The State Bar of Arizona sent out a blast email to members last Thursday afternoon, April 2nd. The email sincerely insincerely asked for comments about its 2015-2019 Strategic Plan “to make sure we haven’t missed anything.” But the deadline for response was a mere 4 work days later by tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7th.
Most lawyers will miss the email, let alone respond. But then that’s hardly a surprise. The Bar makes a habit of eleventh-hour requests for member feedback. This way at least, it can always check the box that it asked for member input — even if it was late or after-the-fact.
It’s a tiresome stratagem since, as many of us know, a mandatory membership bar only pretends to care what members think or want.
For the autocratic Arizona Bar, top-down, under-the-radar decision-making is how it rolls.
So when the Bar asks for comments about its plans — it’s for appearances’ sake since the Bar believes more in dressing the window than in opening it to let in light and fresh air.
Strategic Plan Rehash.
In its request, the Bar linked to its one-page “Outline of Goals,” which briefly summarized its strategic planning committee’s five goals: competency; ethics; professionalism; administration of and access to justice; and professionalism.
It’s all much ado, however. The 2015-2019 plan is little more than a rehash of its over-the-top 2010-2015 five-year plan. See “AZ Bar drafts up 5 year vision but misses the mark” and “Arizona Bar releases five-year vision”
And per usual, the outline is full of self-congratulation but also per usual, light on metrics. Where are the sets of measurements to quantify results? Where are the performance metrics to quantify performance? Or the project metrics to verify attainment of goals?
And what about the Bar’s continued problems with transparency, due process and communication? Or the failure to address the prioritization of resources and the elimination of low priority programs and services? Of course not. It’s all lip in search of service. For comparison, see the Nebraska State Bar’s revised strategic plan after its supreme court made most of its programs and services optional.
The Bar’s plans are merely a means not to “sustain efficient and effective management of Bar resources” as the outline states — but excuses for mission creep, the bureaucratic Bar’s ingrained love for gradually broadening its original organizational objectives.
In the end, however, the short turnaround time for member response is of little import since the Bar’s poised to simply repeat what it did in 2010 and again prospectively proclaim its purported objectives a done deal: “The State Bar of Arizona demonstrates excellence in every area: operations, programs, resource management, policy and planning, and citizenship.”
“To Protect and to Serve.”
My only other thought is to wonder why the Bar even bothered to do a strategic plan since the state supreme court has undertaken its own state bar mission and governance study through a task force it created in August. Any strategic plan will be subordinated and subsumed by what the task force recommends to the court.
Indeed, according to the task force’s mostly completed work, the state supreme court will soon be retooling its rules “to clarify that the mission of the State Bar of Arizona is primarily to protect and to serve the public, and secondarily, to serve its members.”
Or in other words, as a bar executive once told me, to function “like a consumer protection agency” — i.e., to protect the public from its members.
So much for all the soft-pedaled mush language in the strategic plan outline about ‘promoting and enforcing the highest member ethical conduct’ or about ‘enhancing the Bar’s protection of the public.’
Photo Credits: “Don’t Listen,” by Sean Loyless at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; “Chris,” by Paris Buttfield-Addison at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution;104/365 “These are the times we all wish for,” by bp6316 at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; “LAPD Seal,” by JBrazito at Flickr via Creative Commons Attribution; Jack Webb, via Wikipedia Commons.