Strategic Plan Update — Q1

Goal #1 — Define Identity

Define a clear, compelling organizational identity that reflects who/what the association represents and that effectively focuses its programs, services and activities.

  • Defining Our Identity Initiative: ALA continues to work to develop a clear, compelling and well-recognized organizational identity. The Association is using several initiatives to get membership’s thoughts on what ALA means to them including the following: 

    • Six focus groups were conducted at the 2017 Annual Conferences & Expo, facilitated by ALA Board of Director members.
    • Whiteboard towers were stationed in the Exhibit Hall at the 2017 Annual Conference & Expo for members to write in the words that exemplify what ALA means to them.
    • An online survey was deployed July 24, 2017 to all members providing the opportunity to gather large-scale data and information on ALA's current and future identity. We received 1,299 responses, representing 14.85% of the membership. That equates to a confidence level of 99% and a 3.31% margin of error. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the survey. 
    • Through January 10, 2018, twenty-eight chapters conducted their own word cloud exercises and have provided their data for inclusion. 
    • What we've learned:
      • Value comes from the association's expertise and thought leadership across the profession (legal management, or administrator).
      • Use of the phrase "legal organization operations" to describe the work of ALA members is acceptable.
      • ALA members describe the association as a critical source of education, resources, networking and community.
      • They were less likely to connect ALA to thought leadership and cutting-edge resources. 
      • Early entrants into legal management profession place a high value on resources and benefits to help them grow. ALA has a strong foundation here that presents an opportunity for us.
      • A "big tent" philosophy is preferred over a more selective philosophy across all demographics and could include a group membership option.
      • Most members didn't have strong personal feelings about the term "administrator," but there was agreement that the term didn't really reflect the strategic leadership role that they performed. "Legal management professional" was somewhat more descriptive of the overall membership.
    • We also asked more than 250 nonmembers for their input as well. The survey results revealed the following:
      • Among nonmembers, there is a lack of understanding of what ALA is and its purpose.
      • Nonmembers want to belong to a membership organization that is inclusive and representative of the legal management industry as a whole.
    • Based on input from these initiatives, we will develop potential brand position statements and solicit membership input. That process will begin at the 2018 Annual Conference & Expo in National Harbor. 

Goal #2 — Increase Member and Business Partner Value

Develop relevant, actionable, timely, responsive resources to increase value of ALA to members, business partners and other legal management professionals.

  • Lawcountability-ALA Edition: The Product and Service Review Committee is piloting a new program- Lawcountability: ALA Edition- to help ALA members expand their learning and apply new skills. Speakers from selected sessions from the Regional Legal Management Conferences will provide additional, short webcasts with tips on how to put what you've learned from them to use. Following the videos, you'll be able to create specific tasks, schedule reminders and track your progress.
  • White Papers: We will be resuming our white paper publication this year. The first will be on the changing role of the legal secretary. ALA Conference speaker and subject matter expert Jennifer Hill will be writing it and it will come out in March. ALA will have a new strategy of delivering the white papers within a bundle of related content-additional actionable resources including articles and reference materials, bibliographies, templates, and other tools.
  • New BOLD Bites Format: BOLD Bites has a new look. The new layout provides the ability to focus each week's content based on leadership, human resources, operations, finance and specialty areas. The design also provides increased exposure for key engagement drivers such as events, the legal marketplace, Legal Management magazine and the Job Bank. In the coming months, ALA will also have redesigned email templates to better identify with its updated branding. 
  • Website: Part of the new ALA website includes a feature wherein members can customize their online profiles with pictures, added details on their career and expertise and other updates that were previously unavailable to each member. Other new features include:

    • Better navigation
    • Better integration of single sign-on
    • Enhanced online resources
  • Online Communities: ALA’s Online Communities are a place for members to have discussions and network with one another on daily business questions. The conversations grow organically and often include samples and checklists that other members provide.

