OHIO STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
Adopted by the Board of Governors of the Ohio State Bar Association
January 12, 2007
I. Introduction _________________________________________________________ 1
The Strategic Planning Process ________________________________________________ 2
II. Current Situation ____________________________________________________ 2
OSBA Profile _______________________________________________________________ 2
Legal Trends and Developments ________________________________________________ 3
Factors Precipitating the Planning Session _______________________________________ 3
III. Strategic Questions __________________________________________________ 3
Do We Know and Understand Our Members? _____________________________________ 3
How Can We Be The Resource for Members? _____________________________________ 4
How Can the OSBA Be a Resource to the Public? _________________________________ 4
Can We Improve Confidence in the Judicial System? _______________________________ 4
IV. Strategic Issues _____________________________________________________ 5
Membership ________________________________________________________________ 5
Casemaker _________________________________________________________________ 5
Executive Succession_________________________________________________________ 6
Attorney Image _____________________________________________________________ 6
Public Trust And Confidence in the Justice System ________________________________ 6
OSBA Governance___________________________________________________________ 6
Sections/Committees _________________________________________________________ 6
OBAR _____________________________________________________________________ 7
V. Situation Analysis ____________________________________________________ 7
Core OSBA Strengths, Resources and Capabilities _________________________________ 7
Key OSBA Weaknesses, Problems, Barriers and Threats ____________________________ 7
Major OSBA Opportunities and Potentials _______________________________________ 8
VI. Forecasts and Assumptions ___________________________________________ 9
Future Market Conditions and Environment For Attorneys in Ohio ___________________ 9
Judicial, Legislative and Regulatory Developments_________________________________ 9
Technological Assumptions __________________________________________________ 10
Profile and Characteristics of the OSBA Member _________________________________ 10
Assumptions Regarding the OSBA _____________________________________________ 11
VII. OSBA Strategic Objectives 2007 – 2010 ________________________________ 11
Member Value ________________________________________________________ 11
The OSBA's Objective: __________________________________________________________ 11
Discussion: _____________________________________________________________________ 11
Performance Measurements: ______________________________________________________ 11
Strategic Goals: _________________________________________________________________ 12
Recruitment and Retention ______________________________________________ 13
The OSBA's Objective: __________________________________________________________ 13
Discussion: _____________________________________________________________________ 13
Performance Measurements: ______________________________________________________ 13
Finances _____________________________________________________________ 14
The OSBA's Objective: __________________________________________________________ 14
Discussion: _____________________________________________________________________ 14
Performance Measurement: ______________________________________________________ 15
Strategic Goals: _________________________________________________________________ 15
Executive Transition ___________________________________________________ 15
The OSBA's Objective: __________________________________________________________ 15
Discussion: _____________________________________________________________________ 15
Performance Measurements: ______________________________________________________ 15
Strategic Goal: _________________________________________________________________ 16
Public Service _________________________________________________________ 16
The OSBA's Objective: __________________________________________________________ 16
Discussion: _____________________________________________________________________ 16
Performance Measurements: ______________________________________________________ 16
Strategic Goals: _________________________________________________________________ 16
Improvements to the Justice System _______________________________________ 17
The OSBA's Objective: __________________________________________________________ 17
Discussion: _____________________________________________________________________ 17
Performance Measurements: ______________________________________________________ 17
VIII. Implementation __________________________________________________ 19
Ohio lawyers are today confronting new challenges and opportunities presented
by a rapidly changing legal and societal environment. This Strategic Plan describes how
the Ohio State Bar Association will respond to, and in some cases lead, these changes for
the benefit of its members and for the justice system in Ohio, and will remain one of the
preeminent voluntary state bar associations in the United States. The Strategic Plan
includes an assessment of the OSBA's current situation, discussion of trends and
developments affecting the organization, the practice of law and the justice system in
Ohio, and the formulation of six principal strategic objectives for the OSBA in the next
three to five years.
