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February 11, 2013


President’s Update: Examining Our Governance Structure

by contributor
michele radosevich
“I’m posing questions, not offering an answer.” WSBA President Michele Radosevich looks at Board representation.

WSBA President Michele RadosevichI’m just back from the National Conference of Bar Presidents Midyear Meeting in Dallas and thought I would offer some food for thought. The keynote speaker was Mary Byers, an organizational consultant who works with a lot of professional associations. She identified a number of problems that professional associations are experiencing and offered 5 solutions.

Some of the solutions offered were unremarkable, for example, using technology better, but one in particular, caught my attention. She urged us generally to reexamine our governance structures and specifically to shrink our governing boards. Since, we have a task force looking at governance, this seems like a good time to discuss representation.

We currently have geographic representation, along with three at-large positions designed to ensure diversity. Each attorney in the state has a particular Governor representing them, but some parts of the state have more representatives than others.

Is it important to have a more or less personal representative on the Board of Governors? Or is it enough to know that there’s a mechanism for input, that any member has a way to have a voice at the board meetings and the board’s going to be responsive to his or her concerns?

If representation is geographic, should it be based on equal sized districts, even though that gives King County greater representation than it now has?

I’m posing questions, not offering an answer. We need to have a conversation about this because every member has a real stake. I’m interesting in hearing what you think.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Rebecca Wiess
    Feb 12 2013

    Along with the question, bring us some facts. How big is our board compared to other states? How many attorneys per board member? History of being bigger or smaller?

  2. Michele Radosevich
    Feb 13 2013

    The states vary greatly. Our Board of Governors has grown over time as at-large positions were added to encourage diversity. We now have a board of 15. The basic organization is by congressional district, but some congressional districts–those containing Seattle and Bellevue–have a 4 or 5 times as many attorneys than others. If we were to cut the board size to 10, eliminating at large positions, the geographic disparities would likely increase. How important is it that Seattle attorneys have the same relative weight as Tri-Cities attorneys? How important is it to have a diverse board? These are some of the questions I’d like to have a conversation about.


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