The Section of Public Contract Law — The Strength of Collaboration
For nearly 55 years, the ABA Section of Public Contract Law has been at the forefront of public procurement as a national association of preeminent lawyers and professionals who contribute significant expertise in this important area of law. It is a distinct honor and privilege for me to serve as the Chair of the Section for the 2019 – 2020 bar year, in the footsteps of many exceptional leaders, including Kara Sacilotto, who just completed her term.
I am committed to the Section continuing to provide unmatched opportunities for all members to deepen and expand their professional growth, ultimately benefitting the federal, state and local public procurement communities of which we are a part and carrying forward the Section’s longstanding leadership role. And this year, one initiative on which I’ll focus particularly involves tapping into the Section's unique wellspring of talent and opening new gateways with collaboration.
Our Section is driven by a distinctive composition of lawyers and affiliated professionals with public procurement experience gained from government agency, law firm, industry, academic, judicial, consulting and other backgrounds. The Section's demographic as well as geographic diversity enriches the discussions about federal, state and local procurement that are a hallmark of the Section, with informed and balanced viewpoints emerging from Section Committee meetings, three annual conferences, and multiple webinars, articles, book projects, and other activities.
To add to these opportunities for collaborative discussions, the Section is launching a new activity this year — Thought Leaders Groups. Interested Section members will be placed in small groups formed to reflect the diversity of work settings, experience, committee affiliation, and general engagement levels within the Section. These Thought Leaders Groups will meet periodically throughout the course of one year to discuss public procurement operations and developments. Based on the variety of perspectives that a cross-section of our membership can bring together, members may further broaden their thinking about public procurement and make even more connections beyond the opportunities presented by the Section committees, conferences and other activities. More information on how to join can be found on our Thought Leaders Groups page.
And for the many other Section activities that are fueled by the contributions of our wide membership community, the Section's focus on collaboration will support that strength while broadening members' opportunities for professional growth. For example, by effectively collaborating with entities with similar interests within the Section, the ABA, or the larger procurement community, these Section activities can expand their reach to more members and potential new members, and achieve greater heights:
- Section Committees. The Section's 21 substantive committees meet regularly to keep members current on legal developments and provide multiple opportunities to engage with subject matter experts while pulling together or making committee presentations, drafting comments on proposed regulations, or participating in the ensuing discussions. By collaborating on the topics to be explored at their meetings, committees can meet more frequently, expanding the range of topics for discussion, and potentially increasing membership as more lawyers and procurement professionals have an opportunity to experience the important work of our Section committees.
- CLE Conferences. The Section's multi-day conferences held each fall, spring, and summer feature programs covering vital developments in public procurement. Here, opportunities abound for engaging with the broad public procurement community that is drawn together to focus on key topics, and such engagements energize discussions that carry into the evening receptions and other networking events. By collaborating on these conferences with interested ABA entities or other professional associations, a broader range of presentations can be offered to a wider range of attendees.
- Section Council Meetings. Open meetings of the Section's Officers and Council follow each of the Section's multi-day conferences. With agendas expanded to include discussions about the governance and operation of the Section, but also short presentations encapsulating select legal developments or providing insights about the government, industry, law firm and other professional organizations involved with public procurement, a variety of opportunities become available for collaborating to further the work of the Section, the public procurement community, and members’ own related professional interests.
- Publications and webinars. The Section provides numerous opportunities for our members to publish articles in The Procurement Lawyer or the Public Contract Law Journal, or to undertake a book project. In addition to these opportunities for members to write about topics of interest to the public procurement community, there also may be opportunities to make presentations in short webinars sponsored by the Section. And collaborating with Section members or potential new members can provide the benefit of fresh new perspectives to the material presented.
As we head into the new ABA year, please know that I welcome hearing from you about your involvement with the Section and how we can together enhance its value for members. Please feel free to email me. And please follow the Section on Twitter and also spread the word on the Section's LinkedIn group about the Section activities with which you are engaged and that you particularly value. I look forward to collaborating with you to ensure that the Section remains vital for you, and that the renowned legacy of our Section endures.
2019 – 2020 Section Chair