Strategic Planning at the ABA Litigation Section Conference

I spent the morning yesterday working with a group of ABA Litigation Section volunteers in Chicago, thinking about how we can take one of our favorite programs, the ABA’s Judicial Intern Opportunity Program, to the next level.  For more than 10 years we’ve been recruiting and screening applicants from diverse law students for a limited number of paid summer clerkships with federal and state court judges around the country.  We’ve grown the program to 200 interns each summer, and have assiduously fundraised to be able to cover program costs and modest stipends for the interns.  Having essentially achieved our goal of creating this program, we now wonder what we could be doing to make it even more valuable.

I’ve always found truth in the saying, “if you don’t know where you’re going,you’ll probably end up someplace else.”  That’s why strategic planning is so critical to an organization’s success.  Understanding what you want the organization to be in the future (your vision) is essential to being able to choose the very few focus areas that you can  emphasize as you choose where to commit your limited resources to reaching your vision.

I’m always busy at ABA meetings, but am glad we took the time yesterday morning to consider how we can take JIOP from a valuable program that not only gives diverse law students an early opportunity for professional success through training and networking — a worthy accomplishment in and of itself — but also make JIOP a program that is a strategic asset for the organization as well.  A well-led strategic planning session is time well spent.



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