October 17, 2013

Look for ALA Currents next Thursday
This Issue Sponsored By
ABA Retirement Funds
What's inside your 401(k) may surprise you. Find out why thousands of law firms of all sizes — even solos — use the ABA Retirement Funds Program as their 401(k) provider. Call us at 866-812-3580 or visit www.abaretirement.com for more information or view a Program prospectus.

Member focus

In Memory of an ALA Member
ALA regrets to inform its members that Shelley Brown, a member of the New York City Chapter, passed away early last week. She was an Office Administrator with Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo, P.C.

ALA Member Firms Employ Top 40 Under 40
The National LGBT Bar Association recognizes 40 top attorneys under the age of 40 on an annual basis. This year's list includes many attorneys who work for companies that also employ ALA members. Check out this year's list of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 to see if your firm or organization made the cut. View the 40 under 40 list.

Share Your Community Connection Stories
The mission of Community Connection is to encourage ALA members and chapters, firms, business partners, relatives and friends to come together to contribute time, energy and resources toward improving their own communities. On occasion, ALA has the opportunity to share Community Connection stories in its publications. Please take a moment to tell us about your chapter's/organization's accomplishments.


Association news

Legal Management Digital Preview: Coming Soon
As Legal Management magazine undergoes its transition from a print to a fully digital publication, we want to make sure that members are prepared to make the transition to digital with us. In the coming weeks, ALA will be rolling out a digital sample of Legal Management for the iPad and select Android devices. The sample will include a preview of Legal Management's new look, instructions on how to use the app to its fullest and several highlights from the October/November 2013 issue - all in a new and exciting interactive format. For those of you who don't have a tablet, not to worry. Starting in January, Legal Management will also be available in its entirety via a new custom-built web platform at www.legalmanagement.org. In the meantime, please be on the lookout for more instructions and news on how to download your digital preview.

Fall Conferences Continue Through Month's End - There's Still Time to Register!
ALA's slate of fall education and networking events rolls on. Coming up next are the Regions 1 & 3 Conference & Expo, at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, Oct. 24-26; and the Region 6 Conference & Expo at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev., Oct. 31-Nov. 2. Learn more about each event's unique education program and register now.

Plan Now for the ALA 2014 Annual Conference & Exposition
Work is well under way to deliver an extraordinary experience for attendees and business partners during the ALA Annual Conference & Exposition, May 19-22, 2014, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit the 2014 ALA Annual Conference & Exposition site now for registration rates, hotel fees and travel information. Be sure to learn about the discount opportunities offered to registrants and watch for online registration to go live on Monday, December 2, when "Super Early Bird" discounts will be available for a limited time. Also, stay in the loop with the latest event updates by reading and sharing the Conference blog, which features regular insights from ALA staff and members of the ALA Conference Committee.


Committee corner

CLMSM Exam - The Journey

It's human nature to be hesitant about taking an exam - anxious and preoccupied about whether we will pass or not. Questions ALA Certification Committee members are often asked in the CLMSM booth during the ALA Annual Conference & Exposition typically have to do with obtaining the suggested reference material, what to study when there are so many areas of knowledge to be tested, and how "hard" the questions are.

In reflecting on our own study journeys and sitting for the exam, we, the members of ALA's Certification Committee, completely understand and relate to why so many members ask these questions. When the committee writes exam items, we use as a frame of reference what a principal administrator, upon visiting a 30-50 attorney firm and reading the firm's particular practices and procedures, would need to know to be able to offer advice in the many knowledge areas relevant to legal administration.

Most of us spend a good part of our days fielding a wide variety of questions from lawyers and support staff. Isn't it interesting how, even though most of us are in defined roles, we are expected to know everything about everything? Quite frankly, the majority of what we do is not confined in the black and white box of a job description. We have to become comfortable working in a world of gray - thinking on our feet and adapting to the needs of the moment. It is in this world of gray that we discover the importance of widening and improving our skill sets, seeking more education in all areas of the legal profession. By continually building and improving our skills in law firm administration, we are able to appropriately handle the variety of questions we receive, from technology to insurance, accounting, human resources and business management.

The drive to improve our skills and seek continuing education to become more proficient in our jobs has motivated many of our members to seek certification. While seeking certification is a big goal, the "journey" is what helps to improve our competency. Many members have shared their journey with the committee, which often begins by navigating the vast set of reference materials listed in the CLMSM examination application packet that apply to the job of a legal administrator. Then they assess the areas where they are most comfortable and those where additional preparation is required. While everyone's journey will differ with respect to preparation, the key for most is to focus on one's weak areas, reviewing reference materials, seeking outside resources such as articles in various legal management-related publications, and in some cases, joining a CLMSM Study Group. Our diverse backgrounds and different strengths and weaknesses in the core areas of knowledge make Study Groups a great way to assist in the learning process and, in most cases, it can be a great deal of fun! Many have found that the Study Groups and/or a combination of different preparation techniques, with regular repetition, have definitely improved their skills AND their confidence.

Exam preparation is a personal endeavor, and each person has his or her own comfort zone and learning preferences for how to prepare for the exam. Take the road that best works for you to become more comfortable with the material in each of the core areas. We are not expected to be "experts" in each area, but rather "conversant" in each area of knowledge. And while knowledge is important, applying the knowledge is essential. Understanding how to apply what you have learned is the key ingredient to testing whether you have learned the material during your journey.

When it comes time to sit for the exam, get a good night's sleep the night before and try to arrive relaxed. It is normal to be anxious, but the key is to stop worrying, calmly review each question, and let the knowledge come through.

Remember, your journey to sitting for the certification exam is just as important as taking the exam. Whether you pass or not, you have certainly improved your knowledge and skills that you can bring back to your law firms and put into practice. If you do not pass the exam, please don't give up! Your exam results will indicate the areas in which you need to improve. Go back and begin the journey again because it will be the best investment you will ever make in yourself.

Now, let your journey begin!

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