The Board of Directors recently revamped the composition and structure of ALA’s Annual Conference Committee (ACC), thereby changing the approach used to identify those who will serve on the committee. The ACC will now consist of one representative from each of the six committees determined to have natural involvement with planning necessities. The Board may also include the perspective of the NextGen/First Five Community if not already represented by those committee representatives. The Chair has been elected from the overall membership.
Please welcome the new committee, which will work on this premier event’s educational content, member experience and marketing efforts:
Kara M. Brostron, CLM has been the Office Manager at Lashly & Baer, P.C. since 2012. She began her career in the legal profession at Lashly in 2003 and was primarily in charge of marketing.
As Office Manager with a lean staff, Kara administers the day-to-day operations of the Firm as she manages the Firm’s Human Resources, benefits, insurance, continuing education, recruiting, training, information technology, marketing, and facilities. In 2019, she earned the “Certificate of Excellence” of craftsmanship in design and production of engraved products by the International Engraved Graphic Association (IEGA) for her work on the Firm’s Annual Holiday Card.
There is no typical day in legal management as one minute she may be recruiting for a new hire, then negotiating contracts to keep expenses low, creating a fake phishing scam for cybersecurity training, or dealing with the upkeep of the firm’s 100-plus-year-old building in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. In 2020, Kara was honored as a Legal Unsung Hero by Missouri Lawyers Weekly and as a Best Boss by Small Business Monthly – St. Louis. She earned her Certified Legal Manager designation in 2018.
Ms. Brostron thrives on continuing education and networking with her peers to ensure she stays ahead of legal industry trends. She continues to hone her skills of seeing into the future but hasn’t mastered that skill quite yet. Being a recognized leader in the St. Louis legal market allows the Firm to have a competitive edge and continue to be a trusted resource to its clients. Most recently, her foresight in implementing a paperless office and Remote Desktop System was invaluable to the Firm, its employees and its clients, while the Firm transitioned to an almost 100% working from home environment in 2020.
Kara has been active in the Association of Legal Administrators – Gateway Chapter since 2009. She has been instrumental in the communication and website of the local Chapter, has held every Board position, and currently sits at the Chapter’s Treasurer. On the Association level, Kara recently finished up her term as a member of the Association’s Chapter Resource Team (formerly Regional Representative), and is currently taking on the responsibility as the Association’s Chair for the 2021 Annual Conference and 50 year celebration. Ms. Brostron has a bachelor degree from Saint Louis University with a major in Marketing.
Arthur P. Bernstein
Tucker Ellis LLP,
Representing the Large Firm Administrators Caucus
Art Bernstein is the Chief Operating Officer of Tucker Ellis LLP, a general practice firm of 200+ attorneys in Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and Columbus. Previously Art was the Executive Director of Hopkins & Carley in the Silicon Valley. Prior posts include stints at the State Bar of California (Budget Director) and Pillsbury Winthrop (Facilities Director). Art is a Boy Scout leader and a passionate numismatist. He served on the ALA’s Annual Conference Planning Committee back in 2009 when it was held in New Orleans.
Ellen R. Clinton, SHRM-SCP
Kutak Rock LLP,
Representing the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion
Ellen Clinton is the Regional Administrative Manager of the DC/Richmond offices of Kutak Rock LLP. She has more than 25 years of law firm management experience with a special interest in leading diversity, inclusion, and change management initiatives. Ellen is an active member of her firm’s National Inclusiveness and Diversity Committee, has served as Chair of the ALA Capital Chapter’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and is Vice Chair of ALA’s National Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.
Ellen received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa and her Master’s Degree in Organizational Performance and Leadership Development from Drake University.
Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM, PHR, SHRM‑CP
Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo, LLP, New Brunswick, NJ
Representing the Membership Development Committee
Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Firm Administrator of Rebenack, Aronow & Mascolo, LLP, with three offices located in Central New Jersey. She is currently serving as President of the New Jersey Association of Legal Administrators, as well as Chair of the Association of Legal Administrators Membership Development Committee. Elyssa is also an active member of the Morris County (New Jersey) Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. In her free time, Elyssa enjoys playing the piano, singing and writing original pop music (having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York in 2007). She is also an avid sports fan, constantly defending her fierce loyalty to both the New England Patriots and the New York Yankees.
