President’s Report

  • September 24, 2018

Three weeks into my term as CBA President, I am pleased to report that none of the proverbial dishes have broken. Membership renewals are strong, our volunteers are engaged, and the national team is focused on implementation of several exciting initiatives this year to enhance member service.  I am excited to work with the Board, our Branch and CCCA leadership teams, Cheryl Farrow and the entire professional team within the CBA offices across the country to advance implementation of our strategic plan to benefit all CBA members.

I have very little personal activity to report upon this early in the year, so I use this space to both reflect upon accomplishments from this past year and to present my vision for the year ahead.

Looking Back

The national CBA Board agenda last year focused on implementation of our strategic direction adopted in 2016.  Our new shared services model will significantly change the way we work on behalf of members and reduce redundancy across the CBA.  We completed member surveys about our products, programs and services and members will see positive changes over this upcoming year as a result of that work.

The changes made over the past two years have allowed us to reduce the CBA national regular membership fee from $590 to $530 for 2018-19 and $500 for 2019-20.  Significant changes were also made to the CBA revenue sharing formula so that all Branches will maintain their current funding levels as these fees are reduced.  The Board filled our 16 National Committees and Subcommittees for this upcoming year in a manner that reflects our Association membership.  Among all Committee and Subcommittee appointees: 57% are women, 18% are racialized and 4% are Indigenous, 4% are lawyers with disabilities, and 11% are members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Looking Forward

I start my year as CBA President with a personal reminder of why I sought this responsibility.  I wrote when I stood for election as Vice-President sixteen months ago - “I have two teenage daughters, both of whom intend to become lawyers.  I want to work to ensure their experience is as positive as mine has been, and supporting the work of the CBA is my chosen path.”  As I begin this journey of my professional lifetime, Jessie is now 20 and entering the third year of her undergraduate degree and Tori is now 14 and just started high school.  You’ll be hearing me talk about my daughters often during the next year, so I wanted to introduce them to you.

For the business of the CBA, I have two simple metrics for success this year – more members and increased member satisfaction.  Based upon the results of member surveys taken earlier in 2018, the Board identified two advocacy priorities for the upcoming year: improving access to justice and protecting solicitor/client privilege.  We will be communicating back to members over the course of the year as our work progresses on all of these fronts.

On a more personal front, advancing inclusiveness in the profession is important to me.  My eyes were opened during my twelve years in law firm management to the challenges experienced by women lawyers, lawyers of colour, Indigenous lawyers, 2SLGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities.  I have learned from these lawyers the impact these challenges have on them personally and professionally.  I plan to do my small part this year to make the legal career path for my daughters, their peers and members of other equality seeking groups a little easier to travel.  I believe that inclusiveness is the path to true diversity in the profession so you’ll be hearing from me frequently on this subject.

CBA work advancing inclusiveness has already begun. The Women Lawyers Forum is undertaking a study of partner compensation to identify underlying factors leading to any compensation gap that may be identified. Vice-President Vivene Salmon is leading the development of a leadership conference for lawyers of colour scheduled for next spring.  Our CBA Task Force to implement the CBA response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation has already met and will be working extensively over the next six months. Orientation for national section leaders next month will include a discussion on leading inclusive meetings. Our Board will be receiving presentations over the course of the upcoming year from equality-seeking groups on how the CBA can best advance towards our stated strategic goal of cultivating an inclusive, engaged professional community.

I have started and will continue to tweet regularly about CBA activities across the country from @RayAdlington. I will also be occasionally publishing or re-posting interesting articles using LinkedIn to share with our members.  Please engage with me through these channels or by email at president@cba.org anytime this year to discuss anything related to the CBA or our initiatives.

Tour Schedule

One of the highlights of this year for me will be travelling this amazing country in my own version of The Amazing Race Canada.  In addition to hearing from as many members as possible about their experiences with the CBA, I will be assisting wherever I can with Branch advocacy efforts and relationship building on behalf of the CBA. My schedule for the year thus far includes:

  • Yukon Branch Annual General Meeting (via Zoom – October 3)
  • Federation of Law Societies Conference (October 17-18)
  • Ontario Bar Association Council Meeting (November 23)
  • Nova Scotia Branch Annual Conference (December 6-7)
  • Manitoba Branch Council Meeting (December 13)
  • Manitoba Branch Mid-Winter Conference (January 24-26)
  • Saskatchewan Branch Mid-Winter Conference (January 31 – February 1)
  • Alberta Branch President’s Dinner and Service Awards Lunch (February 4-5)
  • New Brunswick Branch Council Meeting and Mid-Winter Conference (February 7-9)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Branch Mid-Winter Conference (March 8-9)
  • Canadian Corporate Counsel Association National Conference (April 7-9)

 

Still to be scheduled are liaison meetings with the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges, the American Bar Association, and the Federation of Law Societies that will also include Vice-President Vivene Salmon and CEO Cheryl Farrow.  The timing of my trips to British Columbia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut will soon be set.  I suspect more will be added as the year progresses.

Conclusion

Thanks to all our members, volunteers at all levels and the professionals we employ across the country. We all have a common mission - enhancing the professional and commercial interests of our diverse membership and protecting the independence of the judiciary and the Bar. Without you, both our profession and our society would be diminished. While I probably should have been given a sippy cup and plastic plate when the table was set for this upcoming year, I truly appreciate the faith that has been shown in my ability to work with the highest quality dishware we have available.