California Lawyers Association

CEO Quarterly Update & May Board Summary

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June 2024

By Chris Nguyen
Chief Executive Officer

Five Months Going on Five Years

As I sat down to write this update, I realized two things. First, I have learned so much from staff and members I have met and second, it only seems I have been at CLA for five years when in reality it has only been 5 months. Yet, I’m still excited about going to work every day. Why, you may ask?  Because I work with great colleagues and volunteers at a place that offers an opportunity to do good.

I am amazed at the staff’s capacity to learn and adapt as we re-focus our energies on member service, collaboration and solutions. In talking with a staff member, a profound comment stuck with me, “I can always learn and improve”. It is with this perspective that has allowed our organization to quickly pivot to a systems oriented way of doing business with the customer, as our focus. CLA Central has begun to look at ways to streamline, automate and standardize operations to ensure consistency and speed without losing sight of service and quality.  Already, there are steps taken to plan events 12 plus months into the future; kick-off meetings and collaborations to scope out work and identify needed information to increase efficiency and communication; and a willingness to overcome obstacles at the early stages. While nascent, this is a positive trend and bode well for the future of CLA.

CLA’s volunteer leaders have been outstanding. Having attended many ExCom meetings, listening and talking to the volunteer leaders about their concerns, hopes and suggestions was a great learning experience. I was, and still am, struck by the willingness to help and positive views many members have for CLA.

The positive views, willingness to do better and observations of the potential for CLA is what make me excited about coming to work every day.  The changes CLA is going through is an outgrowth of aligning our resources with the opportunities to provide a better member experience.  The organization changes are proof that we mean what we say: CLA is here to support its members. We demonstrate this by moving to a two-division format, one that focused, and integrated to better support, the member experience from registration to education to marketing and promotion of section events, webinars and increasing recruitment while the second division is focused on optimization ‘back office’ support to create a more seamless and user-friendly environment, allowing volunteer leaders to focus on member content.

So, 5 months seeming to be 5 years is the price of change we needed to make to be a more responsive organization, yet not fast enough as we move towards a more inclusive, collaborative, stronger and more numerous association.

May Board Summary

I continue to make progress meeting with more ExComs. This time, it’s with Public Law and Labor and Employment where I outlined the reorganization of CLA central to better serve members while listening to leaders’ concerns about membership growth, marketing support, institutional continuity and responsiveness. Hearing this feedback confirms the need for our re-organization and renewed focus on member support.

In addition to meeting more sections, we are focused on planning for the annual meeting (Sep 5-8) as well as Soiree (formerly Gala) following the annual meeting. The Soiree is an opportunity to celebrate our achievements while fundraising for the California Lawyers Foundation. We have our Solo and Small Firm Summit coming in June (June 13-14) right around the corner.  This is a must for those looking to build and grow their practice!  You can still register here.

Many Sections have nominated new ExCom officers to the Board for approval. For those Sections who have not sent in their nominations, please do so. We would love to celebrate the achievements of the outgoing leaders while welcoming incoming ones!

One on-going issue of interest to all of us is the state of the Association’s member numbers. While our overall membership numbers have declined from 2023, our marketing department has a 4-month plan to reach out to lapsed members to encourage them to join.  The goal is to bring in 1,000 members during the engagement campaign.  If you know anyone who expressed an interest in joining, please encourage them to join. A couple of great benefits from CLA membership are access to Fastcase (at a greatly reduced discount vs a standalone annual fee) and competitive discounts on insurance products.  More benefits can be found here.

On the financial front, our first quarter 2024 revenue is flat to the same period in 2023. The good news is that our expenses are lower than 2023. This means our net income for 1Q 2024 is a positive $153,000.  Obviously, we will continue to monitor expenses and will strive to maintain this positive trend by focusing on efficiency and revenue maximization.

We have soft launched our new Association Management System (AMS) to better assist members and provide more tools to volunteer leaders. Please take some time to log into your account and update your profile.


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