Show up … a lot
Chances are, you’ll go to the bar’s headquarters quite often, for board meetings and other presidential duties. When you know you’ll be there, Cooperstein advised, check the bar calendar to see what else is going on that day—and make a point of arriving early to “poke your head in” at the CLE or committee or section meeting. Say a quick hello to the CLE speaker and to the attendees, and then go to your meeting.
What message does that send? Most members realize how busy the president is and that he or she has a lot of meetings to attend, Cooperstein said, so even a brief pop-in says to members, “What we’re doing must be pretty important to the bar association.”
And don’t feel like you have to avoid young lawyers’ events, Cooperstein added; while it is true that young lawyers divisions or sections often don’t want anyone and everyone to attend their events, they make an exception for the bar president. Just as with other members, he said, this is a good way to show young/new lawyers that they are important to the bar association.
Consider taking some of these interactions off-site, too, Cooperstein advised; taking affinity bar leaders and/or the chair of the young lawyers’ group out for lunch or coffee can help build a relationship and is a gesture that will be appreciated.
Whenever and wherever you do show up, Craghead advised, be prepared with a quick “elevator speech” regarding the value of bar membership and what the bar is doing on behalf of all its members and even the particular member or group of members you’re talking to.
The bar president is an esteemed and respected figure, but he or she is also a peer and a colleague to members of the bar, Craghead noted; those two factors combined mean that “You’re the most convincing spokesperson for the association.”