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Suggestions in Organizing and Strengthening a New Chapter
1.4 Order of Action
There is a somewhat general but logical order in which responsibilities in the Membership Committee should be fulfilled. Effective sales departments of companies do not contact potential customers until they meet as a sales team, calculate the benefits of their product, identify all potential customers from different sources, determine the cost, budget and appropriate pricing of the product and consider the very best way to communicate with the customers. Additionally, after they have recruited the customer, they strive to retain or reinstate that same customer to an active status.
It's the same way in our Chapters. Effectiveness is decreased if you jump to the recruitment stage before you appropriately evaluate and plan. The suggested general order of action for maximum success follows.
Organize the Committee
In the Membership Committee, there should be a Chair who sits on the Chapter Board of Directors. There should be other members of the committee as well. If geographical constraints allow, if possible, meet in person in a formal committee meeting. Don't feel you are imposing upon your other members in asking them to come to the Chair's office. If you're in charge, they should be expected to come to your office. They will welcome the opportunity to participate in the success of the Chapter and to be a part of the process. Plan a formal meeting with an opening and closing prayer. They will sense the importance of their work. If there is a scheduling or distance problem, set up conference calls (check out freeconferencecall.com) and still hold a formal meeting on the phone.
Brainstorm ideas, goals and dates. Determine at the beginning of your term how often you are to meet, preferably at least on a monthly basis. You should meet most frequently as you approach the all-critical pre-recruitment months. There are ongoing issues of membership even after the initial recruitment campaign.
Delegate assignments so committee members have specific areas of responsibility and make them accountable by a certain date. Appropriately follow up on that date to ensure accountability with other dates until the assignment is completed. Coordinate your plans, especially policy decisions, with a member of the Executive Board of your Chapter (if you are not on it yourself) who is your liaison. Coordinating your efforts with the other committees of the Chapter will in large part determine your success, as well. If too much of the work is being done by the Membership Committee, consider a request to the Chapter Chair to form new committees to divide up some of these responsibilities, such as events, service, communications, liaison (to law schools and local bars), funding, or any other committee that should stand on its own.
b. Find the Names of Potential Members
Avoid re-creating the wheel. It is far easier to improve what resources you already have than to resort to more time-consuming and difficult methods. The process of identifying current and potential members and actively recording necessary information about them should be intensely done before the annual recruitment campaign and continue throughout the year. The time other committees spend throughout the entire year should be mostly spent by the Membership Committee in the few months prior to the recruitment drive.
Your current list of members is obviously the most important membership-tracking list that you have. Make sure it is accurate and updated every year and throughout the year. Preferably, putting all names and appropriate information in an Excel spread sheet or some other program allows you to sort by name, firm, work address, work phone, work fax, e-mail, membership status, stake and ward. See the Technology section on your use of the JRCLS International Excel capability on-line with different fields as you may choose or use your own system. Try to select a member of the committee with some computer ability, or perhaps the Chapter Secretary or a separate communications committee. Make sure you look at past lists as well to determine if any lawyers or graduates of Law School inadvertently were dropped from your list in the past and need to be contacted again and reinstated.
JRCLS International List
Coordinate and compare your list with that of JRCLS International on the website at jrcls.org. Select "Member Directory." Access it with your first and last name with the password given to you. If you forgot the password, email the database coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (801) 422-5514. Enter your Chapter. Compare the list of names with your own list. Access any name to get detailed information. They will probably have some names that do not appear on your list and vice-versa. Throughout the year, add theirs to yours and notify them of yours and they will do likewise. Newly signed up members won't get the Clark Memorandum or have access to the BYU Law School Job Bank or other benefits until you pass the information on to JRCLS International.
Each year, contact all the stakes or wards in your Chapter area. Perhaps this could be assigned out to members of the Membership Committee, or have all the members of the Board assist in the annual recruitment campaign. Wards could be assigned to those who live in those areas. Ask the counselor (instead of the busy bishop) if anyone in their ward has passed the bar or is an lawyer, judge, or law student. Your state bar internet database will often tell you the firm address and e-mail of an lawyer within that state. Include stake and ward on your Excel spread sheet for future reference, update it every year so you can sort by stake and ward. You will find many names by this method not found by other means.
