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Standard 1.3 on Governing Body Communication with Client and Legal Communities

Standard 1.2-4 | Table of Contents | Standard 2.1


The governing body should operate in a manner that invites communication with the client and legal communities about matters unrelated to the subject matter of the representation.


General Considerations

A legal aid organization is an important part of the legal system carrying out an essential function by responding to the needs of client communities for civil legal assistance. It will generally be more successful in establishing its credibility in both the client and the legal communities in which it operates if its governing body functions openly and invites communication with those communities. Communication of information about with both communities will also enhance its capacity to adopt policies that increase its effectiveness of serving client communities and help it integrate the resources of the bar into its delivery efforts. 

Communication with the Legal and Client Communities

The governing body should strive to operate in a way that encourages communication with the legal and client communities. Its members should maintain individual contacts with groups with which they have connections. In addition, the governing body should ensure that the organization informs the legal and client communities of its policies and actions through meetings and publications, such as newsletters and annual reports. The governing body should also communicate with the leadership of the organized bar in its service area and with interested members of the profession. Communications should include information on the organization's accomplishments, as well as pertinent budget matters and issues, such as areas of focus, special projects, priorities for legal work, eligibility, and office hours. 

Input from Communities Affected by Governing Body Decisions

The governing body may invite input from communities affected by its decisions in several ways. Some interaction will take place in meetings that are designed to solicit input before significant decisions are made about the operation of the organization. Some such meetings may take place in the context of long-term planning about the focus of the organization's legal work and may involve the organization's staff and others.Sometimes interaction may occur in a regular or special governing body meeting. The governing body may also invite outside persons to participate on committees and task forces to get their insights about important issues facing the organization. 

Members of the governing body may be instrumental in soliciting views of outside groups and explaining to those groups significant decisions that have been made and to do so, members need to be well-informed about the issues. All members of the governing body, therefore, should participate in decision-making and the governing body should meet frequently enough for its members to have a solid working understanding of the organization's operations and issues. Meetings should be held at a time and place that facilitate the participation of governing body members and others whose input is being sought. 

A complete agenda should be made available prior to all meetings and should sufficiently describe topics to advise governing body members and other interested persons of the matters to be considered. Members should receive as much supportive and explanatory information as possible prior to the meeting to provide an opportunity for review and analysis of significant matters.