Posted by Lisa Hamilton on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 00:00
Legal administrators are vital to the day-to-day operations of a law firm and its overall success. In a rapidly changing business environment, it's important for law office managers and directors to remain current with the latest developments and trends in order to enhance law firm management practices, improve productivity and help insure the delivery of high quality legal services.
I had the privilege of attending last week's 2014 Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) Annual Conference & Exposition in downtown Toronto, which drew more than 1,200 legal professionals from across North America and around the world. This year’s program emphasized education and networking and with more than 90 educational sessions to choose from, attendees were provided with numerous opportunities to learn firsthand about the industry’s latest trends from leaders in the legal profession and socialize with their peers.
In my opinion, the ALA organizes one of the most comprehensive events in the legal field. Where else can you listen to a moving keynote address about courage and resilience from Mark Kelly, the husband of former Arizona congresswoman, Gabby Giffords; learn how to build business relationships that really work; attend a social media policy boot camp; give your law firm function an “extreme makeover"; attend a private client appreciation reception; and enjoy a Grand Finale concert by REO Speedwagon -- all within the span of a few days?
Robert Half Legal was pleased to participate again this year as an ALA VIP (Value in Partnership) sponsor and annual conference program provider. We hosted a booth in the exhibit hall for the attendees and sponsored Wednesday's reception in the legal marketplace and the Grand Finale event on Thursday night. We also hosted a special VIP appreciation reception at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.
Our executive director, Chad Volkert, conducted a popular educational session – “Extreme Makeover: The Legal Function Transformed” – with ALA’s past president, Steve Wingert, who is the executive director of Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP. Steve and Chad discussed technology’s transformation of the law office and how legal staff members are surpassing their traditional roles to perform high-value functions that were once executed by professional and managerial staff members. Some of these new duties may include selecting business partners, drafting legal documents, and managing client relationships. While business development still rests primarily with attorneys, staff members such as legal secretaries and assistants, paralegals, technologists, librarians and directors are making contributions to improving client service levels and generating additional business. Chad and Steve discussed how to redefine client service and obtain buy-in to create a cultural shift within firms. Audience members left with best practices for identifying the needs of the firm and developing staff as well as new client service models, including a team approach system.
These are just a few of the many highlights from the 2014 program. If you are a law firm administrator, supervising paralegal or office manager and haven’t attended the ALA's Annual Conference before, consider registering for next year’s event at Nashville's Music City Center. The information gleaned and the connections made can be invaluable – and well worth your time, travel and monetary investment.