June 2017 Print

Letter from the President

Message from the President

This issue is packed with so many items; it’s hard to know where to begin. Many chapter members enjoyed a wonderful evening of fun and competition when Konica Minolta and Ronnoco sponsored The Battle of the Burger at Weber Grill at The Galleria. Team Guac – took first place – congratulations to Terri Cole, Lou Ann Wilcox, Danielle Skosky and Jennifer Markezich. You won’t want to miss our next social event planned for the fall.


We have a lot of value in our Business Partners and we thought it was time to remind you of everything they offer. Nichole Cornwell, our President-Elect and Legal Administrative Support Manager with Husch Blackwell, provides more information:

Do you ever wonder where to start when you’re thinking of switching services such as hospitality/refreshments, copying, catering, recruiting, document management, furniture, etc.? If you’re a member of ALA, you need not look any further. Here you will find a complete list of Business Partners who connect with Law Firms across the St. Louis Metropolitan area just waiting for a chance to share their services with you!

Business Partners are our primary resource to raise funds designated for educational opportunities for our members. In return for Business Partner’s highly valued investments, they receive unique networking and sales opportunities with all of our members. As a thank you for their time and investment in the organization, please take the time to chat with our valued Business Partners for a few minutes over the phone or meet with them at one of our many events to discuss their services. Like all good partnerships, communication is key! You never know when you will be in the market for a new service or perk for your office.

ALA International also has a member-exclusive VIP Business Partner program with companies that provide services and discounts in technology, cyber security, office products, video conferencing and more. Go to http://www.alanet.org/about/vip-program for more information.

Don’t forget about ALA'S LEGAL MARKETPLACE – your complimentary resource for finding business solutions and services that add value to your firm or company. Go to http://legalmarketplace.alanet.org/ to find more than 200 business partners and profiles, divided by categories.

Our Business Partners may also be interested in Regional and International opportunities. Please visit http://www.alanet.org/marketing-opportunities/marketing-opportunities-overview to learn more.

There is a lot happening in June. Our June meeting covers the dreaded topic of Performance Reviews but Register Now.

On June 23, starting at 7:30 am, ALA, WLA and Midwest Litigation invite our members to attend BREAKFAST and learn about the services provided by The Center for Women in Transition and stories from the women who have benefited from the organization. We will be collecting towels, sheets, blankets, pillows and mattress covers. Learn more and Register.

Following the Breakfast meeting on June 23, we will be participating in our second Let’s Start packing program to provide food for children visiting their incarcerated mothers. This only takes a short time with enough volunteers. Please plan to join us. If you can only attend the breakfast or the packing event, we certain understand and respect your time! Register now.

Finally in June, don’t forget to participate in the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25th to show our support for our LGBTQ friends! Your family is invited as well as others in your firm and their families. This is for members and Business Partners. We will meet at noon. Learn more and Register Here.

July will soon be upon us and although it isn’t as busy as June, we will have our monthly chapter meeting on July 19 at noon in Brentwood at 16 West (a current business partner) on the subjects of time entry, billing and collections. All firms seem to struggle with them items, so please save the date and make plans to join us!

Several of the chapter leaders will be traveling to Minneapolis later in July to learn more about chapter leadership and getting our chapter and firms ready for the future.

Have you seen the Legal Management Magazine? ALA has a monthly publication reporting on topics within ALA’s five knowledge areas: Legal Industry/Business Management; Human Resources Management; Financial Management; Communication and Organizational Management; and Operations Management. Members receive an email but if you missed an issue or need to refer to an article, you can access current and past publications by logging into the ALA website. The issues are under the Education tab. 

The ALA Bylaws were recently amended with the most significant change being every chapter member has a vote. The new bylaws can now be found on the ALA website.

ALA’s Awards Program provides several opportunities for individuals, chapters and other law-related organizations (including business partners) to be recognized for their efforts on behalf of ALA and the legal community. Questions regarding these programs can be directed to awards@alanet.org.

