Higher participation and more support for 2006/2007
by Stephen McPhee
“Sections are the lifeblood of the CBA” is what CBA members across Canada have said for years. Here in B.C. we are not satisfied with resting on the laurels of past Sections’ success. The CBABC has a Sections Committee dedicated to ensuring the health of Sections, and enhanced staff resources providing invaluable support to the many volunteer members who run each section.
The Sections Committee for 2006/2007 is Stephen McPhee (Nanaimo, Chair), Hunter Gordon (Victoria), Andrew Gay (Vancouver), Richard Bjarnason (Prince George), Billy Garton (Vancouver), and Heidi Zetzsche (100 Mile House). The Committee meets monthly between September and June by teleconference.
The Committee is charged with monitoring Section activity; providing support to Sections, reviewing applications for new Sections, and taking steps to disband inactive Sections.
There are presently 66 Sections and one conference (Women Lawyers Forum) in B.C. There were 800 more members enrolled in Sections in September 2006 than there were in September 2005 – a healthy increase that reflects the value members see in Section involvement.
A consistent agenda item at each meeting is a review of Section activity, presented by the Branch Sections Coordinator, Fran Hodgkins. Fran ensures the Committee has up-to-date statistics on Sections including enrolment figures, number of meetings held by each Section, and minutes provided after each meeting.
If a Section is not meeting regularly or providing minutes after meetings, the Section Committee contacts the Section executive and finds out how the Committee and the Branch can help support the Section to ensure they are providing the quality Section experience Section members deserve.
The Committee is comprised of volunteers, as are the Section Executives around the province.
It is not lost on anyone that busy lawyers are giving up their valuable time to organize Section meetings, arrange excellent speakers, and provide minutes that are stored on the CBABC website in an easily accessible archive.
Earlier this year Section members received a survey designed to find out what they wanted from their Sections, and to determine their satisfaction level with their existing Sections (see www.cba.org/bc under Publications/Surveys). The survey gave the Sections Committee invaluable feedback. However, there are 66 different Sections – from Aboriginal to Young Lawyers, and the Committee knows that different Sections have different needs and preferences.
A new Section Chair orientation held last month provided Chairs around the province the opportunity to hear tips from experienced Section Chairs. The high attendance rate and level of participation was an excellent barometer of the quality of Chairs for the upcoming year, and the enthusiasm amongst Chairs and their Executives.
The Sections Committee will continue to perform an important role in the health of Sections in 2006/2007, along with high quality volunteer Section Executives and the ever-present support of Fran Hodgkins at the Branch. We welcome your feedback and ideas at any time.
Stephen McPhee, Ramsay Lampman Rhodes, Nanaimo
This article was published in the October 2006 issue of BarTalk. © 2006 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.