President's Corner

President’s Corner

By: Hilary A. Ballentine, Plunkett Cooney, P.C.

MDTC Behind the Scenes: Future Planning and Implementation

Like me, I’m sure many of you tuned in to watch the 2016 Olympic Games in August. Swimming and gymnastics are my personal favorites, and Rio did not disappoint. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, added five gold medals and one silver medal to his repertoire. American gymnast Simone Biles tumbled her way to five medals in her Olympic debut. Their remarkable talent made excelling in their respective sports look easy. But what we saw on television was only the “implementation” part of the process; what television coverage failed to capture were the years of intense preparation leading up to the Olympic Games. In other words, the “planning.”

The MDTC is not dissimilar. While you may only see the organization in action during its events, such as its conferences and receptions, there is intense planning occurring behind the scenes. And I’m not just talking about the planning for those events (even though that planning is essential). I mean planning on a more strategic, global scale: planning for the organization’s future.

Credit for the creation of the MDTC Future Planning Meeting goes to MDTC Past Presidents Jose T. Brown (Cline Cline & Griffin PC) and James E. Lozier (Dickinson Wright PLLC), who held the first such meeting in 1995. Not only have annual future planning meetings continued since that time, they have become one of the most critical components of the MDTC’s success. The purpose of the future planning meeting is to take a thoughtful look at the current legal landscape, identify what members care about now, predict what members will care about in the future, and create corresponding initiatives that can be implemented by the organization.

Our future planning meeting is held annually, typically in January. All current leaders of the organization (we now have 65!) are invited to attend. The importance of this meeting is evidenced by the great turnout of our leadership. The diversity of attendees, ranging from board members, regional and section chairs, to young lawyers, creates a sampling representative of our current membership. Free thought and communication is encouraged. There are no dumb ideas.

Case-in-point: out of our recent future planning meetings were born the following new strategic ideas, just to name a few:

  • a facilitator/mediator database, which allows members to find recommendations and connect with other members who have worked with the facilitator/mediator in the past;

  • a firm sponsorship program, which allows law firms and the MDTC to partner together for mutual benefit; and

  • a host of new internal committees to help engage new members and retain current members, improve our educational platform, and utilize current technology to make our organization more accessible and user-friendly.

Of course, planning is only one step of the two-step process. As strategy execution author and consultant Jeroen De Flaunder observed, “[a] strategy, even a great one, doesn’t implement itself.” However, with the MDTC, De Flaunder would be pleased. I am happy to report that the organization continues to implement a great number of ideas created at its future planning meetings.

Thanks to the work of Vice President Richard W. Paul (Dickinson Wright PLLC) and Board of Directors member Gary S. Eller (Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge PC), you can find our facilitator/mediator database on the MDTC’s website. The database provides the name and contact information of the facilitator and/or mediator, along with the name of an MDTC member “contact” who has used that professional in the past and can provide insight on his or her experience.

The firm sponsorship program launched in 2015, with 8 law firms participating. We are hopeful that even more law firms will participate this year. (If your law firm would like to become an MDTC law firm sponsor or you would like more information on firm sponsorship opportunities, please contact me or visit

On the technology front, we have taken great strides to provide our members with ease of access to information utilizing advanced technology. Our various sections now host webinars and teleconferences on a variety of subject areas that you can watch from your computer without ever leaving your office (although I still encourage you to do so every so often. It is good for the soul.). Members now receive our e-newsletter via email. We have revamped our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. And we have recently partnered with EventBrite to allow individuals to register for events online from their computers, smart phones, or tablets.

Finally, our recently formed internal committees, such as our relationship and education committees, are hard at work to determine new ways in which we can better serve membership.

I hope this gives you some insight into what the MDTC is doing behind the scenes to medal in the art of “giving its members what they want and need.” If you have an idea to share, please let me know.

Categories: Volume 7-2

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