Risk Management for Bar Associations: ABA Bar Leadership Institute 2018

I’m looking forward to presenting in Chicago at the American Bar Association Bar Leadership Institute (BLI) again this year on the topic of risk management. The BLI, which takes place March 14-16 is the ABA’s premier bar leadership program. The program features plenary sessions, group discussions, and workshops on every aspect of bar management and leadership and is intended to guide leaders in their roles as stewards of their organizations.

Here’s the description of my program:

Leaders of bar associations should be particularly attentive to risks related to the governance and operations of their organizations and how to identify and mitigate such risks. This program will explore some of the most common and noteworthy risks, and suggest how attention and appropriate policies can help bars to avoid these traps and better advance their missions.

I’ll be briefly discussing five important areas of risk for bar associations:

  1. Employees
  2. Data
  3. Fraud
  4. Intellectual Property
  5. Antitrust

You can find resources from the BLI available here. And you can follow tweets from the conference at #BLI18.

Added – March 17, 2018

Risk Management – Bar Associations – BLI 2018 Slidedeck (pdf file)


  • Sexual harassment / discrimination
    • Allocate resources (need board to set tone at the top, including in budgeting)
    • Assess risk sources
    • Develop policies
      • Unequivocal statement of no tolerance
      • Examples of prohibited conduct
      • Reporting system
      • Investigation
      • Enforcement
    • Train
    • Communicate
  • Data / digital pros:
    • Better informed decision-making
    • Enhanced abilities for collaboration
    • Efficiency in operations
    • Greater accountability and transparency
  • Data / digital cons:
    • Threat to privacy
    • New operational threats (business interruption)
    • Opportunities for fraud
    • Power imbalance
    • Destructive manipulation or misinterpretation
  • Fraud – vulnerabilities:
    • Weak internal controls
    • Lack of investment in financial management
    • Excessive control by an executive
    • Weak oversight by the board
    • Culture emphasizing trust without verification
    • Lack of business and financial expertise in key leadership positions
    • Lack of transparency
    • Low wages, unhappy employees