2021 IDEA Award Recipients


As the undisputed leader of the business of law, ALA members and chapters are encouraged to strive for excellence. ALA's IDEA Awards are presented to ALA chapters, committees, regions, individuals, firms, or organizations (including business partners) that create unique and innovative programs, services and events that improve our ALA chapters and/or legal communities. The IDEA Awards recognize new practices that deliver great value and transformational impact through innovative achievement.

View past IDEA Awards entries here.

Armstrong Teasdale LLP
COVID-19 Resource Center
When offices began closing their doors in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Armstrong Teasdale LLP saw a need — and they filled it. Now, over a year later, the firm is still reaping the business development benefits. Just days after sending their employees home, Armstrong Teasdale launched its online COVID-19 Resource Center on March 20, 2020. This repository of articles and webinars — created by dozens of the firm’s attorneys — was designed to help clients cope with rapidly changing regulations and challenging issues that occurred across practice areas, from employment and bankruptcy to manufacturing and immigration. Clients across the country commented that the content’s quality, appropriate brevity and virtual delivery made for practical guidance that was superior to that of Armstrong Teasdale’s competitors. The metrics bear that sentiment out as well. The COVID-19 Resource Center’s 15 webinars had over 3,000 registrants and an average attendance rate of 76% — well over the industry average of 51%. Emailed advisories also saw an above-average open rate, and the firm’s email unsubscribe rate has decreased to half of what it was in 2019. Overall, this Herculean effort connected clients to resources and expertise they may not have otherwise been exposed to, strengthening the business relationship. And Armstrong Teasdale learned that being nimble and innovative with its outreach can produce measurably positive results.
Capital Chapter
Virtual Year-End Gala
Every year, the Capital Chapter hosts an event to raise funds for its Toni K. Allen Scholarship, which awards $15,000 to a deserving student in Washington, D.C. The chapter also holds two year-end events: one a festive luncheon, the other a business meeting. COVID-19 made hosting any of these events in person impossible; it had also noticeably depressed business partner engagement. To resolve these issues, the chapter combined the events into an online extravaganza. Organized with help from an event-planning business partner, the Virtual Year-End Gala offered a simulated ballroom where attendees could move from “table” to “table” to network with individuals and where business partners could advertise on banners. Participants also received real-life goodies from sponsoring business partners. Meanwhile, the gala featured live entertainment, testimonials from past scholarship recipients and a virtual silent auction. After it was over, the Capital Chapter found that it had enhanced the relationships between members as well as members and business partners. And they raised more funds for the scholarship than they had in previous years. The format had proven to be a sustainable success.
Chicago Chapter
Stronger Together
The Stronger Together program was sparked by a simple conversation in spring 2020 between a pair of volunteer leaders from the Chicago Chapter and the West Michigan Chapter. Could the larger, Chicago, bring some of its educational offerings to the smaller chapter? The answer was yes. And from this seed sprouted this large-scale, chapter-without-borders program, in which the Chicago Chapter shared its vast educational resources with seven small ALA chapters. (The growth in Zoom-based sessions removed many of the physical barriers that existed before.) Later, the Chicago Chapter joined forces with other large chapters — including the Boston and Capital Chapters — and expanded this program to a full-on “Professional Development Share,” thus diversifying their education offerings without adding any strain to the individual professional development teams. Lastly, the Chicago Chapter opened their successful Certified Legal Manager (CLM)® Study Group to any interested ALA member, eventually welcoming 105 members from 44 different chapters in the fall. By opening their doors, the Chicago Chapter created a wave that got other larger chapters to participate and afforded great professional development opportunities to smaller chapters and their members.
New York City Chapter
Virtual Health Fair
As the pandemic caused us all to shift plans and get creative about our day-to-day lives, the New York City Chapter recognized how easy it would be for already taxed members to neglect their own health. So they set out to make sure that didn’t happen by aligning their chapter events and initiatives around four strategic and holistic areas: chapter business, mind, body and soul. In accordance with the chapter’s strategic plan, Find Inner Tranquility — aka fitALANYC — was born. Its goal: Address the “body” portion, which encompasses the physical, psychological and nutritional well-being of ALANYC members. The result: 30-minute health fairs hosted during the lunch hour to provide members with an empowering respite from their workday. With speakers that included ALANYC and ALA VIP business partners, the five sessions ranged from a holiday survival guide to a seminar on building your immunity. The positive feedback showed that ALANYC really tapped into a member need — 93% of attendees rated the health fair as “excellent,” and 80% said they’ve incorporated changes into their lives. The success was collaborative and focused on the most important part of ALA: its people.