IDEA Awards - As the undisputed leaders of the business of law, ALA members and chapters are encouraged to strive for excellence. In order to recognize those efforts, ALA launched the IDEA (Innovation, Development, Engagement and Advancement) Awards. The IDEA Awards recognize new practices that deliver great value and transformational impact through innovative achievement. ALA chapters, committees, regions, individuals, firms, business partners and organizations are eligible. Award recipients will be selected based upon their development of unique and innovative programs, services and events that improve our ALA chapters and/or legal communities. Complete guidelines are available on ALA’s website. Entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges, and the recipients will be announced at ALA’s Annual Conference & Expo.

Reach out to Jennie Wyatt with questions at Jennie.Wyatt@butlersnow.com. She has served as the chair of the IDEA committee for that last couple of years.

I know this is a lot to report but it goes to show that there is so much information about legal management, sometimes you just need to know where to look. Please let me or any of our chapter leaders know if you need more information on anything regarding our chapter, ALA, and legal management. Thank you!


Brenda Deertz
2017-18 ALA Gateway President

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Calendar of Events

Dreaded Performance Reviews
Join ALA Gateway as Ken Lynch, a recognized expert in Human Resources (HR), discusses the ins and outs of performance evaluations. Why do we conduct performance reviews? Are performance reviews still needed today? What are the pitfalls found with performance reviews? How to improve the performance review process?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 from 12:00PM-1:00PM at Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard – 14th Floor
Open to ALA Members and SLIP Interns.

Add to Calendar      Register Now

ALA, Women's Lawyer Association and Midwest Litigation
invite you to attend BREAKFAST

Please join us for a complimentary breakfast and learn about the services provided by The Center for Women in Transition and stories from the women who have benefited from the organization. We appreciate receiving donations of any of the following items to be provided to The Center for Women in Transition: towels (hand, face, bath), sheets (full and queen), blankets, pillows, and mattress covers (full and queen).

Friday, June 23, 2017 - 7:30AM-9:00AM

Midwest Litigation
614 North 11th Street, St. Louis, MO 63101
(metered parking or St. Louis Public Park, north of their building) 

Open to ALA Members.

Add to Calendar      Register Now

Let's Start - It's Lunch Time!
(immediately after breakfast above - attend one or both)

Get involved by helping us pack lunches for children to eat while they are on the bus visitng their incarcertated parents!

Friday, June 23, 2017 at 9:00AM-10:00AM

Midwest Litigation
614 North 11th Street, St. Louis, MO 63101
(metered parking or St. Louis Public Park, north of their building)

Open to ALA Members.

Add to Calendar      Register Now

Stress Diversity with ALA Gateway - 2017 Pride Parade
Walk with ALA Gateway in the 2017 Pride Parade!

Sunday, June 25, 2017 beginning at noon in Downtown St. Louis 
Open to ALA Members, Business Partners, Law Firm Guests and other legal organizations.

Add to Calendar      Register Now

Where Did The Time Go?
**STLPA Members Invited to Participate via Webinar**
Many law firms, regardless of size, struggle with time entry, billing and collections.  All three are essential for a profitable law firm.  Time entries are the “bread and butter” of what lawyers do for their clients; it is the law firm’s only inventory.  Billing is arguably the most important management process in any law firm and the true measure of the financial health of a law firm is in its collections.  Billable hours without collections are meaningless.  This session will address best practices for contemporaneous time entry, prompt billing and timely collections, and how to maximize all three for a more profitable and successful law firm.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 - 12:00PM-1:00PM at 16 West - 16th Floor in University Tower Building (across from the Galleria)
Open to ALA Members and St. Louis Paralegal Association Members.

Add to Calendar      Register Now

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Who's News?

Congratulations to Jenny Schwendemann, Husch Blackwell and ALA Gateway Member, on receiving The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis's Richard B. Teitelman Award!

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From My Point Of View

Association of Legal Administrators
Annual Conference- Denver, Colorado
April 3-5, 2017

By Diane Frost

On April 3-5, I attended the Annual Association of Legal Administrators National Conference in Denver, Colorado. Our local chapter, Gateway, was represented with 22 attendees this year which may be the largest number to ever attend a national conference.  I applied and was fortunate to receive one of the ten scholarships awarded.  The scholarship was $2,750 which covered all of my expenses including registration, airfare, hotel and taxis.  Thank you for awarding a scholarship to me!

