WSBA Alternative Dispute Resolution

Promoting Informed Use and Best Practices for ADR in Washington

I just ran into my summary of a meeting put on by WSBA-CLE staff back in December 2008. I think it is still correct and reflects their thinking about how they want to work with the Sections. I'm posting it for whatever reference value it may have. - Jeff

Summary

Among the various ways WSBA-CLE helps sections put on training events, they would like us to be very deliberate when we choose to use their “mini-CLE” format.  It is not a money-maker for them, so they would like us to be sure when we use it that another format is not more appropriate.

Detailed Overview

Mark Sideman, CLE Director, explained that their financial situation has “dramatically changed.”  For the first time in a number of years WSBA-CLE is projected to run in the red.  So it is a time for looking at they way things have been done, including a new business plan, “repurposing” some of their programs by recording and webcasting, etc.  They’re looking to reduce costs by $300,000 this coming year. 

About 1/3 of the WSBA-CLE programs are done with the WSBA sections.  He was clear that they want to be support ive of the sections.  But he was also clear that the BOG still has the expectation that their operations be revenue neutral.  Even with the 2/3 of their work being profit generating, they need to control the costs in providing CLE with the sections.  Thus, the meeting.

There are four programs WSBA-CLE has in working with sections.

Plan A.  WSBA-CLE does the administrative support.  From revenues it gets reimbursed for certain enumerated expenses plus a 35% administrative fee.  Then WSBA-CLE and the section split net proceeds 50/50.

Plan B.  Here the section keeps the net proceeds.  (He didn’t say explicitly, but I presume it is after WSBA-CLE is reimbursed for expenses and it’s admin fee.)  It’s a rare program – WSBA-CLE can’t do it a lot.  It’s usualy used for mid-year meetings and the unusual specialty program or major outreach effort.  They often have a generally low enrollment, but they also usually have a track record of attendance so there’s not a great deal of risk.

“Nominals.”  These are programs in which the section’s invovlement is really in name only.  It usually starts as a WSBA-CLE idea, but maybe because it falls in a sections’ subject area, they see if the section would like to be involved to that extent.  There’s no work, no risk, but also no revenue to the section.

“Mini-CLEs.”  Before 2002 these were called “brown-bags.”  No revenue goes to WSBA-CLE (though again, he wasn’t explicit, but I belive the expenses + administrative fee applies).

At first they worked-out with the sections which of the various administrative functions the section would want WSBA-CLE to do, choosing “a la carte.”  That proved to be “a disaster.”   The original concept for these is that the section does most of the work – now WSBA-CLE does.

These seemed to be easier and cheaper administratively from the othe programs with the sections – that is, until they started keeping records, when they realized they were a real time-sink.  These were thought to be a rare thing, now they do about 60 a year – 45 of those are with the sections.  Some are now 3-4 hours or even all day.  Some sections now do 8, 9 or even 11 a year.  Sort of a “mission creep.”

So WSBA-CLE is trying to get back to basics.  Encouraging the sections to keep their offerings to 2-3 min-CLEs a year; 1.5 hours or less, $35 maximum price; and programs where they are really meant to be member-benefit programs.

They suggest also looking for technical ways of presenting programs, such as webinars.

Mark affirmed my summary, which as to really be clear that a program is not better done as something else:  a Plan A, even a Plan B.  And if it’s not a credit-eligible thing, it isn’t really a CLE at all.

A couple of encouragements to the sections:

  •  Please identify a single point of contact for the section for the program.  They spend a lot of time communicating with several people, and sorting out differing directions and decisions.
  • Give them lots of notice.  At least 10 weeks is preferred.
  • Do completely fill-out the form.  If we leave blanks, it just means somebody’s going to have to call us to figure it out with us later.

Tags: A, B, Mini-CLEs, Nominals, Plan, Staff, WSB-CLE

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