Virtual Member Meetups

 
In response to the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on in-person events, ALA began providing opportunities for members to connect over the Zoom videoconferencing platform. Many of the early virtual meetups centered on responding to COVID-19-related challenges, but as the “new normal” wore on, their focus expanded. Our members are accustomed to communicating in their exclusive Online Community, but the text exchanges can sometimes lack the spark and immediacy that ALA networking is known for.
 
Now, as workers return to offices and ALA and its chapters begin to plan in-person events again, we have transitioned these virtual meetups to become a permanent fixture — another way for legal management professionals to interact, commiserate and share solutions to common problems. There are currently three different formats with varying levels of structure.
 
Go to:
Please note: For more chapter-focused sessions, review the Chapter Leader Educational Series. That page features a schedule of upcoming conversations and recordings of past sessions. For sporadic diversity and inclusion discussions, visit DEIA Roundtables and Webinars. That page also has recordings of past meetings.
 

ALA Roundtables

ALA Roundtables are virtual, member-centered discussions providing a forum for members to share knowledge and best practices in our rapidly changing environment. They focus on topics of current impact, predetermined and driven by member need and supported by facilitator input. The sessions have an interactive component and allow for discussion and Q&A. Please send any questions or future topic suggestions to [email protected].
 
They are held on an occasional basis, as topics for discussion arise.
 
You can volunteer to facilitate an ALA Roundtable, too, and select a cofacilitator to assist you if desired. More information is available here.
 

Upcoming ALA Roundtables

Stay tuned for the announcement of our next roundtable!

Most Recent Recording

Assessing the Short- and Long-Term Workplace Model for Your Firm
Originally aired May 14
 

This roundtable was facilitated by Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD, President of Legal Talent Advisors LLC, and John Remsen Jr., Founder of the Remsen Group. Meit Abrahams is also an ALA Membership Ambassador and Chair of the South Florida Chapter Programs Committee.
 
Here are some topics that were explored:
  • Do you have a date to return to the office?
  • What short term model will you be using?
  • Will that model differ from a long term model? If so, how?
  • What is your remote workplace policy? Will it be different between attorneys and support staff?
  • What is your personal feeling about returning to the office? About remote working?
  • What is your managing partner’s thoughts about returning to the office? About remote working?
  • How will you deal with individuals that don’t want to return to the office?
  • Who is enforcing the new rules in the office like one-way hallways, one person in the restroom, etc.? How will the rules be enforced?
Video recordings for the rest of the Roundtables are available below, but members must be logged in to access them.
 

Past Roundtable Recordings

Click to expand or collapse.
 

Outside Counsel Guidelines, Billing, E-Billing and Compliance
Originally aired April 9

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The Aderant team and your peers discussed outside counsel guidelines (OCG), billing, e-billing and compliance at our upcoming roundtable. This lively discussion will focus on strategies for accepting and managing OCG across the firm — including engagement with attorneys, firm managers and billing staff — with the ultimate goal of improving collections realization and reducing invoice rejections.

This roundtable is perfect for financial management leaders and their staff. Attendees shared their challenges and successes among the group.

Special Edition: A Staff University for Cross-Training
Originally aired March 24

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The roundtable was facilitated by Nakia A. Bradley-Lawson of the Oregon Chapter and Monique N. Mahler, CLM, Vice President of the Houston Chapter. It addressed how to develop an in-house skills “university” — on your own or with the help of an outside vendor — for law firm staff, especially to cross-train legal secretaries in different practice areas.

Do Your Attorneys Drive You Crazy?
Originally aired March 12

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The roundtable was facilitated by Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD, ALA Membership Ambassador and South Florida Chapter Programs Committee Chair, and Adilen Montes, Immediate Past President of the South Florida Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • What have you identified as problematic behaviors of attorneys?
  • How can you better communicate with these attorneys instead of punishing them?

Changes Your Firm May Be Experiencing Due to the Pandemic
Originally aired February 12

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The roundtable was facilitated by Chicago Chapter members Lisa Wallace and Laura T. Sears, CLM, who also serves on ALA’s Business Partner Relations Project Team. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • Current ratios of legal support staff to attorneys
  • Firm expectations leading to changes in staff roles

Special Edition: The SALI Standards and Their Impact on Successful Firms
Originally aired January 29

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ALA is a founding member of the SALI (Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry) Alliance, a nonprofit organization that seeks to develop open, practical industry standards for efficient and innovative legal services. It brings together law firms, legal operations experts, corporate legal departments, and business partners for an integrated approach.

This informative discussion demonstrated how SALI's standards can help legal management professionals:

  • Overcome the challenges of pricing legal services in client proposals.
  • Create, track and update client budgets.
  • Analyze what areas your attorneys are actually practicing in, how long certain matters typically take and what resources they require.

