The Nomination and the Trustee Evaluation Process
Fellowship is bestowed on law practice management specialists who consistently exemplify the highest professional standards and achievements. One of the best things about belonging to the College is meeting people who’ve made extraordinary contributions to law practice management and making sure they are Fellows in the College. We all benefit from the College’s diversity in all of its forms, so the nomination of diverse candidates is especially encouraged.
The Trustees would like to share with you some tips for completing an effective nomination and some insight into the evaluation process.
Tips for an Effective Nomination and Insight into How Trustees Evaluate Nominees
One of the most rewarding, and difficult, tasks of the Trustees is to elect nominees for induction into the College. We assess achievements against the criteria for Fellowship, which are established in our bylaws. We have an in-depth discussion about each candidate’s merits. The Trustees take the nomination process very seriously.
- Fill Out the Form Completely. We can’t consider incomplete nominations. It’s a roadmap to present your candidate’s merits—make sure that every element is covered.
- Sustained, Visible Professional Involvement and Innovation. A record of sustained contribution to the field is one of the most important criteria we consider. Trustees will, however, consider leaders who have innovated and transformed their law organization without visible external professional involvement.
- Write a Compelling Citation. This is the basis for the executive summary that is read during the annual induction ceremony. It should engage the audience and tell why your candidate is special. It also serves as a summary of your nomination for the Trustees.
- We Honor Achievement and Leadership in Law Practice Management. To be a leader means sharing knowledge with others. We honor contribution to law practice management; other organizations recognize distinguished legal practice and civic involvement.
- Commitment to the College. We want Fellows who will be active in the College and advance its mission and work. Fellowship should mark the beginning of active involvement, not just a capstone to a career.
- A Formal Resume Isn’t Enough. Give us a sense of the candidate as a human being, as a colleague, a friend, a mentor. You think highly of this person—tell us why we should.
- Not Finding Information? That’s a signal. If you can’t find information, it probably means that the candidate doesn’t yet have enough experience to be eligible. It’s also why finding the right Fellow to second your nomination is crucial; others may have information that you don’t.
- Informing or Consulting with the Candidate. It can be tough to explain to a nominee that he or she has been unsuccessfully nominated. We therefore suggest against a candidate knowing that they are being nominated, but the decision is yours.
- Don’t Pad the Nomination Form. The nomination form should be less than 10 pages. Longer is not better. Limit attachments; if necessary, include URLs in the nomination.
- Leave Enough Time to Complete the Nomination. Don’t underestimate the time it will take you to assemble the candidate’s package.
- Nomination and Selection Rates. We typically receive between 10 and 20 nominations each year and approve about 75 percent. This shows Fellows give a lot of thought to whom they nominate and then generally prepare good nomination forms. We do not rank nominations or have numeric targets.
The Voting Process and Need for Confidentiality
The Trustees believe that all Fellows should understand how we evaluate candidates. Decisions are “yes” or “no” with an occasional deferral or a request to the nominator to provide additional information. As mentioned above, incomplete forms will not be considered.
We decide based on a formal, open vote. A simple majority suffices for election of a new Fellow. Borderline candidates (based on a straw vote) often spur additional discussion until we are satisfied we have reached as much of a consensus as we can. Many votes are unanimous or nearly unanimous.
Our deliberations are confidential. We have a thorough and candid discussion of candidates. Sometimes negative information emerges: we have voted down some nominees who look great on paper but where several Trustees had had significant, negative experiences that went to the “ethical standards” and “high level of character” bylaws requirements. We are a small organization and it’s important to have candidates with collegiality and team spirit.
We have also voted down candidates where we did not see that “special something.” Long-standing volunteer activity and even leadership roles in other professional societies do not always suffice to meet the innovation standard.
If you have questions about the nomination process generally or a specific candidate, please contact the College administrator, Debbie Curtis-O’Connell or any one of the College Trustees.
— College Trustees
Class of 2017 nomination form.