Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

A new era in bar staffing and member service

Cheryl Dalby, Chief Executive Officer

By now many of you know that the bar association staff has a new leader. Cheryl Dalby has agreed to take on the new role of chief executive officer in guiding a single staff that will serve the MSBA, HCBA, and RCBA. Cheryl, who has been the executive director of the RCBA for 18 years, quickly began to focus on her new role, working closely with current MSBA Executive Director Tim Groshens and current HCBA Executive Director Susie Brown to ensure a smooth transition on January 2, 2019. As the staffs are combined, the goal is to put the right people with the right skills in the right jobs to best serve all three organizations. 

Discussions on this single staff model started five years ago. The decision to move forward with the plan was made by all three organizations in 2018. The three boards set up a body called the Joint Coordinating Committee to select a leader to serve all three organizations. The nine members of the JCC included three members each from the MSBA, HCBA, and RCBA boards. Each person had equal voting power. The boards directed the JCC to set up the search and the interview process and make a recommendation to each board. The final decision was up to the three boards. 

The JCC hired a consulting firm, Cincinnatus, to assist with the search and interview process. Cincinnatus advertised the position nationwide. We attracted 39 applicants. The JCC chose 10 people for a first interview with Cincinnatus and called back four individuals for a second interview. The second interviews were conducted by the entire JCC on October 25, 2018. After the interviews, the JCC decided to recommend Cheryl Dalby to be the new leader of the combined staff. 

As soon as she was recommended, Cheryl reached out to Susie Brown to discuss a new role for Susie. Cheryl and Susie have agreed on a position for Susie in the new structure. Between November 12, 2018 and November 19, 2018, all three boards met and approved Cheryl as the new CEO of the combined staff that will be serving MSBA, HCBA and RCBA. 

With this new model in place, the combined staff will be in a good position to provide services to the members of all three organizations. Recently, in an interview with Minnesota Lawyer, Cheryl pointed out that the new structure should lead to cost savings. But, she said, “Our main goal is to increase collaboration and increase our value to members. The practice of law is changing so rapidly, and we think that by making the bar association as focused and efficient as possible, we can help members weather those changes or embrace those changes, and we are in a much better position to do that if we have a more specialized staff, less duplication, more efficiency.”

I wanted everyone to be aware of this new staff structure. I believe it will allow our staff to provide us with better service. If I am right, let me know. If I am wrong, let me know and we can work to improve the service. 

In her application letter, Cheryl pointed out that she grew up in northern Minnesota and understands the need to make sure our bar association services are available to every member. I am confident Cheryl will make sure all of our members receive great service.


PAUL GODFREY is the Managing Attorney for the Twin Cities Branch Legal Office for Farmers Insurance. He is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 40 cases to jury verdict, with issues ranging from claims for whiplash to claims for wrongful death. 

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