Mission Statement and Constitution
In creating this Strategic Plan, the Board of Governors was guided by the OSBA
Mission Statement and the Objects clause of the OSBA Constitution and sought to
incorporate and implement the vision and purposes expressed in those statements. The
OSBA Mission Statement has three prongs:
(1) Our Core Purpose
To advance the professional interests of members of the Ohio State Bar
(2) Our Core Values
Member satisfaction, professionalism, foresight and quality of services and
(3) Our Goal
To make membership in the Ohio State Bar Association indispensable to Ohio
Article 2 of the OSBA Constitution sets forth the Objects of the organization. It
provides in part:
§2.1 This association is formed to advance the science of jurisprudence; to
promote improvement of the law and administration of justice; to uphold
integrity, honor and courtesy in the legal profession and encourage and
enforce adherence to high standards of professional conduct; to take
positions on matters of public interest as deemed advisable; to encourage
thorough legal education; to cultivate cordial relations among members of
the Bar; and to perpetuate the history of the profession and the
The Strategic Planning Process
In May 2006, incoming OSBA president Jack Stith announced his intention to
engage the Board of Governors in a strategic planning process and appointed a committee
consisting of president-elect Rob Ware, and governors Barbara Howard and David
Newcomer. The committee worked with association consultant Harrison Coerver in
conducting a survey of the Board and planning a retreat for purposes of creating the
Strategic Plan. On July 13 and 14, 2006, the OSBA Board of Governors held a retreat at
OSBA headquarters, which was facilitated by Mr. Coerver and included the current and
immediate-past Board members and officers. During the retreat, Mr. Coerver challenged
the Board to candidly evaluate the OSBA's current environment, take stock of its
strengths and weaknesses and prioritize the Board's objectives over the next three to five
years. The Board engaged in follow up discussions at its September meeting and was
encouraged to provide input during the drafting process. In December 2006, the Strategic
Planning Committee circulated a draft Strategic Plan, and after incorporating further
comments from the Board, the plan was presented to the Board of Governors for approval
at its January 12, 2007 meeting.
II. Current Situation
A sound planning process begins with analyzing the situation as it currently
exists. The Board was asked to analyze various circumstances relevant to the OSBA: its
profile; legal trends; factors precipitating the strategic planning session; the
organization’s mission; OSBA programs, services and activities; membership segments
and trends; a financial analysis and an organizational assessment. The discussion and
analysis of these circumstances formed the basis for formulating a path forward.
The Board emphasized that the OSBA is not in crisis – it is a stable, well-run
organization that is well regarded by its members and is respected by other bar
associations in the United States. There was a strong consensus that the OSBA's current
standing has been due to its outstanding and professional staff and a strong tradition of
active volunteer leadership at all levels.
The Board also underscored the OSBA's focus on its members as a fundamental
aspect of its current profile. The OSBA serves as an important resource for its members,
including its CLE offerings, section and committee activities and publications, and other
information important to its members' law practices. Further, the OSBA is recognized as
providing leadership and advocacy for the profession and the system of justice in Ohio.
The Board also noted the OSBA's role in facilitating relationships and providing a forum
for various types of interaction among lawyers and judges throughout Ohio. Finally, the
Board expressed a concern that some members (or non-member lawyers) may not fully
understand or appreciate the OSBA's offerings and that the organization may seem
complex or uninviting.
Legal Trends and Developments
Lawyers are functioning in an increasingly complex and rapidly changing
environment, characterized by technological advances, changes in laws and regulations
and increasingly uncertain economic conditions. Among the trends identified by the
Board are a movement toward specialization and away from general practice, which for
many lawyers has become too difficult to maintain. Multi-jurisdictional practice and
unauthorized practice by non-lawyers continue to intensify competitive pressures.
Advancements in technology have exacerbated and speeded these developments and have
added additional costs and pressures on lawyers who are forced to keep up. These
technological changes also increase competition, as lawyers are forced to become more
efficient and sophisticated clients are able to shop for legal services. The Board also
noted a growing sense of alienation among lawyers, as technology, specialization and
competitive pressures reduce opportunities for interaction and make the practice of law
The Board recognized that societal changes and circumstances are affecting the
practice of law. Ohio's economic base and population continues to decline, and its
government struggles to meet the needs of its citizens. These circumstances increase the
numbers of citizens who are unable to afford or otherwise access legal services. Further,
public's understanding of the justice system is diminished in an environment of declining
educational and other government resources.
Factors Precipitating the Planning Session
As indicated above, the strategic planning session did not arise out of a crisis or a
sense of any imminent threat. Instead, the Board expressed a desire to set aside its
immediate issues and engage in a process of direction-setting with a more long-term
perspective. Given the Board's regular turnover, there is a desire for continuity and to
focus on objectives that transcend any particular Board term. There was also a sense that
while the OSBA is in excellent condition, it cannot be complacent, particularly in view of
the environmental factors affecting the legal practice and justice system in Ohio.
III. Strategic Questions
To frame the issues and focus discussion, the Board was asked to address four
strategic questions derived from the survey responses and background information
provided to Mr. Coerver.