    • A new function for connections includes: My Network – Connecting and Following — There are a couple of ways to connect with people. First, you can see who is in your network by clicking on MY NETWORK under MY OPTIONS at the top of the community page. This is where you can manage those connections.

      The way to invite someone to follow you is to follow them first. You can do this easily by searching for the person you want to connect with by selecting MEMBERS in the green bar. Find the person(s) you want to connect with and click on the person – you will be taken to their ‘MY PAGE.’ On the left side, you’ll see this icon: online community icon

      Click on it, and you can either ‘connect’ or ‘follow’ them. If you connect and they accept, you are connected. If you follow, they are given the opportunity to follow you too.

      Another way to connect with people is within the Forums. If you see a post by someone you want to follow, click on the post and under the poster’s name, you will see an option to ‘follow’ this person. This also triggers an option for them to choose to follow you.

    • Top searched terms in the Online Communities include: “job descriptions,” “retention” and “bylaws.” 

  • Reference Library: The Reference Library continues to grow with content that Regional Representatives updated from the old ALA Management Encyclopedia. In the coming months, ALA will be adding additional checklists, forms and job descriptions to the site so members can easily access them. You can easily find the Reference Library in the Online Communities.
  • ALA business partners, current and prospective, can find all the information they need related to ALA events and marketing opportunities at the ALA Business Partner Portal. The ALA Business Partner Portal recently was awarded the 2017 Gold Excel Award by the Association Media & Publishing, recognizing the best, and the brightest in association media and publishing.

  • Legal Marketplace: ALA's free, one-stop resource for business solutions and services is visited more than 2,700 times each month by members seeking a competitive edge for their legal organization. Legal Marketplace features enhanced business partner profiles, interactive content, and easy-to-navigate solution categories like “Exhibitors”, “business development,” “finance” and “human resources.”

Goal #3 — Enhance Thought Leadership

Become recognized as a thought leader in the legal industry by conducting critical industry research and developing new ideas, innovations and solutions to guide the legal management industry.

  • LLS Pre-conference Workshop: ALA is partnering with Legal Lean Sigma Institute once again to put on a pre-conference workshop for Annual Conference attendees. This two-day program includes lectures, exercises, simulations, videos, discussions, group and table-team work, and demonstrations covering key Process Improvement (PI) methodologies (Lean, Six Sigma), tools, and concepts, and the stages of Project Management (PM). At the end of the course, participants receive their Yellow Belt Certification.
  • Global Legal Hackathon: ALA has been selected as the Chicago site for the 2018 Global Legal Hackathon, February 23-25. The Global Legal Hackathon engages law schools, law firms and in-house departments, legal technology companies, governments and service providers to the legal industry across the globe. It will bring together the best thinkers, doers and practitioners in law in support of a unified vision: rapid development of solutions to improve the legal industry, worldwide. In addition to hosting, ALA is working to put together their own team, focusing on the development of tools and applications using the ALA UPBMS code set. #GlobalLegalHack #GLH2018
  • 2017 Compensation & Benefits Survey: Data collection for ALA's 2017 Compensation & Benefits Survey and Large Firm Key Staff Survey generated responses from nearly 1,000 firms. The survey covers 50+ positions, with dedicated sections for metropolitan areas with sufficient participation. The 2017 reports include additional information on partner capital contributions and succession planning. In 2018, the goal is to release the survey in early September, one month earlier than its previous release date, and to increase participation through a partnership with chapters.
  • Information Assets Management Survey: In partnership with the University of South Australia and Experience Matters, an information management consulting firm, ALA distributed a survey to law firms about their current information management practices. This exercise will give ALA's members insight into the potential benefits of increased revenue, reduced costs, improved profit, greater productivity, mitigated risk, sustained competitive advantage and improved staff morale. ALA's members will have the ability to create executive awareness of the importance to their firms of their information assets and the ammunition required to advocate for the resources they require to manage their information assets accordingly. 
  • Survey on Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Throughout January, ALA partnered with Elizabeth L. Mell of Mell Consulting, LLC and Ian Meklinskly, Chair of the Employment Practice at Fox Rothschild, on a survey of law firm practices, policies and perspectives on the issue of sexual harassment. The survey's goal is to reveal firms' awareness and willingness to address the issue, the kinds of policies and programs currently in place, and the risks and benefits of those policies and programs. The survey will go out in late February and the results will be released later to ALA members.

