IDEA Awards Entries
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.
ALA would like these submissions to spark innovation in chapters, firms and other organizations beyond the entrant. Therefore contact information is provided for each entry, and readers are encouraged to reach out to find out more information about an initiative described here. Users may also see the supplementary materials provided for each entry if they email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are summaries of all entrants for the 2019 awards cycle. View entries from past years:
First Five Moderators
ALA First Five Online Community
The First Five Community is an online resource and forum for legal management professionals in their first five-ish years of their career. It was first conceived by three early career legal managers — Suzy Klepac, Sarah Antonello and Danita Jones — at the 2018 Annual Conference & Expo. The free community was developed with technical assistance from ALA headquarters, but the moderators were the driving force behind its format, original content and overall strategy. They designed a judgment-free zone that enables professionals who are new to the legal industry or new to managing to become seasoned, well-rounded leaders in this field. As of November 2018, the community had 80 subscribed members, and its most popular posts included the networking-themed “Introduce Yourself!”, the how-to “E-Billing” and the “Law Firms 101” guide. The moderators hope to expand First Five’s mentorship to the nearly 1,500 new members who have joined ALA in the past two years.
View the submission’s video that aired at the Association Awards Gala.
Virginia Chapters of ALA
ELEVATE – Virginia Legal Management Professionals Newsletter
This project built off the success of the Friday Fast Five newsletter, which received an IDEA Award in 2018, and the strong relationships among the Virginia chapters of ALA: Northern Virginia, Richmond, Hampton Roads and Western Virginia. While celebrating 10 successful years of the Virginia Statewide Retreat, the Retreat Committee decided to further unify the chapters by creating a joint quarterly newsletter, ELEVATE, that would keep chapter members connected and informed year-round. Each issue features educational content, conference recaps, chapter highlights, invitations to events all over Virginia, and advertisements that raise money for the Virginia Statewide Retreat. Every quarter, the editor’s message comes from a different chapter president. Articles are authored by conference speakers, chapter members, Virginia law firms and business partners. The newsletter — which in 2018 reached about 400 people from the four chapters, the West Virginia Chapter, independent members who live in the area, and business partners — has also become a vehicle for new business relationships. The Northern Virginia Chapter made use of the newsletter to gain four additional business partners, and two of the chapters added ELEVATE ads as benefits in their business partner sponsorship agreements to aid in future sales.
Innovating Leadership Development: A Business Simulation for New Equity Partners
Global law firm Hogan Lovells wished to emphasize the importance of new equity partners shifting their focus away from building their individual book of business in favor of driving profitability for the firm as a whole, motivating and leading teams, and modeling the firm’s culture. To do so, Hogan Lovells created an innovative leadership development program informed by market data and feedback from recently promoted partners. The dynamic, multifaceted Transition to Equity business simulation launched in 2018 to welcome 23 new equity partners. In the realistic simulation, they were asked to step into the role of practice leadership and apply legal and business acumen, leadership skills, organizational direction and strategic thinking to make real-time decisions around the business of law, marketing and business development, and talent management.
Teams of four or five partners competed by making collaborative strategic decisions around pricing services, employing legal project management, motivating and training associates, and investing in client relationships. As a result of this wide-ranging, real-time simulation, these new equity partners experienced a shorter learning curve and established strong, sustained connections across offices and regions. New business ideas even sprouted from these exercises.
Compliance with Outside Counsel Guidelines at the Point of Time Entry
Bellefield Systems’ new solution, OCG Live™, enables firms to manage client billing guidelines in real time, increasing compliance and communication. In return for this enhanced compliance, clients will be unlikely to reject or appeal bills, collection realization will improve and revenue will benefit. Bellefield developed this tool in response to the legal industry becoming more of a “buyer’s market,” forcing law firms to comply with client demands and expectations. One such demand is outside counsel guidelines for billing — which can be difficult for firms to comply with due to the sheer volume and frequency of updates. However, the OCG Live engine provides a centralized location for billing guidelines and allows firms to manage compliance at all levels, grading time entries for compliance against guidelines and flagging any that are in violation. Timekeepers can fix their own time cards and billing coordinators can easily source issues, which reduces time spent on cleanup and ensures that bills are in compliance before they’re sent to the client.
DLA Piper Implements BigHand Now and Successfully Improves Back-Office Efficiency
BigHand responded to the increasing shift from the “practice of law” to the “business of law,” as well as associated needs to improve efficiency and reduce costs, by developing BigHand Now, a task delegation and workflow management solution. The company partnered with BigLaw firm DLA Piper, which was restructuring its back office, to test the tool’s ability to eliminate the operational blind spot and give firm leadership full visibility into and control over their back-office operations and legal support teams. BigHand Now provided a dynamic, highly visual tool to TK the firm’s shared-resource model of administrative support, demonstrating tasks, enhancing communication and allowing managers to assign responsibilities according to skills and capacity. In addition to improving turnaround time, this exposed back-office staff to new tasks and helped them achieve growth and job satisfaction.
