Houston Courtyard
Your Quarterly ALA news & updates
2020 | Summer Issue - Houston Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators
Houston Chapter President
Julie Stevenson CLM

Santina Daily, CLM, SHRM-SCP

Vice President
Monique Mahler

Rhonda M. Emerson, CLM

Rachel Pinney

Director of Education
Jennifer Denton

autumn edwards
Director of Business Partners
Autumn Edwards

DeAnna L. Lopez, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Chapter Manager
Wendy Crane

Business Partner SPOTLIGHT

Your 2020-2021 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
Top Ten Lessons Learned - by Jody Gressett
           I was so looking forward to 2020. I had exciting plans – attending an ALA leadership meeting in March, going to an ALA conference in May, being with family at a wedding out of state, attending a meeting with my colleagues at the firm in our main office, travel to Alaska. Ahh, but then everything changed quite suddenly. All plans scrubbed. Since March, we have experienced standing in lines at the grocery stores, shortages on normal every day items, eating and cooking in on a regular basis (like for every meal), not to mention the onslaught of daily bad news.

           I realize how cavalier we all have been about spending time with each other. Meeting a colleague for lunch, attending a monthly ALA meeting, going to family gatherings. Even going out to dinner, taking in a movie. Shopping. Getting our hair cut. I know all these things will come back, and I hope when they do that I have more appreciation for those experiences, and more fully participate in them.

           So just for fun, I developed a top ten lessons learned since March and the reality of this Covid-19 pandemic.

10- It will be over eventually because it has to be.
9- Productivity can still be good even if everyone is working remotely.
8- Talking to others is important.
7- Pandemics are very scary.
6- Business somehow finds a way to move forward.
5- Leadership is critical in a crisis, and demonstrating leadership through Zoom, telephone calls and e-mail has its own challenges.
4- All the change we thought we’ve experienced in the past are quite minor compared with this. (We thought new software or new phone systems were big changes!)
3- People can be more flexible than we thought.
2- Not knowing what to do or believe has reached a new level.
1- We’ve probably spent too much time and effort going and doing and not enough time on being. Being in the moment, being there each other, being ourselves.

-Jody Gressett

Office Administrator
Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
Community Connection Committee Update
- by Kathryn Vidal
Traditionally, the Community Connection Committee organizes its spring activities toward assisting needy students at Northside High School who are enrolled in the Communities in Schools (CIS) program. These include a prom dress/ accessories drive and fundraising to help the participating seniors pay for caps and gowns so that they can walk across the stage with their peers at graduation. In our current circumstances, there’s no prom this year, and graduation has become a virtual event. However, the Committee realized that there is probably even a greater need this year due to the economic impact of the pandemic, and sought to help out in some way.

By the time you read this, our online auction benefitting needy students at Northside High School will have closed, so I hope you got your bid in for some of the fancy items that members and business partners have donated to entice you into giving. We are working with the CIS Counselor, Brenda Garza, to identify two of the neediest students to whom we can donate gift cards for their needs. We thank you in advance for your generosity, and we’ll report our success in the next newsletter.

Members and business partners are always welcome to join our Committee at any time during the year. We will shortly begin planning for a fall activity which will allow us to continue to safely practice social distancing while contributing to our community’s neediest. Join us, and bring ideas and suggestions so that we can continue to have an impact.
-Kathryn Simpson Vidal, CLM, SHRM-CP
Chair of Community Connection Committee

Office Manager
Squire Patton Boggs (US) LP
From our Business Partner: Frost Bank
Harry McMahan
Vice President
Frost Bank
Office: 713-388-7902 | Cell: 713-376-4563
Financial survival in the time of COVID-19

When 2020 began, few, if any, of us could have expected that in just weeks our lives would be turned upside down by a mysterious virus that causes a dangerous disease called COVID-19. Now, like the rest of the world, we are facing down a viral threat, not only to our physical health but also to our economic wellbeing. Our ability to survive now and thrive later will depend on how well we take care of ourselves physically and financially.

Keeping yourself healthy and safe is your first priority, but maintaining your financial health during the COVID-19 outbreak is also vital to ensure you stay prepared for whatever happens in the coming weeks. What can you do to protect your finances now and emerge from the pandemic ready to move forward?