Goal #4 — Advance Legal Management Professional Development

Advance the knowledge, skills and leadership of legal management professionals and strengthen the role of legal management professionals in the legal industry.  

  • Continuing Education (CE) CoursesLegal Management offers two continuing education courses in two issues of the magazine per year. This year the courses will focus on an ethics-focused program on managing trust accounts and another on drafting RFPs. 
  • Chapter Education Database: We are expanding and enhancing the chapter education database to include speaker contact information, session format details, and accreditation details. We are also planning to make session ratings visible to members, to assist education planners in selecting the best presenters.
  • Certified Legal Manager (CLM)® Program: A new CLM study guide is set to be released at the end of February. The Study Guide for the CLM Exam will be an additional tool that potential CLMs can use to gain further insights into the type of knowledge they'll need to pass the test. The guide includes chapters covering financial management, human resources management, legal industry/business management and operations management. Each chapter has additional resources and practice quizzes. It concludes with "Terms and Concepts You Should Know", an index and "Preparing for the CLM Exam."
  • Legal Management Magazine:
    • "Legal Management Annual Guide"
      • ALA published its first printed Legal Management Annual Guide. The next issue will be coming out in July of this year and will be mailed out to all members. It will include several top-read articles from previous issues of Legal Management and a few new columns covering Artificial Intelligence, changes in health care policies, and tips and trends that will only be available through the printed version.
      • Legal Management print PDF: Since the publication became digital, many members have requested the ability to print out a full PDF of the issue. Now you can download a fully designed PDF. Each issue has an average of 250 downloads of the PDF.
  • e-Learning: ALA's e-Learning program provides education through 6-week, instructor-led, online courses. The spring and summer courses are focused on Financial Management with an option for individuals to earn a Legal Management Finance Specialist certificate.
  • Webinars: ALA is offering 42 webinars this year. Users can listen to them live or on-demand. These one-hour sessions allow listeners to receive continuing education (CE) credits to put toward their education. The webinars will take place several times per month.
  • Job Bank and Career Center: ALA rolled out a new and improved Job Bank and Career Center. It's easier than ever for members to search and find job postings — and they are! ALA's Job Listings page is the second-highest visited page, with more than 26,000 views during May and June, and almost 100 jobs posted during that time period. 

Goal #5 Build Community and Engagement

Build a stronger sense of community and shared purpose and increase engagement among members, chapters, business partners, and other stakeholders.

  • Leadership Development Task Force: A board task force has been examining how we develop, select and train association leaders. The first step was re-engineering the leadership selection process to streamline processes. Members now have the ability to update their profiles to include information about their skills, interests and abilities relative to volunteer opportunities. This will provide year-round, on-demand information to support the full range of volunteer opportunities, including micro-volunteering.
  • Annual Conference & Expo Schedule: The Annual Conference Planning Committee is well underway in planning the 2018 Annual Conference & Expo, to be held May 3-5 at Gaylord National Harbor, Washington, D.C. Here is some key information to remember: 
    • 2018 event has a different day pattern-Thursday through Sunday (instead of Sunday through Wednesday)
    • The event will begin Thursday evening with the Welcome Reception
    • Great speaker lineup, including;
      • In his keynote address, "What Would you Do? Business Edition," ABC News Journalist and host of What Would You Do? John Quinones. He will discuss the dilemmas that leaders, employees and organizations face in this new world of transparency. From years of observing the best and worst of human nature, Quinones helps you discover what would you do if business and ethics cross?
      • A former Diversity Officer for Headquarters Marine Corps and a liaison to the Pentagon, Vernice Armour shares what it took to help a 200,000-personnel organization back on track. In her General Session: "Driving Diversity Deep into the DNA of Your Organization," she'll discuss how when you bring people together, you will have differences and similarities that result in tension and complexities-and this is completely normals. How you manage diversity is the key.
      • Elizabeth Birch, Former President and Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign. While heading the Human Rights Campaign, Birch oversaw construction of the organization's headquarters building in Washington, D.C. The award-winning building features an Equality Center, Media Center, and Green Roof. In her Brezina Memorial session, "Unleashing the Power of Diversity and Inclusion: The Role of the Legal Administrator as Agent for Change," Birch will examine the effect of changing demographics on the U.S. workforce, the increase of client demand for diverse legal teams, and the power of the law firm administrative role in the future.
  • AC18 Virtual Conference: For the second year in a row, ALA is offering its Virtual Conference at the Annual Conference & Expo. This year's featured sessions include: 

