D.C. Bar Strategic Planning Committee: Asking the Tough Questions

By Jeffery Leon

June 21, 2016

On June 15 the D.C. Bar Strategic Planning Committee was honored as co-recipient of the Frederick B. Abramson Award at the Bar's annual Celebration of Leadership. 

Appointed in 2014 by then D.C. Bar president Brigida Benitez, the Strategic Planning Committee was tasked with developing an organization vision for the Bar for the next five years. Chaired by former Bar president Kim M. Keenan, the committee enlisted a group of individuals reflecting diverse perspectives, including active and judicial members, as well as nonmembers with substantial knowledge of the legal profession, to study the trends affecting the industry. 

The committee gathered feedback from thousands of the Bar's stakeholders, conducting a comprehensive online survey, several polls, and numerous focus groups. From this research, the committee identified five strategic priorities for the Bar and 15 strategic objectives. On June 9, 2015, the Bar's Board of Governors approved the framework, which now guides the D.C. Bar 2020 strategic planning process. 

Keenan spoke to the Bar about their work. 

Tell me about your involvement with the D.C. Bar Strategic Planning Committee?

I was asked to chair the Strategic Planning Committee, and it was a great honor. Much of our vision for the committee was about integrating the legal profession worldwide. The D.C. Bar is global now—we have members all over the world and our membership travels globally. We need to offer the character, integrity, and service that D.C. Bar attorneys provide every day to the world. We are the second-largest jurisdictional bar in the nation, with innovative programs that are second to none. Our pro bono efforts and efforts in the community are world class, and I am very proud to be a part of that work.

What were some of the challenges of being on this committee?

You want to do everything you can to get it right. You cannot have this committee and not account for impactful trends such as technology or the role of business in law. You have to be aware of the trends and get the membership's input on what the future for the Bar should look like. You also have to think generationally, from newly minted attorneys to senior lawyers. The committee had to take all of this into account. The D.C. legal community has every kind of lawyer you can imagine, and that is what is going to make the Bar nimble in the future, by having that insight and understanding of what the future looks like from different points of view.

What were you most proud of with this committee?

I was most proud of the committee itself. It was diverse in gender, age, and culture. It was collegial and collaborative. We asked the tough questions, and members really delved into the information. The Bar is truly the finest place to do a project because the level of input you get from team members, both staff and volunteers, is second to none.

How does it feel to be a co-recipient of the Frederick B. Abramson Award?

We were totally surprised and very grateful. The committee did not go into this project thinking about any form of recognition. Instead, we went into it thinking we were going to complete this project at a very high level. It never dawned on me that we would win the award, but I know the committee was very much focused in the spirit of Fred Abramson, a former Bar president who was not only a great attorney, but someone who cared about the profession and the future of the profession. It's a great honor.

Any final comments?

The D.C. Bar established a high benchmark, and it's up to all of us to carry that torch. To follow in the footsteps of our esteemed Bar leaders and members, lift them up, and make the Bar better means everything.