  • Expect the unexpected. With so many unanswered questions about the disease and the economy, financial experts caution to be more careful than usual with your household finances. Look for ways to cut expenses, even if only temporarily.
  • Manage stress appropriately. Resist the temptation to soothe anxiety or boredom by indulging in online retail therapy or a big splurge, such as a new car.
  • If you’re still working, consider boosting your emergency fund; if you’re not working, use your emergency fund as you need it, and thank yourself for having the discipline to save for a time like this.
  • Seek help when you need it. If the pandemic has affected your income, many lenders, utility companies, landlords and others are willing to help you through this unusual time. Best approach: Proactively reach out for help before you miss payments and damage your credit score.
  • If you own a small business, look for help from the Small Business Administration (SBA) through its new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Visit the SBA at www.sba.gov for information, or contact your bank to apply. 
  • Stay calm. If you are an investor, the current volatile stock market may have you on edge, but investment decisions made out of negative emotions, such as fear and confusion, can actually hurt you financially. Take a deep breath, think about your goals and talk to your financial or wealth advisor for guidance.
  • Take care of yourself emotionally. Purposely look for ways, even if they are small, to put some “normal” back in your life.  

Would you like to talk to a financial professional? Contact Harry at 713.388.7902 or harry.mcmahan@frostbank.com.

Investment and insurance products are not FDIC insured, are not bank guaranteed, and may lose value.

Brokerage services offered through Frost Brokerage Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, and investment advisory services offered through Frost Investment Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Both companies are subsidiaries of Frost Bank.
Additionally, insurance products are offered through Frost Insurance.
Deposit and loan products are offered through Frost Bank, Member FDIC.  
Frost does not provide legal or tax advice. Please seek legal or tax advice from legal and/or tax professionals.
Would you like to refer a new business partner? Please contact our BP Committee!
Quency D. Perkins
Chair of Business Partnering Committee

Houston Office Manager
Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr PC
Uncommon Holidays
brought to you by:
6    Blueberry Day
16    World Emoji Day
21    Junk Food Day
30    International Day of Friendship
2   Sisters Day
15   Relaxation Day
25   Banana Split Day
31   National Eat Outside Day

5   Cheese Pizza Day
11  No News is Good News Day
13  Grandparent’s Day
26  Hunting and Fishing 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...

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Gold Partners

Mary Claire Upton , 713.491.4453

Darcie Broadway 713.208.8242

Charlotte McFadden 713.595.0575
(formerly Rippe & Kingston)
Lydia Flocchini 513.241.1375
Gold Partners
Raif Rucker , 501.247.9972
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!
The Membership Committee would like to say
WELCOME to our newest members:
Jennifer McIntire, SPHR
Director of Human Resources
Toni Beasley
Office Administrator
Amy Hancock, J.D.
Director of Legal Talent & HR
From the Membership Committee
ALA Book Club

ALA International launched a Book Club last January to read James Robbins’ Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go from Manager to Leader. At the time, it was a great initiative to read the book, which I already had in my pile of books to read, and be familiar with the material prior to ALA’s Annual Conference, where Robbins was scheduled to speak. Well, little did we know in January how all of our lives would be changed! Still there were about 10 of us who persisted through the disruption. We read a few chapters a month and discussed them via Zoom, concluding with the opportunity to meet the author himself, as he joined in our last meeting in May.

I highly recommend this book, which you can purchase online. Even in the midst of the challenges we face in light of the pandemic and the limits on interaction with our staff, it contains a lot of good advice for leading through this crisis and keeping staff motivated and focused. There is even a chapter “Nine Minutes On Monday for Mobile Employees” that addresses the unique needs of employees working remotely.

The opportunity to meet James Robbins was invaluable. We had a great dialogue with him about the progress we are making with his techniques, as well as our stumbling blocks. There are some challenging lessons for leadership here.
-Kathryn Simpson Vidal, CLM, SHRM-CP
Chair of Community Connection Committee

Office Manager
Squire Patton Boggs (US) LP
Member Spotlight - by Monique Mahler
Julie Stevenson
Julie Stevenson, our newly elected President of the Houston ALA chapter, has been a member of the organization for many years. She always has a smile on her face and welcomes anyone to her table and the conversation.

