Yesterday I got another mass email from the State Bar of Arizona (SBA). “Last Chance to Answer the State Bar of Arizona Member Survey” declared the subject line. “Please take a few minutes NOW to fill out the survey.” And then to sweeten my interest, “As a token of our appreciation for your prompt response, we’ll enter your name into a raffle to win a $100 Visa gift card.”
As usual, I ignore the Bar’s survey requests. This was the third mass email about the same topic. After the second email, I asked for a blank copy of the survey questions. After a couple of days, the Bar’s public relations chief emailed a copy. The survey runs 9 pages and 48 questions. By my stopwatch, it won’t “take a few minutes” to answer. Not like it matters. I won’t be taking the survey and humbly suggest no one else should either.
Long ago I worked for a guy whose favorite expression was the blindingly obvious, “Timing is everything.” So right in the middle of a big fight at the Arizona Legislature to reform the State Bar comes a self-serving survey replete with the usual leading questions. Talk about timing.
The questions are meant to lead survey-takers down the Bar’s primrose path. Tell us “how valuable” a member benefit is? “How well does the SBA deliver . . . .”
It’s been a while since I read Elizabeth Barrett Browning but in other words, “How Do I Love Thee?” The State Bar of Arizona wants us to “count the ways.”
And among the 48 questions is the one nearest to the unsated stomach of every bloated bureaucrat, “If the SBA could provide you with one additional resource or service that currently is not offered, what would it be?”
Just in case, there’s a second follow-up that fishes for “a second additional resource or service” to add to your expense line. Missing is the better question, “Does this program make me look fat?”
Buried in the questionnaire is the seemingly innocuous question No. 45, “Do you have a succession plan for continuation of your practice in the event that you are unable to continue in the practice of law due to death, disability, or bar discipline?” On that last point of “bar discipline,” Arizona lawyers may not all be aware of this but the Bar recently made a succession plan a mandatory ethical obligation. So if you answer in the negative and then disclose your identity to enter the raffle, beware you aren’t also entering an unintended second raffle for a bar complaint.
The truth is this survey like all the others isn’t intended to identify or to serve members’ interests. These surveys only serve the Bar’s interests. They are tools to drive the Bar’s mission-creeping agenda and to cover its analysis (CYA).
Moreover, the survey and whatever the results may be — either good or bad — serve as a sword and a shield the Bar employs to hide behind or to flagellate critics, especially those ‘pests’ at the Arizona Legislature.
No matter if the Bar again gets an underwhelming response. It usually does. By overwhelming numbers, members ignore these surveys knowing full well what the agenda is about — $100 Visa gift card or not.
But just the same, count on the Bar to loudly trumpet the fake news: ‘Look at the great job we’re doing! Members love us.’ Such pronouncements will continue to fly in the face of reality. How can you dare to assess the satisfaction of captive members forced to join and forced to finance an ever-expanding bureaucratic empire in order to earn a living as lawyers?
This from the same organization that as ordered by the state supreme court “exists to serve and protect the public with respect to the provision of legal services and access to justice.”
There again is the State Bar of Arizona’s two-headed conflict of interest. It rears its two heads once more. Serve and protect the public but at the same time serve and protect the interests of lawyers —“help us serve you better.”
Reminds me of Jerry Maguire — minus the humor. ‘Help me, help you.’
Photos: Via Morguefile.com, no attribution required.