This roundtable was presented by Damien Riehl, a technology lawyer with experience in software design, data privacy and cybersecurity. After working for state and federal judges and litigating for 15 years, Riehl currently designs systems to parse and extract valuable data from legal documents. He integrates AI-backed technologies to improve legal workflows and to power legal data analytics and provide substantive insights. View the slide deck here.

Marketing Differently: How to Grow Your Network While Remote
Originally aired January 8

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The roundtable was facilitated by South Florida Chapter members Pamela Tobin and Victoria L. Allen, CLM, who also serves on ALA’s Nominating Committee.

Responding to the Second Wave of COVID-19
Originally aired December 11

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The roundtable was facilitated by New Jersey Chapter members Veronica Hurless and Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP, who also serves on ALA’s Membership Development Committee.

Special Edition: Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs
Originally aired December 4

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The roundtable was facilitated by Barbara J. Paige, CLM, a member of the Puget Sound Chapter, and Pamela Tobin, a member of the South Florida Chapter.

Wrapping Up 2020 and Looking Forward to 2021
Originally aired November 13

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The roundtable was facilitated by South Florida Chapter President Nilka Gomez and ALA Membership Ambassador Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD, from the same chapter.

Are You Ready for the New Hybrid Workplace?
Originally aired October 9

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The roundtable was facilitated by Kevin S. Lee, JD, MDiv, a member of the Chapter Resource Team and the Silicon Valley Chapter. He invited several other members with different perspectives and from different parts of the country to serve as cofacilitators: Sarah E. Cramer of the Greater Kansas City Chapter, Chernice Dieudonne of the Atlanta Chapter, Donna Moser of the Oregon Chapter, Mary L. Randolph of the Capital Chapter and Louise M. Spinelli of the Western and Central New York Chapter.

Reviewing the Performance Evaluation Process in the New Normal
Originally aired September 11

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The roundtable was facilitated by Shelley A. Strong of the Silicon Valley Chapter, a member of the Product and Service Review Committee and the Awards Program Project Team, and Lisa A. Waligorski, CLM, of the Orange County Chapter, who also teaches ALA’s financial web-based courses.

Staying Connected to Your Colleagues and Attorneys While Working Remotely
Originally aired August 21

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The roundtable was facilitated by Angela Tyson, a member of the Capital Chapter, and Erica Fine, an independent member. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • What are firms doing to keep people connected?
  • What are firms doing now that may be different from the initial burst/wave of activities and meetings in the spring and early summer?
  • What does the new normal look like both at your firm and in your personal life?

Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Hybrid Workforce
Originally aired August 7

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The roundtable was facilitated by Karie D. Rivkin, CLM, a member of ALA’s Board of Directors, and Holly K. Pulido, a member of the Chapter Resource Team.

Managing Your Office in a Virtual World
Originally aired July 24

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The roundtable was facilitated by Barbara L. Fisher and Rachel Anne Robert, independent members from Ontario, Canada. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • Addressing loneliness and burnout among staff
  • Encouraging improved communication to resolve conflict

July 10 Roundtable
This roundtable was hosted by ALA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee. Find out more here.

June 26 Roundtable
This roundtable was hosted by ALA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee. Find out more here.

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal — Possible Handbook and Policy Changes in the Wake of the Pandemic
Originally aired June 19

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The roundtable was facilitated by the New Jersey Chapter's Katherine E. Dart and Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP, a member of the Membership Development Committee. Has your firm or is your firm considering modifying and/or developing:

  • A work-from-home policy?
  • A visitors' policy?
  • A travel policy?

June 12 Roundtable
This roundtable was hosted by ALA’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee. Find out more here.

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal — Preparing Your Office for Staff to Return
Originally aired June 5

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The roundtable was facilitated by Teresa J. Walker, Chair of the Professional Development and Advisory Committee (PDAC) and a member of the Middle Tennessee Chapter, and Terri J. Oppelt, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice Chair of PDAC and a member of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • How are firms responding to the new CDC guidance?
  • What physical changes are firms considering to workstations and reception areas?

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal — Remote Working: Is It Here to Stay?
Originally aired May 29

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The roundtable was facilitated by Stacey J. Ransleben, CLM, a member of the Chapter Resource Team and the Houston Chapter, and Jessica L. VanTroost, a member of the Membership Development Committee and the Jacksonville Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • Alternative work-from-home options going forward
  • Office space/rental structure
  • Client response to law firms working from home

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on Keeping Employees Engaged and Maintaining Firm Culture in a Virtual Workplace
Originally aired May 22

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The roundtable was facilitated by Denise Gaskin, PhD, MS, a member of the Professional Development Advisory Committee (PDAC), and Gail Reysa of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • Using technology to build engagement
  • Maintaining firm culture with partially or fully remote staff

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on PTO Policies and Potential Changes
Originally aired May 15

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The roundtable was facilitated by Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP, and Audrey M. Serban of the New Jersey Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • How to handle an influx of paid time off (PTO) requests after returning to work
  • Whether you should consider reducing PTO for the year
  • Whether you should offer more flexible schedules for child and/or elder care reasons in lieu of PTO