Julie was born in Houston and has lived in Houston or the surrounding areas her entire life. Her father worked for HL&P (Houston Lighting and Power - now CenterPoint Energy), as a District Manager and was transferred around the area. Julie’s family was the very first family to live in Kingwood, they were even featured in the paper to mark the occasion! In fact, she and her sister were just interviewed by a reporter in celebration of Kingwoods 50 th anniversary! Her family moved from Kingwood to Baytown from when Julie was in 5 th grade. Julie graduated from Robert E. Lee High School.
Julie has one sister, Kelles. Kelles is a realtor and lives in Baytown, they are very close. Julie has two children – her son, Aaron (26) who is married to Emily and they have a son, Harbor, who is two years old, they live in College Station, and Julie’s daughter, Nicole (23) and her son, Myles, who is also two, live in The Woodlands.

Julie attended Texas A&M University where, like many of us, she started out as a Business major. Specifically, in accounting, two years in, she realized Accounting was not for her. Luckily, her aunt was a Professor at the University and suggested Julie switch to a Liberal Arts program. Julie listened and Majored in Psychology with a Minor in Business.

An advisor at Texas A&M suggested that HR may be a good fit with the Psychology and Business degrees. Julie moved to Houston after graduating from Texas A&M and found her first job as a recruiter with a recruiting agency, placing in law firms. “Working for 100% commission and making 30 cold phone calls a day!” Julie loved this role, and her manager was an extraordinarily strong mentor who helped guide her. She was soon promoted into a manager role herself, but Julie felt it was too soon and she placed herself with one of her clients – Reynolds White Allen & Cook – as an accounting clerk. Just a little over a year after joining the firm, it merged with another firm and shortly after disbanded.
Julie then reached out to her contacts at Andrews Kurth, where she had also placed candidates, and landed a role there as the billing coordinator. She then moved to payroll, HR assistant and then after moving to the Woodlands, she became the Office Administrator of the AK Woodlands office. She remained with AK/Hunton AK for 31 years. Recently, Julie became the Director of Human Resources at Diamond McCarthy LLP.
How did you find ALA?
When I was working for AK Downtown, I went with the AK HR Director to an ALA meeting and she knew everyone. I was overwhelmed and thought, “someday maybe I’ll get to be a part of this group.” Once I became Administrator for The Woodlands office, Cindy Graves and Dana Gambino (both with Winstead at the time) helped “recruit” me to join ALA. The first ALA event I attended was the weekend retreat in Galveston. That is why the Chapter retreat is so near and dear to my heart. It saved my life, I didn’t know what I was doing, having that network and those relationships have helped me tremendously.

What did you do before this?
My first real job was at a pharmacy, as a “professional gift wrapper”, during the holidays. The following summer I moved up to working in the gift shop. Finally, I worked as a pharmacy assistant. I worked at the pharmacy during my summer breaks in High School. On summer breaks in college I worked in my father’s office at HL&P. First as receptionist, then in collections, then in my final two summers I worked in the plant accounting office in Clear Lake. I learned Lotus 123 and 10-key by touch.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy running. I have run 12 marathons. My running group is my sanctuary. Even when I am injured and can’t run, I meet them for social gatherings afterwards. Recently, my boyfriend Kim and I started doing destination races. We ran Napa to Sonoma and Seattle half marathons last summer and the NY marathon in November. We have found that we really enjoy running vacations! I also love spending time with my grandkids. Both are about age two and have stolen my heart! I am thankful to have them close by – they call me “Jules” 😊

If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
The one person that I have been disappointed that I haven’t been able to track down is my first boss, Mary Franklin at Diversified Human Resources group (the recruiting agency). I would love to reconnect with her and have her in my life, she could have served as resource in my career. She knew how to build people up. She also pushed me to reach for more. I have always wanted to be that kind of leader. So, if anyone knows where to find her, please let me know!
Fun Fact:
I played the flute in the High school band and also in college, in the Texas A&M symphonic band. I occasionally still play at Church and am a former member of the Kingwood Pops Orchestra.
Related, I have a tiny tattoo on back of neck, a music note. Every year, three of my High school girlfriends and I get together in Galveston. A friend convinced us to get matching tattoos – that of an eighth note (), since we all met in band.

