Partnering with the Senior Bar for CLE Programs
By Jodi L. Cramer
Jodi L. Cramer is an associate editor of The Affiliate and practices in the Office of General Counsel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C.
  In any bar association, there are always limited amounts of resources. If a young lawyers affiliate had unlimited resources, it would produce some of the most extravagant continuing legal education programs possible. Unfortunately, many young lawyer affiliates lack both the resources to pay for speakers and the expertise within their own ranks to put on programs that attract strong attendance.
Because of these limitations, young lawyers affiliates have several choices to make about programming. They can use all their annual resources for one knockout event, thus limiting the amount of programming, or spread their resources out and put on several smaller events. Of course, there is a third option: to partner with the senior bar.
Unlike a typical young lawyers affiliate, a senior bar tends to have access to more funds. In addition, members of a senior bar committee may be just the expert speakers a program needs. So teaming up with the senior bar is a way to put on a program that young lawyers want without using up all of the affiliate’s resources.
Although partnering with the senior bar might seem like an easy decision, it may not be implemented as easily as it may sound. The first step is to maintain a good relationship with the senior bar committee. Young lawyer affiliates should have active liaisons with their senior bars, so that the two entities can work together on programming. It is important to nominate a liaison who is also a member of the senior bar committee and who plays an active role in its programming.
Once your committee has a good relationship with the senior bar, you can coordinate the events you wish to produce during the year. Coordination is the key to a successful working relationship. You do not want to have the same or similar CLE program topics presented by both organizations, especially with the difference in resources. If you have events that you want to present on your own, make sure that they are distinctive from any the senior bar is doing that year.
If, during your program planning, you realize that you have a program similar to one the senior bar is planning, it’s time to discuss partnering with the senior bar. If you have an identical topic, combining resources will be very easy. If your topic is similar but not the same, some negotiating may be called for to come up with a compromise topic for the event.
Although picking a program that is similar to one being planned by the senior bar is ideal for partnering, a different topic is not an impediment to a partnering proposal. It may be that your topic is something that will interest the senior bar, even if it is not on its programming list.
Once you decide to approach the senior bar to partner on the event, you should talk to either the committee chair or the CLE chair. Your liaison can also assist in directing you to the decision maker.
When you go to the senior bar, make sure you have a plan on division of resources. Although the senior bar may be able to provide financial support and speakers, the young lawyers can provide sweat equity. Putting on a CLE program requires many more tasks than setting up a room and recruiting the speakers. These tasks include publicity and accreditation, which require time and energy. These contributions are what the young lawyers can bring to the table in return for other resources.
When you meet with the senior bar, bring a proposal for the event with you. Outline the topic, potential speakers, a date, location, and so on, so that it is easier for the senior bar to work with you. Detail which responsibilities you want to handle and what resources you want the senior bar to provide. Make sure that you make this a partnership; do not just go to them to ask for financial resources.
The goal is obviously to produce a good program, and that means using the resources of both organizations to the fullest extent possible. This includes, for example, considering both young lawyer and senior bar members as speakers, even if one of the organizations is represented by the moderator. In addition, both organizations should work together to provide materials that are helpful to event attendees.
Partnering with the senior bar is a great way to combine resources and produce a quality CLE program. Proper planning is the best way to put on any CLE program, especially one that will be a partnership between two organizations or committees. With these tips you will find that partnering with the senior bar for your CLE program can be beneficial for both committees.