Houston Courtyard
Your Quarterly ALA news & updates
2019-2020 | Winter 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

Director of Business Partners
Autumn Edwards

Chapter Manager
Wendy Crane

Kathryn Simpson Vidal, CLM, SHRM-CP

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

The Holiday Luncheon was a BLAST!
Thanks to all who participated and enjoyed the gourmet lunch at Artisans, cheered on our fellow award winners, and exchanged Christmas ornaments!
Quincey Perkins, 2019 Future Leader and DeAnna Lopez, Chapter President
Tom Ivey and Jennifer Denton, Scholarship Winners from Points Program to a 2020 ALA Conference of Choice
Chassidy Deckhard, 2019 Member of the Year and DeAnna Lopez, Chapter President.
That Purpose Thing - by Jody Gressett
The other night my husband and I attended a Chamber of Commerce function and the keynote was by Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton. During his talk he brought up the purpose thing, which got me to thinking. Purpose is defined as “the reason for which anything is done, created, or exists . . . or idea that is the object of an action or other effort . . .” When I think of purpose, I think of purpose on a grand scheme along the lines of the meaning of life. Sitton shared that sometimes purpose is just being present and saying or doing the right thing at that particular time. That it can be about the little things, and that those little things you do and say can be part of your bigger purpose.

I don’t know about you, but that seems a lot easier for me to grasp, as opposed to the meaning of life side of finding your purpose. So of course, I did the Google search on purpose, and found all kinds of content on purpose. For example, some people believe that having a purpose can help you live a life of integrity, as by knowing your purpose, you know who you are, and why you are, and “when you know yourself, it becomes easier to live a life that’s true to your core values.” I can buy that too, but it inherently seems harder and bigger to hang on to in our everyday lives. There are some who say that knowing one’s purpose seems to help lead the way to that feeling of joy, and dare I even say the word – happiness.

The research about happiness indicates that it is more than a fleeting sense of comfort or having fun at an activity or event. If that is true, then it will be a worthwhile effort to consider our purpose on a regular basis, including at our jobs. For example, in dealing with conflict at the office, as leaders our focus is not about being right, often it can be about de-escalating the conflict to drill down into what has lead up to that conflict, and help people work on those issues. And for that day, the day you’re doing that, your purpose might be in bringing about that resolution between those people. And the greater purpose might be to nurture a safe and productive place where people can work peacefully and in turn, lead productive and meaningful lives and contribute to our society and economy.

Oprah Winfrey once said that “there’s no greater gift than to honor your life’s calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become the most truly alive.” That concept also aligns with the focus on strengths based work, and that doing those things that come easiest to us is helping us exercise those strengths. As listed by Scarlett Erin on goalcast.com, there are ten benefits of knowing your purpose in life:

  1. It helps you stay focused;
  2. It makes you feel passionate about your goal;
  3. It gives your life clarity;
  4. It makes you feel gratified;
  5. It enables you to live a value-based life;
  6. It makes you live with integrity;
  7. It encourages trust;
  8. It infuses an element of grace in your life;
  9. It helps you find a flow in life;
  10. It makes life even more fun.

In the new movie about Mister Rogers, we can see how his inner convictions were revealed in his children’s show, including the belief that each child is special, that each child is unique, and that feelings are “mentionable and manageable.” These small steps aligned with his belief about the importance of mental health. 
In our jobs, we are actively involved in countless exchanges with our colleagues and coworkers throughout the day. Considering and reflecting on our underlying purpose for those exchanges can help us understand our individual purpose. Purpose might include making our offices a positive work environment, where each person can feel safe and appreciated for their contributions. It might also include developing the next generation of leaders. It might include creating learning opportunities. We all have hidden passions, which point the way to our own purpose.
           Back to the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, where the organization’s leaders are doing something about developing future leaders for the community with the Chamber’s Impact Pasadena program. This is a long term approach and is a collaborative effort that also involves the Pasadena Economic Development Council. The purpose of this program is to help the next generation learn about leadership as well as the importance of commitment to community. The program is 18 months long, and is a joint project with the Chamber, the Economic Development Council, the companies and businesses of Pasadena, and San Jacinto College. The companies select an employee and underwrite the expenses for that employee to participate and the cohort style program allows the “students” to develop relationships with people who work for other local companies, understand different businesses and even how businesses work with the Texas legislature. This program demonstrates that there is a place for organizational purpose that reaches beyond the profit margin and the quarterly reports.  