If you had 1 free hour a day what would you do with it?
Play my flute.

What is your spirit animal?
Turtle, slow and steady. But they always get to the end result.

Top 3 things to do/see on your bucket list?
1) I want to qualify for Boston marathon. Luckily, as you get older you get more time.
2) I want to go to Scotland.
3) I want to take my kids and grandkids on a memorable family vacation.

Most treasured possession:
My Aggie ring – I have worn it every day. I worked hard for it.

Biggest accomplishment:
My children. I am proud of the persons they have become. They have the right stuff in them.

Favorite movie:
Zoolander (It’s the authors too!)

Favorite book:

Favorite musical artist:
70’s and 80’s rock. Van Halen, Queen, Eagles

First or favorite concert:
Favorite concert was Queen in 1982 with Billy Squier

Favorite TV show:
The Office, CSI

Favorite sports team:

You are called to be brave, but you are fearful, what is the first thing you do?
It’s my nature to put difficult conversations off, in fact I justify putting them off even though I know it is best to confront a problem immediately and ensure it is dealt with timely.

Something that people often get wrong about you.
They may think that I’m outgoing, I am introvert, but I’ve learned to be outgoing. (Probably in large part from my ALA colleagues!)

The last show you binge-watched.

Favorite meal?
Mexican food, nachos. Original Ninfa’s.

What’s on your nightstand right now?
A candle, a water cup, reading glasses, iPad, a stack of books including, Debits and Credits, written by her aunt.

Snapshot of an ordinary day at work?
With COVID – get up and get ready, logged in by 8:30, communicate with staff, doing payroll, timecards, right now insurance renewal. Main thing is staying in touch with people and researching plans for our return to the office.

What are you most grateful for?
So much! My wonderful family, the health of myself and those I love, my boyfriend (Kim), my sweet grandkids, lots of friends, ALA! I have a lot of blessings. I have a good, peaceful life.

What is your Future Fantasy Friday – the thing you’ll do when this is all over?
Go to Galveston and hang out and hit Ninfa’s happy hour on the way back home to celebrate.
Best advice ever received:
From my parents:
Dad – said when at a crossroads “I can’t tell you what to do, but once the decision is made - don’t second guess - just move forward”
Mom – “Sell the dress” meaning it doesn’t matter it’s just a dress or a small decision in the grand scheme. You have to know what and when to let go.

Advice to a new admin or IT professional:
First – join ALA, get involved, network, get connected.
Research, plan and do your best of course, but don’t take yourself or your situation too seriously. Take a step back, know that you’re going to make mistakes and its okay. Lead by example. Get in there and do what needs to be done, regardless of the task. It is important to show others that we are a team and how to serve each other.

How has ALA been beneficial to you:
Networking/making connections has been the most important part. Also, ALA has helped me to fight my fears – like speaking in public. Committee chair and board positions have helped me gain confidence and thus helped me at my firm, like leading a firm meeting or talking with a difficult partner or staff member. Whatever situation I am in, I know I can call one of my ALA colleagues for support or insight or a pep talk. I would never have considered taking the CLM exam without ALA. That process helped me become a better HRM. ALA is also a great network for career moves, job opportunities.
Any Additional Comments:
Yesterday on Facebook my cousin Nils posted something worth sharing. His older brother, Lars, passed away from cancer at age 21 – and yesterday (May 7 th) would have been his 49 th birthday. A comment was made at his memorial service all those years ago by a college professor “I never didn’t feel better just seeing Lars.” What a tribute – I’d like to have that impact on people, that’s the goal!

-Monique Mahler
Vice President

Human Resources Manager
Baker Hostetler
Bill Gates the Visionary -by David Silverman
I often talk about Bill Gates as a visionary. Bill’s powerful yet flawed systems have provided me with a way to earn a living over my entire career. The computer business profoundly changed 25 years ago based on an internal memo Bill wrote to Microsoft’s executive staff and direct reports to extol the benefits of expanding the company’s internet presence. He titled this memo “The Internet Tidal Wave”.

Here are some of the things Bill wrote in the memo:

“The Internet is a tidal wave. It changes the rules. It is an incredible opportunity as well as an incredible challenge.”

“I have gone through several stages of increasing my views of the internet’s importance. Now I assign the Internet the highest level of importance.”

