One of the many reasons the Indianapolis Bar Association has served the needs of attorneys very well for 138 years has been that its future is targeted and planned by a cross-section of our legal community. Every three years, the IndyBar organizes and executes a Strategic Planning meeting designed to outline the future of the legal profession in Indianapolis and how the IndyBar will fill the future needs of its members. This is such a year.
Next month, about 25 Indianapolis attorneys will gather in French Lick to talk about the state of the profession, where they think it’s headed and how the IndyBar can respond to the changes. The attorneys in attendance are a true cross-section of the legal community. Some are new lawyers, some are very seasoned lawyers, all are from different practice areas, and some are from big, small and solo firms. Some of the lawyers on the Strategic Planning Committee will not even be members of the IndyBar but will contribute some great ideas nonetheless. I’d be very happy if the non-members found value in the IndyBar after seeing the association in action, but it’s their ideas and opinions we want right now.
We are bringing in a world class facilitator, Mary Byers, who is already at work laying the groundwork for our meeting. We’ll discuss what the IndyBar can and should be doing to help our members be more relevant to our clients and to the practice of law as it exists today, how to work with less stress, more productivity and greater profitability, and other current topics facing the legal profession and bar associations. Mary has written books on the subject of organizational strategic planning and has worked with numerous not-for-profit organizations, like the IndyBar. I had the chance to attend an IndyBar Strategic Planning meeting many years ago. I’m not sure if I was included because someone identified me as a future leader or because I was in my first 10 years of practice. I remember being surprised at how intentional the planning was and how complex the discussions were about how to provide value to our members.
Our Executive Director, Julie Armstrong, will be one of the attendees, but this time she’s not responsible for the content of our Strategic Plan or for running the meeting. However, she will be responsible for fulfilling the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan.
I’ve been involved in many not-for-profit and government organizations that wrote strategic plans that then went into a drawer and were never reviewed after they were drafted. The IndyBar takes the Strategic Plan seriously. It’s a document that is reviewed almost weekly. Julie keeps the Board of Directors apprised of what we have completed, what we haven’t completed, and whether there are unforeseen obstacles to completing parts of the plan.
Our association’s budget will be built around the goals and objectives stated in our plan. Julie’s compensation for the next three years reflects the progress we’ve made on the plan. Julie and I meet frequently to discuss the business of the association, but due to the hard work of my predecessors, this year all of the items on the last Strategic Plan have been completed. So, both Julie, the IndyBar staff and I are anxious to see the finished plan so we can begin implementing it.
I hope to be able to provide an overview of the discussions that took place at the Strategic Planning meeting and preview some of the initiatives and opportunities that we expect to see in the next year or two in a later column. I expect we’ll talk about what the IndyBar’s physical location should look like and where it should be for a 21st-century bar association. Should we have a co-working space for lawyers? Should we continue to be downtown in a high-rise office building or somewhere else? What should we do to enhance the online presence of our individual members so they can compete with internet legal providers from outside our state? Are there member benefits we should be providing beyond the newly established menu of discounted insurance and office products and services?
It’ll be a long list and I’ll try to do it justice when I share it with you. In the meantime, if you have thoughts or ideas to share, you know where you can find me. firstname.lastname@example.org, @IndyBarPres, or just stop me when I’m out and let’s talk.•