Warren Harris, the new president of the Houston Bar Association, is tackling a somewhat thankless project. He wants the bar’s board to adopt a new strategic plan.
The goal, Harris said, is to rethink the HBA’s mission and, considering the bar’s limited resources, make sure that all projects hit the mark and have a connection with the law. “There are only so many dollars, so many staff hours,” he said.
Harris, chair of the appellate practice group at Bracewell, has been developing ideas for the strategic planning process over the last year while he was president-elect, and he wants the board to start working on a plan at a board retreat in a few weeks. Harris said the HBA does much to serve the community, but the bar also needs to serve Houston lawyers.
“Job one for us is serving the needs of Houston lawyers. We are doing wonderful public service … but we need to make sure we are taking care of lawyers in Houston,” he said.
Harris wants the board to adopt a new strategic plan before he ends his term. He was sworn into office on May 17.
Harris’ predecessor at HBA president, Beck Redden partner Alistair Dawson, launched an initiative to provide legal services to special needs children and young adults.
Harris said the HBA, like many bar organizations, has lost membership in recent years and he wants to make sure the bar provides value to its members. The HBA’s membership is currently about 11,200, he said, but that’s down from a high of close to 12,000 a few years ago.
Harris, who has been a member of the HBA’s board of directors for a decade, said he also wants the board to focus on the HBA’s sections to find a way to work more closely with them. He said many of the substantive law sections operate somewhat independently, and some lawyers are members of the HBA but only active in their section.
Harris said he is looking forward to using his year as president to aim the organization toward the future. “It’s not glamorous, but at the end of the day, it’s one of the most important things we can do,” he said.