My personal view is that one of the very highest priorities in re-invigorating the legal aid movement is a major strategy to strengthen boards and dramatically increase the leadership role that they play. To be direct, it is my feeling that too many boards delegate too much leadership responsibility to staff.
So I am pleased to see that the Shriver Center (taking on the task and resources of the former Center for Legal Aid Education) will be providing a training program on Board Development on December 7 in Washington DC, before the NLADA Conference. As the training is described:
CLAE’s new Board Development curriculum and associated materials reflect the specific context of civil legal aid practice – its unique mission and values, services provided, clients and communities served, and challenges faced – as well as the core principles underlying the ABA governance-related Standards of Practice. The curriculum also addresses the leadership dimension of legal aid governance and supports the notion that a strong board/staff leadership partnership is essential to ensuring legal aid programs’ effectiveness in achieving their important mission.
I hope that the community dramatically increases its focus on these issues. In the struggle for resources in tough times we risk being marginalized unless we do so.