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January 2016 

Feature Article: Enhance Your Skills and Services to Your Chapter

By Gloria E. Hernandez, CLM, Region 2 RepresentativeLaura Sears

I am so excited to attend this year’s Annual Conference & Expo! I look forward to reconnecting with friends I have met through ALA conferences, and the prospect of meeting new chapter leaders.

Are you a chapter leader attending this year’s Annual Conference? Are you only focusing on the educational sessions that benefit you and your firm? Do you think the Annual Conference does not offer sessions dedicated to helping with your chapter duties and responsibilities? I have great news! The Annual Conference has multiple ways to enhance your skills and services to your chapter.

As a member of a committee or the board of directors, chapter leaders are tasked with running their chapter with the same professionalism and dedication as they do their law firms. That is why it is so important for chapter leaders to attend ALA’s Annual Conference & Expo in Los Angeles. It is an opportunity to get a head start on learning how to manage your chapter, recruit new members and start networking with other chapter leaders before attending Chapter Leadership Institute later in the year.

Three of the best events I have attended at past conferences that greatly benefited my chapter service were the Chapter Leader Idea Exchanges, the Leadership/Newcomers Connection reception and the all-important Regional Council meetings.

The Chapter Leader Idea Exchanges are roundtable discussions on the issues chapters are facing and what solutions other chapters have used to resolve them. The wealth of knowledge shared at these idea exchanges and the connections you make are worth the price of admission. Whether you are a new chapter leader, considering becoming one or have been in the trenches for a few years, everyone comes away with a new idea or perspective on how to best run their chapters.

For those who have never attended Annual Conference, do not miss the Leadership/Newcomers Connection reception. This exclusive reception offers the first opportunity to meet with ALA’s board members, regional representatives and headquarters staff. It is a fun-filled reception with food, games and prizes. The main focus of the reception, however, is to make personal connections with ALA members whom you can reach out to for guidance and advice. Have a game plan in place prior to attending the Annual Conference to maximize your networking experience. Find out who your regional director and representatives are and make a point of meeting them. They are an invaluable resource to chapter leaders.

One sure way of meeting your regional leaders is by attending the Regional Council meetings. These meetings are open to all members, not just chapter leaders. At these meetings, your region’s team will lay out their plan of work for the year and communicate their goals for reaching out to the members through their chapter leaders. It is also a time for members to express their views regarding the region and discuss ALA’s future. Positive feedback and suggestions are always welcomed.

The Association Awards presentation is another event that benefits chapter leaders. It will make you realize that you are not alone. There are many chapter leaders just like you that are recognized for their dedicated service to ALA, their chapters and their communities. Will you be one of them this year?

Of course, all work and no play is not an option at the Annual Conference! From the Welcome Reception to the Grand Finale, chapter leaders have several opportunities to let loose and show their fun side. Zumba, anyone?! I cannot wait for this year’s conference! I hope to meet you there.

Gloria E. Hernandez, CLM, is a current Region 2 Representative and is the Legal Administrator at Burlington & Rockenbach, P.A., in West Palm Beach, Florida.


News You Can Use

ALA’s bylaws were amended in April 2015 to incorporate revised membership criteria regarding student and consultant membership. These bylaws state, “Chapters may not set membership criteria that are either more restrictive or less restrictive than those of the international Association.” This means that, at a minimum, all chapters will need to revise this particular section of their bylaws.

Chapters are encouraged to take this opportunity to review their bylaws as a whole to determine if any other changes are needed. The model chapter bylaws provide a good template to use when making revisions. This document also contains the revised criteria for membership language needed for the required update. A redlined version of the model chapter bylaws has been stored in the Chapter Leaders Online Community and can serve as a guide during the process.

ALA’s Board of Directors has requested that all chapter bylaws be amended by no later than July 15, 2016. Chapter presidents and chapter managers received detailed information regarding the amendment process in December. Questions regarding the process can be directed to Nicole Larson at ALA headquarters.

