The Philadelphia Bar Association moved one step closer to directly electing all of its leadership after the Board of Governors accepted a bylaw amendment during its meeting Thursday that will eliminate the nominating committee in favor of a completely member-and voter-directed process.
The proposed amendment must now be publicized and put to a vote by the membership during the next quarterly meeting. The quarterly meeting will likely be held in June, but an exact date and time have not yet been determined.
The new system will be in place by this year's annual meeting for the selection of the next vice chancellor and other bar leaders if the membership approves the proposal.
The amendment to kill off the nominating committee was adopted out of the commonplace critique that an official body giving approval to some, but not all, leadership candidates discouraged some good-quality potential leaders from pursuing bar association leadership posts.
A. Michael Pratt, current chancellor of the bar association, created a nominating committee task force at the beginning of the year to evaluate the efficacy of the nominating committee. The task force, chaired by Bruce A. Franzel of Oxenburg & Franzel, recommended the elimination of the nominating committee and the creation of an elections committee.
Meanwhile, the current system will stay in place until the membership either approves or disapproves the system. The current setup allows the endorsement of one or more nominees for vice chancellor, secretary, treasurer, assistant secretary and assistant treasurer as well as three nominees for membership on the Board of Governors by a committee made up of the chancellor, chancellor-elect, vice chancellor, the two immediate past chancellors, three members of the Board of Governors picked by the board, one person designated by each section or division from among its executive committee members and four chairs of standing committees picked from four groupings of committees.
Stephanie Resnick, chair of the Board of Governors, said during Thursday’s meeting that the until the system is changed, the nominating committee needed to be formed by the end of this month and the Board of Governors still needed to select its trio of nominators.
The Board of Governors selected board members Karen L. Detamore, Jeffrey S. Gross and Jacqueline S. Segal.
Under the proposed system, the elections committee would be chaired by the immediate past chancellor and made up of 10 others appointed by the current chancellor and approved by the board. The elections committee would hold candidate forums during which candidates would present their qualifications and their interest in the positions they're running for. The candidate forums also would be available via podcast on the association's Web site.
Candidates for a board membership post would be required to collect 25 signatures and submit their nominating petitions to the secretary of the association. Thirty-five signatures would be required for line officers, and 100 signatures would be required for the vice chancellor.
-- Amaris Elliott-Engel, Staff Reporter