This was my first national conference since joining ALA thirteen years ago. As a first time conference attendee, I wanted to take advantage of as much as I could in order to get the full conference experience.  Conference sessions did not start until Monday morning but there was a Leadership Newcomers Connection at 5:00pm on Sunday, April 2nd.  My flight arrived at 3:55pm and the activities were non-stop from that point forward.  The newcomer connection was an opportunity to meet other first time attendees, of which there were 200.  Members of the conference committee bounced from table to table quizzing members with a wide range of questions about ALA.  It was a fun event and I saw a few familiar faces from the Gateway Chapter who were also first time attendees. Then it was off to the Tailgate Welcome Reception where attendees were wearing their favorite sports team wear.  Since it was opening day for the Cardinals, the Gateway Chapter represented our beloved Cardinals.  President, Brenda Deertz, organized dinner for our chapter, it’s a tradition.  It was a short walk from the hotel to Rio Grande.  Mexican and margaritas, need I say more.  We wrapped up the evening watching the end of the Cardinal game at the hotel.  Well, I did sneak off to my room to unpack, finalize my educational selections for the next day and quite honestly, I was exhausted.  I could already tell this wasn’t going to be like any conference I had ever attended.

Each morning you had the option of a walk or take a yoga class. I opted for the walk then off to breakfast.  I was determined that being away from home was not going to affect my workout routine.  I’m happy to say, I got my walk in every morning including Thursday morning before my flight home.  All of the conference events and educational sessions were at the Colorado Convention Center, which was directly across the street from the hotel.  The five management categories for conference sessions were Human Resources, Financial, Operations, Legal Industry and Communication & Organizational.  For the most part meals, breakfast and lunch, were included in the registration fee and were provided at the conference center.  The keynote session, The Manning Playbook for Leadership was inspirational, and the speaker was none other than Archie Manning.  Manning spoke about his experience in the NFL as it related to leadership, keeping perspective and overcoming obstacles both personally and professionally; learning from our failures and the importance in mentoring and leading those around us. 

There were more than 80 educational sessions over the course of three days. Classes ran from 7:30am until 5:30pm throughout the conference.  Each timeslot typically gave you 10 session choices and most of the time, it was tough to decide which session to choose.  The conference was an outstanding opportunity to meet other ALA members from all over the country as well as get to know some of the Gateway Chapter members better.  Brenda Deertz did a fantastic job of keeping me, and everyone else from the Gateway Chapter, in the loop on activities and her efforts were greatly appreciated by this introvert.  The exhibit hall, with more than 140 business partners, was full of information on everything you can imagine relating to the legal industry.  My firm currently does business with business partners such as LawPay, Worldox, Thomson Reuters – Elite/ProLaw/3E, Principal, Access Records Storage, All-State Legal, Traveling Coaches and Nuance Communications.

I attended the following sessions over the three day conference: 

CM12: Leadership Is Not a Glass Slipper…But You Still Have to Make Sure It Fits!
The speaker was Monica Wofford and she engaged a room of about 400 administrators asking us why we said yes to leadership in the first place and that we should reach for fulfillment instead of balance. Monica believes that any person or personality can be a leader but the same style may not be a fit for everyone.  She demonstrated this by asking short questions and having us rate ourselves.  Developing others was on the top of my list followed closely by Motivation and Recognition.  No surprise to me that delegation and communication continue to be areas for improvement.  Two questions to ask yourself on a regular basis: What am I doing to lead myself & What do I need to learn to lead others?  I’m interested in reading one of her books, Contagious Leadership

FM11: Administering Your Firm’s Retirement Plan in a Changing Environment
The speaker was Ginger Brennan from the American Bar Association Members Retirement Plan. My take-away from this session was receiving validation regarding my Firm’s 401k Plan that we are meeting and exceeding compliance benchmarks.  Our plan is currently with MassMutual, Bukaty Financial is our 3(38) Registered Investment Advisor, and Benefit Plans Plus is our Third Party Administrator.  Having our investment options monitored by a 3(38) along with communication and education for the participants is so important.  I was the session manager which meant I had to introduce the speaker.  Was this introvert terrified? YES, but I read through Ginger’s bio several times before I had to take the stage.  Being a Session Manager was one of requirements for the scholarship I received from the Gateway Chapter.  Although I only required to sign-up as session manager for one, I stepped out of my comfort zone and was session manager each day for one of the sessions I attended. 