“I want to make clear that our focus on the Internet is crucial to every part of our business.”

“Most important is that the Internet has bootstrapped itself as a place to publish content.”

“Improving the Internet infrastructure to offer higher quality audio and video content online would be essential to unlocking the promise of the Internet. The Internet should be optimized for use online in order to make sure you get your data as fast as you need it.”

“I believe the Internet will become our most important promotional vehicle and paying people to include links to our home pages will be a worthwhile way to spend advertising dollars.”

“Customers will come to our ‘home page’ in unbelievable numbers and find out everything we want them to know.”

“I predict that within a decade people will regularly watch movies, television shows, and other entertainment online.”

So what has happened since? In 2005, YouTube was founded, followed two years later by Netflix. Today, we could not work without the internet. When we have a question, we “ask the one who knows” meaning that we do an internet search. “Google” (search) has joined Coke (soda) and Kleenex (tissue) as brand names that are being used as nouns and verbs. 

Now 25 years later, the country shuts down and many of us continue to work because we can communicate, exchange data, collaborate, file, and many other everyday tasks that require online access. We can even control our homes using an app on an internet connected device. Thank goodness our kids have the Internet, because the last 3 months would have been even tougher without it. 

Bill Gates was a true visionary. He saw it happen before it happened.

If I met Bill today, I wouldn’t talk about this history. Instead, I would want to know what he sees for the next 25 years. Wouldn’t that be interesting?!
-David Silverman

Director of Information Technologies
Johnson Trent & Taylor LLP
From the Diversity & Inclusion Committee:
-Chassidy Deckard
ALA Committee on Diversity & Inclusion

Administrative Manager/Talent Acquisition and Development
Paul Hastings
What if...

Everyone in your firm was trained to use their software to its full capacity?

How important is training and technology

VERY. Firms run on technology. Take advantage of this down time to take this FREE 15-Minute Mini-Course made especially for ALA Members and Quick Reference Card on “7 Tips for Productivity Using Windows 10 and Office 365.”  

Take advantage of this time to get your Firm up-to-speed remotely . Popular remote instructor-led classes include:

  • Outlook 365 – Power UP!
  •  Mastering Word, Excel and PowerPoint 365
  •  Windows 10
  •  Adobe DC – UP and Running

Call Us Today! 936-689-3564
Upcoming FREE Webinars
Wednesday, July 8, 2020 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (Central)
Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: What’s Needed During Unstable Times
Presenters: Shelley Thompkins, Leadership Solutions Partner, Global Markets, Center for Creative Leadership
Program Length:  60 minutes

Program Description:
Leaders at all levels struggle when they lack the ability to identify and express emotions. For many who have thrived early in their career on technical knowledge and IQ, working with their emotions is often uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory. This webinar will uncover the power of emotional intelligence in leadership, and challenge leaders to tap into next-level intelligence to practice better self-management and handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. At CCL, we believe that teaching people to better understand and use emotions underpins growth as a leader and the development of a variety of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies.
In this webinar you’ll learn:
  • The important role emotions play throughout your work interactions and performance.
  • Specific ways to leverage your emotional intelligence skills to improve leadership effectiveness.
  • Strategies and tools you can use right away to regulate your emotional response to triggers.
  • The importance of practicing empathy by imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (Central)
Emotional Intelligence, Hardiness and Dealing With the COVID-19 Crisis: What Can You Do?
Presenter: Dr. Steven Stein, psychologist, founder, and Executive Chairman of MHS
Program Length: 60 minutes

Program Description:
Is coping with social distancing and work-from-home a challenge for you? Are you struggling to adapt to the new “normal”? We are facing extraordinary changes in our day to day lives, but how we respond to and deal with these changes will determine our ability to succeed. Dr. Steven Stein, psychologist, founder, and Executive Chairman of MHS, will introduce you to some strategies and tactics for dealing with the psychological aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Using what we have learned about emotional intelligence, mindset, and hardiness, along with specific tactics for managing our current situation, you’ll learn why these frameworks are essential when navigating the COVID-19 crisis.
Participants will learn:
  • The value of emotional intelligence during a crisis and the impact of COVID-19 on these skills.
  • To leverage a growth mindset to strengthen the 3 C’s of hardiness (Commitment, Control, Challenge).
  • To develop actionable strategies for coping and thriving through new challenges.