All U.S. chapters must file a federal tax return. ALA has long advised its chapters to incorporate, obtain (and maintain) tax-exempt status, and file federal tax returns each year. In recent years, nonprofit organizations such as ALA and its chapters have become easy targets for IRS scrutiny. After a few ALA chapters found themselves facing penalties for failure to file a return in years when their financial picture changed, ALA began urging all chapters, regardless of size and regardless of gross receipts (all income of any kind, including meal fees, dues, etc.), to institutionalize the filing of annual tax returns. Find additional information, including a Frequently Asked Questions document, on the IRS website at www.irs.gov. An article on Incorporation of ALA Chapters, Tax-Exemption and Tax Returns also is available.

One of the activities listed in the Presidents’ Award of Excellence guidelines, which also serve as performance objectives for all ALA chapters, requires an annual update of the chapter’s profile. Historically, this document has been shared with each incoming chapter president shortly after their term begins. In an effort to streamline processes and assist with revised insurance renewal requirements, headquarters staff has modified the form and is now requesting updated information by March 31. Please note that select information is required in order for ALA headquarters to secure insurance coverage at no cost to the chapter.

Chapters should submit their list of officers and an electronic photo of their president for the 2016-2017 term as soon as possible and before installation occurs. Please submit officer information using the online Chapter Officer Reporting Form. Email your photographs in .jpg, .tif, .gif or .eps format to chapters@alanet.org. (Please send images in the highest resolution possible.)

Individuals interested in serving on ALA’s Association Nominating Committee (ANC) or Regional Nominating Committee (RNC) should submit an application by March 15. The ANC is responsible for selecting individuals for each vacant position on the board of directors in the coming year, and the RNC is responsible for selecting individuals to fill regional representative positions that will be open in the coming year. Read about ALA member Sue Bailey’s experience on the 2015 ANC.

Based on feedback received from chapter presidents late last year, the chapter presidents and chapter leaders online communities have been combined. The chapter presidents’ community remains visible; however, no new discussions or files can be added. Therefore, all chapter leaders should subscribe to the Chapter Leaders Community. Direct questions regarding the chapter leaders’ community to chapters@alanet.org.

Mark your calendar for the 2016 Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI), which will be held July 21-23 at the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas. More details will be available this spring. This is a can't-miss event for current and incoming chapter leaders!

Read an important update from ALA President Teresa Walker regarding funding for attendance at Chapter Leadership Institute. In past years, each chapter automatically received funding for one representative to attend. Learn how that process is changing for this and future years. 

A popular feature at ALA's Annual Conference & Expo is the Silent Auction, the major fundraiser for the Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators. If you or your chapter would like to donate an item, complete the Silent Auction Donation form and ship your item to ALA Headquarters before April 15.

ALA knows you already wear many hats in your day-to-day role — never mind in your chapter! That’s why we would like to help you in your social media efforts at the chapter level, to help keep your members up-to-date on international events and information. Click to download and save this Word document with ready-to-use content for your various social media channels, or even in your chapter newsletter. It’s as easy as copy-and-paste.

What does ALA mean to you? We’d love to hear your experience as an ALA member through a video contest just for you! Use your personality, unique ideas and creativity to produce a one-minute video testimonial telling us why you value your ALA membership or relationship. Learn more. Deadline: May 4.

Remind your chapter members that registering for the ALA Annual Conference & Expo by March 21 is the way to save $200. The conference will hit all five knowledge areas with high-level education including intellectual property (IP) topics, Sunday Idea Exchanges (make sure to fly in early to participate), and ALA's new Advanced Profitability Track: A Deep Dive into Legal Pricing, Projects and Processes:

  • Legal Lean Sigma© and Project Management: Driving Efficiency, Value and Competitive Advantages
  • Law Firm Profitability in the New World
  • Win/Win Pricing

Anyone who registers to attend the 2016 Annual Conference & Expo will be automatically registered for the Virtual Conference. The registration for FREE access to the Virtual Conference opens in late March. Through the Virtual Conference option, you can watch and chat live during three sessions from the comfort of your home or office. NOTE: The three session recordings will be FREE to those who attend annual conference in-person. They will also be available for purchase to anyone who did not attend the conference.


