staff - with whom they work. Respect on both sides is quite evident. It is clear, even among some of the newer additions to the organization, that it is a group that is capable of both strategic thinking and efficient execution. With new staff being hired to manage the volunteer lawyers project and staff the lawyer referral service, there is an opportunity to better articulate how each of those positions will contribute to the whole of the organization.


Salaries and benefits are somewhat lower than those of other bar associations. Performance evaluations are conducted regularly and the process is equitably administered. Individual staff members have performance plans that are tied to goals within the program areas in which they work.


As demands on the staff continue to grow with the inevitable growth in membership and programming, there are opportunities to round out the staff.


Exemplary Practices

  • There is excellent documentation of processes and procedures. Processes are reviewed for efficiencies.
  • There is good use of the available technology. Software use is standardized and upgraded as necessary.
  • There has been continual attentiveness to deploying staff in the most efficient and efficacious ways. Staff organization has struck a good balance between the need for stability and the need for altering reporting arrangements and job responsibilities to meet changing needs.
  • Staff work well as a team and are respectful of each other. Staff meetings are held on a regular basis. Both formal and informal channels facilitate communication among the staff and reinforce a shared sense of mission and purpose.
  • Section staffing and administration is well-coordinated and attentive to changing entity needs.
  • Staff is well-organized with a well-designed reporting structure. There is a good balance of flatness and hierarchy.
  • Job descriptions include both specific tasks as well as the role that the position has within the organization. They are up-to-date.

Recommended Areas of Attention

  • Consider creating more opportunities for staff development:
  • Use LRS panel members to train staff in call screening and caller interviews.
  • Create a user group for The Associate to share efficiencies.
  • Consider institutionalizing staff debriefings after major events and activities to determine what went right and what could be improved upon. This would be particularly useful for new activities. It also would provide an opportunity to improve processes on a continuing basis.
  • Consider creating a shared calendar in Outlook and require meeting scheduling and deadlines to be recorded. This would further communication among staff and create greater awareness of the depth of activity in various departments.
  • Consider using staff meetings as an opportunity not only for the exchange of information but for problem-solving across departments. This can help to alleviate potential conflicts among departments.
  • Consider creating inter-departmental work groups. For example, membership outreach and communication occurs at every level of the bar and through every program activity. Coordinating a unified, integrated approach is an issue for the CLE department as well as those with communications titles.
  • Consider creating a senior level membership-communications position to manage and coordinate all non-CLE member and public related activities. The position would focus on the strategic and long-term issues of outreach and engagement of members, as well as external relationships.
  • Consider creating a management team to provide opportunities for problem-solving, strategic management planning, and program coordination. The team would include the senior staff from each of the bar's major functional areas: CLE, ethics and compliance, finance, and communications/membership.
  • Consider opportunities to bring technology administration, including Web site administration, in-house. The staff's ability to keep the site responsive and current is limited without greater direct access.
  • Consider how the bar will serve and engage the 40% of its members who are young lawyers. Traditional means of communication and engagement with this group should be reassessed. Social media and technology are important tools.

Next Section: F.  Program Administration and Development


Previous Section:  D.  Financial Management