Thursday, July 9, 2020 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Central)
Reopening and Rehiring – What Are the Most Critical Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Issues?
Presenters: Melissa B. Kurtzman, Shareholder with Littler and Steven J. Friedman, Shareholder with Littler
Program Length:  45 minutes

Program Description:
As many employers are on the way to normalizing their business practices and re-engaging their employees, they should not overlook the many lurking landmines in the administration of their retirement, health and welfare plans and their executive compensation arrangements. The risks of missteps are high. They include disqualification of qualified retirement plans, ACA taxes, IRS penalties, employee lawsuits and DOL enforcement. In this session, we will focus on the steps employers can take to avoid these problems. The issues we will discuss include:
  • Making sure that eligibility determinations under retirement and health and welfare plans are correctly implemented
  • How to determine full-time status for re-engaged workers under health and welfare plans
  • How to appropriately report furloughed and laid off workers to IRS forms for ACA purposes
  • Other service crediting issues (focusing on vesting and benefit accrual service) for re-engaged workers under retirement and health and welfare plans
  • The impact of new COBRA rules on returning employees
  • Avoiding 409A's penalty taxes in connection with an arrangement's separation from service provisions
  • Necessary retirement, health, and welfare plan amendments
  • Issues in connection with the reinstatement of employer retirement plan contributions

Thursday, July 9, 2020 1:00 PM – 2:15 PM (Central)
How to Plan and Manage When Change is the Only Constant
Presenter: Murray Joslin, Senior Vice President of Business Enablement Services for Integreon; Kacee McCalla, Director of Human Resources Operations at Baker Donelson; Eric A. Seeger, Principal at Altman Weil; Eric Wangler, President of BigHand North America
Moderator: April L. Campbell, JD, ALA Interim Executive Director
Program Length:  75 minutes

Program Description:
Law firms never had to react and adapt as quickly as when the global pandemic hit. Some were prepared and many weren’t; some transitioned smoothly and for some it’s been a bumpier ride. In all cases, with attorneys and staff now working remotely and uncertain plans to move back to the office, there are still many questions left unanswered.
Join a panel of experts as they solicit attendee responses and discuss their own experiences and perspectives on planning and managing in these evolving times. Topics of discussion will include challenges firms are facing around supporting remote or blended working environments, the medium-term challenge of managing uncertain levels of work by office or practice group, and the long-term challenge of strategic resource planning during uncertain economic times.
  • Hear how firms adapted their administrative functions in order to continue supporting attorneys and clients effectively, including key successes and learnings.
  • Gain insight into some of the tools and techniques used to efficiently and cost effectively manage the flow of work between attorneys and their support staff including outsourced administrative resources.
  • Learn about future staffing plans and how firms are expecting to utilize remote working practices long-term, moving staff back into offices, or see value in a combination of both.
  • Assess the impact of an increase in support staff retirements, attrition and layoffs.
  • Discuss how the pandemic has impacted firms’ disaster recovery plans, strategic planning, budgets, and willingness to embrace change.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM (Central)
The Next Normal: Has COVID-19 Forever Changed Workplaces and Our Approach to Work?
Presenters: Gary C. Ankers, Shareholder with Littler; Jaclyn R. Giffen, Shareholder with Littler and Dena Shuayto Nehme, Associate with Littler
Program Length: 60 minutes

Program Description:
Months have passed with employees in quarantine, and most governments have loosened restrictions on returning them to work. How should employers handle reopening in a post-pandemic world? Could there be more work from home and less business travel? What about greater use of robots?
Littler and the Detroit chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management will peer into the future of the workplace and address the employment and labor law challenges we will face – together.
This overview will cover some of the key legal issues for human resources professionals coming into focus, including:
  • How to navigate state and federal leave laws effectively
  • Employee safety
  • Wage and hour issues
  • Discrimination

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (Central)
Embracing the Challenge of Change (Hosted by ALA Houston Chapter)
Presenter: Tracy Butz
Program Length:  60 minutes

Program Description:
Leading change efforts in the workplace can be daunting and difficult! And even with the best intentions, 70 percent of organizational change initiatives fail. Worse yet, the need to lead change is growing, but the ability to do it is shrinking. Instead of your next change effort exerting a heavy toll—both human and economic—discover how to influence a positive transformation in your organization. Apply an intentional approach with results-focused strategies to lead change toward a positive future, rather than merely avoiding a negative one.