           The ALA, as well as the legal industry at large, remains focused on the development of its future leaders to ensure that as the baby boomers move to retirement status there is a successful transition to the future generation of leaders. It is important that we are working in our organizations to develop and prepare the next group of leaders as well. The ALA is also dedicated to educating and developing future leaders through the many educational opportunities, including access to conferences, webinars, CRT resources, as well as Chapter Leadership Institute, and the Association Leadership Institute. These efforts also demonstrate a long-term commitment to the association’s members and to the legal industry.

           That purpose thing does not need to be too big to think about. In fact, by thinking about it, we can let go of things that do not matter so much, or at least know where they are in our list of internal priorities. With a little reflection and discipline, identifying our individual purpose can provide the direction and freedom we need to achieve it. As Scarlett Erin writes in goalcast.com, “the benefits of living a purpose driven life are clear.” She further states that people with purpose live more positively and seek out new opportunities to seek out those experiences that will make a difference. This has a positive impact on your relationships with those around you. In conclusion, she encourages each of us to make it a priority to identify that purpose, and that we will enjoy the “peace and serenity that comes from leading a purpose-driven life.” So as I said earlier, that purpose thing has got me to thinking – maybe it will get you to thinking as well. Go forth and discover your purpose.
To see a clip of Sitton’s remarks, click on the following link:  https://ryansitton.com/what-are-you-pursuing-status-or-purpose/
-Jody Gressett

Office Administrator
Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP
Board Leadership - by Kathryn Vidal
Step on up to the Board! This means YOU! 

As the new year rolls around, you will hear calls for Chapter volunteers to serve on our Board of Directors or to be considered as Committee Chairs. In fact, you will probably endure multiple reminders and requests for willing souls to step up to the plate in some capacity in service to our Chapter. Maybe you have thought about it, but then hesitated because it is out of your comfort zone. Perhaps you don’t know who to ask to get an idea of just what the HALA Board does, and why they are always asking for volunteers. Maybe you have been wanting to volunteer, but were waiting for someone to ask you. 

So, don’t wait any longer! I am here to dispel these mysteries.

Your Board consists of a President, President-Elect, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Past President, Director of Education, and Director of Business Partner Relations, all of whom are ably and professionally assisted by our fearless Chapter Manager, Wendy Crane. This structure enables some automatic succession planning, in that each year the Vice President traditionally rolls into the President-Elect position, and the President-Elect rolls into the President position, whereas the President becomes Past President. The other Board positions can be filled by the same person for up to two years, but that term is not mandatory, so there are always some slots opening up each year.  

The Board is responsible for conducting the regular business of the Chapter in accordance with ALA International standards, and this includes oversight of the Chapter’s budget, revenues, and expenditures.  

Note that the Chapter’s fiscal year runs from April 1 st to March 31 st of the following year, and this matches the term of the Board members. The Board is responsible for conducting the regular business of the Chapter in accordance with ALA International standards, and this includes oversight of the Chapter’s budget, revenues, and expenditures.  This is why we call for volunteers and nominations in February-March, so that elections can be held in a timely manner for the new Board to be seated in April.

When does the Board meet, and what do they do at these meetings? The Board meets on the second Wednesday of the month, usually at the office of the current President. Meetings last 90 minutes or less. Any Chapter member is welcome at a Board meeting – all you have to do is coordinate with the President and the Chapter Manager to get the logistics.

