The Power of Connecting Offline

Earning Your Loyalty

November 2019 | Orange County Lawyer Magazine


by Christina Zabat-Fran

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.

~ Walt Disney


Being a member of the OCBA has been rewarding both professionally and personally. My experience with the OCBA reminds me of anecdotes from loyal customers I have heard  while serving as general counsel of a heritage apparel brand. 

There was the passionate recount of the first time she tried on a suit in anticipation of a career making meeting with a client, and that suit made her feel confident. She told of great memories with her first purchase of a jacket, that more than twenty years later still serves as a wardrobe workhorse alongside her more recent acquisitions. There was also the moment she addressed a large room of peers at a major event, and in anticipation, she reached for that certain dress because she knew it would help her shine. At a time when consumer choice abounds, discounts are rampant, and being brand agnostic is all too convenient, it strikes me how compelling these stories truly are—they are of a brand earning trust in a woman, providing consistent value to her over the years, and further encouraging her to come back again (and perhaps, bring her friends). 

Brand loyalty is no less relevant to lawyers, and no less important to a bar association. We are incredibly fortunate to be in the profession in an age of great opportunity. My email inbox and voicemail are teeming with numerous invitations to associations, affinity groups, sponsorships, webinars, conference calls, and meet-ups. But as time is not getting any more plentiful for you or for me, we are asked to consider where we should consistently turn for the best value, and where we should invest our time.

I would submit to you that the concept of brand loyalty is even more salient in this instance.  A bar association is not merely one consumer good, nor—even with our world-class educational offerings—a package of services. The overarching value, and the reason each of us will return, time and time again, is in the community. Therefore, membership is tantamount to the strength and sustainability of our bar. 

Here’s the most important thing for you to know: the Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) both understands and appreciates you. Thanks to efforts initiated by OCBA Past President Nikki Miliband and furthered as a pillar of action for 2019 by our current OCBA President Deirdre Kelly, the OCBA has established a Membership Task Force. The goal of the task force is to strategize how we can grow and continue to bring value to our membership.  Having been tapped by Nikki and Deidre to lead this task force, it is a tremendous privilege to serve the bar and you, the membership, in this effort. Greater than any one heritage brand alone, the OCBA is an Orange County institution, founded over one hundred years ago to provide mutual support among lawyers, foster professional development, and contribute to the community. It is a community that makes this one of the most impactful places to practice in the nation. You are an integral part of this institution. The OCBA Membership Task Force is entirely focused on you and your relationship with the OCBA. 

To start, the task force is reviewing the OCBA’s current membership and recruitment efforts in order to understand fully a member’s introduction to the bar. The task force is also conducting insightful benchmarking, considering what peer associations are doing. The OCBA has developed a reputation, and rightly so, for leveraging best practices as an organization, it is this practice of rigor and reflection that will enable us to continue to do so. 

The task force is also working to identify ways to reinforce the magnificent value proposition of the OCBA, in order to drive greater membership engagement and development. While this can certainly mean different things to each member, this also serves to highlight what is truly remarkable about our community. I invite you to share with the task force your experience with the OCBA, and how and when the bar exceeded your expectations. Your feedback is important. 

Finally, OCBA President Deirdre Kelly has made it a top priority for the task force to create a Diversity Pipeline Initiative, in partnership with the OCBA Diversity Committee, seeking to encourage and support attorneys of all backgrounds to engage more fully in the bar, including serving in leadership roles. As our clients and the community we serve become increasingly more diverse, so can the lawyers who serve them. The task force is considering all ways to support the OCBA in its commitment to building a diverse, inclusive, and supportive community for all its members.

These efforts are only the beginning. As we work through the challenges ahead, I look forward to working with the task force and you to continue developing the OCBA into an extraordinary, evolving organization that enhances the lives of its members, as well as the entire community that we serve. The OCBA is your bar association. Know that we will persistently and passionately seek to continue to earn your trust, deliver value, and stay relevant. So bring yourself, and bring your friends.


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© 2020 by Christina Zabat-Fran.