Spotlight on: CBA Re-Think – Strategic Direction

“If we sit back and keep talking about this the way we liked to do in the 70s, 80s and 90s, we’ll die. ... It’s extremely important that we stop talking about this ... it’s time to get going.” — Former CBA president Simon Potter at the 2016 CBA Mid-Winter meeting

At the CBA Mid-Winter meeting in February, Council approved a new Strategic Direction for the CBA, which summarizes our aspirations, values and the foundation on which we’ll build a better association, starting with this value proposition: “The CBA connects members to the people, knowledge and skills they need to successfully practise law in Canada.”

The Strategic Direction marks an interim stage in the Re-Think process begun in 2014, when, faced with declining membership, particularly among young lawyers; the growth of competitors offering legal services for less; a blurring of professional boundaries; and the erosion of the rule of law, the CBA embarked on an exercise to find out what its constituency wants from the association. It wanted to know which of its offerings lawyers valued, and which they did not.

Re-Think leaders have talked to lawyers across the country – young, old, rural, urban, small-firm, large-firm, members, and non-members – and have used the content of those discussions as the basis for next steps, the Strategic Direction among them.

The document sets out the five things the CBA must do in order to build a more powerful and inclusive professional community across Canada:

  • Develop deep, smart member intelligence
  • Deliver distinct and relevant professional development
  • Advocate on behalf of the profession
  • Prepare the profession for the future
  • Cultivate an inclusive, engaged professional community

What does that mean for members? We have a team working on turning these aspirations into concrete actions. As we begin to implement the strategy you should be able to see changes such as:

  • A more technologically savvy CBA – giving you information the way you want to receive it
  • More access to personalized news, views and opportunities
  • More access to virtual meetings and world-class training
  • More meaningful, creative and timely innovations to connect with other members
  • More ways to give us your input
  • More harmonized communications across the organization

Kathryn Gilliss, a young lawyer who works in rural Saskatchewan, told Council she thinks it’s a “wonderful vision for the association itself.”

“I had the privilege of attending the Re-Think series in Calgary in June of last year and was really excited and eager to move forward with this organization as a young, new practitioner. Everything that is envisioned in Re-Think – not only from a young lawyer’s perspective but also from rural practitioner’s, working in rural Saskatchewan. I urge everyone to support this program.”

For more information on the Re-Think, including a video of the presentation made to Council in February, testimonials from members, as well as background documents and a timeline of events, check out the CBA Re-Think website.