In June 2022, the 8th Annual Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy was hosted in Chicago, IL. During the event, CBLA co-foundeer, Wendy Shiba presented the program, “Let’s Understand and Exercise Good Governance: Exercising Fiduciary Responsibilities and Working With Your Board.” Following CBLA, we asked Wendy to share some thoughts with our readers.
Please provide an overview of your history with CBLA? The CBLA had its genesis in the Presidents-Elect meeting convened by ABA President-Elect Laurel Bellows in March 2012, which included the Presidents-Elect of the four members of
the Coalition of Bar Associations of Color (CBAC). At the time, I was President-elect of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. My fellow President-elects were Judge Peter Reyes of the Hispanic National Bar Association, John Page of the National Bar Association, and Mary Smith of the National Native American Bar Association. I developed the presentation on “Good Governance” for the inaugural CBLA in 2013, and it has since remained an element of the core curriculum for every CBLA. The content is based on my combined experience as a former law professor teaching corporate law, serving as general counsel and corporate secretary for public companies with responsibility for corporate and board governance, and serving as president of two bar associations –NAPABA and one of our local affiliates – and on numerous nonprofit boards.
What prompted the founding of CBLA? During our discussion at the Presidents-Elect meeting, we identified our collective need for further leadership training and development programs to feed the pipeline of future leaders in the bar associations of color and for diverse lawyers in the ABA. We also discussed the desirability of having collaborative programs among the CBAC members. From this discussion emerged the idea for the CBLA, to be sponsored by the five bar associations and focus on leadership development for current and future bar leaders. We began our planning in April 2012 and launched the first CBLA in June 2013, when each of the founders was the sitting President of our respective bar associations.
If you could summarize your 2022 CBLA program, “Let’s Understand and Exercise Good Governance: Exercising Fiduciary Responsibilities and Working with Your Board,” to three tangible tips or pieces of advice, what would they be?
- Review the three prongs of your fiduciary duty (care, loyalty, and obedience), not just in the abstract, but by identifying how each one plays out in your board role. Examples include reviewing all pre-read materials and being engaged during discussions to ensure informed decision-making; putting the interests of the association as a whole ahead of any personal interests or of any perceived constituency; and ensuring compliance with the association’s governing documents and applicable state/federal laws (e.g., filing required annual reports and tax returns).
- Professionalize the atmosphere at your board meetings and build a culture of collegiality and consensus building focused on adherence to the association’s mission, vision, and values, and achieving the association’s strategic plan.
- Implement the best practices for good governance enumerated in the presentation and strive to build a high-performing board based on clear expectations and accountability.
How would you encourage attendees of CBLA to implement the tools and lessons learned at CBLA when they return home to lead in their respective capacities?
- Organize your new contacts with a view to staying in touch with people to continue the exchange of ideas and best practices;
- Review your notes and written materials to create a short list of (1) items you will work on to enhance your personal leadership style and capabilities, and (2) best practices and innovations you intend to implement with your home bar association;
- Share key learnings with fellow officers and board members to spread the benefits of your having attended CBLA;
- Identify potential attendees from your bar association for the 2023 CBLA in order to build a sustainable leadership pipeline.
The CBLA is a joint initiative between the American Bar Association, its Commissions on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, Disability Rights, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association, the National Native American Bar Association, and the South Asian Bar Association of North America. CBLA is a coordinated effort to strengthen the pipeline of diverse bar association leaders by providing leadership training and professional development programs, which benefit current and future leaders of bar associations and
the legal profession. This summer, the CBLA will host several programs spotlighting issues in the legal profession and diverse communities.
Stay tuned for information on the 2023 Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy!