A parliamentarian is an expert in interpreting and applying the "Rules of Order" for meetings of deliberative assemblies. These rules, such as Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, enable groups
to efficiently and fairly discuss and determine actions to be taken.
does not rule! Parliamentary law gives to the chair alone the power to rule on questions
of order and on the proper application of the rules. The role of the parliamentarian
during a meeting is purely an advisory and consultative one, helping the presiding
officer to respond to points of order and parliamentary inquiries. Only on the most
involved matters should the presiding officer ask the parliamentarian to give an
explanation directly to the assembly.
In many cases, the parliamentarian's duties extend beyond giving opinions to the
presiding officer during meetings, and may include assisting in the planning and
steering of business to be introduced. Some ways a parliamentarian can assist
- Writing, revising and/or editing
Constitutions, Bylaws, Standing
and/or Special Rules
- Parliamentary Procedure Training
for officers, members, delegates
- Writing a presiding officer script for
a meeting or convention.
- Serving as a professional presiding
- Supervising elections
- Preparing a meeting agenda
- Preparing meeting minutes
- Providing a formal written
If a parliamentarian is needed by an organization, the president should be free to
appoint one in whom he has confidence. A parliamentarian should be appointed as far
as possible in advance of the meeting at which he is to serve, since his main work
should be done outside the meeting.
If during a meeting the parliamentarian notices something being done out of order, the
parliamentarian should call the attention of the chair to it as unobtrusively as possible.
For this reason, the parliamentarian should always be assigned a seat next to the
president or presiding officer.
Though the president is not obliged to follow the advice of the parliamentarian, no
self-respecting parliamentary expert would continue to hold the position of
parliamentarian in an organization where the advice given is not followed.
A member of an organization who acts as its parliamentarian has a duty to maintain a
position of impartiality, and therefore does not make motions, participate in debate, or
vote on any question except in the case of a ballot vote.
A credentailed parliamentarian is one who has obtained either the "Registered Parliamentarian" or Professional Registered Parliamenntarian" credential from the National Association of Parliamentarians®, or the "Certified Parliamentarian" or "Certified Professional Parliamentarian" credential from the American Institute of Parliamentarians.
NOTE: Membership alone in either of these organization is not a credential!
See Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th ed) 47:46-56 Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised in Brief (3rd ed.), p. 95; and Parliamentary Law by Henry M. Robert (1923), pp. 323-326.