Midyear Meeting 2010

ABA Remakes Organization Amid Recession

Carolyn Lamm

Carolyn Lamm
Jensen Larson Photography

ABA President Carolyn Lamm told the House of Delegates this morning that when she took office in August, she knew the economy was in crisis, but “I’m not sure I anticipated being hit by a few birds on takeoff.”

“Autopilot will not get us where we need to go,” Lamm—a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of White & Case—said, as she cataloged a series of staff and organizational changes that have taken place on her watch over the past five months.

“For too long, our dues have been too high for too many in our profession. About 70 percent of our profession have found a reason not to join, and many have cited our dues as a reason,” she said. A resolution scheduled to come before the House tomorrow would cut dues for solo practitioners by approximately 50 percent.

ABA Executive Director Henry F. White Jr. resigned in November. The parting was “amicable,” Lamm said, but covered by a confidentiality agreement. The organization’s CFO had been terminated shortly before, she said, along with the group’s chief budget staff person. The financial staff members have since been replaced, and the association expects to name a new executive director by August, she said.

The ABA has been “seriously lacking” in technology, Lamm said. “We need a better website,” and the association has hired the advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather to assist in that effort, as well as in the creation of a broader marketing strategy, she said.

The ABA also has created a variety of resources for members affected by the recession, including a portal to economic recovery materials and a new job board listing vacant positions from a host of legal employers.

“Times change, and organizations must change. But whether the times are good or bad, there must always be a secure home for America’s lawyers,” she said.

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