When it comes to speaking out on a controversial issue, your bar needs three things: a written policy, a policy that works, and a policy that is flexible.
This was a key takeaway from the National Association of Bar Executives’ 2017 Annual Meeting program “You Say It’s Politics, I Say It’s Public Interest: Navigating the Quicksand of Taking Public Positions.”
Tim Eigo, editor of the State Bar of Arizona’s Arizona Attorney Magazine, moderated the lively discussion in New York this past August. He presented hypothetical situations, all of which he jokingly noted that his co-producer Elizabeth Derrico, associate executive director of the New York State Bar Association, had lived through, for the panel to examine.
Eigo said “different bars have different takes and different stomachs” for each situation, and how each bar handles controversy might inform another bar’s own processes.
Speakers were Leah Johnson, assistant executive director of the South Carolina Bar; Chris Kwok, co-chair of the Issues Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York; and Allan Ramsaur, executive director emeritus of the Tennessee Bar Association (and the only EDE at the Annual Meeting, per Eigo).