Law School Graduates
BYU (and probably University of Utah) maintains records of graduates of law schools that are moving to or accepting jobs in your area. Make sure you get this information from the law school so that you can update your records and contact these new member candidates before the recruitment campaign or as they arrive. This is particularly important in the summer of each year because most of them will be graduating at that time. The International Committee will strive to get you this information without you asking for it. BYU law school graduates are automatically included as members of the Law Society. Check your Chapter's list on the website in the summer and welcome those who are new.
Access Martindale Hubble at Martindale.com. You can search by law school and geographic area. For example, you can find all lawyers who graduated from BYU, U of U, University of Idaho and any other law school which might have a higher proportion of graduates interested in our mission who are located in your exact geographic area. Compare that list with your own lawyers to see if you missed anyone. There is no guarantee that they will be interested in our mission, but it is worth a try.
Local Law Schools
Contact your local law schools to see if they maintain a list of their students by religion (probably not) or by undergraduate institution (probably so, like BYU). You also might consider contacting any LDS faculty member or student to determine lists of others who are current students or students about to graduate. In terms of identifying current law students, work with the member of your Board who is in charge of the Student Chapters or the local law students.
Your state bar may have a website access to an lawyer's law school by geographic area. If so, access names from law schools with a higher proportion of LDS lawyers or others who may be interested in our mission.
Help From the Members
E-mail your current list to your Board or other members to determine if they know of any other LDS lawyers or others interested in our mission who might be interested in your events or membership. Sort it alphabetically and by firm to help others search easier, especially in the big firms.
Members of the Membership Committee probably have enough incentive simply in doing their duty as part of the team to find the names. Other members of the Board or general members might need some additional recognition or even inexpensive prizes as incentive to find more names for the list.
Identify whether non-member attendees at your events are eligible to become members. Perhaps at the events you should ask if they are law school graduates or not. If they are signing up for CLE credits at any of your events and are not otherwise on your list as lawyers, then you should evaluate whether or not they should be on your list to contact. Set up a membership table beside the event check-in table.
Determine Membership Benefits
Before contacting candidates for membership, determine the reasons they should want to become a member. These reasons might be placed in your actual membership application. Why keep it a secret? It might make a difference. Review how one Chapter listed the benefits in the sample application form on Attachment 1.9 at the end of this Chapter. Compare the reasons listed in the brochure. You may come up with your own list, but below are three possible reasons from the brochure for becoming a member and supporting the events. Some of these benefits are available to non-members on-line but won't be fully known or used for all practical purposes without joining. People join for varying reasons. You have to determine the priority of reasons.
In identifying the benefits, you show potential members that they are joining an organized and productive group planning out events a year in advance, the key component to attracting members. Events that are planned at the last minute give the wrong impression to people wanting to join your Chapter. People want to know what the "plan" is and what they are "getting" for their membership. A concentrated effort at the beginning of the year prior to the membership campaign is preferable than to trying to figure out the events calendar throughout the year. Expand this list of benefits for your particular Chapter.
- Association with other LDS lawyers and others who share common standards
- LDS perspectives on law
- Firesides on law by satellite with President James E. Faust, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Boyd K. Packer and others
- Semi-annual reception between General Conference sessions in Joseph Smith Building
- Clark Memorandum semi-annual magazine on law and religion topics
- Law and Religion Annual Symposium
- Website access to past firesides and articles, membership directory, calendar, leadership information and many other items.
- The opportunity to stand up for legal/ religious/ moral issues
- Support for local bar association services
- Mentoring of local law students
- Encouragement of public legal and other service opportunities
- Service through local Chapter leadership
- Service through JRCLS International
- Pro bono opportunities and support resources
- Advising network: the opportunity to counsel with and help young LDS law students from law schools all over the country.
- Financial contribution to appropriate charities.
- Local events, such as luncheons, social gatherings or dinners
- Ethical insights
- CLE credit at local events
- CLE credit at Education Week
- Law Specialty List
- Member information list
- Professional thought via email – weekly/daily
- Life in Law, a collection of essays by thoughtful and men and women about their professional and private lives.