Learning Outcomes:
• Enhance focus and engagement during times of rapid and challenging change while avoiding mistakes that derail communication, accountability and productivity.
• Control emotional reactions and resistance, while also positively influencing those of others—by understanding and managing the factors that impact change and fostering positive outcomes for you and your organization.
• Determine the financial impact of your change initiative, manage the predictable dynamics that occur, and model the right behaviors to preserve trust, commitment, morale and teamwork— inspiring teams to successfully navigate through unstable times.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM (Central)
Adopted Strategies & Practical Solutions for The New Normal: Document Management, Security and Full Cloud Solutions (Hosted by ALA Cyber Chapter)
Presenter: Christopher Zegers, Director of Consulting-Legal, Ivionics
Program Length:  60 minutes

Program Description:
This webinar that covers the impact COVID-19 response as it relates to Document Management System Strategies and what other full cloud solutions like Microsoft Teams mean to security and data governance strategies.
Luckily, most firms acted swiftly to implement work from home policies to ensure the health of their attorneys, staff and the community at large. Learning from what we are going through reveals opportunities to:
• Improve access and productivity                       • Improve client communications
• Improve data governance and security             • Improve infrastructure resilience
• Improve corporate resilience and preparedness

These are the challenges we face now. It would be unwise to write an article today slated for publication much later down the line that pretends to be “answer” to all. What is undeniable is the resilience of law firms and its professionals who staff them as they rise to these challenges—and with these changes come great opportunities.

Thursday, July 23, 2020 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM (Central)
From Ally to Champion: Strategies For Corporations and Law Firms to Go Past Awareness to Action
Presenter: Akilah Craig, Associate with Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease LLP and Christian Elloie, In-House Counsel with HP
Program Length: 60 minutes

Program Description:
Protests across the country are shining a light on racial injustice and inequity. These conversations have extended into workplaces, prompting several corporate CEOs and law firm managing partners to issue statements to express solidarity with their Black employees. Yet, Black lawyers continue to be among the most under-represented in law firms and corporate legal departments across the country. For the past decade or so, the number of Black lawyers in law firms has declined and the legal profession remains one of the least diverse of any profession. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic also poses unique challenges to Black attorneys, which if left unaddressed, have the potential to lead to wider racial equity gaps. This webinar will provide strategies by which law firms and corporations can disrupt racial inequity in their workplaces, as well as provide practical ways to support and sponsor Black employees during the pandemic and beyond. 1.0 hours CLE (TX)

