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September 2015 – Membership Numbers, National Conference of Bar Presidents

At the outset, I think it is important to get a handle on some of the important operational numbers for our association.

By the Numbers

So we are currently looking at numbers for membership, active participation by members, volunteer hours, CLE participation, and monthly committee meeting activity. I’m sure I am driving the staff a little bit nuts right now, but Julie, Linda, and Paula have been creating and refining various reports that I think will help us better understand, and more effectively manage association activities, programs, and resources. The other association officers and I started reviewing and discussing some of these reports at the last executive committee meeting, and I will share some of this information with you as we go along here this year.

To begin with, I believe it is important that we know whether our membership is growing, staying the same, or decreasing. In that regard, as of June 30, 2015, we had a total of 586 members (of which 20 were law students and 28 were honorary members.) Examination of recent past membership numbers also shows that membership in our organization is basically stagnant. While our retention rate of 94% (most recently) seems pretty good, we just aren’t adding enough new members to our ranks to achieve any net growth at this point.

The chairs of the membership committee will be meeting soon to discuss these reports, and strategies for increasing our membership. Our membership committee chairs this year are Kristina Regal (committee coordinator), Natasha Adler, Bob Boszko, Frank Ponticelli, and Erin Calandriello. With the leadership of these individuals, I am convinced that we can grow as an association this year.

National Conference of Bar Presidents

The National Conference of Bar Presidents (the NCBP) held its annual conference in Chicago last month on July 31, 2015. With the conference being held in Chicago, I felt compelled to attend, and it turned out to be a very worthwhile experience. The event started with a breakfast, where I met ISBA President, Umberto Davi (who emigrated to the USA from Italy as a young boy), and shared breakfast with ISBA Past President, Richard Felice, and ISBA Third Vice President, Judge Russell Hartigan, among others.

The morning consisted of several plenary sessions, one of which highlighted several successful bar association community service projects. Following lunch and a presentation on diversity in the legal profession, I attended a breakout session designed specifically for metro bars (non-state bar associations.) I quickly realized how tiny our association is in comparison to most bar associations. One association whose leaders I worked with in the breakout session was the Indybar (Indianapolis bar). The Indybar has grown over the past 17 years from 1,500 members to its current ranks of 5,000 members – impressive! I am convinced that we can find many ways to improve the services and benefits we provide to our members just by studying other successful bar associations, like the Indybar.

Upcoming Events

The newly reconstituted Northwest Suburban Bar Association Foundation led by President, Steven Daday, is holding its first fund-raising event of the year on Friday, September 11, 2015, at Arlington Park Racetrack. The other Foundation members who have stepped forward to help reinvigorate this charitable affiliate of the NWSBA are Judge John Tourtelot (Ret.), Adra Campbell, Thomas Moran, Charles Adler, Lynn Palac, and Susan Kim. So please come out and join us for an afternoon at beautiful Arlington Park Racetrack and help support the honorable Timothy C. Evans Scholarship Fund, and other Foundation causes.

On October 8, 2015 at noon, at Dikta’s we will hold our annual volunteer recognition luncheon. This year we will honor our pro bono volunteers for this past fiscal year. Attendance is by invitation only, however, if you have volunteered for pro bono work this past fiscal year and do not receive an invitation soon, please contact the association office. We hope that many Third District judges will again attend and support this event. Last year, NWSBA lawyers contributed more than 500 hours of pro bono service to our local community. We are very proud of the NWSBA’s longstanding commitment to serving the community through pro bono work at the Third District courthouse, and are proud of every lawyer who has given their time to do pro bono work this past year.

Please check out our calendar of events on the lower right hand side of our website homepage, and add an NWSBA event or two to your own calendar now. Many of our dedicated committee chairs have already planned many exciting and informative events and programs for this fall.

I hope that all of you have had an opportunity to enjoy this beautiful summer. And, speaking of summer, the past few years we have been enjoying a few summer days in Saugatuck, Michigan, where one of our favorite pastimes is to sit on the deck and watch the boats go by!

R.F. Wittmeyer

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