Quick Reference - Meetings

Conference calls

The majority of Sections operate very effectively by holding conference call meetings about 3 times per year. Ideally the first call would be in September or early October and then calls are staggered to follow up on assigned activities, keep everyone informed about new developments, and review short and long term goals.

Staff do not canvass availability, so confirm dates for the year by September or end each conference call by confirming the date for your next call.

Sections are encouraged to use Zoom, a video conferencing platform, to engage face-to-face with Executive Committee members across the country. Your CBA staff liaison can help.

In-person executive committee meetings

Confirm the date well in advance so that everyone on the executive can be available and to ensure the greatest chance of meeting on your preferred date. Meetings can be on a weekday, if that works for your group.

Meetings are held in Ottawa unless the Section provides an excellent rationale for meeting elsewhere which will be accommodated when this can be done within the meeting budget. Advance approval is required. Examples might include requests to meet the day before/after your CBA PD conference, or an event most members attend, to make the meeting more accessible to your members. A short bullet point rationale is all that is needed. Staff analyze costs and pursue approval on your behalf.

Meetings are the ideal opportunity for annual planning and setting priorities. Take advantage of meeting in person to fully discuss issues and priorities for the next twelve months. Meeting costs must be managed to maximize the value to CBA members (not only engaged volunteers).

Develop a meaningful agenda - staff can help!

Travel must be booked by CBA travel agent

Timely minutes by your Secretary are important to keep things moving and track progress. Some sections circulate a 1-page summary of action items the next day, indicating the person responsible and timelines.

Consider inviting government officials or a speaker. It is often easy to find counsel from a high profile case or with expertise on a particular issue or practical matter. If inviting government, please coordinate with your group’s CBA law reform lawyer in advance. Such sessions are often accredited (staff liaison handles).

Consider incorporating a social element over lunch, or to start the meeting.

Funding includes one dinner, usually the evening preceding the meeting, to get to know one another informally, and because often people fly home right after the meeting. Creative options can often be accommodated within the dinner budget, such as catering dinner in one of the executive member’s homes.

Sections with provincial/territorial counterparts

In advance of, or during your first conference call, explain the structure of the National Section executive committee, i.e. national officers, corresponding branch representatives, and in some cases Members-at-Large.

In advance of an in-person meeting, consider a call or short note to Branch Representatives to clarify their role on the national executive and what to expect at the meeting.

Allow sufficient time for a roundtable to discuss legal developments and current issues as well as Branch activities and challenges as a standing item for in-person meetings. These discussions help to identify needs appropriately addressed at a national level and this is often the best source of ideas for projects and initiatives that add value and complement what members receive at the local level. Some groups request written updates. It is strongly recommended that these not replace the discussion.

By working together to identify members’ needs and organize complementary activities, your members have a positive experience, are more engaged and get value that is relevant to their area of practice.