Jim Slaughter

Article Summary:

What is a parliamentarian, and can one help your business or organization?

What is a Parliamentarian?

A parliamentarian is a consultant who advises the presiding officer and other officers, committees, and members on matters of parliamentary procedure. Parliamentarians are frequently used to assist with procedure during conventions and board meetings. Such advisors often turn long, difficult meetings into short, painless ones. A skilled parliamentarian can also

  • train officers,

  • advise members on parliamentary procedure,

  • supervise elections

  • review and recommend rules changes and

  • conduct workshops on effective meetings.

Unfortunately, finding a skilled parliamentarian can be difficult. Yellow pages and city directories seldom have a listing for "Parliamentarians." Sometimes local attorneys are asked to assist with meetings. Because few lawyers are trained in parliamentary law, however, the officers of the organization may know more about procedure than the advising attorney. Past officers are sometimes called on to serve as parliamentarian. Unfortunately, serving as an officer gives no assurance that the individual became proficient at procedure, and some members may view the officer as being associated with a particular view within the organization.

The best means for finding a professional and objective parliamentarian is to contact the two non-profit organizations that examine and certify parliamentarians: the American Institute of Parliamentarians and the National Association of Parliamentarians. Each organization has various classifications of membership, ranging from beginner to the highest levels of parliamentary proficiency. In addition, each organization makes referrals of parliamentarians.

The American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP) has two levels of parliamentary proficiency - Certified Parliamentarian and Certified Professional Parliamentarian. AIP's highest parliamentary classification is Certified Professional Parliamentarian (CPP). A CPP designation denotes that the parliamentarian has extensive experience in parliamentary education and service, has passed a closed-book written examination, and has passed an oral examination before a panel of national parliamentarians. The two examinations are based on numerous parliamentary authorities (different types of organizations use different books), including Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, Sturgis Standard Code of Procedure, Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, and Fundamentals of Parliamentary Law and Procedure.

The American Institute of Parliamentarians can be contacted at PO Box 2173, Wilmington, DE 19899, phone number 302-762-1811, fax number 302-762-2170. The AIP Website is located at http://www.parliamentaryprocedure.org

The National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP) also has two levels of parliamentary proficiency--Registered Parliamentarian and Professional Registered Parliamentarian. NAP's highest parliamentary classification is Professional Registered Parliamentarian (PRP). The PRP designation denotes that the parliamentarian has passed a written examination based on Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised and completed a course of lectures and hands-on training in the skills necessary for a professional parliamentarian.

The National Association of Parliamentarians can be contacted at 213 South Main Street, Independence, MO 64050-3850, phone number 816-833-3892, fax number 816-833-3893. The NAP Website is located at http://www.parliamentarians.org

Professional parliamentarians are governed by codes of ethics. The Code of Ethics of the American Institute of Parliamentarians provides, in part, that a parliamentarian:

  • Shall not misrepresent facts or rules and shall distinguish between personal and professional views.

  • Shall keep in confidence information obtained in the course of professional service.

  • Shall not attempt to influence the decision of an organization of which the parliamentarian is not a member.

  • Shall maintain a position of objectivity and impartiality.

Jim Slaughter is an Expert on Parilmentary procedures, and an attorney and partner at Forman Rossabi Black Marth Iddings & Slaughter, PA., in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is both a Certified Professional Parliamentarian-Teacher and a Professional Registered Parliamentarian, both of which denote his extensive knowledge, experience and ability as a parliamentarian. He has instructed parliamentary procedure in a variety of forums, including college and continuing legal education. For more information on parlimentary procedures, or to contact him, please visit www.jimslaughter.com

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