Become a Board Member

So, You Want to be on the OSBA Board?
By Denny L. Ramey, CAE

Then, congratulations! Service on the OSBA Board is satisfying, challenging and fun. Many potential board members have questions about what it means to be on the board. I have written this article to answer as many questions as possible, but if you have questions that are not answered after reading it, please call me at (614) 487-4405 or toll free (866) 657-4405.

How does a member get elected to the Board?

There are 18 OSBA districts in Ohio and each is entitled to one member on the OSBA Board. Board members are elected via mail ballot in Cleveland (District 12) and Columbus (District 7) but all other districts elect their Board representative at the annual district meeting held somewhere within the district boundaries. The process of running for election is determined district-by-district so it is a good idea to check with your current Board representative.

How long is a term on the Board?

All OSBA Board terms are for three years and all begin July 1 following the district election. The terms are staggered such that one third of the 18 representatives' terms expire each year.

I've heard about the changeover meeting - what's that?

Held each June in a resort setting, the changeover meeting is a four-day event. The purposes of the meeting are to welcome new members into the group and to say goodbye to those whose terms expire on June 30. The changeover meeting also builds camaraderie among the members of the Board and executive staff.

How many times per year does the Board usually meet and how long are the meetings?

In a typical year, the Board will meet in July, September, November, December, January, March or April, May (at the convention) and June (at the changeover), and typically the meetings involve a one-day or two-day commitment.

Does the Board have committees?

The Board has three committees:

  • Budget and Headquarters
  • Membership, Public and Media Relations and Publications
  • Government Affairs

Each Board member is assigned to one of the committees - usually two people from each "Class" (known by the year in which one's term begins) are assigned to each committee. Generally, the Board member serves on the committee for three years.

The committees meet either the night before or the morning of the full Board meeting.

What is the schedule for a typical Board meeting?

More often than not, Board members arrive at the meeting site on Thursday night. There is a dinner, then committees meet at 8:00 p.m. Following the committee meetings, a hospitality room is available.

On Friday morning, Board members enjoy a breakfast together and meet sometime during the day. Sometimes golf or other recreational activities are planned for Friday afternoon.

Following the meeting adjournment on Friday, Board members depart for home.

There are variations on this theme. For example, the committee meetings may be held at 8:30 a.m. on Friday and the Board may convene following lunch that day. Also, Board meetings during the May convention and June changeover have entirely different schedules.

Where are the Board meetings held?

Most Board meetings are held in the Columbus area either at OSBA headquarters or at a hotel. There are occasions when the meetings are held in other cities. For example, the convention meeting of the Board is held in the convention city and the changeover is usually held outside of Ohio.

Are spouses welcome to attend Board events?

Spouses are welcome to accompany Board members and are welcome to attend hospitality rooms, dinners and other social functions. Occasionally, there are programs (luncheons, museum visits, etc.) designed specifically for spouses. However, spouses are spared attendance at the Board's business meeting.

Would any of my expenses for service on the OSBA Board be reimbursed?

The OSBA reimburses Board members on the following schedule:

For Board members and spouses/significant others or guests:

    Travel   At the IRS rate.
    Parking   Actual cost.
    Meals   Breakfast at $10.00 per meal.
    Lunch at $20.00 per meal.
    Dinner at $30.00 per meal.
    Hotel   Actual cost, including tax.
    Actual cost of meals at the convention and changeover meeting.

What sort of issues does the Board discuss?

Here are some typical agenda topics:

  • Professional issues, such as court rules and unauthorized practice of law matters.
  • Government affairs, such as positions the OSBA should take on legislation pending in the Ohio General Assembly.
  • Membership benefits, such as how to improve the OSBA's insurance program or whether to add something to the membership benefits menu.
  • The business of the association, such as budget and financial issues.
  • Appointments to bar-related positions, such as seats in the American Bar Association's House of Delegates.

Additionally, the Board has always exhibited an entrepreneurial spirit and has not been afraid to take some calculated risks in order to accomplish good things for the Association and its members. As examples, I offer Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company, Online Professional Electronic Network and Casemaker, all of which were born and incubated in the OSBA Board of Governors. There are many other such success stories.

Once elected, is there an orientation program for new Board members?

The orientation meeting is usually held on a Friday in late May and lasts from 10:00 a.m. until about noon. At the meeting, all new Board members receive a Board Handbook.

Is there anything else Board members are expected to do?

Board members are expected to help plan their annual district meeting. This is done in connection with an OSBA staff member. Usually, the Board member also acts as the master of ceremonies at the meeting.

Board members are frequently asked to recommend members from their districts to serve on committees and section boards and to participate in various events such as the Bench-Bar Conference.

Occasionally, other unforeseen events occur which require some time from Board members.

Many members of the OSBA Board of Governors have commented that their tenure was one of the highlights of their personal and professional lives. Board service requires sacrifices (mainly in terms of time) but is rewarding.



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