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Vol. 42, No. 1

For an effective future report, a great staff is key

by Robert J. Derocher

One key takeaway from four bar associations that have produced extensive reports examining the future of the profession—and of their bars: A knowledgeable, motivated, well-equipped staff is vital to a successful follow-through.

From organizing committees to providing research, logistics and communications support, staff was and is relied on extensively to help carry out report recommendations and goals, bar leaders say.

“[Staff] helps keep the trains running on time,” says Bill Bay, co-chair of The Missouri Bar/Missouri Supreme Court task force that released a future report last year. “This report is saying, ‘Take a look at where the trains are running to and how they’re getting there,’ so we’ve really needed their help to do that.”

In Utah, staff has played an important role in utilizing multiple means—particularly social media—to get the word out about the work and the progress of the state bar’s futures efforts, in the wake of its 2015 Futures Commission report, according to Nate Alder, the commission’s former co-chair.

When the Boston Bar Association released its task force report in 2011, a seasoned staff was ready from the beginning, according to Sara Mackey, the bar’s director of professional development. And six years later, she says, it continues.

“We have a pretty healthy number of permanent staff members, and, for the most part, [the task force] turned things over to staff for implementation,” she says. “The staff is always looking for ways to innovate and listening to what our members are saying and what we’re hearing in other [places].”

For the State Bar of Michigan, marshalling the willingness of member volunteers provided dual benefits in helping implement task force recommendations, according to Executive Director Janet Welch.

“The amount of work our staff has taken on is enormous, which is why it helps that there are more members volunteering,” she says. “It’s been energizing to see this happen.”