The Bar News

ISBA Special Committee on Assembly Governance Accepting Comments on Operation of the ISBA Assembly

The Special Committee on Assembly Governance is interested in your thoughts and comments as it continues the work of examining the operation of the ISBA Assembly.

In June 2019, ISBA President David Sosin established the Special Committee to comprehensively review and, if appropriate, make recommendations regarding the structure and operation of the ISBA Assembly.  The Special Committee is comprised of both past and current members of the Assembly. The reasons for creating the Special Committee were concerns about a potential lack of interest in the Assembly, the perception of the Assembly as either “rubber-stamping” decisions of the Board of Governors or no longer taking on meaningful matters, the associated costs in running the Assembly, the Assembly’s lessening relevance to effective and streamlined governance, and the declining attendance at Assembly meetings.

Since it has been established, the Special Committee has met several times. It has reviewed substantial amounts of data, developed and conducted an Assembly Governance survey, and has discussed at length various approaches to improving the Assembly.   

During the Assembly meeting on Dec. 7, 2019, the chair of the Special Committee, Matthew Pfeiffer (DuPage County), presented information relating to the Special Committee’s work, research, and analysis thus far.  Chair Pfeiffer reported that it was the preliminary consensus of the members of the Special Committee that the Assembly should remain, but that changes to its structure and operation are necessary for improving its effective governance. He stressed that the Special Committee had not reached any final conclusions and that it was still considering the merits of ways to change the Assembly.

The Special Committee had discussed and determined that any changes to the Assembly could occur only in the following areas: role and responsibilities, size and composition, frequency of meetings, and timing and location of meetings.  Within those areas, Chair Pfeiffer relayed that the Special Committee had discussed several potential options for the Assembly:

  1. Continue the Assembly as currently constituted;
  2. Continue the Assembly as currently constituted but eliminate the opportunity to fill vacant seats;
  3. Reduce the size of the Assembly and continue to hold two meetings per year;
  4. Reduce the size of the Assembly and hold only one meeting per year;
  5. Provide for Assembly meetings to be attended by remote electronic means;
  6. Discontinue the Assembly; and
  7. Discontinue the Assembly in its current form and replace it with a “town hall meeting” type of setting or other direct member involvement.

Following the presentation of the preliminary options identified by the Special Committee, members of the Assembly were invited to offer comments, suggestions, and recommendations.  Several Assembly members actively participated in the discussion, and their comments, suggestions, and recommendations were noted for consideration by the Special Committee in formulating its final recommendations to the Assembly. 

The Special Committee on Assembly Governance continues to work diligently toward providing recommendations to the Assembly for improvement to its structure and operation. The Special Committee welcomes any additional input from ISBA members prior to finalizing its recommendations to the Assembly.  If you have any additional comments, suggestions, or recommendations, please comment and submit them below.

Posted on January 28, 2020 by Rhys Saunders
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Member Comments (2)

I sent a lengthy letter to the ISBA hierarchy and shared it to the assembly blog summarizing the discussion at the mid year meeting. I favor the suggestions for a reduction of the assembly and board of governors keeping the Cook County/downstate ratio.  James T. Reilly 13th Circuit Assembly and Assembly Finance Committee member

i have been in and out of the assembly since its creation.

the assembly should be maintained.

it is too large. there should be many fewer delegates but the cook co. non cook co. ratio should be maintained.

the meetings should not contain the intro of the past presidents, the giving of awards nor informational reports. a list of past presidents could be published in the journal, the award recipients could be published in the journal, the info items could be available on line or published in the journal to be available to all members of the isba, not just assy. members. thus all members who choose to read the journal get the same info. the assy is called an elite secret group by the genreal membership that votes on items that the general membership of the isba does not learn of. 

the agenda should be published in the docket. 

if a circuit has ten seats and if only  5 people choose to run, do not appoint another 5 so that there are 10. if that circuit has no interst, it should not have its full allotment of members. perhaps next election, 10 will seek election to the assy.

if there are no action items on the agenda for the meeting, cancel the meeting. that saves lots of money for reimbursement, room rental, name tags and much printing.

having the budget approved at the assy after questions are posed by members in perhaps the most important item. that should continue and not be approved by mail or electronically. there must be time for questions even if only a few members ask them.

the assy now appears to be a special social club for an elite group of isba members. but not as elite as the board and officers, to get together twice a year. it should be kept, streamlined, made more efficient and actually do something as opposed to creating committes to give oral reports that require no action.


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