Drafting and Interpreting Bylaws
Bylaws define the structure, governance, and the rights and responsibilities of an organization and its members. Bylaws must be legislatively compliant with the laws governing the province, state, or country. They also define specific rules, which may be unique to an organization and which cannot be suspended.
On adopting a parliamentary authority, such as the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, you include many of the rules of order and procedures which the organization does not have to try and recreate in the bylaws. Exceptions would include those specific rules contained in their parliamentary authority it finds it needs to supplement or modify. The organization may also want rules included in the bylaws, rules it does not want to be able to be suspended.
Parliamentarians assist in drafting and interpreting bylaws specific to the needs of the organization.
Drafting and Interpreting Special Rules of Order
An organization may adopt special rules varying from the general parliamentary law or adopted parliamentary authority. Special rules of order supersede any rules in the parliamentary authority with which they may conflict. Examples include: where it sometimes desirable to adopt a rule establishing the society’s own order of business for meetings; where it is sometimes necessary to have a rule relating to the length or number of speeches permitted each member in debate; or where a small assembly—such as one having a dozen or fewer members—may wish to adopt a rule that its meetings will be governed by some or all of the somewhat less formal procedures applicable to small boards.
Parliamentarians assist in drafting and interpreting special rules of order specific to the needs of the organization.
A parliamentarian can advise you how to use your rules fairly, ethically and to your advantage. Knowing the right motion to make during that difficult time in a meeting can mean the difference between success and disappointment. A parliamentary strategist can be an invaluable resource in preparing for a meeting and using the rules to your advantage during the meeting.
Meeting and Convention Planning
The work of organizing and preparing for a meeting or convention normally begins weeks or months in advance and involves many committees, under the general direction of the officers and the board of the association. Parliamentarians are often asked to assist organizations in planning meetings and conventions.
Although the parliamentarian has the duty of giving parliamentary advice and opinions at convention and member, the parliamentarian’s most important work may well be performed before the convention opens. During the period of preparation and while the convention is in progress, he should serve as the principal adviser to the president, the officers, and the committee chairs regarding management of the convention as it relates to the actual transaction of business.
The parliamentarian can be of special use in the preparation of meeting scripts for the chair, working with various committee chairs, and preparing the processes in the consideration of motions and bylaw and rule amendments.
Scripting for the Presiding Officer and Assembly
One of the most valuable tools for an individual who chairs a large meeting is the meeting script. A script can help a presiding officer be confident and knowledgeable about procedure. Scripts can provide effective communication tools at meetings. Scripts may also assist others in a meeting such as the secretary, technical support helpers who are projecting information on a screen, and timekeepers. If you want an organized, structured meeting, you have to script it. After all, a script contains dialogue, an outline the specific items to be discussed, the process for handling motions, the person responsible for leading each agenda item, the time allocated to each item, and the desired outcome.
The parliamentarian is experienced in preparing meeting scripts and resolutions to assist presiding officers in handling meetings efficiently and effectively and help in preventing conflicts and confusion during the meeting.
Serving as Parliamentarian at Meetings
The role of the parliamentarian at a meeting is to be a resource to the chair and to assist them in the conduct of the meeting. The parliamentarian sits next to the chair and discreetly gives advice, guidance and support during the meeting. The chair can and should consult with the parliamentarian when not certain on how to rule on a question or proceed in the circumstances.
A parliamentary opinion is generally a researched opinion of a questionable parliamentary situation or interpretation of an assembly’s bylaws or special rules of order. Parliamentarians are often asked “given our current bylaws and rules of order, how do we move this, or, what is the proper procedure to move to amend this motion”. Rather than an assembly taking action, which may later be determined to be ill-advised, it is prudent and good process, to engage a parliamentarian to evaluate your parliamentary situation. A parliamentarian will review the organization’s governing documents and provide an opinion as to how to proceed within the rules.
Professional Presiding Officer
The presiding officer of a deliberative assembly is responsible for seeing that business of the assembly is transacted in proper order and expedited as much as possible, that members observe the rules of debate, that order and decorum are always observed, and that the rules of the assembly are enforced with as little discord as possible. Allowing a professional parliamentarian to preside over your meetings has many advantages. As a presiding officer, the professional parliamentarian knows parliamentary rules and procedures, has the experience to use them to the benefit of the assembly, and is completely impartial. A professional presiding officer will most likely be trusted by members when dealing with a contentious issue. This allows the president or chair of an organization to freely debate and vote during the meeting.
To discuss how I can help you with your parliamentary service needs, contact me now.