- Access to BYU Law School's Alumni Job Bank
- E-mail postings of ongoing job postings
- Networking with those of common interest
Set Policies on Fees, Membership, E-mail and Application
Before setting the fee for any basic membership type, determine how much money you need to fund the year's events and activities. How much money will you raise in fund-raising from various lawyers or law firms desiring to "sponsor" a luncheon or an event with appropriate thanks and recognition at the event? You might be surprised at how many would be willing to pay a substantial amount for that opportunity. Some firms even have it in their budget. Clear membership budget with other committees and the Executive Committee. Then determine your fees for the events and membership. Remember that the basic membership is free, consistent with International, even if the only benefits are those from International. Fees should come from the other categories of members (the preferred method) or from the events themselves.
Beyond the basic free membership, be creative in defining the terms of membership or a variety of memberships that work for your Chapter.
a) Basic Free "Member"
This is the basic category that we would like to encourage all Chapters to have. The basic criteria for signing up with International should be the same as signing up for local Chapters. If a person signs up with one, they should have a continuing free membership with the other. It's up to the Chapter to define exactly what benefits they get for that basic free membership beyond that offered by International, such as free mailings and free e-mails, or other benefits.
It should be very valuable to International and the local Chapters to maintain records and to track those who support our mission statement, even if they cannot attend our meetings or participate financially, as a day may come when they will. If a member joins a local Chapter, you should notify International, so the members can receive the benefits of the International membership, as well. The reverse applies, also.
There are other benefits of maintaining as large a list as possible. Besides the increased activity at events, it may entitle your Chapter to benefits from your local bar association that might give partial credit for bar dues, especially if the local Chapter is also an affiliate or other liaison status with the bar association.
b) Paid Member
We encourage you to consider other paid membership classifications that will give more benefits for members and financial security for your Chapter to plan its events. Some Chapters get very creative in defining enhanced types of paid membership. You may want to encourage paid memberships before suggesting the unpaid categories as a back up. Stress the greater benefits, support and ease of a paid membership. Emphasize that it is a good cause even if they don't attend all of the events. Here are some possible examples:
1) Gold Member
"Gold" members could pay for all of the events during the year, including the annual dinner. Some lawyers would rather pay for the whole year with one check without facing the bother of writing a new check for each event throughout the year. Even if they can't attend every meeting, the bother is worth the expenditure and non-attendance is considered as a donation to a great cause in any event. You may be surprised on how many of your members are willing to do this, but only if you have your year planned out in advance and they can get excited about the whole annual plan.
2) Silver Member
"Silver" members could pay for the luncheons, but not for the annual dinner. This, along with a "Gold" membership, could give you great financial security in planning out your meals and your events. Once your members have paid for something, there is an increased likelihood that they will support the event, as well.
3) Bronze Member
"Bronze" members could pay a basic membership with appropriate discounts at luncheons or some other benefits.
In any of the paid memberships, the savings over non-paid memberships should be emphasized.
c) Complimentary Member
Consider giving complimentary memberships to judges or other parties deserving of it with free lunches and lunch meetings, along with the annual dinner. It might boost other membership just to have them at your events.
d) Associate Member
An "Associate" member could be one who supports our mission but does not have a law degree. They can participate and get certain benefits, but not be considered as an actual member. This might include law students or our friends from BYU Alumni or Management Associations. You may want to give discounts to students for whom we are mentors. They may have a special category by themselves entitling them to free lunches. Consider it a part of your service opportunity for the Chapter.
E-Mail/Fax Listing Consent
Obtain the prospective members' written authorization and signature to receive faxes, e-mails and other communication from you and to list their application information in a public list of members by name and specialty. We will do it on the International form and you do it on your local form as well. With stronger spamming laws now in place and with faxing laws in the near future, it is important that we obtain appropriate confirmation of their desire to receive our information. So you don't have to repeat it every year, make the authorization on-going, subject to cancellation. It is easiest if the authorization is included in the membership application (per example in Attachment 1.7 and 1.8 at the end of this Chapter)
Make it as easy as possible to fill out. Delete unnecessary information. If you have credit card capability (see Technology section), you will get a better response. If you can use your computer technology appropriately and fill out the application form for the members in advance, and really only require them to review and sign it, you increase the chances of them completing the process.
