An Overview of the NATLE GAC

Well, he’s only been here a month, but our new CEO, Shawn Mitchell, has been working tirelessly to acclimatize and immerse himself in the TLABC issues, culture and team.

A bonus to having new eyes in the boardroom is, of course, fresh perspective.
TLABC, as an association, is proud to be founded on principle, and in many ways -tradition.  Tradition is a wonderful thing, but it’s always good to take a step back and see what’s working and what might benefit from a little restructuring.

Shawn comes to us with a wealth of leadership experience that will no doubt be indispensable as we move forward and it has been a real pleasure getting to know him.

In this spirit, Shawn attended one of our favourite events last week, along with incoming President Sonny Parhar and Director of Communications Bentley Doyle The National Association of Trial Lawyers Executives (NATLE) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) – this year held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Here’s what he had to say… 

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Intro

I’ve just gotten back from the National Association of Trial Lawyers Executives (NATLE) Governmental Affairs Conference. What members of the association lovingly refer to as the GAC (say: gack). The location of the conference changes every year — this year’s was held in Louisville, Kentucky.

Attended by 100 TLA CEOs, their presidents and government affairs-aligned senior staff, the GAC was a great opportunity to network, learn how other TLAs go about their business, and attend a range of sessions focused on the challenge of lobbying government (both state and federal).

There were a total of 22 presentations and round tables, covering a range of topics and issues, during the three-day event. A sampling:

    • Learning the language of the conservative culture (presented by Judge Kenneth Starr — yes, THAT Kenneth Starr)
    • Effective polling
    • Creative ways to build relationships with lawmakers
    • Engaging leaders and members in the legislative process — making it meaningful and creating evangelists
    • Workers’ compensation trends to watch
    • Self-driving vehicles
    • Subrogation for dummies
    • Managing member expectations in the legislative arena

Taken from these and other sessions in which I participated, a few thoughts …

Trumped

Almost without exception, American TLAs spent the last eight years doubling down on their relationships with Democrats and largely turning their backs on Republicans. After the election results in 2016, most woke up terrified and unsure of what the future held for them when it came to advancing a legislative agenda on behalf of their members. Much of the conference was about sharing best practices on how to “speak Republican.”

Born to lobby

I was also struck by the very different posture or business orientation of the American TLAs, compared to (what I am coming to understand about) Canadian TLAs. Even small associations are heavily invested in ongoing lobbying on a range of issues. The eye opener here for me was both the difference and the potential for us to explore being more invested in this activity beyond ad hoc campaigns.

Everything is poll-itical

Given the extent to which TLAs are involved in lobbying, it follows that they are also becoming increasingly invested in polling and “testing the message.” There were a number of sessions on this topic, linking polling research to focus groups and the importance of not saying anything publicly on an issue until you’d tested your ideas and language in the field. Here again, at TLABC we have not had a history of behaving this way, but certainly we have seen the benefit of it most recently in the guidance we gained while positioning ourselves regarding no-fault and fixing the financial imbalance at ICBC.

No such thing as being too social

Our neighbours to the south are also heavily invested in social media, using Facebook and Twitter to cultivate audiences in support of different positions they are lobbying for at the state or federal levels of government. The insight here is that we at TLABC need to keep doing what we are doing — social media is a powerful, cost-effective engagement tool.

(Think James Carville, here) It’s about the membership, stupid!

One area where I believe we at TLABC still have lots of room to grow is on member engagement. American TLAs work very hard to be highly responsive to their members’ concerns and to engage them in the association’s work — beyond just the board and executive. They also have communication strategies that are focused on demonstrating the value that members receive from their TLA. This is something that TLABC does not do enough of.

Wrap up

Finally, there were some specific legal issues that were discussed where there is some real concern amongst our American colleagues… the emergence of “robot cars” and the implications this might have on liability and personal injury, and the continuing saga that is ABS (Alternative Business Structures). While we are currently focused, rightly, on fixing ICBC, additional time and energy on moving our way through these issue areas may also have merit.

Overall, it was an excellent way for me to continue my orientation and onboarding at TLABC. And, as always, I’m happy to hear your thoughts on this post or anything else you might like to fire my way.

To reach CEO Shawn Mitchell, please email him at shawn@tlabc.org 

Please continue to connect with us by following us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIN & @tla_bc on Twitter. 

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Hit the Ground Running

 

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Well, we’re back.

It’s fall, it’s busy, and we are ready to hit the ground running!