HR14: Building Effective Mentoring Programs
The speaker Rik Nemanick has worked with two St. Louis firms, Thompson Coburn & Sandberg Phoenix. Rik did a great job, but his presentation revolved around mentoring programs for attorneys and I had hoped it would be directed towards support and administrative staff.  Although it was not what I thought it was going to be, here’s a couple take-aways:  1) not everyone should get a mentor, so don’t feel like you have to assign one from the start & 2) consider letting the new attorney pick their mentor after being with the firm for a year.  Software to look into for HR purposes, Strength Finder Software.

FM21: Working against the Margin:  Cost Recovery in the New Legal Marketplace
The speaker was Robert Mattern. Initially I was concerned this session was going to be a sales pitch for Mattern & Associates as they work with firms to develop and improve cost effectiveness and cost recovery.  It was not at all.  The session was informative and provided a quick review of hard cost vs. soft cost and statistical data such as:  74% of clients refuse to reimburse for WestLaw/LexisNexis, and only 32% of clients refuse to reimburse for copies/scans.   Additionally, soft costs account for 3%-6% of our revenue.  This data Robert provided was from the Mattern 2016 Survey.  Thought provoking question, if scanning and email replaced faxing and overnight delivery charges, shouldn’t you charge for scanning?  The national average is $0.15 per page.  I plan to participate in their 2018 survey.  I was the assistant session manager for this class which meant I didn’t have to introduce the speaker J.

OM22: Wellness:  The Pit and the Pendulum…and the Carrot?!?
The speaker was Karen Kirkpatrick. This was a well-attended session.  I appreciated that Karen avoided talking about Obama Care vs. Proposed Trump Care.  Instead she talked about the importance of providing annual health risk assessments to employees, offering discounts to employees on health insurance premiums for participating in wellness programs, offering programs such as EAP to employees.  She covered some of the federal laws such as Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA, and Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, (GINA.)  A basic health screening that checks blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol can provide valuable information to employees.  Wellness programs could also provide flu shots, yoga, massage therapy, financial education, and identity theft programs, just to name a few.  I’d like our Firm to consider starting with a survey to find out what the employees want in a Wellness Program.

Association Luncheon: The speaker, Laura Broomell, outgoing ALA National President, was fantastic.  Take-aways from Laura included her advice to invest in yourself, to be accountable and act with integrity, and to be a servant leader and display courage.

CM24: The Happy Hour Effect:  5 Key Commitments to Elevate Your Personal & Professional Success. 
The speaker was Kristen Brown.  Another top notch session and with a fantastic speaker, Kristen talked about how personality is baked in by the time we reach the age of 14.  She believes the only way to be an effective leader is to know your people, not be their friend.  The “Delusional Pollyanna” is so positive that they cannot see there is a problem.  The “Optimist” always sees the silver lining and actively hides the bad.  Kristen talked about characteristics of a leader:  they show up every day, they work hard, they have integrity, they are not just barking orders and they are down in the trenches doing the work.  Hire the right people upfront and then you can delegate.  Just because it’s not your way doesn’t mean it is wrong.  Gen-Xer’s don’t like to be coddled, assign them work and leave them alone.  Another truth, sometimes you have to let truly exceptional people go.  Huge take-aways, 1) you have to allow people to fail; & 2) you have to be willing to do the work!

FM30: Managing the Money:  Legal Ethics Related to Trust Accounts?
The speaker was Margaret Brown Funk, Senior Deputy Regulation Counsel, Trial Division and Human Resources supervising the trial division of the Colorado Supreme Court. Wow that was a mouthful when I had to introduce her and still a lot to simply write.  It is day three of the conference and at this point I’m starting to slip into information overload.  Trying to meet someone new at each session, spending time in the exhibit hall with the vendors and attending social events with business partners in the evenings, to put it mildly I’m exhausted.  This was probably the first session I selected when I was picking out my sessions.  The proper handling of client money is critical.  There was a lot of valuable information at this session and here are the highlights.  On flat fee or fixed fee billing, the engagement letter needs to say when the money is earned.  It’s important to have someone, not in the accounting department, auditing your bank reconciliations.  A receipt must be given for all cash payments, no exceptions.  Outstanding trust checks which have been written to refund the balance of a client’s deposit can be turned over to the state treasurer after three to five years but we should check with The Missouri Bar to handle properly within our state.  Additionally, checks that are written for de minimis amounts and have not been cashed, you can bill the time it takes a Paralegal to do an address search and clear these amounts off your books.  Great Session!

