Houston Courtyard
Your Quarterly ALA news & updates
2020 | Spring Issue - Houston Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators
Houston Chapter President

Julie Stevenson, CLM

Vice President
Santina Daily, CLM, SHRM-SCP

Rhonda M. Emerson, CLM

Rachel Pinney

Director of Education
Monique Mahler

autumn edwards
Director of Business Partners
Autumn Edwards

Chapter Manager
Wendy Crane

Kathryn Simpson Vidal, CLM, SHRM-CP

Business Partner SPOTLIGHT
When you can’t be there, We can DELIVER!

At Elaine’s Florist & Gift Baskets , we have been visually expressing love and appreciation of others through the beauty of flowers for nearly 30 years. With several holidays just around the corner and with many working from home, keep us in mind when wanting to put a smile on that special someone’s face to let them know how important they are to you. 

Passover – April 9 th
Easter – April 12 th
Administrative Professional Day – April 22 nd
Mother’s Day – May 10 th

Your 2019-2020 Houston Chapter Committee Chairs
More Committee Info at ALAhou.org
Audit Committee

Business Partnering Committee

Community Connections

Diversity & Inclusion


Job Bank



Salary Survey

Strategic Relations

Tech nology
ALA Texas State Retreat was a lot of FUN in the SUN!!
Thanks to all who participated and raised money for Friends of Cozumel, and those that traveled with us, as both friends and colleagues, and enjoyed the educational sessions!
Presenting the donation to Friends of Cozumel--$2100 raised!
Educational session
Our Houston Chapter members
March 2020 – Virtual Reality - by Jody Gressett
It comes up in nearly every conversation – we are discussing various versions of how surreal this situation is, that we never imagined something like this, and how it is almost unbelievable that a new bug has completely over run our daily lives. Yet, here we are. Very quickly our normal routines are disrupted, our activities restricted, our vacation and travel plans canceled. And for those of us in leadership positions we have new challenges around working remotely. We are suddenly looking at working from a place where trust is paramount, replacing our face-to-face interactions we have depended on for much of our careers.

In the legal industry we have heard endlessly over the years from consultants about the importance of agility and how critical it is to be able to pivot in the face of rapid change. Well, who knew how rapidly a change could hit? Here in our firm, in a matter of days we quickly issued laptops, informed our staff members how to access the firm’s resources remotely, and viola, we were suddenly all working virtually from home. There are very few positions that require in-person presence, including our office services and switchboard services. However, everyone has direct numbers, and our voice messages go directly to us through Outlook. The team handles filings via e-filing, and we are able to continue operations and serving our clients. Just like that, we are in week three of remote operations across our organization.

That same story has unfolded throughout our industry and many other sectors of business. As leaders, we are now adapting to new ways of being in touch. We look at how can we help our firms survive and hopefully even thrive in this new environment. Phone calls, ZOOM meetings, virtual Happy Hours, and of course, lots of work and communication taking place via our old trusty e-mail. 

And guess what, we are doing it! And let’s admit it - there are some benefits to this work from home situation. Not having a commute saves me about 10 hours a week. Not worrying about what to wear to work. Each afternoon my husband and I take a one-hour bicycle ride and every day we are amazed by how many people are also out walking and bike riding. Last week we noticed that there were quite a few kids doing chalk art in their driveways and on the streets. Around 6:00 or so, parents were also out in their driveways and along the street curbs with home- made posters that said things like “we miss you Brookwood teachers.” Then later when we were in the house cooking dinner (again!) and heard plenty of honking and general commotion out on the street. We looked out, and there was a car parade of the local teachers going through the neighborhood with signs of their own about missing their students.

Everyone is reaching out. We are finding new ways to connect and making sure we connect in the old ways. Even as there is sadness and fear around this virus, there are opportunities for individual response. I am going to continue to maintain the social distance they are telling us to do, and I am going to reach out to my mom who is now in week three of being in her house by herself. I am going to try to share this home space with my spouse 24x7 in a way that deepens our relationship with each other. I am going to try to do my best with my team and my firm, and I already have plans to order dinner out on Friday. We all need a little something to look forward to. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked so many meals in a row in my life. 

