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By: Gretchen Luessenheide, MBA, Executive Director at Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd.
Your law firm’s administrator plays an essential role in the success of your business. The administrator or administration team handles operational matters, saving managing attorneys valuable time that they can then devote to billable client work. Your administration regularly tends to matters such as intercepting conflicts between employees, ensuring everyone is signed up for benefits, negotiating vendor contracts, renewing insurance policies, trouble-shooting technology issues, and most importantly, making sure payroll is submitted accurately and on time. And remember how much fun everyone had at that last company outing? Someone in the back office spent countless hours making sure the event went off without a hitch.
We all agree that your administrator and administration team cover a broad range of critical business functions. But are they performing at their fullest potential? There is an easy way to ensure your non-legal professionals have not only the breadth but also a rich depth of knowledge of their jobs to keep your firm operating at its highest capacity.
Membership in the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) can elevate your administrator’s expertise to new levels. ALA offers continuing education opportunities, a supportive network of other legal professionals, special interest groups that focus on operational functions, and access to third-party vendors who cater to the legal industry.
Just as attorneys attend CLEs to stay abreast of changes in the law, firm administrators need to keep up with rapidly evolving trends in legal management. ALA offers a variety of educational opportunities to address relevant issues facing today’s law firms.
Each spring the ALA Annual Conference and Expo features the industry’s leading speakers, panel discussions with experts, and round-table brain storming sessions. Attendees sharpen their leadership skills in communications, organizational management, financial management, human resources, legal industry/business management, operational management, and business ethics.
ALA’s online education options include live webinars, on-demand webinars, and web-based, instructor-led classes. Members can earn certification in specific subjects through online courses. Those who master in-depth knowledge of a wide range of categories can sit for an exam to earn the prestigious Certified Legal Manager (CLM) designation. Your firm could even save money on some insurance premiums if your administrator is a CLM!
Small or medium-sized law firms may have one administrator or a small administrative team overseeing all non-legal responsibilities. Being the sole go-to person who is expected to have all the answers to employees’ random questions can be overwhelming. Not having colleagues for collaboration can feel isolating. Membership in ALA comes with a robust network of professionals whose responsibilities parallel their own. Members benefit from knowledge sharing through in-person and virtual meetings and conferences. ALA online communities provide a platform for idea exchanges. And, of course, ALA has a strong social media presence, utilizing Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to connect members around the globe.
Special Interest Groups
For connections closer to home, Minnesota’s local chapter of ALA, ALAMN, offers special interest groups that focus on specific operational areas such as facilities management, financial management, intellectual property, human resources, and DEIA. Monthly meetings support ongoing dialogue to maintain fresh and relevant content. Groups for large firm chief officers and small/medium firm administrators address topics unique to these specialized roles. In these special interest groups members gain valuable information about legal industry trends pertinent to the local community.
ALA affiliates with third-party vendors who are on the cutting edge of innovation in their fields. These trusted Business Partners support law firms across the country, and they are in tune with the changing needs in the market. Business partners offer services in the areas of consulting, financial management/investment, technology, real estate, insurance, recruiting/staffing, and so much more. They have long-standing relationships with ALA members, and they are at the ready to provide resources that can streamline operations, help firms work more efficiently, and improve profitability.
Law firm administrators need to possess in-depth knowledge of a variety of critical business functions in order to help their firms succeed. Membership in the Association of Legal Administrators can elevate your administrator’s expertise to new levels. Through continuing education opportunities, a supportive network of like-minded professionals, special interest groups, and access to trusted Business Partners, investment in ALA membership is an investment in the overall profitability of your firm.
For more information about ALA membership, visit https://www.alanet.org/.