Do We Know and Understand Our Members?
While there was no suggestion that the OSBA is out of touch with its members,
the Board strongly believed that additional information was needed to fully understand
the needs, preferences and priorities of OSBA members as well as non-member lawyers.
While members of the Board and staff have various thoughts and opinions about the
priorities of the membership, without comprehensive data and feedback, it is difficult to
say whether we "know" our members. As one Governor remarked, “I don’t know if we
In particular, the Board expressed a need to learn more about the outlook of newly
admitted attorneys. As the future of the organization, it is important to understand the
views of this segment if the OSBA is to remain relevant in the years to come. The Board
also believed that a better understanding of the demographics and opinions of non-
members would be helpful to understand where opportunities may exist to increase
How Can We Be The Resource for Members?
The Board recognized that, while the OSBA must strive to be indispensable to all
Ohio lawyers, given the great diversity among OSBA members in terms of practice areas
and working environments, there is not one answer to this question. The OSBA must
maintain a variety of programs and services to be viewed as an indispensable resource to
the many different types of practicing lawyers in Ohio. The OSBA must remain focused
on its members and must deliver value.
The OSBA should recognize that it may be well positioned to deliver value in
particular areas and should leverage those strengths. For example, the OSBA has been a
leader in utilizing new technology to deliver services (examples include Casemaker and
the CLE studio). The OSBA should remain focused on technology, both as a means of
delivering services and in assisting members in implementing new tools for their practice.
How Can the OSBA Be a Resource to the Public?
The OSBA does not seek to be the primary source of basic legal information for
the public. Rather, the OSBA seeks to provide useful information where it can make a
difference (e.g., advance directives) and attempts to frame the legal issues of the day and
improve the system of justice. In these areas, the OSBA often works in conjunction with
its affiliated organizations whose missions are directly focused on public education and
assistance. The OSBA also seeks to benefit the public by upholding the highest standards
for the legal profession.
Can We Improve Confidence in the Judicial System?
The OSBA has an important role in efforts to improve public confidence in the
judicial system in Ohio. While the Board recognized that this is a daunting task, it is one
that cannot be ignored, especially because the resources directed to this purpose from
other sources continue to diminish. However, the OSBA's efforts in this area must be
focused and cost-effective. There is an understanding that the benefit of engaging in
certain activities, such as large scale advertising campaigns, is not justified by their cost.
IV. Strategic Issues
The Board was asked to identify and discuss a number of strategic issues that the
OSBA is currently facing or is likely to face in the coming years. While these issues may
or may not require particular action within the time horizon for this plan, they are
important in establishing the context for the organization's immediate objectives.
As a voluntary bar association, the OSBA must maintain (and, if possible, grow)
its membership base. The OSBA members account for a substantial majority of the
organization's income, either directly through dues or through support of other OSBA
offerings. Members are also responsible for much of the work done by the association –
by participating in sections and committees, speaking at CLE programs and serving in
other capacities. It is critical that the OSBA maintain a stable membership base and that
it encourage active participation.
The concern about membership may seem odd for an organization that, by any
measure, has been successful in retaining members and achieving member satisfaction.
But the Board and staff believe that, given the rapidly changing environment, it is
imperative that the OSBA not rest on its laurels. The OSBA must strive to build
community among its members and foster identification with the OSBA. The OSBA
must find new ways to engage members and recognize that changing technology may
make past practices obsolete. The focus on member satisfaction and membership growth
must be a high priority.
The remarkable success of the Casemaker product has created a number of
strategic issues. Casemaker continues to perform well – utilization trends are positive,
exciting enhancements are being added and new states continue to join the consortium.
However, Casemaker's success has triggered competitive threats. Lexis, Westlaw,
Fastcase and other companies have become increasingly aggressive as Casemaker has
become an established product. In addition, technological advances and other changes
continue to allow wider access to information through "free" internet sites, posing a long
term threat to Casemaker and other providers.
The Board has expressed a desire to better understand the financial implications
of Casemaker, both in terms of the level of investment by the OSBA and the anticipated
return. In addition, the Board seeks to incorporate Casemaker into its strategic vision,
whether by incorporating other benefits in the Casemaker platform or otherwise
leveraging Casemaker's success.
The OSBA's success would not have been possible without the hard work and
dedication of its outstanding staff. In particular, the OSBA has benefitted immeasurably
over the last 27 years from the leadership of Denny Ramey, its executive director, and
Bill Weisenberg, its assistant executive director for public affairs and government
relations. It is imperative that the OSBA continue its tradition of staff excellence and
plan for future leadership. A succession plan should be adopted to ensure a successful
transition to a new generation of leadership.
