The King County Bar Association remains a vibrant, respected and engaged group of attorneys and judges that has seen many accomplishments in the past 12 months. From our successfully rebooted judicial candidate evaluation and judicial officer survey processes to our advocacy on universal background checks to our promotion of changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct related to marijuana regulation, the Association makes a tremendous impact on behalf of the profession.
The bar is in the middle of an office relocation process and anticipating a modest year-end budget surplus after reducing our reliance on Lawyer Referral Service fee share revenues. And throughout all this we provide support to over a thousand pro bono attorneys working with 10,000 of the indigent in our community. In addition, we rely on hundreds of volunteer leaders serving on boards, committees and task forces, as well as our hard-working and committed professional staff.
Bar leaders and staff maintain a strong partnership through working together on these issues. The vast majority of our members also express their support for KCBA's work through their annual dues renewals and charitable support through our sister foundation.
We do face challenges, though. For example, the number of members has been stable for the last eight years through the Great Recession, but we welcome more attorneys to join us. The Lawyer Referral Service and our CLE programs exist in a rapidly changing environment for delivery of these services. Bar publications are primarily paper-based despite the growing acceptance of electronic publications. Our lack of extra financial resources prohibits investment in technology.
None of these challenges is insurmountable. The enthusiasm of KCBA members, leaders and staff, strongly linked to a mission with values we share, is a tremendous asset for us to harness and apply to ongoing and new programmatic plans.
To advance the mission of the King County Bar Association, the Board of Trustees and staff have adopted an annual plan and budget for FY2015, which begins on July 1. Note that these are special initiatives, in addition to the regular ongoing programmatic activity of the bar. The following are a few highlights from our work-plan.
In the membership area, KCBA plans include increased use of surveys and focus groups to better understand member needs. Our Membership Committee will continue its analysis of our "value proposition," i.e., the services and activities members expect their dues to support.
The Lawyer Referral Service is an important service that offers the public a place to turn for recommendations about which lawyers might be able to assist them with their legal needs. For many years the program has been "live" with phone operators assisting the public. We will explore the creation of a new component for LRS that will complement this system by allowing the public to search for LRS-vetted attorneys online.
Turning to educational programming, KCBA will build awareness of our online CLE video library, which currently contains more than two dozen hour-long, recorded CLE programs on a variety of topics that are available to members for only $25 each. We also expect to increase this library in the year ahead as we expand our ability to record CLEs held in our new office space (see last month's column for news about our office move).
Our pro bono programs have many great plans for the year ahead, in addition to ongoing support for the more than 1,300 volunteers and almost 10,000 clients they serve. For example, we will review areas of legal need through King County's "2-1-1" service, Neighborhood Legal Clinics data, and other available resources, adjusting Volunteer Lawyer Services priorities as needed. We also are looking at adding general information to our pro bono website in Spanish for clients (a new PBS brochure is already online in English and Spanish at www.kcba.org/probono).
In our fundraising work with the King County Bar Foundation Board of Trustees, we expect to complete a five-year strategic plan that will identify new development opportunities given the successful completion of our recent $1.1-million 125th Anniversary Endowment Campaign.
We have many more activities planned for the Association, including our office move this summer. While we will hire movers for that last item, all other areas outlined in this column would benefit from KCBA members participation!
Do you have time to get involved with the bar? Even an hour of volunteer time a month could be put to good use - and an hour a week put to even better use. Send me an email or give me a call; I would be delighted to visit with you about opportunities.
This 2014–15 plan needs the help of KCBA members to succeed!
Andrew Prazuch is KCBA's executive director. He can be reached by email (AndrewP@kcba.org) or phone (206-267-7061).