Standards for the Provision of Civil Legal Aid

Standard 1.2-3 on Training of Members of the Governing Body

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Standard

The provider should assure that all members receive orientation and training necessary for full and effective participation on the governing body.

Commentary

Not all new members come to the governing body prepared for full and effective participation at the time they are selected. The provider should, therefore, strive to assure that members obtain the required skills and knowledge by providing orientation and training.

New members should receive orientation that includes information on:

  • An historical perspective of legal aid nationally and in the local community;
  • The provider's structure, general operations and special programs;
  • National and local sources of funding for legal aid;
  • The nature of the legal services offered by the provider;
  • Important characteristics of the low income communities served by the provider;
  • Any limitations or requirements imposed on the provider's operations by statutes, regulations, funders, contracts, and ethical obligations;
  • The role, structure and functioning of the governing body and its committees as well as any client or other advisory groups.

In addition, the provider should offer training to its governing body members as needed. Such training should help provide skills and substantive knowledge necessary for effective participation on the governing body. Appropriate topics for training may include: legal requirements governing the operation of the provider, budgeting and accounting oversight; fundraising and resource development; developments in legal services delivery and pertinent substantive legal issues; communication and meeting skills; cultural competence, to increase the governing body's familiarity with issues facing the provider in serving diverse low income communities and to support effective communication with the low income community; the content of these Standards; and other subjects that relate to effective governing body operation.

Because members of the governing body are volunteers, they may have limited time for formal training apart from regular board activities. The provider should attempt to include necessary training as part of the agenda for regular meetings of the governing body when possible.