The negative public image of the legal profession is a persistent problem and a
continuing concern for lawyers. Many lawyers believe that the OSBA should take an
active role in addressing this problem. While the Board recognizes and understands the
issue, there is evidence that public campaigns, in particular large-scale paid media
campaigns, are costly and do not yield sustained results. The Board's view is that the
attorney image issue should be addressed in a cost effective manner and may be best
linked to other important issues and priorities, such as improving the public's
understanding of the role of judges and lawyers and insisting on high standards of
professional conduct for Ohio lawyers.
Public Trust And Confidence in the Justice System
Recent studies have indicated that the public's trust and confidence in the justice
system continues to decline. Numerous factors have been cited, including public attacks
on members of the judiciary, negative and misleading campaign advertising and tactics
and a diminished understanding of the American system of government. The OSBA
clearly has a role to play in countering these perceptions and helping to restore trust and
confidence in the justice system, through dissemination of information, involvement in
civic activities and support for improvements to the justice system.
While the OSBA's governance system has not been the subject of significant
controversy, the Board indicated a willingness to examine the system to determine
whether any modifications might be warranted. In particular, the Board discussed
increasing the terms of Governors to four years and examining the process for selecting
the OSBA president.
The OSBA's sections and committees are where much of the work of the
association is done and are essential to the association's success. However, sections and
committees have experienced declining enrollment and participation. OSBA members
often report that they no longer have time to devote to committee work, and section and
committee chairpersons are finding it more and more difficult to accomplish projects.
The Board believes that sections and committees need to be energized, appropriate staff
support should be allocated and new avenues for participation should be explored, such
as more flexible meeting alternatives and discrete project-based roles.
The Ohio State Bar Association Report, better known as "OBAR," is the most
recognizable symbol of the organization for many Ohio lawyers. OBAR has been
published weekly by the OSBA since 1924, when it was known as the Weekly Law
Bulletin. Thanks to the OSBA's role as official co-publisher for the Supreme Court of
Ohio, OBAR contains the Court's "Advance Sheets," which include all of the reported
opinions and other official announcements and information disseminated by the Court.
In 2005, the OSBA began making OBAR available to members electronically through a
weekly email. However, OSBA members have expressed their strong preference to
continue receiving the weekly print edition. Because OBAR is a core member benefit as
well as a significant expense item, its future is closely connected to the future success of
V. Situation Analysis
During the strategic planning retreat, the Board was asked to identify and rank the
OSBA's most significant strengths, resources and capabilities; its weaknesses, problems,
and barriers; and its opportunities and potentials. In each area, participants ranked the
most significant of those identified by the group, and the results were tallied. The results
of this exercise are set forth below.
Core OSBA Strengths, Resources and Capabilities
1. Membership services/focus on members.
2. Volunteer and staff leadership and the board/staff relationship.
4. Technological capabilities.
6. Financially sound.
Key OSBA Weaknesses, Problems, Barriers and Threats
1. Maintaining relevance/value.
2. Membership growth/increasing membership.
3. Member awareness of what the OSBA does.
4. Lack of ethnic diversity.
5. Competition: for membership, services, CLE.
6. Long-term non-dues income.
7. Overdependence on Casemaker.
8. Member time constraints.
9. Inadequate reserves.
10. Pace of change.
11. Lack of succession plan.
12. Multidisciplinary practice.
Major OSBA Opportunities and Potentials
1. Information and education leadership.
2. Recruiting the 32% non-members.
3. Customizable electronic forms.
5. Exploiting our knowledge base.
6. New/improved partnerships with related or new organizations.
7. Reform judicial selection.
8. Increase utilization of Casemaker and Online OBAR.
9. Futures study of the profession.
10. Member outreach, focus groups and needs assessment.
11. Launch of CLE studio.
12. Recreate a definition of professionalism and create better sense of
13. Expand/leverage Casemaker.
VI. Forecasts and Assumptions
The OSBA's strategic plan has not been composed in a vacuum. The Board
recognizes that legal, economic and other factors affect the practice of law in Ohio and
the priorities of a state bar association. While it is impossible to predict developments in
those areas with certainty, based on their own observations and experiences, the Board
was asked to formulate a set of assumptions regarding relevant environmental factors that
are likely to affect the OSBA and its members in the coming years.