CM31: Giving Voice to Values:  The How of Values-Driven Leadership
Dr. Mary Gentile spoke to a room of several hundred on her leadership approach, Giving Voice to Values, (GVV). GVV is not about persuading people to be more ethical, it starts from the premise that most of us already want to act on our values and that we also want to feel that we have a reasonable chance of doing so effectively and successfully.  GVV asks the question What if I was going to act on my values?  What would I say and do?  How could I be most effective?  Once you know what you believe is the right thing to do, how do you to go about getting it done?  After listening to Dr. Gentile, my takeaway would be that I would like to act on my values as long as there is a systematic approach.  

I attended the Region 3 Council Meeting with a dozen or so from the Gateway Chapter. What a great opportunity to brainstorm with other chapters.  I always like the roundtable format.  It gives everyone an opportunity to speak, even those who are sometimes reluctant to voice an opinion or share an idea.  The meeting gave me a sense of the challenges a chapter faces in order to continue to thrive and the amount of time the chapter president, board and committee members devote to keeping our chapter fresh, relative and interesting.  I have served as chairperson, co-chair and member on the educational, website and salary survey committees over the years, the experiences were rewarding and would encourage every member to get involved, even if only on a limited or special project basis.

LI32: Alternative Approaches to Secretarial Support
The speakers were P. Douglas Benson & Mark Santiago. Another well attended session, as I expected, obviously a topic on everyone’s mind.  This was another one of my top picks when selecting sessions to attend.  As we all know the days of 1:1 are long gone and even current ratios of 3:1 or 4:1 to one are quickly becoming a thing of the past and ratios are as high as 10:1.  The higher ratios included an average dictation per attorney of 1 ½ to 2 hours per week.  I would like to be able to quantify those numbers for our firm.  They gave the statistics that $88,000 is the average cost for an LAA.  Several takeaways were:  firm’s should not be providing secretarial support for anyone under 30, as it is a waste of time, and many paralegals need more secretarial support than Associate attorneys.  I think this is an area in need of further research at my Firm.  The session briefly discussed voluntary early retirement and being in legal compliance with regards to Older Workers Benefits Protection Act.  It must be financially attractive whether including severance, payment of COBRA, outplacement or lump sum offset.  Severance pay should typically provide 2-4 weeks of pay per year of service to the Firm.  The advantages of a Voluntary Early Retirement plan are that it allows the employee to make the decision; preserves the culture of the firm to treat employees respectfully and allows transition time and transfer of institutional knowledge.

FM34: The Financial Reporting Checklists Every Firm Should Be Doing
The speakers, Rebecca Kelley & Maggie Kennedy, had technical difficulties and it was a rough start to the program but they recovered fabulously and gave a great presentation. This is also the last time slot of sessions at the conference.  Due to the technical difficulties, they provided printed checklists that corresponded with their presentation.  The Compliance & Monthly Close Checklists contained no surprises for me.  I had hoped they would be more detailed but they were affirmation that my detail oriented, thorough handling of the financial affairs of my Firm are necessary and beneficial to the operations to the financial aspects of the firm.  Bank reconciliations must be completed in a timely manner and should be completed no later than the 10th of each month.  An idea from this session included a thirteen month analysis for cash and analysis of Net Fees Billed not Collected.

The Association Awards Gala & Club 5280 Finale were great social events and a wonderful way to end the conference. I spent the evening with many of the new friends I’d made within the Gateway Chapter.  I appreciated my Firm allowing me the time away from the office to attend the conference.  Since I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship from the Gateway Chapter of $2,750, there was zero out-of-pocket expense to the firm for my attendance.  I brought home lots of session handouts and information from the business partners to share with the other directors at my Firm.

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