LAS VEGAS, NEVADA — The Association of Legal Administrators’ (ALA’s) 2015 Business of Law Conference series finished off with the third conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event ran Thursday, October 22, to Saturday, October 24, and hosted nearly 225 attendees, 50 business partners showcasing legal solutions, legal industry experts and speakers covering aspects of the business of law.
“The business of law is evolving within our midst, and administrators and functional specialists, both seasoned and new, must be on the forefront of such an evolution,” Planning Committee Chair Mark Tallent said of the event.
The association’s 2015 Business of Law Conferences provided identical education across three convenient U.S. geographical locations. The high-caliber educational content was geared toward the needs of legal management leaders and functional specialists in the business of law. Attendees gained insights on hot topics in the legal industry, learning from experts on profitability, innovation, strategy, leadership and technology.
On Friday, October 23, Communications Management speaker Izzy Gesell presented a session titled “Fostering Creativity and Innovation Agility,” with a continuing workshop later in the day.
“Once you volunteer, you cannot fail. You have empathy.” Gesell advised the audience. “The courage to step into the unknown creates a climate by which other people then feel safer around you. As the administrator in your office, it’s very much how you act that influences how people see you.”
He went on to discuss the importance of three qualities that are shared by legal administrators and improvisers: presence in the moment, acceptance of reality and trust in the process.
“You become a powerful asset in the face of adversity if you nurture these qualities,” he said.
Also on Friday, ALA held a town hall meeting to discuss a rebranding initiative. Attendees had an opportunity to ask questions of ALA’s Board of Directors regarding the proposed name change. ALA Past President Paula Barnes and Region 5 Director April Campbell, along with other Board members, fielded questions that encompassed the voting procedure, motivation behind the change and concerns about the proposed new name.
“Sixty percent of you here today do not have the word ‘administrator’ in your title,” said Campbell. “We’re seeing much more diversification in our membership, and from our research that we have collected over the past six years, we found that members didn't really feel our name represented them.”
The rebrand initiative must pass by a simple majority of ALA chapter presidents’ votes in order to pass, per the association’s bylaws.
On Saturday, October 24, Human Resources speaker and keynote Larry Johnson presented “How to Cultivate Employee Accountability.” He began by asking attendees to finish the sentence, “I would be more effective working with [this coworker] if.”
“The next word tends to be ‘he’ or ‘she,’” said Johnson. “Change that pronoun to ‘I.’ What are you going to do about it? It's up to us to take action.”
Johnson went on to give practical solutions for everyday issues of accountability, such as what he called “poor me” syndrome – when an employee gives you excuses – and making expectations clear.
“If you want to hold people accountable, you can't take their jobs away from them,” Johnson said. “It’s a whole lot easier to coach that person to do their job than it is to do their job for them from now on.”