On Demand Complimentary Webinar
Omega Potential Process Improvement Training and Trial Graphics
How important is training and technology? VERY. Firms run on technology. Take advantage of this down time to take this FREE 15-Minute Mini-Course made especially for ALA Members and Quick Reference Card on “7 Tips for Productivity Using Windows 10 and Office 365.”
Meeting Others Where They Are
(Reprinted from Korn Ferry Newsletter)
Conversations are changing these days. They’re more real, more emotional, and often happening for the first time. And that’s a good thing.
This week I received an email from a colleague that began, “I wanted to share my story, which I have never shared with anyone in the corporate world before.” The details of that story I will hold in strictest confidence. But I will say that it was truly inspiring: a story of obstacles, adversity, and perseverance—as well as triumph. It moved me deeply.
I’m grateful that this person could be so candid and emotionally vulnerable with me to “speak about who I truly am, what my background is and, above all, for being able to view this as a source of strength.”
Another young colleague wrote a heartfelt email, telling me, “For the first time in this, I was able to really cry and feel the emotions of all that is going on around us.”
I’ve had more messages like these in the last three months than I’ve had in the last three years. Personal, emotional, candid—this is the kind of communication that usually happens among family, friends, and others who are closest to us. Today, these messages are being shared more broadly with the sentiment: this is how I’m really feeling.
In the past, CEOs and other leaders were seen more as a function. Those days are fading fast as their roles require more. Leaders need to show who we are as people—someone who is empathetic and can be trusted. It’s a reflection of what’s happening everywhere: people are leading with their hearts and seeking to understand.
Leadership is about transporting people from one place to another, including emotionally. It takes communication—honest and heartfelt—to truly understand others and their emotions. Communication is where leadership lives and breathes—particularly in times like these.
Communication today must be authentic. Identifying biases and promoting conscious inclusion may at times be uncomfortable, but those efforts must be sustained. Leaders need to communicate why it’s important to go beyond diversity alone to reach “conscious inclusion”—where curiosity about differences is encouraged and where inclusion is the mutual responsibility of all people. Challenging? Yes. Emotional? Very.
Emotions today are off the charts—and for good reason. Here are some thoughts:
  • Understanding the Emotion Curve. To be understood is to first understand others and their emotions. I think we all know the research, which shows that, during a crisis or times of great change, people’s reactions and behaviors follow the “Emotion Curve.” On one side is the downward slope from disbelief to anger, and then hitting bottom at withdrawal. When people get to the other side, they rise through acceptance, optimism, and meaning. No one will be in the same emotional place. Let’s not forget that, in the past few months, we’ve also gone from “shelter in place” to “sharing space.” Leaders need to be “emotion listeners” to diagnose and identify where people are. Leaders must interpret emotions because people don’t always say what they feel. Avoidance and shock? That’s denial. Going through the motions of what they’ve always done or avoiding big-priority conversations? That’s overwhelmed. Asking questions about what the next month or quarter might look like? They’re on their way up the curve.
  • Responding to the emotions. Next comes the response. Leaders need to draw on their own emotional intelligence to move people from self-interest to shared interest. Where there’s disbelief and anger, it’s all about communication—not just for information, but for connection. When people are overwhelmed, they respond to empathy. On the other side—when in acceptance or seeking meaning—people want guidance and direction. Communication is energy. Your attitude will become your team’s altitude.
  • Communicate, always. The question, “How are you?” has been raised to a whole new level: “How are you, today?” This simple question has sparked genuine conversation and connection among people who want to share their thoughts, concerns, and fears. Now, the question is evolving to, “How are you feeling?” as people process complex reactions and emotions. This is far more productive than weaponizing words in hashtags, tweets, and soundbites. When we lead with our hearts we truly connect with others—creating ripples of positive energy. Whenever emotions run strong, we have to talk about it.
  • Check your say/do ratio. When there is trust in what you say, there will be belief in what you will do. That starts with modeling a “say/do” ratio of one-to-one. You do what you say and say what you mean. When people have trust in the leader’s words—and actions—they will mirror what the leader says and does. Amid a sea of rhetoric, people are tired of words—they’re looking for action. People are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated—nothing seems to be changing fast enough. In these times, leaders need to be in front. Period.
  • Be Conscious, Curious and Serious. If people don’t feel that the environment is safe for sharing, communication shuts down. This calls for a culture of conscious inclusion. Leaders need to be conscious, curious, and serious to make this happen. It starts with everyone looking in the mirror at their own biases (usually unconscious) and assumptions to ensure they do not adversely impact behaviors and decisions. The next step is for leaders to ask themselves: Are we creating an environment that demonstrates respect and appreciation for the unique characteristics and talents of each person? What are we doing—what are we saying so people can flourish? When the environment is safe, conversation will permeate.
In the next two years we will see more change than we have in the last 10. It will be a rollercoaster through every emotion imaginable. Even when we’re uncomfortable, even when we’re anxious, and even when we hit a low, we must keep communicating and leading. Indeed, it’s about first meeting others where they are and then transporting them to a place not entirely visible today. A better place.
-Gary Burnison
Korn Ferry CEO
* * Favorite Homecations * *
I must admit, this section for this newsletter ended up being more of a #goals kind of section for this quarter! I'm inspired! I chose not to include names of submissions for this quarter only.
Lake Limestone Getaway
Poolside Pups
Lake House View on Lake Travis
Thank you for reading the Houston Courtyard, your Houston ALA Quarterly Newsletter.
Contributing Editors:
Wendy Crane
Kristie Manning  

The Newsletter Committee welcomes articles, letters, suggestions and comments.
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Firm Administrator
Reynolds Frizzell LLP
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