Many large affiliates are faced with the challenge of reaching out and “touching base” with thousands of members. For some suggestions on how to connect with members in large bar associations, The Affiliate reached out to Giugi Carminati, a past Director of the Texas Young Lawyers Association (TYLA), one of our nation’s largest bar associations.
Focus on Structure
The TYLA currently has over 24,000 members. All licensed Texas lawyers 36 years old or younger or in their first five years of practice (regardless of age) are automatically members of the TYLA. The TYLA acts as the public service arm of the State Bar of Texas and is funded by the State Bar and various not-for-profit entities.
One of the best attributes of the TYLA, and a significant reason why it is able to engage a vast number of members, is its structure. The TYLA is governed by a working board of over 40 members from all over the State of Texas. The board comprises an Executive Committee, Directors, and Liaisons. The Executive Committee consists of the Officers of the TYLA: President, President-elect, Chair, Chair-Elect, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Immediate Past President. Also on the TYLA Board are 33 Directors who represent 21 districts around Texas and serve as liaisons to the local affiliates in their districts. Directors further serve as chairs or co-chairs of the TYLA committees. Liaisons on the TYLA Board include a Texas Supreme Court Justice, ABA YLD District Representatives, a law student, a law school dean, and a member of the Access to Justice Commission.
Members of the TYLA who want to become more involved with the association’s work often start in committees. The TYLA committees are organized around a specific public service or member service purpose. The TYLA has several public service committees: Law Focused Education, Community Education/Consumer Affairs, Low-Income Texas, and Family Law/ Children’s Rights/Seniors. There are also numerous member service committees: Member Services & Outreach, Diversity, Local Affiliates, Online Member Services, Technology, Marketing/PR, Law Student Outreach, National Trial Competition, and State Moot Court.
There are several active programs and projects within each committee. For example, the TYLA Law Focused Education Committee’s curriculum projects include “Vote America,” They Had a Dream Too, “Supreme Team,” “Junior Judges,” “Crossing the Line,” and “We the Jury.” Although each of these projects merits an entire article, as an example of the TYLA’s projects, They Had a Dream Too educates students about the role that young people played in the civil rights movement and reminds students that they too can make a difference.