WLA FIVE-Year Plan

 

INTRODUCTION

The WLA was formed in 1976 by a passionate group of women who were determined to form an organization that would support and promote women lawyers in all of their endeavors.  Decades later, the WLA continues its mission to advance women in the legal profession, promote diversity, equality and justice within the legal system, and improve the status of women in the community. 

Amongst many of its contributions, the WLA gives scholarships to exemplary law students, provides valuable networking opportunities to members, and endorses candidates for judicial positions.

In order to meet the evolving needs of the WLA’s members, the WLA seeks to develop a strategic plan to formulate new goals for the organization, and set forth methods for achieving those goals.   To develop these goals, the WLA addresses the following questions:

  1. What is our current state of the WLA?  What are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
  2. What are our goals?
  3. How will we measure achievement of these goals?

The WLA is committed to improving its organization and strengthening its positive affect on the legal and general community.  Through strategic planning, the WLA hopes to specifically address the needs of the organization. 

 

Strategic Plan Methodology

In order to develop the WLA’s Five-Year Plan, efforts have been made from the Fall 2014-Fall 2015 to engage the membership and request contributions for ideas to develop the Five-Year Plan.  Below is a list of ways the WLA developed the Five-Year Plan:

  1. Survey.  In the Fall 2014, the WLA asked its members to complete a ten (10) question survey about the WLA.  The answers from the survey served to provide insight regarding what members believe are the strengths and weaknesses of the organization.
  2. Presidents’ Gathering.  In January 2015, the WLA held a gathering of all Past-Presidents to find out from the leaders of the WLA what issues they feel need improvement.
  3. Board Retreats.  The WLA held two (2) Board Retreats this year to help the Board digest opinions received from members about the growth of the organization and begin implementing changes.
  4. Formation of Five-Year Plan Committee.  A committee comprised of Past-Presidents and Board members was created to specifically develop the Five-Year Plan. 
  5. Outreach to Members. Board members have been contacting and communicating with members throughout the year to help develop the Five-Year Plan.

Current State of the WLA

WLA Organizational Structure

The WLA is a Missouri non-profit organization.  The WLA is led by a Board of twelve (12) women, including six (6) Officers (President, President-Elect, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Past-President) and six (6) Members-At-Large.  The WLA Board holds monthly meetings to discuss the business of the WLA.

Each Board member is a chairperson or co-chairperson of at least one (1) of the following committees:

  • Diversity
  • Service
  • Membership
  • Scholarship
  • Public Relations/Communications/Website
  • Judicial/Legislative
  • Golf Tournament
  • Holiday Party & Charity Auction
  • CLE
  • Advisory/Historian

As a chairperson or co-chairperson of a committee, the Board member is responsible for planning events and for promoting the goal(s) of the committee. 

Currently, there are approximately three hundred (300) members of the WLA.  All members must be lawyers or law students.  The cost of membership to the WLA varies.  Membership to law students and first-year lawyers is free.  Attorneys working in the public sector are offered a reduced fee for membership.  Also, members have the opportunity to pay an amount greater than the membership fee, with the additional amount donated to the WLA Foundation.

The Women Lawyers’ Association Foundation

The Women Lawyers’ Association Foundation (the “Foundation”) was formed in 1999 and was originally named the Women Lawyers’ Association Scholarship Fund.  Its original purpose was “[t]o provide scholarship for worthy and deserving female law students attending law schools in the State of Missouri.” On April 25, 2002, the IRS recognized the organization as exempt from federal taxes based on 501(c)(3) status. In the years that followed, an amendment to its purpose and a name change occurred.  Now, the Foundation serves broader charitable and educational purposes, which still includes providing scholarships to female law students.  Most specifically, the Foundation provides funds for the Linda J. Murphy Scholarship.

 

SWOT ANALYSIS:

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats

In order to develop the Five-Year Plan, the Five-Year Committee specifically determined the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats of the WLA (“SWOT Analysis”).  Below is the developed SWOT Analysis:

Strengths:

  • Networking
  • Scholarships
  • Multiple benefits to membership, such as free admission to events and CLEs
  • Technology
  • Committed membership
  • Potential for growth
  • Solid finances
  • 40th Anniversary and timing for engagement of members

Weaknesses:

  • Apathy in membership
  • Communication with members and community
  • Sustaining and gaining membership
  • Use of media and branding
  • Institutional knowledge
  • National involvement
  • Visibility within community

Opportunities:

  • Access to national women’s bar organizations
  • Access to local and national media
  • Access to specialty bar associations in St. Louis

Threats: 

  • Lack of funding for operational matters
  • Lack of administrative support

Vision Statement

A legal profession in which women hold equal status with men as measured by representation and compensation at all levels, positions of leadership and influence, and recognition of collective and personal achievement.