I am also going to focus on appreciation. I truly appreciate our ALA and our ALA list serv that helps us so much as we share what we are doing in our firms. So I just want to say thank you to all of you for being there through thick and thin. We’ve helped each other through ice storms, tropical storms, hurricanes, water main breakages, and now – a world-wide pandemic. We will come through this, and I pray every day that we are smart and do what the authorities tell us to do. Let’s maintain our social distance and at the same time keep our social contract with each other to build a world that is as safe and kind as possible. We can do this.
-Jody Gressett

Office Administrator
Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
Strategic Relations Committee Discovers a Hidden Gem in the Middle of Downtown Houston! 

- by Kathryn Vidal
During the past several months, HALA’s Strategic Relations Committee has been actively partnering with the Houston Bar Association to reinforce support for its Lawyer Wellness Initiatives. The HBA has hosted several events centered around mindfulness and meditation, including yoga classes. HALA was asked to put together law firm wellness resources and sample initiatives that are actually being implemented here in Greater Houston, which we are preparing for the HBA to share with its members. 

While working with the HBA staff, I had the opportunity to tour a relatively new facility that has hosted several HBA mindfulness and meditation events, the Hines Center for Spirituality. In a word, wow! This space is a beacon of peace for the soul. It is located at 500 Fannin Street, right across the street from Christ Church Cathedral. If you have a chance, do stop in and take a look around, or arrange for a tour. As stated on their website, https://www.hinescenter.org/our-space,
“In a time where burnout has been declared a medical condition, human bodies are physically adapting to screen time, and it is the new norm to fall on a spectrum of mental illness, the Hines Center shines as a space for healing.” Although it was founded by Christ Church Cathedral, the Hines Center is a neutral space which hosts a diverse community daily.
In addition to the ground floor labyrinth (see photo), there is a meditation room, a room for yoga, tai chi, and related classes (showers are also available), and a number of more private spaces for members to work, relax, create, and meet. There are monthly memberships (very reasonable) or various plans for those who wish to participate in classes or use any of these spaces. Drop-ins are welcome as well. This space is also available for group meetings and retreats, and can accommodate food and drink (including happy hours, for example). If you just want some quiet time, for example, you can stop in the meditation room (below), or check into a private room. 
Please do keep the Hines Center in mind if you need some space for reflection or would like to take a yoga or tai chi class. If you are tasked with planning firm events they can accommodate your group, especially if you are looking for activities related to wellness and mindfulness. Even better, they can bring classes and seminars to your firm. Check out “The Nomadic Experience” on their website for some sample programs.

The Hines Center is a short walk from many of our offices, so I would encourage you to stop in and explore what they have to offer.  
-Kathryn Simpson Vidal, CLM, SHRM-CP
Past President
Chair of Strategic Relations Committee

Office Manager
Squire Patton Boggs (US) LP
From our Business Partner: Omega Potential
Mariann Siegert
Omega Potential, LLC
7 Keys to Success in Working Remotely

Welcome to the world of working remotely! Who knew that we would ever be here? But did you know that studies have shown that people can actually be more productive when working from home? Here are some keys to success to share with your firm as you shift to this new way of working.

Key #1: Communication is Key
If you have people that report to you, communication is key. Begin by setting up one-on-one video calls as soon as possible with all the people on your team. Encourage Partners, Directors, Managers, and anyone else in the Firm that has direct reports to do the same. Create a step-by-step Quick Reference Cards or video to send to them of how to use the technology to create a video conference. If you don’t have this in place and you are a small firm or don’t have IT, checkout TeamViewer, Zoom, or GoToMeeting. (I personally use GoToMeeting and it is easy to use and inexpensive.)
Check on them to see how they are doing, if they need anything and if there is anything you can do to help them with working remotely or otherwise. You are going to get more done if you have a strong working relationship while working remotely together. Get together a list of all the names and email addresses, cell phone numbers, and other ways of communication for everyone on your team then distribute this list to all team members so they may communicate easily between themselves.