Future Market Conditions and Environment For Attorneys in Ohio
Given current trends, the business environment for the practice of law is likely to
grow steadily worse. Ohio has experienced a steady economic decline, which appears to
be continuing. The loss of jobs, businesses and population is likely to reduce the pool of
potential clients and make it more difficult for lawyers to sustain a successful practice.
In addition to the economic factors, Ohio lawyers will continue to face increased
competitive threats. As multijurisdictional practice takes hold, lawyers from outside
Ohio will have more opportunities to compete for Ohio clients. Further, the proliferation
of nonlawyers engaging in quasi-legal work and outright unauthorized practice of law is
likely to continue.
Many factors are likely to influence the way that lawyers practice in the coming
years. Changing technology (which is addressed in detail below) will continue to be very
significant. Increased competition, as well as the enhanced ability of clients to "shop" for
lawyers using the internet and other resources, is likely to result in more specialization,
downward pressure on rates, and more discrete, project-based engagements. These
changes, which have already affected the traditional notion of the attorney-client
relationship, are likely to continue, as lawyers are viewed more as discrete service
providers and less as long-term counselors. Competitive pressures and technological
changes are also likely to force changes in the law office business model, as overhead
costs previously dedicated to support staff are directed to technology and new fee
structures are increasingly utilized.
Judicial, Legislative and Regulatory Developments
While the structure of lawyer regulation and discipline is unlikely to change
dramatically (i.e., the Ohio Supreme Court will continue to regulate the practice of law),
there are a number of trends that are likely to affect lawyers in the coming years. One
change that is imminent is the implementation of the model rules of professional conduct.
Changes to the code of judicial conduct are also likely in view of the efforts underway by
the ABA to revise those model rules. The Ohio Supreme Court has indicated a desire to
modify the structure governing attorney discipline and unauthorized practice of law.
There may be renewed efforts to impose a tax on services that could apply to attorneys'
Some changes in the structure of the justice system can also be expected. The
trend away from jury trials and toward more alternative dispute resolution practices is
likely to continue. Efforts to restrict the scope of the attorney-client privilege may also
advance. The Ohio Supreme Court is likely to approve the creation of additional
specialty courts, including business courts, to facilitate the more efficient resolution of
particular matters. The increase in pro se litigants and non-lawyers engaging in
unauthorized practice may also force administrative changes in the courts.
The intemperate comments by legislators and others, and other verbal assaults on
the judiciary that have increased in recent years are, unfortunately, likely to continue.
There may also be further attempts to "reform" the justice system (such as tort reform
measures). However, recent increases in the number of lawyer legislators provides some
hope that such efforts will be moderated and that discussion of the justice system will be
more civil and informed.
Technology will continue to change that way that law is practiced. To take but
one example, the internet will increasingly be used as a tool to communicate with clients
and the courts, deliver legal services and gain knowledge about legal issues and
developments. Technological changes will significantly enhance the ability to aggregate,
organize and disseminate information, requiring changes in the way that law offices are
designed and how they function. Technology has and will continue to increase the speed
at which all types of transactions take place and the ability of lawyers to function away
from their traditional offices. Finally, the Board recognizes that the pace of technological
change is likely to increase, requiring lawyers to learn new technologies and adjust their
practices more frequently.
Profile and Characteristics of the OSBA Member
The Board believes that OSBA members are likely to become more specialized in
their practice areas. Lawyers may pursue alternative career paths and other ways in
which to supplement their legal business. Lawyers will come to rely even more on the
internet for resources and access to courts, clients and each other. While the mix of urban
and rural attorneys will continue to exist, OSBA members as a whole are likely to be
more diverse, with women and minorities making up an increasing percentage of the
membership. Increased competitive pressures are likely to continue to reduce the time
available for bar and other "extracurricular" activities. OSBA members will become
more cost conscious and look more closely at the value of services they are obtaining for
Assumptions Regarding the OSBA
The OSBA will continue its focus on member service. The OSBA will continue
to see modest increases in lawyer membership, while the ranks of associate (i.e., non-
lawyer) members will grow steadily. Within the next 5 to 10 years, the OSBA's staff
leadership will change.
VII. OSBA Strategic Objectives 2007 – 2010
Having discussed and analyzed the OSBA's current circumstances, strategic issues and
challenges, and related forecasts and assumptions, the Board arrived at six strategic
objectives for the OSBA for the next three to five years along with specific strategic
goals to support each objective.
The OSBA's Objective:
Increase the value of OSBA membership through focused services.