We try very hard to stay on track with our agenda and rarely get lost in the weeds. Because we are all busy, it’s also always possible to participate by phone if an in-person meeting is out of the question. Sometimes we meet for lunch, and sometimes in the afternoon, just whatever works best for the sitting Board members. In addition to his/her duties, each Board member is assigned as a Liaison to one or more of the Chapter’s committees. During the Board meeting, committee reports are communicated and any needs or decisions are addressed and discussed to keep all of our initiatives moving forward. I can attest to the fact that we always have a lively, frank, and trusting group where everyone feels comfortable voicing an opinion.  

Board members are asked to commit to attending all of the Board meetings, and they are also strongly encouraged to attend all of the Chapter’s functions as well, including our monthly luncheons and the various Business Partner events scattered throughout the year. We are also called upon to make announcements at meetings. This is an ideal opportunity to practice your communication skills and become comfortable speaking in front of a group.

I won’t hide the fact that some of the Board positions take a certain investment of time and effort at various times of the year. The Director of Education is a case in point, as it involves coordinating every single monthly educational session well in advance, keeping the speakers advised of the logistics of their event, monitoring our educational budget, and ensuring that our members are getting top quality legal management education that also qualifies for CLM applications and certification credits.  

Another relatively time-consuming position is Director of Business Partner Relations. She is challenged to keep our Business Partner program running smoothly, ensuring that we acquire the annual sponsors that keep our Chapter on solid financial footing.  Keep in mind that this is a big $100,000 project. It involves a lot of direct networking with the Business Partners and considerable event planning skills to create the variety of seasonal events for us to network with the Business Partners. Like our Education program, here are many moving parts in this assignment.

The role of the President is also a weighty one, as she is challenged to set a mission and objectives for her annual term and conduct an annual Board retreat to inspire the Board to set and meet goals. The President represents the Chapter at ALA’s Annual Conference and also at the Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI) held each summer. She then coordinates our local Houston Chapter Leadership Institute (HCLI) to engage Committee Chairs, the Board, and Past Presidents for the year to come. Throughout the year, the President steers the Board’s decision-making processes and ultimately leads the budget meeting for her successor at the end of each fiscal year. 

HALA has been fortunate to be able to send every Board member to ALA International’s Chapter Leadership Institute annually.  This is a unique opportunity to learn best practices in ALA chapter management and advanced leadership skills, as well as to get inspired by the great members of our organization. It is also a safe space to ask questions and provide assistance to others.

We are so very fortunate to have our Chapter Manager, Wendy Crane. She handles most of our logistics and record-keeping, and is our collective memory, so that there is always a smooth succession from one Board to the next. (Author’s note: every time you see Wendy, please give her a big thank you, for all of her hard work behind the scenes!)

So, do you have what it takes? If you are interested in moving on to the HALA Board, please note that you must have served as a Committee Chair for at least one full year in order to qualify for a Board position. Conservatively, plan on a time commitment of between 2 and 4 hours per week, depending upon the position, and the time of the year, including the time spent in Board or Chapter meetings. It is strongly recommended that you discuss this with your Firm’s Managing Partner or Management team, so that they are in agreement with your volunteer role. This will bring more visibility to your firm as you serve your term on the Board.

Ready to volunteer? For committee membership and leadership, all you have to do is contact the current Committee Chair and you will be welcome at any time of the year.  Try to attend a Board meeting to see what it’s all about. Once you have served at least one year as a Committee Chair, if you are interested in a Board position, let any member of the Nominating Committee know that you would like to be considered.  Who is on the Nominating Committee? This committee is generally formed early in the year (January) and will be announced to the membership at the time.

As you consider volunteering, make sure you have some flexibility in your schedule for the monthly meetings and obligations. Look at your own skill set and interests to determine what type of position you would like to apply for. Talk to your ALA colleagues and other Board members to get their feedback and suggestions. I would venture to say that any one of our HALA members who successfully leads a law firm or a law firm department, is more than qualified for a position on our Board, so don’t question your credentials! 