You can adapt the form used by International (see brochure 1.7) or expand it for your own particular Chapter needs. A sample application form of one of the larger Chapters is at Attachment 1.8. To give you a vision of what is possible, the Chapter went from 47 paid members at $35 fee one year to 151 paid members two year later with 57 Gold, 30 Silver and 64 Bronze, along with about five firms sponsoring the luncheons at $500 each. Needless to say, such commitment by its members gave the Chapter great security and stability.
After all of your good planning, delegation and coordination, it is time to begin the formal campaign. You have a product that you are excited to share with others and you expect an enthusiastic response because of your planning. Even after the annual recruitment membership campaign is completed, continue the methods throughout the year. Here are some methods.
Your recruitment campaign should be for a definite limited period of time, such as a month or two before the new membership year or term begins. If you don't have a definite beginning and end to the campaign with a reason to sign up because of an upcoming event with discounts that may apply, people won't get as excited about it.
One of the most efficient ways to solicit membership is an appropriate, respectful letter from the Chair to the member candidate. Perhaps you can sort by member names (or even first name if you are friends) to make it more personal. The application form could be attached to the letter, along with a suggested response date. It is particularly helpful to time the letter before an upcoming luncheon or other event which a new member status and appropriate discounts would apply.
Of course, the least expensive and sometimes most efficient means of communicating with members and prospective members alike is through e-mail. The Membership Chair or the Chapter Chair can have immediate and direct access to the entire membership and others. Again, make sure that you have everyone's consent to do the e-mailing or make it clear at the bottom of each e-mail communication what they need to do to remove them from the list. Make sure that you "blind-copy" everyone on the list to prevent your entire membership list from being disclosed to everyone else. It would be unfortunate to have someone send a negative opinion or reply or use it for commercial purposes by simply accessing "Reply-All" with everyone on your list receiving it. Show the application by not only scrolling down the page, but attach it as well. Send reminder e-mails to those who have not responded.
Successful Chapters communicate regularly with their members, usually through print and/or electronic newsletters. A good periodic newsletter should contain some or all of the following elements:
- How to apply for membership, along with an application
- Reports on activities of the last Chapter meeting
- Announcement of the next meeting, including details about topics and speakers
- News about Chapter members
- Notices regarding job opportunities
- Updates on service projects
- Actions taken by the Chapter's executive committee
- News from BYU, local law schools, and/or Student Chapters
Chapter newsletters are an effective way to communicate with Chapter members. They also require adequate planning and careful attention to details. (For more information concerning the designing and publication of a Chapter newsletter, you may want to consult Beach, Mark, Editing Your Newsletter. 4th ed, Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books, 1995.) A sample masthead, "The Legal Light," is at Attachment 1.9 at the end of this Chapter.
It is easy to do your own website. Actually, you already have your own website at jrcls.org. At the least, keep your existing information up to date. Get familiar with jrcls.org, which includes general information about the Law Society, its Chapters, Chapter Chairs, members, publications and events. If you enlist the help of the technical website people at the International level, they will help you improve your website. You can attach your own membership list to that website. You could even purchase your own website code for direct access into your website without going through the general jrcls.org website first. For example, check out jrcls-oc.com, which gives you direct access to the website in Orange County. Other Chapters have their own website linked to the International one, such as the very professional one at the Los Angeles Chapter at jrcls.org/chapters. Access the website and other Chapters to get ideas. Include your form on your Chapter website. If you want to use the database resources of JRCLS-International, and get their list consistent with yours, they will sort by category as you direct to assist you in communicating with your members. Submit your requests to email@example.com. See the Technology section.
Contact at Events
The easiest way to gain new members is to have a member of the Membership Committee at a table at each event as attendees enter. Offer them a discount to the event by signing them up as a member. One check or a credit card payment could cover both the event and the membership.
Review the brochure at Attachment 1.7 at the end of this Chapter. It lists the reason for joining from our leaders. This is a very effective tool to gain member. It can be emailed and mailed to potential members, or distributed at events.
