Oklahoma Bar Journal
Meet the OBA Membership Engagement Committee
By Tim DeClerck and April Moaning
The Membership Engagement Committee was formed in late 2021 with the aim of helping the OBA better engage its members through improved communication and promoting the value of the benefits the association provides to its members. April Moaning and I were appointed co-chairs of the committee. We were pleased to be appointed because we both understand the benefits provided by the OBA, and we enjoy the community the association provides to Oklahoma lawyers. We wanted to help the association learn what its members want from the OBA. After discussions with OBA staff and other committee members, we determined that to figure out how to improve member experience, we needed to know what the membership wants out of its association. The committee, with OBA staff support, helped develop a wide-ranging membership survey that would help identify our members’ likes and dislikes about the association as well as what offerings and services our members want.
One result the survey showed was that the member benefit Fastcase free legal research platform was underutilized and, in some cases, unknown by members. With that information, the committee worked with Fastcase to develop two OBA-specific training sessions – basic and advanced – that launched in fall 2022. The training sessions showed members how to get the most out of Fastcase – a great research platform available to all members at no cost. The committee worked with the OBA CLE Department to ensure the trainings qualified for MCLE and with the OBA Communications Department to publicize the availability of the trainings. The survey, publicity and training were a success! As a result, Fastcase usage by OBA members has increased by nearly 10% so far this year.
More desire to engage with OBA membership led the committee to create two more targeted surveys in early 2023. One survey was developed to determine how our members want the OBA to communicate its programs, benefits and CLE information to them. The other survey sought the opinions of our members about how to make the OBA Annual Meeting more relevant to all members. Both surveys received hundreds of responses and at least a 5-10% response rate, which is considered a healthy response.
The surveys have directly led to action being taken by the association based on the opinions and preferences you expressed. You spoke, and we listened! We are working with OBA staff and other stakeholders so OBA members will have the use of an integrated, highly functional website that provides a more seamless experience for members who interact with the association online.
The survey regarding the Annual Meeting yielded valuable insights into our membership’s opinions about what programs, continuing legal education and social events have been presented and what they would like to see continued, changed or eliminated. We learned we need to make every effort to ensure events held during the Annual Meeting feel welcoming and inclusive to all of our members. Among the suggestions were creating “dry” spaces at the meeting to support those members who prefer to attend alcohol-free events and presenting CLE and programs for lawyers who practice in rural areas of our state. Others expressed a desire to have the meeting be held concurrently with the annual judicial conference. The committee and OBA staff are working to try to incorporate those ideas into future meetings.
And we don’t just create surveys! The committee is also actively leading discussions with law school student representatives to engage with future lawyers to build relationships with members-to-be early on. Our goal is to ensure they come to the association eager to join – not just to be able to practice law but to become a part of an association that will give them an opportunity to associate with lawyers across the state and a feeling they can get help and answers to their questions as they build their practice.
The committee hopes that its work in these areas will make our membership recognize the value of OBA membership, and that membership is much more than just a requirement to practice law in the state of Oklahoma. It is our challenge as a committee to take a strategic, long-term and forward-thinking approach to making sure OBA members truly understand why belonging to the association matters. We will continue to work diligently to ensure members take pride in being an Oklahoma lawyer and as members of the Oklahoma Bar Association.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Tim DeClerck practices at Mitchell DeClerck PLLC in Enid. April Moaning is a sole practitioner in Oklahoma City. If you have any comments or suggestions for the committee, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Originally published in the Oklahoma Bar Journal – OBJ 95 Vol 6 (August 2023)
Statements or opinions expressed in the Oklahoma Bar Journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Oklahoma Bar Association, its officers, Board of Governors, Board of Editors or staff.