16 Aug 2021
CIArb’s West Midlands branch has a membership of nearly 400 members. The branch hosts around eight events in the year that cover all forms of alternative dispute resolution. For those who are not familiar, the West Midlands is both historically and currently, an important area for UK industry for which the branch is keen to support by representing the benefits of ADR. The membership is focused towards the construction adjudication industry and whilst the branch caters for that demand, but it also engages in the wider ADR community by hosting events and workshops related to other industries showing that all members interests are of importance to the branch.
The virtual events it has run and will run are open for all. The in-person events normally take place in Birmingham city centre but locations have varied and the branch will consider holding an event in alternative locations if there is demand. Future events that are being considered include an independent mediation workshop, a talk about family mediation, a site tour to a renewable energy scheme, an event about NEC4 contracts and an event on delay analysis.
What do you want to see in your Branch this year?
The branch is looking forward to adapting to the new ways of working that relate to the running of events by carefully choosing the appropriate platform whether virtual/in-person or hybrid depending on the topic and target audience. The branch is looking to improve the two-way with its members in order to generate ideas for events and training for events in the coming year.
Understanding the impact of the Covid-19 to the West Midlands’ economy and how the branch can promote the use of ADR locally to assist in the economic recovery is a target for the branch. The Branch envisages more ‘tie-ups’ with other organisations and institutes to hold successful events that encourage the higher local take up of ADR.
The branch looks forward to meeting its members face to face in the latter part of the year after such a long time in the world of remote working/meetings.
How will you implement and deliver success?
Irrespective of the platform used for the event, the key factor is the quality of the event. The branch is fortunate that many of the committee are experts in their field and have previously delivered many quality events. Recent events have been bolstered by using internationally prominent practitioners as guest speakers ranging from QCs, Judges, the current President of the CIArb and the Vice Chair of the CIArb. The method of using local and international talent will be used again to deliver a successful programme of events.
In light of Covid-19, the branch plans to hold events with local chambers of commerce to promote the CIArb Business Arbitration Scheme (BAS) scheme and mediation. It will also hold events jointly with local industry groups and hold workshops to allow its members and non-members to gain wider appreciation of how ADR can be a cost-effective method for resolving disputes locally or internationally.
How will you use or expand social networking? / How have you used social networking?
The branch’s LinkedIn page is updated when an event is delivered. The branch has seen the benefit of cross advertising events with other institutes to gain more attendees. The benefit of using the main CIArb page with assistance of the CIArb marketing team has also been successful in getting more members to attend the events.
What will you do to engage younger members/students? / What have you done to engage younger members/students?
Several of the committee members have links to academic institutions. These connections will be leveraged to advertise the branch’s events but also the benefit of student membership of the CIArb. Prior to lock-down the branch took a stand at the UK Construction Week where many students took interest in dispute resolution who subsequently signed up for the free membership. The branch is always on the look-out for opportunities to engage with younger members and by running events free of charge it lowers the barriers for younger members and students to learn about ADR. The branch will look to attend local trade shows and other functions where it can further engage with students and young members.
How will you communicate more effectively with your members?
The branch predominantly uses the member mailing list to target the West Midlands membership when advertising events. To gain further interest, the branch approaches other organisations that may also have CIArb members in their ranks such as the Society of Construction Law. In addition to the mailing list there is a West Midlands Branch LinkedIn page. The branch has recently benefited from the CIArb’s marketing team to advertise the events on the main CIArb website increasing the number of people signing up for events. Communication needs to take on a ‘two-way’ approach so the committee will engage with event delegates for suggestions for future improvements. Many of the events at the branch are workshops that are dependent on the delegate participation for all parties to get the best out of the event. Therefore, an emphasis on workshops will be made for forthcoming events.
Do you have a social media presence as a Branch? (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter)
The branch does have a LinkedIn page where you can find reports and videos of previous events.
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