Terri J. Oppelt, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Armanino LLP, Los Angeles, CA
Representing the Professional Development Advisory Committee
Terri Oppelt, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a Director in Armanino's Law Firm Services group and consults in all areas of law firm management, administration and operations, including strategic planning, compensation and benefits, accounting operations, all aspects of HR, leadership, organizational change, training, and retreats. She has spent her career working in professional service and law firms at all levels and with both national and boutique firms. Terri is a Past President of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of ALA, she has spoken for the ALA, various ALA chapters as well as client seminars, and is a member of the Professional Development Advisory Committee for the ALA. Terri holds a bachelor's degree in management from Pepperdine University
Gail P. Semonian, CLM, MBA, PHR
Office Administrator, Matis Baum O'Connor
Representing the Certification Committee
Gail Semonian is the Director of Administration at Matis Baum O'Connor in Pittsburgh. As Director of Administration, Gail is responsible for the overall management and operations of the Firm including administration, accounting and billing, facilities management, human resources, and information technology. Gail has been an ALA member since 1996, and a CLM since 2011. This year, Gail received the 25 Year Distinguished Member designation for 25 years of continuous membership in ALA. Gail currently serves on ALA's CLM Certification Committee, and is currently the President of the Pittsburgh Chapter. Gail has served in various capacities at the chapter level: Education Committee Chair, Education Conference Chair, Treasurer, Business Partner Relations Committee, and Communications Committee Chair. In 2019, Gail received the Outstanding Service Award for her commitment and service to the Pittsburgh Chapter. Gail is also a member of SHRM, and has had her SHRM-CP certification and HRCI's PHR certification since 2006.
Lisa A. Sterritt
Representing the Product and Service Review Committee
Lisa Sterritt (she/her) worked at the senior leadership level for private law firms, corporate legal departments and architecture for over 25 years, specializing in maximizing performance, and building innovative, collaborative and healthy work environments. She now uses her experience and expertise to coach and consult professionals across the professional services platform. A proud member of the Association of Legal Administrators, Lisa served as a Region 6 Representative, and currently serves as a Vice-Chair of the Product Services and Review Committee for the International Association of Legal Administrators.
Lisa has spent over 40 years dedicating her philanthropic efforts to those organizations and associations who focus on service to and advocacy on behalf of marginalized communities; specifically, #BLM, women, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and those affected by gender oppression and injustice. She is a past-president of the board for Legal Voice, a progressive feminist organization in the PNW, and a current board member of the Greater Seattle Business Association, the largest LGBTQ chamber of commerce in North America.
Lisa graduated Magna Cum Laude from Regis University (Denver, CO) with a BS in Business Administration; Human Resources, Finance and Psychology emphasis. Lisa and her husband Brent live in Seattle Washington and have three grown daughters living across the US and Japan.
Davis Agnor Rapaport & Skalny LLC, Columbia, MD
Eric L. Hightower is the Director of Administration for Davis Agnor Rapaport & Skalny LLC. He is the principal administrator who manages the key areas of the firm's operations and shares the responsibility for the implementation of the strategic plan and practice management. He is an active member in various roles on both the local and national levels of the Association of Legal Administrators. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Legal Administrators and is a past president of the Maryland Chapter. Eric has a B.S. in Business Administration from University of Maryland University College. He also holds certifications as a Certified Legal Manager (CLM) as well as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and (SHRM-SCP). Eric was awarded the distinction of an “Unsung Legal Hero” by the Maryland Daily Record and is a frequent speaker on the topic of best practices in legal management. Eric was also recognized by the National Association of Legal Administrators with the Volunteer of the Year Award. In his spare time Eric enjoys spending time with his two daughters and grandchild, as well as traveling, hiking and biking throughout the world.