“There’s a feeling in the air when summer fades and fall begins… that back-to-school ‘something’ that is crisp and busy and smells like falling leaves and hot apple pie.  Warm afternoons turn into cool, dark evenings and calendars fill up again with meetings, fundraising and campaign strategy…”  [from the upcoming issue of the Verdict – Fall 2016 – Ejack]

Our committees are kicking off new initiatives and projects, our Executive and Board of Governors will meet next week to begin implementing the strategy that arose from our annual Governance Retreat, and the smell of fresh coffee brewing for those early morning meetings permeates TLABC headquarters.

We’ve been examining our goals and planning for the year ahead, but the work has been strategic and internal and now it’s time for action.

In short, Fall hits – and it’s go-time.

Not that summer has been all that quiet around here- we’ve had multiple retreats and conferences going on for the TLABC Staff, the Board & Executive, and some of our campaign committees, (albeit with a few vacation days tacked on.)  We’ve had staff in Los Angeles and Seattle, Washington, Squamish, the Yukon and Osoyoos, and we’ve even be honoured with a couple of awards!

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The National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE) has awarded TLABC it’s innaugural Award of Excellence for Publication of the Year for the Verdict, TLABC’s widely recognized magazine. 

NATLE is an organization whose members are chief executives and staff of justice associations throughout North America. Its 67 member associations collectively represent over 60,000 attorneys. 

the Verdict Board:

  • Editorial Board: Candace Cho, Aseem Dosanjh, Ed Good, Bill MacLeod, Dana Quantz, Harmonie Roesch-West, Michael Sporer
  • Publisher: Julia Chalifoux
  • Managing Editor: Carla Terzariol
  • Editor Emeritus: Ken Price
  • Staff Writer: Ben Doyle

As well, the International Association for Continuing Legal Education (ACLEA) has awarded TLABC one of only 21 annual awards granted to competitors representing more than 300 organizations.

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An Award for OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT was given to TLABC for our Medical Legal Conference XIII: Hawaii 2015 – Health and Legal Professionals Working Together as Allies in the Best Program category. 

ACLEA members are professionals in the fields of continuing legal education and legal publishing. Its annual ACLEA’s Best Awards are highly competitive and winning projects represent the highest level of achievement for the staff and volunteers involved.

Project Faculty and Staff: 
•    Mock Trial / Focus Group: Robyn Wishart, The Hon. Mr. Justice Nathan Smith, Marc Kazimirski, Joseph Cahan, Dr. Gwyllyn Goddard, and Christy Pratt.
•    Conference Planning Committee: Derek Miura, Robyn Wishart, Dr. Nairn Stewart, Dr. Mark Frobb, Dr. Douglas Lee & Dr. James Kennedy
•    TLABC Staff: Erin Monahan (Education Director) and Carla Terzariol (Executive Director)

While we’re tooting our horns, we were also named as one of the top 10 legal Twitter accounts last year by Lawsome  – see the original post here.  

Follow us on Twitter @tla_bc

It’s been a busy summer and it’s definitely going to be a busy year, so gear up with us, and let’s make 2016/2017 the most successful year yet!

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Time To Roll Up Our Sleeves…

 

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Fall is just around the corner… and the lazy, hazy days of summer are behind us, so it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get back to business! I love everything about summertime – beaches, long days of sunshine, leisurely cocktails on a hot patio after work… but another thing I love is hav­ing the time to regroup, set some new goals and focus on strategy for the next season. 

This season, strategy is the name of the game.

In July, I had the pleasure of soaking up the San Francisco scene, while attending the Annual Conference of the National Associ­ation of Trial Lawyer Executives (NATLE,) which coincides with the American Association for Justice Annual Meetings.

It was an incredible and productive week, engaging with colleagues from across North America and sharing ideas, strategies and successes.

One of the biggest things I learned from my time in that city by the bay, is that we, as an association, should be incredibly proud! We have an amazing and diverse membership that spans many practice areas. We have an engaged Board of Governors & Executive Committee, campaign committees who are passionate about advocacy for justice, a strong social media presence and the desire to continue to build lasting relationships in the community… and above all else, the Trial Lawyers Association of BC is respected among its peers. What more could you ask for?

Sure, many battles lie ahead, but we are strong, determined, and hopefully, after a bit of sunshine… focused. Our strength lies in our work as a team, in our commitment to justice and in our PAC dollars. So let’s gear up and get moving – see you soon!

– Megan Ejack, Director of Development

From the Development Corner – Summer 2013 PowerPAC Publication