California Lawyers Association

CLA Creating Organization’s First Strategic Plan

By Ona Alston Dosunmu
C.E.O. & Executive Director

As a new organization, the California Lawyers Association had its work cut out for us the first few years of our existence—establishing ourselves and developing a brand. Thankfully, we had the rich history and deep expertise of the Sections, stellar leadership and an unparalleled professional team to rely on, which has made getting started a bit easier. 

We’re at a point now, however, where we must think about and plan for the future in a more formal and disciplined way. To that end, CLA has taken the first steps towards developing a strategic framework to ensure we have our priorities identified and aligned, which will cement the viability of the organization for decades to come. As the saying goes, you have to walk before you can run. But in the association world, you also need to add another step— building the track to run on.

This emphasis on strategic planning was embraced at our August 19, 2020, Board of Representatives meeting, where we proposed the creation of a strategic and long-range planning committee. The Board voted to create the committee at its September 24, 2020, meeting. We then enlisted the aid of McKinley Advisors (which previously assisted in developing CLA’s membership dues structure) to facilitate the process and to augment the executive team’s work as we identify potential strategic priorities for us over the next three years.

I’m happy to report that the process is well underway and we are on target to deliver a plan for Board consideration and adoption this fall. McKinley Advisors interviewed approximately 25 volunteer leaders from across CLA’s Board of Representatives, Committees and Sections. In addition, McKinley fielded and analyzed data from a poll sent to all CLA leadership. Combined with retreats and further committee meetings, we will flesh out the information and develop a multi-year strategic approach for the organization. The goal is to present the Board with a plan ready for adoption in September.

I can’t emphasize enough how excited I am to help develop CLA’s first-ever strategic plan and how important this effort is. It is vital for any organization, but particularly new ones like ours because a strategic plan helps guide decision-making as well as the use and development of resources. And it also creates a template for future generations of CLA leaders to build upon.

I would, of course, be remiss in not thanking the members of the Board of Representatives and of the Strategic and Long-Range Planning Committee as well as those members who spent their time on interviews and completing the poll.  The time contributed to this mission-critical project is deeply appreciated.

I welcome any questions you have about our strategic planning process. We’re excited to welcome your input as we plot our course for the next several years.

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