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on Implementing a Communication Strategy from the Change Management Process
Originally aired May 8

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The roundtable was facilitated by Dawn H. Anderson, JD, PHR, SPHR, of the Atlanta Chapter and Teresa J. Tipton of the Austin Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • Communicating the reason for change
  • Communicating the danger in not changing
  • Determining the right spokesperson for each audience
  • Ensuring consistent messaging

Resources mentioned in this Roundtable: "The ADKAR Model: Why It Works" and "Communication Checklist for Achieving Change Management," Prosci; "Leading Through Change," Legal Management

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on Returning to the Workplace, Part 2
Originally aired May 1

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The roundtable was facilitated by Dawn H. Anderson, JD, PHR, SPHR, and Laura K. Waterman of the Atlanta Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • Re-entry of attorneys and paralegals
  • Employees that rely on public transit
  • Looking at space needs
  • Someone presents ill at work

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on Returning to the Workplace, Part 1
Originally aired April 24

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The roundtable was facilitated by Louise M. Spinelli and Sarah A. DiChiara of the Western and Central New York Chapter. Here are some topics that were explored:

  • Planning process for re-entry
  • Phase-in return
  • Requirements to return to work
  • Policy to incorporate remote workers and/or other policy updates

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on Financial Considerations
Originally aired April 17

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The roundtable was facilitated by Terri J. Oppelt, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, and Jennifer J. Bradshaw of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter. Here are some of the topics that were explored:

  • Paycheck Protection Program
  • SBA loans
  • Emergency loans
  • Summer programs

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on Stress and Mental Health
Originally aired April 10

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The roundtable was facilitated by Veronica Sutton, SHRM-SCP, SPHR PHRca, and Ann S. Callahan, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, CLM, of the Puget Sound Chapter. Here are some of the topics that were explored:

  • How do we get a temperature check? With no or limited nonverbal cues, how can we assess the stress levels in our employee ranks?
  • How does stress manifest in behaviors? How do we assess these behaviors and when do we get involved personally vs. when do we encourage people to seek other resources?
  • What do we already know from dealing with other crisis situations? While not the same, are there tips to be had from other plans/experiences with extreme weather, other infectious diseases, fires, earthquakes, etc.?

COVID-19: Adapting to the New Normal with a Focus on Operations
Originally aired April 3

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This roundtable was facilitated by Tara Ghannam Binge and Michelle Mahan Smith of the Puget Sound Chapter. Here are some of the topics that were explored:

  • What kind of communication or communication plan has been instituted in your firm to internally deal with the change in operations due to COVID-19?
  • How are you handling the day-to-day deliveries (e.g., standard mail, FedEx, coffee and refreshments for the office, etc.)?
  • What procedure have you put in place regarding handling internal self-reported cases of COVID-19?

ALA Hangouts

ALA Hangouts offer another option for communicating member-to-member. Members get together to exchange ideas and solutions and informally chat about timely topics of interest. Each session’s ad hoc agenda is fueled by lively member sharing and interaction. Please join in!
 
They are held on the second Tuesday of each month from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Central. Follow this link to register for ALA Hangouts. You will receive a confirmation with calendar details.
 
You can volunteer to moderate one or more ALA Hangouts. Get more information here, or email [email protected] for details.
 

Upcoming ALA Hangouts

  • Tuesday, September 14, at 1 p.m. Central
  • Tuesday, October 12, at 1 p.m. Central
  • Tuesday, November 9, at 1 p.m. Central
  • Tuesday, December 14, at 1 p.m. Central

Recordings

Audio recordings and chat transcripts for each Hangout are available in the ALA Online Community’s General Discussion File Library. Member login is required to access the recordings.
 

Small Firm Meetups

Small Firm Meetups are an extension of the Small Law Firm group in the Online Community, taking the group’s interactions to a visual level and giving ALA members opportunities to see one another, share information and connect around timely topics related to working in smaller firms.
 
They are held on the first Wednesday of each month from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Central. Follow this link to register for Small Firm Meetups. You will receive a confirmation with calendar details.
 
Subscribe to the Small Law Firm discussion forum to receive notices about upcoming Meetups, topics and special presentations. To manage your Community subscriptions, log in to the Online Community and under your name at the top of the page, click My Options. Select My Subscriptions from the dropdown menu. Email [email protected] if you need assistance with login credentials.
 

Upcoming Small Firm Meetups

  • Wednesday, September 1, at 2 p.m. Central
  • Wednesday, October 6, at 2 p.m. Central
  • Wednesday, November 3, at 2 p.m. Central
  • Wednesday, December 1, at 2 p.m. Central


Recordings

Audio recordings and chat transcripts for each Meetup are available in the ALA Online Community’s Small Firm File Library. Member login is required to access the recordings.
 
Special presentations that are recorded will be shared here, as available.