How do I schedule a meeting?
Contact your Bar liaison with desired meeting dates and times. Once meeting dates are identified, the liaison will distribute meeting notices and any related materials, track rsvps and arrange for meeting space, telephone conference lines and lunches.
Where can in- person meetings be held?
Meetings may be scheduled at the Bar headquarters (950 Taylor Street, Columbia) or the Conference Center (1501 Park Street, Columbia) subject to space availability. From time to time, circumstances dictate a need to host meetings at offsite locations. Your liaison will work to make sure adequate notice is provided to members.
What can I expect the bar liaison to do for my committee?
The Bar liaison provides administrative support necessary to accomplish goals and objectives and facilitate the ongoing activity of volunteers in between meetings. These duties include:
- attend scheduled meetings
- record and maintain accurate minutes
- maintain rosters and agendas; provide direction regarding Bar policy
- maintain regular contact
- assist in goal development and project completion
- oversee section expenditures
- assist committees in determining budget needs
- prepare newsletter copy, correspondence and reports (composition, proofreading and distribution)
- monitor overall activity
- revitalize dormant entities
How soon after contacting my liaison should I expect to hear back?
Bar staff are charged with returning communications within 24 hours of the initial contact. If time is of the essence, please communicate that to your liaison. Keep in mind that staff liaisons provide administrative support to multiple entities and have other assigned duties. Organization on the front end will prevent delays on the back end. Also, most staff liaisons are nonexempt personnel by designation and will not be able to make off hours or weekend contact as a matter of routine. The Bar must adhere to state and federal employment laws where issues of overtime pay and staff classifications are concerned.
What if I am not pleased with my liaison’s performance?
The Bar prides itself on having staff considered to be among the finest in the country. However, from time to time there may be stylistic or personality differences which arise. Candid conversations should be held with assigned staff to ensure clear expectations. Communications regarding performance concerns should be undertaken in a professional and respectful manner. Bar staff are supervised by Bob Wells and Leah Johnson via a split reporting structure. Concerns may be communicated to them if efforts to work through issues with the liaison.
How many meetings does a committee typically hold each year?
The frequency of meetings varies from group to group. Ideally, you should plan to meet 3-4 times during the Bar year, with at least one in person meeting. Your liaison can provide you with historical information related to your committee which can aid you in determining a schedule. Bar staff report regularly to the Board of Governors on entity activity. (Note: To increase membership involvement, it has proven to be beneficial to schedule and distribute all meeting dates at the onset of your appointment)
Can members participate by phone?
Members can meet by telephone when travel to onsite meetings is not feasible. The Bar utilizes in house and third party telecommunications mechanisms to facilitate these calls. Exceptions may occur for meetings lasting longer than an hour when the cost of hosting members via teleconference is cost prohibitive.
What is the scope of my committee?
A jurisdictional statement is typically established upon the creation of a Bar committee. Your Bar staff liaison should provide you with that statement. They are typically included as descriptive statements in the annual committee signup. If your entity does not appear to have one, you should take steps to address the development of one. Contact your staff liaison for assistance.
How can I spend Bar funds?
Bar funds are designated for specific purposes through an annual budgeting process. Committees have no individual funds, though there is a general committee expense line in the Bar budget to subsidize meeting expenses. Funding requests should be discussed with your staff liaison who will see that those requests are considered by the Board of Governors. Sections have semi-autonomy in the expenditure of section dues collected. From time to time, the Board of Governors may be informed about certain planned section expenditures to ensure no red flags are raised.
How do I establish goals?
Goals should be established by reviewing recent committee or section history, consulting with members and your staff liaison, and reviewing pressing issues.
Will my Bar liaison attend the Convention?
Staffing at the Convention is determined by the Executive Director in consultation with the Assistant Executive Director and the Conventions Director. It is not financially feasible to have all liaison staff present at the Convention but every effort is made to ensure adequate coverage where needed.
Can my entity take a legislative position?
Bar entities can review issues or pending legislation and recommend the taking of a position. Those recommendations must be forwarded to the Board of Governors or House of Delegates for consideration. Only the Bar president or his/her designee can speak for the Bar. Upon adoption of a legislative position, the Bar’s legislative staff work to secure the desired outcome. Committee and section leaders may be called upon to offer testimony to the General Assembly but must do so within the parameters of the adopted position. Sections and committees may not lobby on their own. Any personal statements or opinions issued by Bar leaders should be clearly disclosed as personal in nature.
Can my section host a free CLE for its member?
Sections may hold section-sponsored seminars for their members between the months of April and June. Such programs must be conducted through the CLE Division, which will make not less than four and not more than eight dates available during those months. Programs will be priced at one-half the rate for regular CLE Division seminars and will be single site seminars held at locations to be determined by the Division after consultation with the Section council. There will be no broadcast to video satellite locations. Registrations will be limited to section members on a space available basis.