From the ED: Grateful For a New Approach to Member Engagement and a New Home
When I look back to this time last year, back when we were still measuring the length of the COVID-19 pandemic in days rather than months or years, chaos and uncertainty loom large in my memories. But I also find myself reflecting on those first weeks and months with a feeling of gratitude to NCAJ leaders, members and staff. For better or worse, the pandemic forced a new way of doing business at NCAJ. It escalated discussions about member engagement and forced us to rethink why and how we did almost everything. Thankfully, NCAJ was ready for the new way because of its people.
NCAJ leaders held the tough conversations and did the hard work to get us out of the real estate business. We sold our old building inside the Raleigh beltline and secured a new leased office space closer to Interstate 40. The new location will make it easier for members from across the state to get to our office. And, perhaps even more important, it will make it easier for staff to get to members across the state.
The new office at 701 Corporate Center Drive is 5,647 square feet of natural light and high-speed communications technology. Offices with tall windows ring a large, open collaborative space outfitted with a coffee bar and a large sitting area. I envision members gathering there during breaks to discuss cases or practice tips or to just catch up with one another. A large multi-purpose room with flexible seating will provide a venue for educational programming, leadership meetings and member receptions.
Additionally, the new space has a small conference room with a 55-inch screen where members can gather and hold client meetings, conduct mediations or just find a quiet place to take a phone call or do some work during a break in the educational programming.
The entire space will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology. In keeping with the need to meet our members where they are, NCAJ is putting significant resources into making the remote experience as rewarding as the in-person experience. Many of you had already expressed a strong desire for NCAJ to provide better remote options for quarterly leadership meetings as well as weekly continuing legal educational programming. This new space delivers.
We have designed the multipurpose room to provide a seamless experience for those on site as well as those participating remotely. A few of the bells and whistles:
- In-room participants will view presentations projected onto a main screen via an 8,000-lumen laser projector.
- Presenters’ voices will be amplified by one wireless lavalier microphone and two gooseneck microphones that can be expanded.
- Ten ceiling–mounted speakers and eight in-room microphones will enable full–room interactive teleconferencing.
- Two pan-tilt-zoom cameras will provide teleconference participants with video of presenters and the in-room audience.
- When the room is in training mode, a rear side display screen will show presenter video content in the back of room.
The smaller, rear boardroom area will be similarly equipped, and 55-inch screens will grace the reception area and the coffee bar.
NCAJ staff has adapted to the pandemic remarkably well and delivered on all fronts. When it’s safe – we are hoping for some time this summer – staff will be back together again, an exciting prospect for us since we have been working remote since September 2019.
When conditions allow, we will take our programs and services out and about around the state. Skills Academy, launched last year, has been incredibly successful as have our civil masters and criminal masters programs. We will also launch the NCAJ NEXT leadership program this fall and we will need to take that across the state in order to support up–and–coming trial lawyer leaders across North Carolina.
We need to go beyond the large metros to other parts of our state so all members can easily experience the value of NCAJ programs. We must meet our members where they are with all our programming in order to remain successful. No excuses in a post-COVID world.
I am, perhaps, most grateful for the way in which our members have stuck with us during this incredibly challenging year. Each of you has embraced a new way of doing business at NCAJ and adapted to every new concept and idea we have thrown at you.
Over the past year we have expanded and diversified our member programming to include more law practice management topics, diversity and inclusion themes and more fun member socials, all of which you enthusiastically received.
My toddlers have a saying they often use in our household to express their affection for one another. They say, “You filled up my bucket today,” when they feel heard and loved by one another.
No doubt, NCAJ will be doing business differently in a post-COVID world. No doubt, the NCAJ leaders, staff and members will continue to help us do so. No doubt, each of you have filled up my bucket this past year.