    CM20: Building Trust and Respect in the Law Firm Through Understanding Behavior Styles
    Date: Friday, May 4
    Time: 10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.
    Speaker: Michael Nash

       OM22 – Why Today’s Impatient, Impulsive and Intolerant Clients Are Leaving Your Firm
       Date: Friday, May 4
       Time: 2:15–3:30 p.m.
       Speaker: David Avrin

       HR26 – Accommodations and Leaves of Absence: Law Firms Confronting the FMLA and ADA
       Date: Friday, May 4
       Time: 4:15–5:45 p.m.
       Speaker: Michael Cohen

  • Regional Legal Management Conferences: ALA’s Regional Legal Management Conferences provide identical education in two locations, and include networking opportunities and roundtables based on region. The high-caliber educational content is geared toward the needs of legal management leaders and functional specialists.

East (Regions 1,2,3) 
September 13-15, 2018 
Palmer House Hilton 
Chicago, Illinois

West (Regions 4,5,6)
October 18–20, 2018
Hilton Austin
Austin, Texas 

  • Specialty Conferences:

Large Firm Principal Administrators Retreat
August 2-4, San Diego, Hotel Coronado

Law Firm Management Essentials
September 12–13, Chicago, Palmer House

Advanced Finance Administration for Legal Management Professionals
September 12-13 and October 17–18 before each Regional Legal Management Conference

Intellectual Property Conference for Legal Management Professionals
September 27–28, DC, Capital Hilton

  • Mexico and FENALAW: Mexico joined the ALA family in 2017, and the chapter is already up to 27 members. Past President Laura Broomell and IRC member Kathy Scourby represented ALA at the 2017 FENALAW conference in October. It's one of the largest legal industry events in Latin America. They presented on the topic of "Analysis and Discussion of Practices Used in the U.S. Legal Market." In addition, we gained 14 new members.
  • Foundation of the ALA: The Administrative Pro Bono Program matches the needs of legal services organizations (LSOs) with the skills and expertise of our members, business partners and firms. Participants can offer HR, financial, IT, marketing and other expertise that these organizations need. The Foundation is in the early stages of the planning process and would like to understand better the level of interest from our members to assist in determining how we should structure the program.
  • Volunteer: As with any association, volunteers are the heart of ALA. It is because of the dedication and expertise of more than 100 volunteer leaders that ALA is able to provide its members with the high-level education, networking opportunities and resources needed to effectively manage law firms. ALA looks for ambitious members who are interested in serving on one of its many committees or in a leadership role. Every position has a different level of responsibility and time commitment. Check out the various roles and activities for the standing committees, conference committees and leadership roles. ALA encouraged self-nominations this year, too. 
  • ALA Social Media Channels: ALA’s social media channels can keep you up to date on the latest in industry trends, education opportunities, chapter news and member events. In 2018, ALA is emphasizing increased engagement on all social media platforms. Be sure to follow us, tag ALA in your posts and use #ALABuzz.


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