Mo Money, Mo Programs: Asking for Increased Funding from the Senior Bar
By Jeffrey J. White
Jeffrey J. White is an assistant editor of The Affiliate and practices law with the firm of Robinson & Cole LLP in Hartford, Connecticut.
“Money makes the world go ‘round.” This oft-repeated universal truth applies whether your practice takes you to the boardroom or the courtroom. It also rings true for young lawyers seeking to improve their affiliates by expanding programs and activities that are available to their members and the community at-large. In virtually all cases, the senior bar holds the purse strings and, therefore, it is essential that young lawyers possess the necessary skills of “monetary persuasion”—i.e., “show me the money.”
At the ABA YLD Fall Conference in Baltimore, two masters of “monetary persuasion” offered their views as to how a young lawyer can make an effective presentation to the senior members of their respective affiliates. Maralee MacDonald and Karin Crump approached the subject from very different baselines. MacDonald, a former president of the California Young Lawyers Association, began her bar year representing 39,000 young lawyers who were being serviced by a budget of about $35,000, excluding minimal part-time staff. In contrast, Crump, the current president of the Texas Young Lawyers Association, leads a burgeoning bar association that boasts a total budget many times that size.
Yet, while MacDonald and Crump were seemingly on opposite sides of the budgetary spectrum, they each offered a series of tips that are applicable to young lawyers who lead affiliates that are both big and small, new and old. The key to this monetary appeal is the presentation to senior bar members. Therefore, without further ado:
Top Five Ways to Make an Effective Presentation
5. Know Your Audience . As MacDonald noted: “It’s best not to appear at senior bar meetings only when your affiliate needs money. The better approach is to get to know your audience by attending meetings. Convey an understanding of the strategic plans of the senior bar and how your organization helps execute those plans.”

4. To Lobby or Not to Lobby . According to Crump: “Before your presentation, make personal calls to the senior bar members who serve on the budget committee and who will decide your budget. Spend the time it takes to make them aware of what you do, what you need, and why you need it.”

3. Provide an Overview of Where Your Money Goes . MacDonald noted: “Given the turnover in bar boards, some members may not be familiar with the finances of your organization. To justify an increase in funding, show the senior bar board your current budget and how your organization has been a good steward of current funding. In concrete, numerical terms, demonstrate cost saving measures employed, outside funding procured, and the success of current programs.”

2. Articulate Your Worth (Why Your Big Bar Needs You) . As Crump stated: “Make sure your organization tracks and measures statistics of its member and public service contributions and take the time to prepare and present regular reports to your big bar, even if they are not required. Use those statistics and reports to showcase your organization and remind your big bar why it needs your young lawyer organization and how you effectively use every dime you are provided.”

1. Have a Clear Plan of Action . According to Crump: “Before you begin the budget process, make sure you have a clear plan of action in place. Be sure you know what you want to accomplish and why you need existing and/or additional funds to accomplish those plans during your year.” MacDonald echoed those sentiments: “Nothing will kill a funding request faster than an ill-conceived plan. Anticipate questions or possible objections to funding increases and to your course of action. Use your lawyering skills to provide thoughtful responses to address potential areas of concern.”

As reflected by the success of MacDonald and Crump, young lawyers who follow this simple recipe for success will increase their chances of receiving the necessary funds to carry out the goals of a their respective affiliates.