Key #2: Set Expectations
Whether you are a boss or an employee, things will go much more smoothly working remotely if expectations are set from the beginning. It will also lessen anxieties.
  • Have you established things like communication, availability, and overall working habits in your remote setting?
  • Start by simply having a conversation. A conversation my go like this… How do you prefer to communicate? Email, chat, phone, text, impromptu video meetings? What is the best way to contact you when I have something that is time sensitive or urgent? What is expected in terms of remote office hours?
  • At the least, weekly meetings should be set up. Daily meetings would be even better even if brief. You do not want to get into a situation where you think one thing and your employee or boss thinks another.
  • Set clear expectations with each other about goals, schedules, communication styles and personal preferences and you will set yourself up for a great remote working relationship.

Key #3: Stay Connected to Your Teams
It is important to stay connected to your teams. Check in, call instead of email, set team meetings and video conferences. Video conferences are important because people’s facial expressions matter and make a significant impact on communication. This will help to make people feel more connected and is the next best thing to being physically together. It enables everyone to see each other’s expressions, read body language and will help you in knowing if they are actively listening and engaging. 
To have a successful video conference, be sure to give people a head’s up and plenty of time prior to starting a video call or video conference. This will allow them to move to a quiet place for the meeting and dress appropriately. Consider setting up video meetings with your team often – perhaps on a certain day and time to make sure everyone is on the same page and allow them to catch up with each other on work and overall welfare.
Key #4: Easily Share Your Screen to Collaborate Together
If you are using Windows 10, you already have a free tool called Quick Assist which allows you to quickly and securely share your screen with another person.

1 - In the Windows Cortana search bar, type "quick assist” and select from the menu.

2 - From the Quick Assist dialog box, Select Get Assistance or Give Assistance and then follow the simple onscreen instructions.

Key #5: Create a Work Schedule and Stick to It
It is easy when working from home for us to fall into the pattern of working day and night. This will not be sustainable and may even affect your health, relationships and family life. Keep a good work/life balance. Humanly, we’ll also burn out fast if we don’t stick to a schedule.
A successful Associate I interviewed who works remotely says she sets a regular schedule in an irregular space something like this:
6:30 alarm, 7:00 workout, 7:45 shower, 8:00 login, 10:00 break, 12:00-1:00 lunch, 2:00 break, 6:00 logout

Establish work hours and stick to them. For example, if someone sends you an email at 10:00 at night, answer them the next morning – unless it is urgent, of course.

Key #6: Working with Distractions
I have lot of experience working from home. One thing I know for sure… if you have family or roommates at home while you are working, beware! They will try to distract you. Or let ’s just be truthful. They WILL distract you. If you have been home for more than a day, you most probably have already come to this conclusion on your own. From noisy roommates to needy family members or even well-intentioned neighbors – all are a source of distraction. Here are some ways to overcome:

  • Share your schedule and set boundaries - communicate clearly what times you have meetings and conference calls scheduled and when it is important to be as quiet as possible. Setting expectations is paramount to others knowing when you can or cannot be disturbed.
  • Set up a work area - if possible, find a quiet place to set up your new office – preferably with a door. If large enough, consider converting a large or walk-in closet into your new office space.
  • Think outside the box - If you don’t have the luxury of having a separate a room for an office, take conference calls in your car, use your garage or walk outside. People understand that will have unexpected distractions. And remember, you don’t have to be paranoid about keeping complete quiet in the background. Remember you can hit the mute button on your phone if needed. We are all in the same boat.
  • Four-legged family members – We love them, but they can be a distraction! Walk your dog before you begin working, take them for a walk at lunch and take them outside during your breaks. Give them bones, toys and chew toys to keep them busy.

