ACBA’s Nominating Committee has important function

January 9, 2015
President’s Message by Jim Creenan

Each year, the Allegheny County Bar Association solicits interest from members to serve as elected officers or as elected members of the Judiciary Committee and the Board of Governors.

Many members have asked me about the process that leads to the electronic ballots we see in the spring. This work is handled by the ACBA’s Nominating Committee, which is appointed annually by the president.

The Nominating Committee consists of 20 to 25 members, having current or prior involvement in the bar leadership and representing our varied divisions, sections and committees. We seek diversity among practice areas, practice setting and size, and other variables to ensure the best input and deliberation.

The deliberations of the Nominating Committee are strictly confidential.

Yet, there are some points to share from outcomes of the committee and from the ACBA Bylaws.

Committee members have the obligation to suggest and encourage members to submit nomination materials. If you receive a call from a member of the committee, please accept the honor and give strong consideration to submitting your application. If you think you could make a contribution to the ACBA in one of these roles, I encourage your consideration.

The committee usually nominates one person for each officer position and two people for each open seat on the Board and the Judiciary Committee.

There are no formal requirements to be nominated for the Judiciary Committee. Members serve three-year terms. Customarily, the Nominating Committee nominates candidates with a regular practice before one of the judicial divisions. It stands to reason that many practitioners have the qualifications to provide insight on the workings of the courts and the qualities that pertain to the tasks at hand. With eight seats open each year, sometimes a high level of interest might prevent highly qualified members from being nominated.

There are no specific requirements for a candidate to serve on the Board of Governors, but many have had significant involvement in a section or division. Members serve three-year terms.

The bylaws state: “No person shall be eligible for nomination for president-elect unless that person shall have previously served as a member of the Board of Governors.” Despite the long hours and no pay, many of our brightest leaders have stepped up to lend their expertise to the association. This office has a three-year commitment. The president-elect has a full year to listen, observe and plan.

The president has just one year to serve as the association’s top officer and spokesperson. The immediate past president has a full year to recuperate, while enjoying the best job in the bar association.

The ACBA elects its treasurer and secretary in alternating years. Each office has a two-year term. The treasurer must have served as a member of the Audit Committee or Finance Committee for at least the year prior to taking office. My service on the Finance Committee placed me in line to be treasurer.

The report of the Nominating Committee is presented at the annual meeting, where nominations may be made from the floor. No candidate may nominate himself or herself nor second his or her nomination.

During the meeting, the slate (i.e., order appearing on the ballot) of candidates is determined. Most candidates appear at the meeting to draw ballot position or to serve a nervous colleague hoping to return to the office with a low number.

Lunch is provided at the annual meeting. To borrow a line from Tim Russert – “You gotta eat.”

Most years, the work of the Nominating Committee goes unnoticed, as it should. The work of the committee plays an important role in creating opportunities for those wishing to serve the association. The service of these members is critical to our ongoing strength. So if you receive a call or email, or when you see the notice in the Pittsburgh Legal Journal or Lawyers Journal, please consider whether you can lend your experience. I hope you do.