Mission Statement

The Mission of the WLA is to:

  • Promote and assist women to obtain positions of influence and leadership within their workplace, the legal profession, the judiciary and the community;
  • Raise awareness of and fight biases against women within the community at large, the legal profession, and under the law;
  • Promote and effect diversity, equality, and justice under the law and within the legal system;
  • Support women lawyers and law students in their personal and professional lives;
  • Advocate for issues affecting women; and
  • Collaborate with other individuals and organizations to improve the status of women.

Long Term Strategic Goals

Goal 1:      Fiscal Responsibility

Goal 1.1:   Promote prudent fiscal operations to produce large, healthy operating budgets and increase growth for the WLA Foundation to $200,000.00.

Objective 1.1:  Promote efficient and effective ways to reduce operating costs.

Objective 1.2:  Seek alternative sponsorships for various events.

Objective 1.3:  Rely on electronic media and technology for increased awareness and reduction in operating costs.

Objective 1.4:     Provide each committee with a budget for events to use throughout the year.

 

Goal 1 Key Performance Measures:

  1. Complete an annual review of budget, including a review of the cost of all events and sponsorships.
  2. Increase fundraising opportunities for the WLA Foundation.

 

Goal 2:  Growth of Membership

Goal 2.1:  Increase membership of the WLA to 500 members.

 

Objective 2.1:  Target law schools in Missouri and Illinois for increased communication and involvement.

Objective 2.2:  Identify and reach out to in-house counsel and public practice attorneys that would benefit from membership.

Objective 2.3:  Identify male attorneys who would promote and demonstrate the WLA’s mission.

Objective 2.4:     Hold annual recruiting events and/or increase awareness at lawyers’ association activities.

 

Goal 2 Performance Measures:

  1. Complete an annual review of the number of new members, including a specific break down of the types of new members WLA is receiving.
  2. Discuss with new members about methods to continue to obtain growth.

Goal 3:  Involvement of Women in Leadership and Judicial Positions

Goal 3.1:  Educate and empower women to achieve leadership positions and judicial positions.

 

Objective 3.1:  Identify women who would be successful in leadership positions and judicial positions that they are seeking.

Objective 3.2:  Help women gain resources and education to achieve leadership positions or judicial positions that they are seeking.

Objective 3.3:  Provide social media support and administrative support to assist the women in running campaigns for positions related to the judiciary.

Objective 3.4:  Recommend women to obtain leadership awards.

 

Goal 3 Key Performance Measures:

  1. Completion and success of the campaign or election.
  2. Measure the number of supporters that are involved in the campaign or election.
  3. Measure the number of women who earn awards and recognition because of their accomplishments.

Goal 4:  Increase Influence within Community

Goal 4.1:  Obtain influence in the legal and general community.

 

Objective 4.1:  Identify media sources that could assist in promoting the WLA.

Objective 4.2:  Continuously contact the media for coverage of larger WLA events.

Objective 4.3:  Inform the media when a WLA member receives an achievement.

 

Goal 4 Key Performance Measures:

  1.  Increased media coverage of at least 3 events and/or members per year.
  2. Obtained feedback from community regarding WLA events.  

2017 Holiday Party and Charity Auction

Thursday, November 30 | 5:30 PM

Favazza's Rose of the Hill

2300 Edwards Street

St. Louis, MO 63110

314-772-6003

Contact: Ed Hennessy

Register here
View this year's invitation

Mentorship Luncheon

Friday, December 1 | 12:00 Noon

Lucas Park Grille

1234 Washington Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63103

314-241-7770

Contact: Sheena Hamilton

Register here


Mentorship Luncheon

Friday, December 8 | 12:00 Noon

Ritz-Carlton

100 Carondolet Plaza

Clayton, MO 63105

314-863-6300

Contact: Sheena Hamilton

Register here


SAVE THE DATE

WLA Free CLE - How to be a Judge

Thursday, January 11 | 1:30 PM

St. Louis University

 

 

The Women Lawyers' Association of Greater St. Louis
P.O. Box 775512
St. Louis, MO 63177

wla@wlastl.org