StarChapter of December: AILA DC

If you struggle to get new members engaged with chapter activities such as attending meetings and volunteering for committees, you might want to learn from our Nation’s Capital City chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). We spoke with Joung Eun Lee who currently serves as a board chair and learned about programs organized by their New Members Division to improve new member engagement and other initiatives led by the board volunteers to raise awareness for the profession through local and national programs. The chapter’s plans for the next year are ambitious, including expansion into new geographies in the larger DC Metropolitan area as well as offering more online resources. Click to read their story.


1. What was AILA DC’s strategy for engaging new members in the past year?

AILA DC has a dedicated committee that is tasked with not only recruiting new members at law schools but also, more importantly, helping new members get the most out of their membership with our chapter. Towards that end, we have certain programming that is geared entirely to the New Members Division such as Happy Hour events where new members get to meet a well-established member of AILA DC to get tips, advice, etc. Also, we make sure that our other regular programming includes New Members, e.g. beginner level discussions on various legal topics, such as the Asylum 101 webinar we recently held. Our chapter also takes part in a special program whereby AILA National allows us to purchase some of their educational recordings, which come with accompanying written resources for the chapter and we then sell to our members at a low price. For instance, we offer our members the full 2016 Annual Conference recordings for just $30, representing hundreds of dollars in savings per member! AILA DC is committed to helping its members become the best-prepared legal practitioners in the field and, therefore, we make sure to provide our new members with the resources designed to facilitate education.


2.Tell us about a successful event/meeting you organized last year.

The yearly Annual Conference is the main event for AILA members throughout the U.S. It is held at different locations throughout the year with the local AILA chapters becoming integrally involved with production of the event. AILA members from all over the world as well as throughout the U.S. come to hear the latest news and get the most comprehensive immigration training around. It is a huge endeavor and last year, our chapter had the distinct honor of hosting the Annual Conference at the National Harbor. Countless numbers of our members volunteered their busy time to scout local hot spots to recommend to our visiting colleagues, to organize fun events to get away from the long day of CLE's, and generally assist in any way we were needed.


3. The AILA network is extensive. Does the board get ideas on how to improve membership value from other chapters?

Generally, there is sharing of info between different AILA chapters via a teleconference that Chapter Chairs have every month. I actually recommended that AILA National work on creating a location in their website where Chapter Chairs may share information so that we may all access the shared info easily, which should be preferred to how info is shared currently via the group email. Beyond the Chapter Chairs teleconferences and emails, chapter members are good about sharing helpful or interesting info that they come across -- which includes info about what other chapters are doing.


4. What is in store for the members of AILA DC next year?

This year, one of my goals as Chair is to figure out a way to ensure that members in outlying areas of our chapter district feel included in our programming and resources. For example, we are looking into more web-based resources that members may access from wherever and whenever and getting away from in-person meetings where close proximity to the metropolitan DC area is a huge advantage to those members. Along similar lines, one of my stated goals for the year is to update and revamp our chapter website to make sure that helpful information is easy to access for our members. By making our website more of a resource, I hope to get away from relying on frequent email blasts to notify members. StarChapter/AMC will play a significant role in this.


5. How did StarChapter help you run AILA DC and reach its goals?  

Without StarChapter's support in providing the framework and technical capabilities for our chapter to set up events on our website for members to peruse and register for, to prepare and send out regular newsletters to our members to keep everyone informed, or even to facilitate sending out mass emails so that we can keep members in the loop, our chapter could not have functioned well. StarChapter's role has become even more crucial as our chapter membership expands beyond the geographic metropolitan DC area to reach more and more members farther afield in outlying areas of Maryland and Virginia. Thus, as our chapter seeks to maintain relevance for all of our members regardless of their geographic locations, the ability to offer resources and benefits through non-localized/e-world, so to speak, has made StarChapter's services to our chapter all the more vital. As we search to come up with new benefits to offer all of our members, regardless of where they are located physically, we look forward to working with StarChapter to provide us with the technological framework to achieve our goals.



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