Key #7: Get Everyone Up-To-Speed on Technology
How important is training and technology to your Firm? VERY. Firms run on technology. Your firm, like numerous others, may have struggled during this transition because attorneys and staff are behind technologically. A lot of Firms and companies are opting to take advantage of this down time get everyone up to speed. Sign your Firm up for live online training classes on Office 365 (Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint), Adobe DC, Windows 10 and other software your Firm uses.

An Extra Key to Success: For those Working Remotely with Kids
Kids - your new co-workers! When I first started working from home, I had a newborn who quickly became a temper tantrum throwing two-year-old. Later in life, I worked from home with two teenagers. So how do you manage working remotely with kids? Here are some tips:

  • For single parents – think virtually. Bring in the troops. Are there friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents or babysitters that can arrange virtual playdates with your kids? Ask them to talk, read, play games, sing, dance – simply entertain them while you are busy. Utilize nap and sleep times. Rotate toys to keep them new and interesting.
  • For parents with a partner or older kids. Discuss taking turns watching the kids with your partner if they are also working from home. If you have older children, ask if they will help watch the younger siblings.
  •  Maintain routinesMaintaining routines and having structure will help your family become familiar with your rhythms and will help set expectations of what times you take breaks each day and stop for lunch.
  • Establish guidelines with older kids.  Let your kids know that you have certain tasks that you must accomplish, and you can’t take frequent breaks just because you are home. Put a “do not disturb” sign on the door or if working out in the open, let them know that when the laptop lid is open you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed. Keep them busy by setting up virtual play dates, reading, writing stories, watching educational, positive or inspirational movies and shows, doing homework, playing online video games to keep them socializing with their friends. Let them know when it’s ok to interrupt you (e.g., they’re bleeding), and when it’s not (e.g., their favorite app won’t load).
  • Working with babies. Have a bottle ready and make sure their needs are met such as a diaper change before meetings or conference calls or schedule calls during nap time. Use swings, bouncy chairs, shows or videos and music.

We are all in this together.
Keep in mind that working from home right now—as hard as it may be to adjust, may make the difference of keeping millions of people safe, including your own family and our Firms. It’s worth the challenge. 

We’re all in this together.

Mariann Siegert
Omega Potential, LLC
Would you like to refer a new business partner? Please contact our BP Committee!
Quincy D. Perkins
Chair of Business Partnering Committee

Houston Office Manager
Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr PC
Uncommon Holidays
brought to you by:
3     Don’t Go to Work Unless it’s Fun Day
14    Look Up at the Sky Day
20    Volunteer Recognition Day
27    Prime Rib Day
3     Garden Meditation Day
15    Chocolate Chip Day
21     Memo Day
28     Hamburger Day
5      Donut Day
12     Flip Flop Day
20     Ice Cream Soda Day
27      Sunglasses Day
Thank you to our 2020 Business Partners!
Platinum Partners

Clark Duncan & Morris dba Events 360
Sherie Duncan 832.692.6300
Shawn Barnett , 713.304.5562
Harry McMahan , 713.388.7902

Online Applications You can now submit your CLM application, recertification application and pay your annual maintenance fees online! Paper Applications Do you prefer to apply via paper? Here are links to the forms you need: Continue Your...

Read more
Gold Partners

Mary Claire Upton , 713.491.4453

Charlotte McFadden 713.595.0575

Rippe & Kingston Systems
Kydia Flocchini 513.241.1375
Houston Chapter Association of Legal Administrators -...

© 2020 Houston Chapter Association of Legal Administrators All rights reserved.

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Houston Chapter Points System 
To promote educational opportunities, including the Regional and/Annual Conferences.
  • The program is for a 12 month period: January 1 - December 10.
  • The scholarship will be awarded at the annual holiday luncheon for attendance at a specialty or annual conference the following year. If the winning member cannot attend, they may choose to use the money to help with transportation expenses at regional conference. The scholarship must be used in the calendar year it was designated for (example, winner of drawing December 2020 must use the award in 2021).
  • The board each year can determine the amount of the scholarship and the number of scholarships that can be awarded. For 2019, $2000 scholarships were awarded to two members. The drawing is from the 10 top points earners for the year.