The OSBA must remain relevant to its members, it must be convenient, and it must
always deliver value. The OSBA's current benefit package is strong, but it must be
constantly refined and strengthened. Where challenges have emerged, new approaches
should be attempted, such as new methods of member involvement. The Board
understands that value will increasingly be delivered through technology, and the
OSBA's adoption and dissemination of new technologies is essential. But the OSBA
must have something substantive to deliver, and in this regard it must recognize the
importance of maintaining vibrant committees and sections, outstanding CLE offerings
and indispensable practice tools (such as Casemaker).
Success in this area will be shown by improved member satisfaction, increased
membership and retention rates, improved utilization of programs and services and
increased member participation in meetings and events. While some statistics are tracked
currently, others should be developed to establish baseline satisfaction and utilization
rates. In addition, narrative program evaluations, member complaints and other
qualitative information should be closely monitored and utilized in assessing progress
toward this objective.
Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the expectations, attitudes and preferences of
members and potential members.
The OSBA will seek to understand its members by gathering useful and detailed
information from multiple sources that will help the OSBA to assess how it can best
deliver value to its members. This effort should include a comprehensive membership
survey as well as other methods such as "virtual focus groups" and personal outreach by
the Board of Governors, Section and Committee Chairs, and Council of Delegates
Members. The assessment should be designed to be an ongoing process so that
membership trends and shifting expectations and attitudes may be identified.
Support, and work to transform, sections and committees.
The OSBA's sections and committees are the focalpoint for some of the most innovative
and useful work of the association. However, while some sections and committees have
thrived, others have languished, and there is a general sense that active participation by
members has waned. The OSBA must fully support and facilitate the work being done in
our sections and committees, and it must take steps to encourage active participation and
stimulate activity in those sections and committees that are lagging. Immediate changes
should include new approaches for member involvement, including new meeting formats
and a focus on discrete, project-based activities. Moreover, the OSBA should use the
data it gathers from members to tailor opportunities for involvement to the preferences
expressed by the membership.
Develop new products and services and evaluate existing programs and
The OSBA should infuse the standard of member value into all of its programs and
services. OSBA products must address the current needs and expectations of members
and should, as much as possible, anticipate new trends and developments and facilitate
members' understanding and adoption of new technologies. The OSBA's culture of
innovation and entrepreneurial spirit should continue, and it should seek to create new
programs and opportunities that will benefit its members and strengthen the organization.
Consistent with the philosophy of member value, the OSBA should candidly evaluate
and, where appropriate, eliminate or "sunset" those products, services and activities that
do not deliver value to its members. Flagship products, such as OBAR and Casemaker,
should be supported and allowed to evolve as appropriate. The OSBA should always be
striving to be the primary resource for the practice needs of its members. Moreover, the
OSBA should evaluate and, where appropriate, seek to strengthen and improve its
relationship with affiliate organizations.
Incorporate new technologies in the delivery of services and facilitate the use of
technology by OSBA members in their law practices.
Changes in technology are affecting the ways in which both the OSBA and its members
accomplish daily tasks and deliver services. The OSBA should find ways to use
technology to address challenges it is facing, for example by facilitating member
collaboration on projects and developing ways to "take the OSBA to the members." The
OSBA should seek to inform and educate its members about new technologies that they
can adopt to aid their practices. The OSBA website should be updated and enhanced to
accomplish some of these goals. Moreover, the OSBA should work to remove barriers to
its members' use of technology, for example by supporting an increase in the number of
online CLE credits that Ohio lawyers are permitted to earn.
Communicate the value of OSBA membership.
In addition to seeking new products and opportunities, the OSBA must work to ensure
that its current offerings are known to its members and fully utilized. The value of
membership in the OSBA, both in terms of programs and services and qualitative
benefits, such as opportunities for networking and exposure to potential clients, should be
emphasized to members and potential members.
Recruitment and Retention
The OSBA's Objective:
Improve the OSBA's performance in recruiting and retaining members.
The OSBA's [69%] penetration and 95% retention rate are excellent for a voluntary state
bar association. However, the OSBA must continue to work hard to maintain and ideally
improve those statistics. As the demographics of Ohio lawyers change, the OSBA must
change to accommodate new expectations and attitudes. The relevance and value of
OSBA membership must be communicated to new attorneys, and the OSBA must adapt
to an increasingly diverse profession. In addition to the focus on member value discussed
above, the OSBA must continue to build community among its membership with the goal
of achieving an affinity for OSBA in the minds of its members.