Last but not least, you may ask, what’s in it for me? It’s a good question.

Although we often view volunteering as being a purely benevolent endeavor, realistically, what is the trade-off for our investment of time and effort? In addition, we all have our day jobs that have to take priority, not to mention family, health, and personal obligations in the balance as well. Here’s my two cents, from personal experience and observation. Everything you learn and do in a Board position will be a challenge to your personal leadership muscles and creativity, but you will learn to exercise them in new ways and you will improve your organizational, communication, and innovation skills for your job and your professional development. You will work very hard in close quarters with amazing HALA colleagues, on challenging issues facing our Chapter and our organization, and you will make lifelong friendships as a result of that close collaboration. You will learn the ins and outs of ALA and the many benefits it can bring to your career, as long as you take advantage of them. You will have additional educational opportunities to advance your leadership skills, thanks to ALA. And your contributions will make a lasting impression on the Chapter and its future successes in the Greater Houston area and in the ALA Community. 
-Kathryn Simpson Vidal, CLM, SHRM-CP
Past President
Chair of Strategic Relations Committee

Office Manager
Squire Patton Boggs (US) LP
Business Partnering Committee News

Hello Everyone…
We are excited to roll out a revised Business Partner Sponsorship Program for the Houston ALA Chapter for 2020. After careful discussion among the Board and the Business Partner Committee, the program has been changed to maximize the networking time with members and to enhance the Business Partner experience with our Chapter. Here are the changes you will notice for 2020:
  • Only 3 levels of sponsorship will be offered for 2020 – Silver ($1,500), Gold ($3,000) and Platinum ($5,000). We will no longer offer the Copper or Titanium sponsorship levels.
  • All Silver sponsors will be eligible to attend both the Fall and Spring BP events (up to 2 reps).
  • All Gold and Platinum sponsors will be eligible to attend the Fall, Summer and Spring BP events (2 reps for Gold and 3 reps for Platinum). Platinum sponsors will still be invited to attend all of the Houston Chapter meetings and the Holiday luncheon.
  • Business Partners will be encouraged to join one of our Chapter committees to gain greater insight into how our Chapter works and to gain networking time with members who are on the committees – especially the Business Partner and Community Connection Committees.
  • Business Partners will be included in all of our Community Connection events.
  • We will continue to host a New Business Partner Welcome Happy Hour in February (current Business Partners are welcome to attend as well).
  • The A la carte opportunities have been streamlined and include the opportunity for sponsors to purchase the opportunity to attend Chapter meetings and the Holiday luncheon.

-Quincy D. Perkins
Chair of Business Partnering Committee

Houston Office Manager
Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr PC
Uncommon Holidays

6 Blue Monday
13 Rubber Ducky Day
31 Bug Wig Day

7 Bubble Gum Day
24 Cupcake Day
29 Leap Year

6 Dress in Blue Day
16 No Selfies Day
30 Virtual Vacation Day
A Final Thank you to our 2019 Business Partners!
Platinum Partner

Harry McMahan , 713.388.7902
Houston Chapter Association of Legal Administrators -...

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

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Gold Partners

Mary Claire Upton , 713.491.4453
Shawn Barnett , 713.304.5562
Dale Furnell , 303.204.5355
Meredith Smith , 713.426.0400

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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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 News:

WELCOME to our newest member:

Myra Nguyen
Business Manager

- Cheyenne Hunter
Membership Committee Chair

Firm Administrator/
Head of Accounting
Fullenweider Wilhite
Member Spotlight - by Monique Mahler
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.

-Monique Mahler
Director of Education

Human Resources Manager
Baker Hostetler
Salary Survey Update - from Grant Beehler
The Salary Survey Committee is very pleased with participation for 2019’s salary and benefits surveys. This year we had 74 firms participate in the salary portion and we had 62 firms participate in the benefits portion – both were near record highs for participation! The Salary Survey Committee has completed a supplemental benefits questionnaire (data was collected in July 2019) and the supplemental questions cover an additional 25 questions we’ve either been asked to add or that has been brought up on the HALA listserv. Some of which clarify prior existing questions asked. We had 31 firms participate in the supplemental survey, and the results are very informative! (Lots of detail and data on maternity and paternity leave which has been a hot topic recently.)