First, try to do all you can do at the Membership Committee level in contacting prospective candidates through letters, e-mails, newsletters or any other means. Then, consider the final follow-up contact by members of your committee or members of the Board directly by telephone. Insist that every name on the list be contacted one way or another. Don't be content by someone saying they just left a message. There are few people who really don't support our mission and would refuse to either be a paid or even an unpaid member of our group. It's hard to conceive of anyone in that category turning down the opportunity to receive the Clark Memo which tells how to be more responsible and ethical lawyers, especially with our religious background, or to hear about our profession from Pres. Faust, Elder Packer, Elder Oaks and others. They should be impressed with the stated benefits of membership and your obvious organization and want to be a part of it.
Encouraging Possible Members to Find You
This, of course, is the "indirect" approach. The more your Chapter is known in your community, or especially in the legal profession, the more likely new members will find you, or at least when you contact them they'll want to sign up. In smaller Chapters, some of these methods may involve a membership committee or in larger Chapters involve other committees, as well. Writing articles for your local bar association magazine, if it has one, such as on ethics or law and religion, would give you good exposure. Some Chapters have actually become an official "affiliate" of the local bar association with the name of the Chapter on the bar association's letterhead. That way, all the lawyers within the bar association will know of your Chapter's existence and its purposes. They will grant you certain privileges, such as writing a description of your Chapter's purpose in a bar association publication. Even though it has nothing to do with gaining members, the bar association may give you a portion of the bar association's membership fee. One Chapter receives $10.00 of the annual bar association fee on each member. Sponsoring and supporting bar association events also helps give exposure. Recognition of achievement by Chapter members in the local media can be publicized along with their affiliation with the Chapter. Participation at various service projects to help the community become aware of law and community is also very helpful. One Chapter sponsored a "Law and Religion" symposium with a local law school and brought members of all faiths together for a common purpose and gave the Chapter good recognition.
Retention of Members
The most important thing after receiving a membership application is to acknowledge the new member status. A letter from the Chapter Chair or Membership Chair would be very appropriate.
Get on Mailing List
Make sure they are on your mailing list to receive the very next event announcement.
Notify JRCLS-International to make sure the person is on their list as well to receive the Clark Memorandum and other announcements and benefits. It would be very discouraging for someone to sign up and then be ignored.
Recognize at Meetings
Consider recognizing any new members at the next meeting by having them stand and say something about themselves. They will like that.
Give an Assignment
Consider giving any new member a job on one of the committees. Everyone likes to help out in one capacity or another even if it's a minimal effort.
Recognize them for their achievement and participation in a very good cause.
Encourage members to serve on the committees and to move up to serve on the Board of Directors, as well.
Board of Directors Help
Expand your Board of Directors by amending your by-laws to allow sufficient members based upon those who want to serve and the needs of your Chapter. The more members that want to serve, the less the length of term should be on the Board of Directors and on the Executive Board. Some Chapters have directors serving for three years and members of the Executive Board serving for either a year or two years. If there is plenty of leadership, limit the Executive Board service to just one year. By the time someone serves as a Secretary, then perhaps as a Treasurer and then as a Chair elect, and then finally as a Chair, four years will pass. One to three years on the Board of Directors is a very long length of service in preparation for those positions. Members will be happier if you allow them to serve.
Reactivation of Members
Track Deleted Members.
Make your list of members from prior years. Determine those members that are no longer appearing on your list and ask them why. Members shouldn't really be deleted from your list unless it's for a reason.
Stress Benefits and Changes
Inform them of changes the Chapter might make so membership is more desirable. Get suggestions for improvements. Addressing reactivation is important, especially if you need to create more benefits that can easily be done.
Stress Free Membership at the Least
At the least, try to get them approved for free membership and continued contact, without charge.
Stress firesides with General Authorities
Who can refuse contact with firesides from our leaders?
Monitor returned emails or Letters
Access changed addresses by calling and checking with the state bar website or the lawyer.
Respect request to Delete
If they really don't want any contact, respect it and delete it from your contact list. Put the names on a non-contact list for referencing in future recruiting campaigns.