  • Attend BP Event #1 (Spring) 10
  • Attend BP Event #2 (Summer) 10
  • Attend BP Event #3 (Fall)  10
  • Chairing a committee 30
  • Serving on a committee 10
  • Refer a new business partner (notify chapter manager) 20
  • Refer a new member 20
  • Contribute a newsletter article 10
  • Attend at least 6 Meetings per year 20
  • Participate in a Community Challenge activity 10
  • If you are a current CLM 10
  • If you have attended a CLM study/prep course 10
  • Attend ALA Annual, Regional or Specialty Conference 10
  • Serve on ALA position/project or committee 10
Congratulations Tom Ivey and Jennifer Denton for winning in December 2019!
Ask Tom and Jennifer how they earned their points!
Membership Committee
WELCOME to our newest members:
Allison Gouker, SHRM-SCP
Human Resources Manager
Brent Bridges, CLM
Regional Office Administrator
Emily George
Office Administrative Coordinator
Fred Lemuel
Office Manager
Karen Kubani
Director of Administration
Jan South
Office Administrator--Texas Offices
Talia Alfred, MBA
Director of Operations
The Alfred Firm PC
And Members ON THE MOVE!!!
Jennifer Denton is now Office Administrator at Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease LLP -Congrats Jennifer!
-Cheyenne Hunter
Membership Committee Chair

Firm Administrator/
Head of Accounting
Fullenweider Wilhite
Upcoming Fellowship Opportunity:

The Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators is pleased to announce the Susan L. French Emerging Leader Fellowship Program. The scholarship was originally established by  GLJ Benefit Consultants  in memory of former ALA President Susan L. French. Susan’s commitment to professionalism, dedication to the advancement of law firm administration, development of future leaders and record of long-term service to the Association of Legal Administrators, is truly the foundation of this program.

In 2019, the fellowship program was developed to assist up to two ALA members annually who have a strong desire to enhance their personal and professional leadership skills. The one-year fellowship program provides a full scholarship to  ALA’s 2020 Chapter Leadership Institute  and a personalized series of leadership-focused coaching sessions with Judy Hissong, CLM, a distinguished leadership consultant. 

Both of these opportunities include an expectation of full engagement and participation by the fellowship recipient. If all program requirements are met, a complimentary registration and travel stipend to ALA’s 2021 Annual Conference & Expo may be extended to recipients. Program participants will be assigned a mentor, and will be expected to assume a mentorship role for future fellowship recipients.

Program Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for this opportunity, applicants must:
  • Be an ALA Member in good standing.
  • Demonstrate emerging leadership qualities as outlined here.
  • Include two references, each with a letter of recommendation, one of which must be from a chapter or association-level ALA leader.
  • Be willing to be interviewed by Foundation Trustees, at the Foundation's request.
  • Be able to commit to the yearlong program, including projects as assigned by the leadership consultant and/or Foundation mentors.
  • Be able to attend the 2020 Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI) and 2021 Annual Conference & Expo, including participation in the Brezina Memorial session at Annual Conference.

Please note: The 2020 application period will be open April 1 through May 13.