Obviously, the OSBA must continue to routinely monitor its penetration and retention
statistics. However, those statistics should be supplemented with periodic evaluations of
the OSBA's performance in demographic segments of Ohio lawyers, such as urban and
rural practitioners, large and small firms, gender and ethnic groups, and age groups. The
OSBA's performance in these segments should be evaluated and its programs and
services tailored to address any deficiencies.
Develop a marketing plan for membership growth.
The OSBA should utilize the information obtained from its comprehensive assessment of
member expectations, preferences and attitudes to develop new approaches to
membership retention and growth and refine its current plans. These efforts should
include traditional marketing approaches as well as word of mouth efforts by current
Expand membership of other legal professionals.
The OSBA should seek to increase its non-lawyer members and should consider adding
new categories of membership (such as law firm administrators). Such initiatives should
be consistent with and complementary to the OSBA's primary mission of serving Ohio
Target women and minorities.
The OSBA should continue to monitor adherence to and implementation of its diversity
policy and should incorporate the goals of the policy in its marketing efforts. Special
efforts should be made to attract and retain women and minorities through targeted
programs and services.
Devise methods to increase member loyalty to the OSBA.
The OSBA's marketing efforts should seek more than an increase in membership
numbers. To achieve long term success, the OSBA must build member loyalty and
affinity. The OSBA should provide opportunities for informal interaction and
involvement and should seek to replicate successful events and programs.
The OSBA's Objective:
Achieve and remain in compliance with the reserve policy.
In 2006, the OSBA adopted a policy setting forth the recommended approach to the
organization's financial reserves. The policy is intended to guide future Boards of
Governors in making decisions that affect the association's reserve levels (e.g., dues
increases, investments in new programs, etc.). Based on the current reserve policy, the
OSBA has insufficient levels of reserves and will need to find ways to supplement its
reserves going forward.
The OSBA's reserve levels should be increased until compliance with the reserve policy
Devise a plan to achieve compliance with the OSBA's reserve policy by the end of
Given that the emergency reserve level currently is satisfied, immediate attainment of the
recommended reserve levels is not necessary (nor required under the reserve policy).
However, the OSBA should have a plan to build reserves so as to meet the goals for total
reserves set forth in the policy within the time frame of this strategic plan.
Analyze the OSBA's anticipated revenues and expenses.
The OSBA should candidly evaluate its primary sources of revenue and its ongoing and
extraordinary expenses in order to predict the potential need for significant investments
or reliance on new revenue sources. The OSBA should understand the risks associated
with its current revenues sources as well as the likelihood of significant expense items.
The OSBA's Objective:
Put in place a working transition plan for key executive staff.
The OSBA has been privileged to have enjoyed for more than 25 years the leadership,
vision and expertise of Executive Director Denny Ramey and Assistant Executive
Director for Public Affairs and Government Relations Bill Weisenberg. While a change
in leadership is not imminent, the OSBA must prepare itself for such a transition to occur
within the next 5 to 10 years.
The OSBA should establish a plan that will help to ensure a smooth transition to new
leadership upon the retirement of its current executive staff.
Appoint an ad hoc committee of the Board of Governors to prepare a recommended
transition process, timeline and contingency plan for executive transition.
The OSBA's Objective:
To increase public understanding of and respect for the legal system by sponsoring and
encouraging educational and civic activities.
Survey results and other data continue to indicate that the public's trust and confidence in
the justice system is in decline. The diminished respect for our justice system has
occurred in concert with a decline in the public's understanding of the role of our judicial
system and a declining emphasis on civic education in our schools. Unfortunately, this
has been exacerbated by intemperate and uninformed attacks by commentators and
politicians on the judiciary and on the role of lawyers in our justice system. As the
largest and most influential organization of Ohio lawyers, the OSBA has an important
role in countering these trends. At the same time, the Board understands that the OSBA's
ability to influence public opinion and attitudes is limited, and the OSBA must allocate
its resources toward efforts that are beneficial, enduring and cost-effective.
While it will be difficult to measure success in this area, improved public understanding
and respect for the legal system may be demonstrated through survey data or other indicia
of the public's views of the legal system. Within the time period covered by this strategic
plan, success may be shown by the creation of new programs, or improvements in the
delivery and/or coordination of existing programs, designed to improve public
understanding of and trust and confidence in the legal system.
Develop a plan to communicate key messages to the public concerning the
importance of fair and impartial courts and the role of the judicial branch in our
system of government.
The OSBA should seek to develop and implement an ongoing program to inform and
educate the public about the role of the courts in our system of government. The ABA's
Least Understood Branch project should be utilized as a resource for such a program. If
appropriate, this program might include metro, local and specialty bars, as well as OSBA
affiliate organizations. In addition, the OSBA should continue to speak out against unfair
attacks against the justice system, including efforts to politically intimidate judges or
unfairly characterize the role of lawyers.
