Section Efforts to Grow and Retain Members

Vol. 37 No. 3

By

Michael Kamprath is Section membership chair and Assistant General Counsel for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, Tampa International Airport.

The Section of State and Local Government Law includes those members engaged in issues of urban, state, and local government as private practitioners, law professors, government attorneys, judges, and law students. The Section believes it is the home for lawyers committed to the idea that public law produces public benefit. The Section has been growing at a significant pace during the recent past. To illustrate, the Section saw growth of 16.8% in new lawyer members as of the most recent ABA Membership Report.

The Section relies on its committees and members to grow and retain members, and we have a great opportunity to continue our growth. The ABA is giving away free ABA and Section membership to all new members. To share this opportunity with prospective members, have them go to http://ambar.org/nextstep by May 31 and enter promo code RMM13MMGM. This opportunity is available to nonmember lawyers and associates.

Over the last year, the Section has created a number of new committees devoted to different substantive or practice areas that fall under the state and local government law umbrella. These include a State Attorneys General and Department of Justice Issues Committee, a Young Lawyers Committee, an International Committee, a Judicial Committee, and a Native American Tribal Law Committee. Each of these committees is reaching out in different ways to nonmembers and members.

The oldest of the new committees is the State Attorneys General and Department of Justice Issues Committee. This committee has pursued membership by sending letters to non-ABA members who practice in this area, sending out e-mails to members with areas of concentration that relate to AG work, and through word of mouth at national non-ABA events. In addition, as the Section holds its meetings throughout the nation, it always contacts the state AG office and typically will have a state AG or deputy speak at its meetings. Once these new committee members join, they are immediately engaged with opportunities to write, speak, and attend webinars and in-person CLE’s and the Committee ensures that the Section as a whole welcomes them with open arms.

The second oldest new committee is the Young Lawyers Committee. This committee’s goals are not focused on membership per se but on creating opportunities for young lawyers to be engaged in the Section as they transition after law school. To do this, the Young Lawyers Committee has sought out young lawyers to serve as liaisons to each of the Section’s committees and has introduced them to the Section leadership. These members are now more engaged and more likely to participate in conferences, serve as speakers and writers, and maintain their memberships. The Young Lawyers Committee also hosts bi-monthly advice calls on different substantive areas during which young lawyers can call in and ask questions of more experienced practitioners. The Young Lawyers Committee is also working on including some introductory CLEs at the Section’s upcoming meetings.

The remaining new committees are just getting off the ground. They plan to follow the model laid out by the State AG Committee whereby individual nonmembers are contacted, members with relevant AOCs are contacted, and the committee and Section are publicized at non-ABA events. Once the new committee members join, they are welcomed and given opportunities to participate.

Not all growth efforts occur within the new committees, however; the Section held a workshop for committee chairs at a recent meeting to introduce them to the tools available from the ABA for contacting their members and improving their websites. In addition, the Section has encouraged existing committees to reach out to existing ABA members who identify an AOC related to their committee work.

One other critical piece to the Section’s membership efforts is the group rate program for government and public sector attorneys. The Section has asked each of its members of council and other leaders to reach out to their state and local government attorneys and publicize this opportunity. The Membership Committee created a draft letter and talking points to assist the leaders in reaching out.

Finally, there continues to be an academic emphasis within the Section. The Section publishes a scholarly law review, The Urban Lawyer, and counts many academics among its leadership. The Section encourages its members who teach to urge their students to join the ABA and Section.

These efforts have allowed the Section to increase its lawyer members.

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