Click here to learn more!
Member Spotlight - by Monique Mahler
This article has been updated since it was last published in the Winter of 2019-2020, and includes additional information that was inadvertently omitted.
Chassidy Deckard
You may recognize Chassidy Deckard as the woman who jumped head first into Houston ALA in Summer of 2017, AND the Houston 2019 Member of the Year Award winner! Chassidy, returned to Houston in 2017 after ten years away in Austin pursuing her education and cutting her teeth in Legal world and with the Austin ALA Chapter.
Chassidy was born in Houston, but grew up in a small town called Shepherd, TX (the 2010 census shows a population of 2,319 people). After her eighth-grade year, she moved to Spring, where Chassidy graduated from Spring High School. Chassidy is the eldest of 6 children, she has three brothers and two sisters. Her parents also reside in Houston and she has two God Children.
Chassidy attended The University of Texas at Austin (she bleeds burnt orange!) where she changed majors five times (only five?!?!) before settling on speech pathology. Upon receiving her BS, she was accepted to multiple graduate program for speech pathology, but ultimately decided that was not the direction she wanted to take at the time.
In between her break after graduating and prior to the time she was to begin her Graduate program she began working at Brown McCarroll as the HR Coordinator. Her background of HR Supervisor working at Splashtown during her summer breaks in High School helped transition her for life in a law firm. She was eventually promoted to Office Administrator of the Austin and Dallas offices when Brown McCarroll merged with Husch Blackwell.
She began earning her master’s in Occupational, Workforce and Leadership studies from Texas State University while working full-time, managing two offices (traveling to Dallas every other week) and a merger! She completed her Master’s program in May of 2017 and moved back to Houston in July of 2017. She is currently with Paul Hastings and serves as their Administrative Manager/Talent Acquisition and Development Administrator.
How did you find ALA?
When I was promoted at Husch Blackwell, my former HR director was a champion of ALA, and encouraged me to join. I was active pretty much immediately, joined in January and selected as Membership Chair in April.
Serving as membership chair was a great opportunity for me to get to know the membership and put names to faces. I was very engaged with the chapter and attended my first national conference in Toronto in 2014. This is where ALA began to make sense, I learned so much from the speakers and had a great time networking with ALA members and business partners from all over. Months after I moved to Houston, I was Membership Chair, now I am on the local Houston D&I committee, the National D&I committee and recently completed my term on on the Membership Development committee.
What is your dream job?
Eventually I plan to transition my career to focus on Inclusion and Diversity in the legal space. For years law firms have struggled to create inclusive and diverse environments. Not only is there a business case for diversity and inclusiveness, but this is something that I am truly passionate about and an area that I can see myself being a change maker long term while impacting the lives of others. Diversity and Inclusion in law firms has been talked about for a while now, the numbers are not really changing, it is time for true change.
What do you like to do for fun?
I am a HUGE sports fan – the Longhorns, Astros, Rockets and the Ravens – I go to a lot of sporting events. I travel frequently. I visited 6 different countries this year! (For those keeping count: Costa Rica, Panama, Cabo, Greece, France and the Bahamas) And I am going to London for New Years. I love trying new restaurants, Indigo, Uchi, Steak 48 and Bravery for lunch are a few of my Houston favorite places to eat. I love theatre – I have seen Hamilton 5 times – in New York with the original cast – and again with a non-original cast, saw it Puerto Rica with Lin Manuel-Miranda, Chicago and Houston.

If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Michelle Obama – she is the most fascinating person on earth right now. Her leadership skills - what she is trying to do for girls and education and lifting women – it’s incredible. I would love to pick her brain on her successes – with the adversity she faced and how she embodies the “they go low, we go high” quote. I saw her on this book tour, and it was so empowering. A strong educated, Black woman, wife, mother – all the things I one day aspire to be.
What do you wish you had more time to do?
Help young students – show them the guideline – how to break into their career of choice or provide them with resources to get to where they want to go. I am a first-generation college student. I had no true plan when I entered college, hence the 5 major changes and a degree that I am not using. I think it is critical that I give back to students that are trying to be successful.
If you had 1 free hour a day what would you do with it?
Journal. I started journaling this year and it has helped me to focus. I should start my day with this.
What is your spirit animal?
A unicorn.

Top 3 things to do/see on your bucket list?
To see the Northern Lights in Alaska, meet Lin Manuel Miranda, have a dance party with Beyoncé.

Most treasured possession:
A silver bracelet my younger brother gave to me for my graduate school graduation.

Biggest accomplishment:
Being in a position to write a letter of recommendation for law school admittance for an intern that I recruited and hired 4 years ago.