Improve coordination of programs of the OSBA, OCLRE and OSBF.
The Ohio Center for Law Related Education, the Ohio State Bar Foundation and the
OSBA all include as at least part of their missions the goal of improving public
understanding of the law. The OSBA should seek to lead an effort to collaborate with
these affiliate organizations in identifying and implementing worthy programs and
Promote, facilitate and publicize public service activities by Ohio lawyers.
Lawyers can improve their own image as well as the public's respect for the justice
system by committing at least some of their time to activities that promote the common
good. The OSBA should encourage and assist Ohio lawyers to participate in civic
activities including provision of pro bono legal services, service on nonprofit boards, and
service in elective office or other community leadership positions. The OSBA should
publicly recognize lawyers for exemplary community service and adherence to the
highest ideals of the profession.
Improvements to the Justice System
The OSBA's Objective:
To develop and implement measures to improve the system of justice in Ohio.
While the justice system in Ohio works well in most circumstances, problems exist that
should be addressed by the OSBA in cooperation with other concerned groups and
citizens. Public confidence in the judicial system has been eroded by the perceived
influence of money and politics in judicial campaigns. Efforts by the OSBA and others
in the past to enact comprehensive reforms have not been successful, but that should not
discourage the OSBA from taking reasonable and achievable steps to improve the system
of justice through targeted reforms.
The ultimate measure of success in this area will be the creation and implementation of
legal reforms and programs recommended by the OSBA. While these efforts are
underway, success may be measured by the creation of specific proposals, the enlistment
of key partners and institutional sectors as supporters and the mobilization of support
from the public and relevant media
Improve judicial selection in Ohio by developing and implementing beneficial
reforms to the judicial election and appointment processes.
The OSBA should take the lead in efforts to ensure that the judiciary is comprised of our
most capable and dedicated lawyers, that campaign contributions or other influences are
not perceived to influence judicial decisionmaking and that the public is enabled to make
informed decisions about judicial candidates. Among other potential reforms, the OSBA
should support the creation of judicial eligibility or nominating commissions to fill
judicial vacancies and support revisions to the Code of Judicial Conduct, including
unambiguous recusal provisions, designed to address the perceived influence of
campaign contributions in judicial elections. The OSBA will evaluate and, if appropriate,
support enactment of new judicial campaign finance laws to further strengthen public
trust and confidence in the selection of judges. The OSBA should support efforts to
inform and educate the public about judicial candidates, including the distribution of
voter information guides and judicial candidate ratings.
Develop and implement measures to improve judicial performance, accountability
To further enhance the quality of the judiciary, the OSBA will support measures to attract
and retain qualified judges and to ensure accountability for inappropriate conduct. The
OSBA should support increases in judicial salaries so that qualified candidates are not
discouraged from seeking judicial positions and good judges are not forced to leave the
bench for economic reasons. The OSBA should support changes to the law to raise
qualifications for judicial office and will implement improvements to judicial and lawyer
training and education for future judges. The OSBA also should support programs to
evaluate judicial performance and conduct, such as mid-term evaluation of judges, an
independent judicial conduct commission or a statewide court assessment project.
Develop and implement reforms designed to improve the efficiency and
administration of justice.
The OSBA will continue to support efforts to improve the operation of the justice system.
The OSBA will support the establishment of new specialty courts, including the pilot
project to create business courts. The OSBA also will support revisions to the Rules of
Superintendence designed to achieve greater uniformity in court management, including
adoption of uniform rules of practice and procedure and forms to better serve the bench,
bar and public in the administration of justice.
To achieve the objectives set forth in this Strategic Plan, the Board and staff must commit
to its implementation. While the particular implementation strategy will vary depending
on the nature of the objective and the prevailing circumstances, the following steps
should be considered:
Identify appropriate Board committee(s) and staff members responsible for
implementation of each objective.
Establish tasks, strategies and timetables for each objective.
Delegate responsibility for tasks and primary oversight.
Monitor progress toward the objective.
In addition, the Board should receive regular updates on implementation efforts and
continue to discuss, and when appropriate, modify, the issues and objectives set forth in
the Strategic Plan. Given that the "shelf life" of this Strategic Plan is intended to be three
to five years, it would be appropriate for the Board to convene another strategic planning
retreat in 2010 to begin work on an updated or successor plan.