According to their case study, BigHand Now improved back-office efficiency, while reducing the cost of delivering administrative services across 28 DLA Piper North American offices with over 2,000 employees. The future of this tool will include enhanced reporting and integration of ALA’s Uniform Based Process Management System (UPBMS) to provide industry benchmarks for costs, staffing needs and delivery metrics.
OnGuard Security Awareness Consulting Program
Traveling Coaches created the OnGuard program to help law firms implement the ongoing education needed to keep their users knowledgeable about security threats. The company’s uniquely packaged consulting service — which includes regularly updated content, resources, tools, best practices and methodologies — enables legal organizations to establish a long-term culture of security awareness. Clients have reported that OnGuard has helped their personnel realize their part in the firm’s overall security efforts, provided everything they needed to set up an information security program, and constantly engaged employees in heightened security awareness in a nondisruptive way. “Since the introduction of OnGuard, we definitely receive more calls, questions and ad hoc comments, reflecting an active engagement by employees — a true barometer of awareness,” says Joe Palmeri, Chief Information Officer and Managing Director of Kramer Levin, a 700-person firm and one of Traveling Coaches’ clients.
Career and College Readiness Workshops
A Chapter Where Everyone Knows Your Name
Business Partner Program and Event Revamp Was No Trivial Matter
The San Diego Chapter Board recognized that member engagement with business partners was not as robust as it had been in the past. In response, they revamped the chapter’s Business Partner Program to encourage better participation from members and lasting commitments from business partners. On the business partner side, the chapter introduced new incentives for sponsorship, including a place on the newly created Business Partner Advisory Board, ad placements, and the opportunity to present a seminar at a Membership Meeting or provide an article for the chapter’s e-newsletter. To increase member engagement, the chapter changed the annual Cocktails & Connections event from “speed dating” to a trivia-night format featuring rotating teams, collaboration and unforced interaction. (There were also prizes and a Regional Legal Management Conference scholarship awarded.) No additional funds outside the usual Business Partner Program budget were necessary, and the project was deemed a success. Business partners offered positive feedback; sponsorship renewals progressed ahead of schedule. Members enjoyed the trivia night, appreciated the natural connections they made, and referred business to companies they interacted with there.
Houston Chapter: Educate to Elevate
Elevate Orlando Scholarship
Summer 2018 FOLLOWPALOOZA
ALA OKC Business Partner Town Hall
The ideas that came from the Town Hall will be implemented over the next few years, which extends the relationship between membership engagement and recruitment and partnerships with business partners. In the future, the chapter plans to hold a Business Partner Town Hall at least every three years to stay on top of their game and make sure the program is the best it can be. OKC strives to show business partners how important they are and that they value not only their sponsorship, but also their services, relationships, ideas and input on how OKC can provide a quality business partner program. The chapter’s hope is that the program will be flexible enough to adapt to everchanging needs and provide benefits that business partners simply cannot find elsewhere.
Stoel Rives and Beaverton High School — Future Day!
Stoel Rives hosted 12 freshman and sophomore students in the office for a tour of the facilities, a moderated panel, including lawyers and staff members, and a round of “speed networking.” The students then sat with members of the firm over lunch to discuss what they learned from the event and ask any remaining questions. Stoel Rives team members pitched in to make the event a great success. Students were able to connect with different types of professionals, hear advice on how they could develop as workforce newcomers and learn about the many opportunities within law. They also had the chance to talk about life with adults who were eager to help them along in their journey. This event allowed Stoel Rives team members the opportunity to engage with young people — and potential talent — in the community. Moreover, Stoel participants also provided inspiration and advice to students who may not have had an opportunity to talk with an adult outside of their teachers, parents or coaches.
Stoel Rives Future Day had a great impact in the community — all because each participant, and the firm — recognized the need to contribute to the community and to help others along in their personal and professional journeys.
GCC Driving Professional Development for ALA Members Across the Country!
Almost 70% of the GCC study group participants were members of other chapters. Overall, 40% of all new CLMs in 2017 and 2018 were participants in the GCC study group. This group alone has accounted for a 2% increase in new CLMs — growing the ranks, preparing members for success and advancement in the legal management field, and elevating the profession.
Dos and Don’ts of Business Partner and Member Engagement