July 2016 letter from board chairs

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Hello, fellow NACA members!

Now that NACA’s new listserv platform has been operational for a few months, we wanted to take this opportunity to answer some questions that have been raised about how to join a restricted listserv. NACA proudly offers the following Open Listservs to all members: Consumer Tax Issues, Debt Defense, Doing Well, Legal Services, Legislative, Military Consumer Issues, StopForcedArbitration, and TCPA.

However, three lists – Class Action, FDCPA, and Mortgage – are restricted and have separate admission guidelines. Last year, after a number of our members raised concerns about improving the transparency and due process available to members trying to join one of our three restricted listservs, the Board of Directors asked NACA’s Membership Committee to develop standardized admission guidelines. We asked that the guidelines reflect our organization’s desire to welcome new members into our community, to provide them with the assistance they need to build successful consumer law practices, and to ensure that our listservs are a place where consumer attorneys can have a secure, open, and honest discussion about their common issues.

After much time and effort, and significant input from many member leaders, including all of our listserv moderators, the Membership Committee drafted and the Board of Directors approved new admission guidelines that provide our members with both clarity and consistency about our standards and some measure of due process when they apply to join one of our lists.

The new standards and application process for restricted listservs are as follows:

An individual must complete the online application form, linked from the listservs/communities webpage (login required). Once the applicant has submitted the required information and affirmed his/her agreement to the statements included in the form (reaffirm the membership pledge, agree to treat all communications as privileged and confidential, and agree to abide by the listserv/community rules), a NACA staff member will reach out to the references included in the application. Assuming the three references - who must be current members of whatever listserv the individual is applying for - vouch for the applicant’s work, then the applicant is permitted to join without any further review, unless the listserv moderator has a good reason to question the application.

If the applicant is unable to provide three members who can vouch for his/her work, or if the application is questioned by the moderator, then the moderator will submit the application, with the specific reason for concern set forth, to the listserv/community members for a vote. If fewer than ten (10) listserv/community members vote against the applicant, then the individual will be permitted to join. If ten (10) members or more vote against the applicant, then he/she will be denied access; however, he/she can re-apply after correcting and/or addressing the deficiency(ies) that led to the first rejection.

While these standards were approved last year, we waited until this April – when we introduced the new listserv platform – to implement these guidelines. Our intent is twofold. For members known and recommended by attorneys on our current list, their admissions would be almost automatic. For newer members, who don’t know or have relationships with list members, the list would review their applications and they would be admitted unless there were a substantive concern about them as consumer advocates. It is not our intent to have newer members denied simply because they are newer.

For our organization to continue to thrive, foster new consumer attorneys, and serve all of the consumers who need our assistance, we need to be willing to share our knowledge and our community with attorneys seeking to learn about how they best can serve their clients. These guidelines are not perfect but they are intended to balance our interest in creating a collaborative environment with protecting the security of our information flow. We also wanted to avoid the complete denial of restricted listserv access to new attorneys simply because they are inexperienced, as that defeats a significant part of NACA’s mission and does a disservice to consumers seeking legal help.

We hope moving forward that everyone feels welcome to explore the benefits of their NACA memberships and also that current restricted listserv members keep an open mind to new potential admittees and follow the letter and spirit of these admission guidelines.

Yours Very Truly,

Stacy Bardo
Stuart Rossman
Co-Chairs, NACA Board of Directors