“The courses are an excellent learning tool, and also offer links to other sites for further, in-depth information.  Like any course, you get out of it what you put into it, but I can say I very much enjoyed the courses I took (HR 1 and 2) and felt they were worth the cost.” – Sue Bailey

“I took the FM2 course last fall and was pleased with it. Except for the attempted group project, the experience was very good. I felt like it was worth the time and expense. The instructor was extremely knowledgeable and responsive to any questions we may have had in between sessions. I’d never taken an online course before so that whole platform took some getting used to, but overall, I would take another if I believed it would be professionally beneficial.” – Leslie Thomas

Registration ends March 18 for HR1 (Employee Selection & Promotion), OM (Technology & Facilities Management) and the HR package. Registration for additional courses opens in May. Check out the eLearning Center for the full schedule.  

BLC Playback is a new way for ALA members to take advantage of the education offered at the Regional Legal Management Conferences. It’s available as a video package to download or stream sessions from past conferences. Each session package includes two videos: Human Resources, Financial Management and Operations/Technology.


Chapter Successes

ALA chapter members are regularly networking and helping others. These success stories appear on ALA’s Facebook page. It’s a great way for members to connect and see what other chapters are doing. Keep an eye out for updates, photos and captions. Check out the gallery of photos.

This issue of Just the Facts highlights the following chapters and their events:

  • For the 18th straight year, the ALA Capital Chapter participated in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. This year member firms adopted 1,803 Angels. It was also a very successful year for the N Street Village Gifts for Mom’s program. They donated 120 $25 gift cards to this worthy cause. The Capital Chapter also announced Danielle Smith as its 2016 Ed Ross Annual Conference Scholarship. Also, the chapter congratulates Danielle Smith, the 2016 Ed Ross Annual Conference Scholarship winner! Danielle, Office Manager at Holland & Knight LLP, won the $2,500 scholarship to attend this year's ALA Annual Conference in Los Angeles, California. 

  • Members and business partners with the Dallas Chapter spent their Saturday morning on February 20 volunteering at the local North Texas Food Bank.

  • The Greater Cincinnati Chapter partnered with UpSpring (previously, Faces Without Places) to help with booth set up for games at a food and music festival. UpSpring provides students with the consistency needed to achieve academic success and become well-rounded, active participants in their community. ALA Chapter members and vendors volunteered at the kids' games booths during the Annual Goetta Fest held on the Ohio River banks. Volunteers helped set up games booths, collected tickets, instructed players on the rules of the games and presented prizes.

  • The Mile High Chapter honored Jerry McPeake with the David Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize a legal administrator for significant and extended contributions to the Association of Legal Administrators and its membership on a local, regional and national level. The David Award is the highest honor the chapter can bestow upon a member. Congrats, Jerry!

  • The New Orleans Chapter had a busy start to the year with Educational Luncheons in January and February.

  • The Orange County Chapter volunteered time to its 2015 Community Connection Event to help out with VetNet and Working Wardrobes.

  • The South Florida Chapter partnered with Miami Carol City Sr. High School to “Adopt-A-School.” It received a proclamation from the Miami-Dade County Commissioner for this program.

  • At its February 16 monthly educational meeting, the West Michigan Chapter announced member Marcia Ritzenhein as the winner of its business partner scholarship. Business partner Ricoh purchased the scholarship to give away to the applicant whoin 250 words or less stated his or her goals for attending an ALA conference and how the attendance would impact their professional development and the advancement of initiatives within their firm. Congrats, Marcia!

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