President's Report: At the Board

  • January 24, 2019

The Board met twice in January – on the 8th and the 18th – via videoconference using Zoom, the same technology we will be using once again on February 11 for our annual general meeting. Check out the details on how you can participate.

Our Board meeting on January 8 was devoted entirely to our membership base. As compared to this same stage last year, national membership has declined by approximately 2%. This is concerning in a year when the national membership fee was reduced by 10%. Upon the Board learning of our membership decline in November, we called this special meeting to hear from our Management Team of their plans to rebuild our membership base and to ensure that they are sufficiently resourced.

During the meeting, the Board was informed that:

  • A new approach to integrating members into the CBA is being developed and will be implemented later this year. Welcoming emails and potential outreach calls are the key elements.
  • Our Group Membership strategy is being reviewed, with enhancements made in time for the next membership year. A presentation on progress with the plan will be made to the Board in February. Group members account for nearly 40% of our practicing lawyer membership.
  • The Membership Team hired a marketing consultant to develop membership retention and acquisition strategies for the CBA. The analysis has now been completed and the strategies are being implemented on a phased approach.
  • A member acquisition marketing campaign is being piloted in British Columbia. The results of the pilot will be reviewed by the Management Team for consideration of rolling out more broadly.

We are satisfied that CBA management has developed an appropriate response to the challenge of our stagnant membership. We will be discussing the investment to be made in membership retention and recruitment efforts in our February Board meeting as part of our overall fiscal priorities dialogue.

Our Board meeting on January 18 was our regularly scheduled meeting to prepare for our annual general meeting. We discussed and approved the annual audited CBA financial statements. We set the draft agenda for our Leadership Forum that will occur the day following the annual general meeting. This year, discussion among CBA leadership will focus on our membership strategy, our advocacy priorities, the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force Report, and further diversifying our revenue sources.

Following the Policy Committee’s consultations with CBA Branches and Sections, the Board resolved to write to the Chief Justice of Canada supporting a principled approach to occasional sittings of the Supreme Court outside Ottawa. We received an update on the work completed to date on our two advocacy priorities for this year: solicitor-client privilege and access to justice. We have decided to focus our attention for the upcoming federal election on access to justice. You will soon start receiving details about our digital toolkit to allow you to raise equal justice as a campaign issue in your local ridings.

This time, I made you read all the way to the end to let you know that our operating surplus for the fiscal year ended on August 31, 2018 was $400,000. This significantly exceeded our budgeted surplus for the year. This allows us to pursue our membership strategy from a position of financial strength, as we have accumulated $2,000,000 in unrestricted financial reserves. Professional development revenues materially exceeded expectations, and all expense categories were very well controlled by our national office management team.

Please contact me anytime at president@cba.org or on Twitter @RayAdlington if you have any questions or concerns.