Fav movie:
A Star is Born, 2018

Fav book:
Becoming, Michelle Obama

Fav musical artist:

First concert:
Destiny’s Child at the Rodeo

Fav TV show:
This is Us.
Fav sports team:

Best advice ever received:
If it’s not a full bodied yes, say no.

Fun Fact:
I am a 3-time fantasy football champion – my team name is Curls for the Girls.

Advice to a new admin/HR or IT professional:

Build a network, ask questions, be okay with knowing what you don’t know and realizing what you do know, being stern with your decisions and sticking to them and have fun!

How has ALA been beneficial to you:
Several ways – I met James Cornell (ALA President), my mentor, and he has been influential in my career and guiding me to my leadership roles. The network I’ve built has made it easy for me to transition from Austin to Houston and as I’ve advanced in my career to a more strategic role.

Any Additional Comments:
I credit ALA for a lot of my career. Great people that have looked out for me and helped me along the way. I’ve learned so much, the education offered has helped me succeed. I wish I would have known about legal administration while in undergrad, it’s such a great career choice, most times! 

-Monique Mahler
Director of Education

Human Resources Manager
Baker Hostetler
Salary Survey Update - from Grant Beehler
We’re working on getting the 2020 Salary Survey ready to go now. This isn’t set in stone but it may be open during the middle part of April 2020, with a rough publish date at the end of May.

We’re also looking for input on any missing positions, as well as looking to add more folks to the committee 

If you'd like to join the Salary Survey Committee, please reach out to: GBeehler@Raiznerlaw.com

Thank you!
-Grant, Heather, Jennifer, Santina, Sue, and Tom
-Grant Beehler
Salary Survey Chair
Audit Chair

Raizner Slania LLP
To Extend or Not to Extend -by David Silverman
I just received an email from Dell notifying me that the warranties on the laptops we bought for the firm are about to expire. So, what to do?

When purchasing new laptops, I always opt for a 3-year spill proof warranty. I purchase this extended warranty because laptops are often treated like legal pads and not like high-priced electronic equipment that needs to be coddled. The most likely damage is caused by drops and spills, so be sure that the warranty you purchase covers these. 10 years ago, laptops were solid. Now they are lighter, thinner and more fragile. The extra dollars for the extended warranty is the right move for laptops.

What about for workstations? For workstations, I will opt for the standard 1-year warranty that comes with the workstation and not buy the extended warranty. Why? The most costly item in the workstation is the motherboard, and it is the least likely component to fail. In fact, I have not seen a failed motherboard in a workstation in about 20 years. A hard drive, a video card, or a DVD writer can fail, but can also be replaced for less than the cost of the extended warranty. It doesn’t make sense to pay the extra dollars now, just wait until something fails and replace it. 

What about servers and server hosts? Absolutely you need an extended warranty, as a host server is one of your most critical component systems in your office! Here, you have several choices for warranties. You need to be able to contact the warranty provider 24/7/365 because you need this level of support when it comes to servers. You can choose to have Dell come out 24/7 or come out during business hours. We opt for the business hours warranty. I choose this because host servers have multiple layers of redundancy, meaning that if a part fails the system remains up and running while that part can be replaced. The most common server issue is a failing or failed hard drive. If your server is constructed properly, the system will continue to run even if a hard drive fails. When I see a failure, I contact Dell to let them know about the failed drive, and they send out a replacement that I will receive early the next day. I could also ask Dell to come out to install the drive if needed. 

Once the initial extended warranty expires, I opt to extend it another two years. When Dell servers reach 7 years old, you have to go outside of Dell to find an extended warranty program as your servers have reached “end of life”. The fact is that the host servers are humming along and will continue to do so well past 7 years. Our warranty provider (our former Dell rep who moved to a national provider and now gets all our business) has no issues with warrantying our 7-year old plus equipment, and they are a pleasure to work with based on the two hard drive failures we have had in the past year. 

