Resources — access to
tools and solutions
Most of the educational resources you will need is already available from the two major parliamentary organizations:
• National Association of Parliamentarian ("NAP")
• American Institute of Parliamentarians ("AIP")
Both organizations provide the following services:
✓ Referral to a choice of local parliamentarians
✓ Book store (including booklets, pamphlets, charts)
✓ At-home course lessons
Go to home page of N.A.P.
Go to home page of A.I.P.
"Cost" — The referral service itself is free. Each headquarters maintains a database of credentialed parliamentarians who have opted-in on participation in the referral service.
"Contact" — Once you get a referral list, you will have to phone them or e-mail them yourself, and find out who is available, for what date, at what fee. Please note that each parliamentarian sets his/her own fee, plus whatever minimums and maximums of time or service or product.
"Advice" — Any credentialed parliamentarian from either organization should be able to provide you with advice and opinions.
"Consultant" — The most common service provided by a professional parliamentarian is that of an "advisor" or "consultant" to the chair, during a meeting. Ideally, the parliamentarian sits near the chairman so that if a question about rules were to pop up, or if an unusual motion were to be moved, then the chair would whisper to the parliamentarian for a viable option or a course of action. The parliamentarian whispers back a suggestion, and then the chair may act on that advice, or not. -- The chair is under no obligation to obey the parliamentarian, since a parliamentarian can only give advice and suggestions, and cannot enforce his opinions on the organization.
The service which parliamentarians enjoy the most is teaching. -- It is fun and interesting to share inside knowledge with one's audience. If you need training for new officers, or if you need a refresher course for your board of directors, then ask your parliamentarian for an hour of Q&A and feedback on what common problems, and common solutions, previous presidents, committees, boards, etc., have run into out there in the real world, and what The Book says on the subject.
"Written opinion" — Another possible service is for the parliamentarian to provide a written parliamentary opinion on some ambiguity or conflict regarding one's constitution, bylaws, or other source of rules.
"Bylaws review" — Another possible service is a review of the bylaws. When an organization amends its bylaws, over time, those individual amendments might create inconsistencies in the document. When an organization reorganizes the text of its bylaws completely, that is called a "revision," and that would be an ideal time to have an expert look it over.
"Not an enforcer" — To be complete, let's cover what a parliamentarian is not. A parliamentarian is not a "sergeant-at-arms," not an "enforcer," and does not escort rowdy members to/from the meeting room. Likewise, the opinion of the parliamentarian is only an opinion, and is not to be considered a "ruling." Parliamentarians do not make rulings, only the chair makes rulings. The members of the body which is meeting are the ultimate authority for interpretation of their own rules, their own bylaws -- not any individual, not the chair, and especially not the parliamentarian.
"Quiet assurance" — The principle to remember is that the hired parliamentarian is not a member of the organization, and has no right to speak out loud during a meeting, except when asked to. Consider the parliamentarian as "an insurance policy" -- you pay money to have it in your pocket when an emergency pops up, but you hope you never have to use it. And you might use it very rarely, indeed, but the peace of mind knowing that you are covered is worthwhile. Put another way: That kind of "insurance" might turn a 10 minute problem into a 10 second solution.
"Freebies" — Each parliamentarian typically has a set of free handouts or flyers which some people might call a "cheat sheet" or a "tip sheet" to give to their clients — or potential clients, for that matter. One sheet might be a summary of common motions. One sheet might be a summary of the rules for debate and decorum. One sheet might be on how to calculate a two-thirds vote from an odd number.