Overall the news is very good. Today’s laptop, workstations, and host servers generally do not fail. Even so, extended warranties are good value when placed on mission-critical devices within your firm.  
-David Silverman

Director of Information Technologies
Johnson Trent & Taylor LLP
Tech & Social Media Committee Update:
In today’s world we are all use to getting information quickly at our fingertips. Would it surprise you that you have not grasped the immense information and opportunities that are available to you as an ALA Member if you are not signed-up on either LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter? These outlets have postings by our members as well as updates on future events.

I encourage you to sign up and let your eyes be opened to opportunities that you may otherwise miss. It’s nice to be in the know as opposed to not know(ing).

The Houston Chapter of ALA is always buzzing with many events, and a good variety at that.

Let’s let missed opportunities be a thing of the past and look forward to a rewarding and eventful future.
-Paul Mouchette
Tech & Social Media Chair

Practice Assistant Senior Team Leader
White & Case LLP
* * Favorite Flowers * *
My favorite Spring flower is the Hydrangea. You can change the color of the blue and pink ones!  
Cynthia Valadez
Houston Office Manager
Galloway Johnson Tompkins Burr & Smith
I love the Ranunculus flower. It's special like a Rose, but with a more unique shape. There are many different color varieties to choos from ranging in pinks, oranges, to velvety reds.

They make me smile!
Rebecca Haack
Newsletter Chair
Firm Administrator
Reynolds Frizzell LLP
My favorite spring flower is the Yellow Rose. When I graduated from high school in Shawnee, Oklahoma, my mother sent me a dozen yellow roses to carry as I walked across the stage - even though she lived on a shoestring budget – so they meant so much to me. Also, I ended up living in the State of Texas, and everyone knows the significance of the “Yellow Rose of Texas.” I think that yellow roses are always beautiful – especially because they are associated with the sun, its life-giving warmth and feelings of friendship, optimism, joy, wisdom and power.
DeAnna L. Lopez, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Houston Chapter President
Office Manager
White & Case LLP
Tulips are my favorite flower because they remind me of my mother.
Candace K. Childress
Office Administrator
Community Connections Committee Update:
With the end of the school year fast approaching, Communities in Schools will soon be seeking financial assistance to purchase cap and gowns for their students at Northside High School . Just like in the past, we are hoping our HALA community will come together and raise enough monetary donations to allow these students who could not otherwise afford to purchase one on their own, an opportunity to walk down the stage. More details soon to follow. Please help us spread the word!

- Rachel Pinney
Community Connection Member

Administrative Manager
K&L Gates
Contributing Editors:
Kristie Manning  

The Newsletter Committee welcomes articles, letters, suggestions and comments.
Request for permission to reprint any part of the publication should be addressed to the editors.
Our Mission Statement
The Association of Legal Administrators Houston Chapter’s mission is to improve and cultivate the quality of management in legal service organizations through education and sharing of knowledge. We strive to enhance the competence and professionalism of members of the legal management team. We are also committed to provide diversity and inclusion initiatives in an effort to heighten diversity awareness among our membership and surrounding community.
Th e Houston Courtyard is published quarterly by the Houston Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators as a service to chapter members. The newsletter is circulated to 250 people including Houston Chapter Members, Business Partners, National and Regional officers, and the Presidents and Newsletter Editors of other Chapters.
The Houston Chapter does not provide legal, financial or counseling advice via this publication, and any article, letter or advertisement published herein should not be considered an endorsement by them. The opinions expressed in the Houston Courtyard are strictly those of the authors and not necessarily reflect the opinions of the ALA Administrators, and may have been edited.
The Association of Legal Administrators is a non-profit organization. ALA Headquarters may be reached at Association of Legal Administrators, 76 Tri-State International, Suite 222, Lincolnshire, IL 60069-4435, Phone 854.267.1252, Fax 847.267.1232, www.alanet.org

- Rebecca Haack
Newsletter Committee Chair

Firm Administrator
Reynolds Frizzell LLP
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