The supplemental benefits survey will be available to all firms who already purchased the 2019 survey, and will be online any day now (if not already online when you read this.) It will show up as a third download for those of you who already have downloaded the Salary and Benefits surveys. Please reach out to me ( gbeehler@raiznerlaw.com) or Wendy if you need help finding it. Further, if you haven’t already purchased a copy and are interested in seeing the data, please get with Wendy ( chaptermanager@alahou.org) or me on how to purchase. The cost is $450 for firms that did not participate in the 2019 survey, and $150 for those firms who did participate in 2019. We do not currently take CC’s for payment, but have been discussing how to add that capability in the future, so for now it’s just physical checks.
Additionally, the Salary Survey Committee has been working hard in the background over the last few months and we have completed some software and hardware changes for the Survey’s database ensuring a faster and more stable platform. Further, we have started working on adding the supplemental benefits questions onto the native survey for 2020’s roll out (which is typically some time in April.) We are looking forward to even more participants in 2020, so please spread the word far and wide!

Thanks all!

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

Raizner Slania LLP
Unconscious Bias & Project Implicit  - by Nina Dannenberg
One of THE buzzwords when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion is unconscious bias aka implicit bias. So - everybody is talking about it but what exactly is it???

On Wikipedia unconscious bias is defined as:

“… learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply ingrained, universal, and able to influence behavior.”

While we all hear about unconscious bias, how often do we actually reflect on how and when it has influenced us during a day, a week, a month? Our brain is pulling together all our values, traditions, social norms and upbringing as well as religious and general beliefs in split seconds to facilitate us pass a judgement and influences us when making a decision.

Nowadays we think that unconscious bias is bad and stereotyping is bad. But, I ask you, are we looking at this the right way? Rather than associating these with negatives, should we not recognize them first as a human ability that can save our lives? Being able to determine friend or foe in a split second was what saved our lives back in the days when the world was much bigger. Nobody is a bad person just because of being unconsciously biased, if that was true there would not be one good soul on this planet! However, as the world draws closer and humanity has the opportunity to interact with each other on such a large scale, the traditional way our unconscious bias is wired hinders our ability to be the same caring and inclusive human being that we are in our trusted circle.

The challenge with diversity and inclusion thus then is that we need to first understand the problem before we can fix it. If that is true the problem then is not that we exercise unconscious bias, it is that our unconscious bias (and with that our values, traditions, beliefs etc.) has not kept up with the fast pace at which we all have become more integrated and connected over the last few decades.

In a more globally conscious and culturally integrated world, the challenge is to understand our biases and actively work on changing our mindset. One easy way to test your own biases is through Project Implicit, a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers interested in implicit social cognition [1].

I recently took a few of their tests and yes, the outcomes can be surprising but are also extremely helpful in understanding your own barriers to fully embracing diversity. 
The change starts with you - are you ready to test your biases?

-Nina Dannenberg
Diversity & Inclusion Chair

Senior Director of Administration
Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Who Can Do All of This Stuff? The In-House IT Manager Can!
-by David Silverman
The Friday before Thanksgiving Day was quite the day in the life of an in-house IT person. 

On that day, I:

  •  Migrated a user from iPhone6 to iPhone8;
  • Resolved an issue where a paralegal sent a 37-page-double-sided-4-color pictures-per-page print job to our copiers, and used up all the available server space;
  • Downloaded files from Dropbox;
  • Located a lost document;
  •  Laptop encountered the “blue screen of death”; pulled the laptop hard drive and installed it in another laptop;
  • Resolved a password issue;
  • Reviewed backup operations;
  • Relocated a virtual hard drive, re-setup file access rights;
  • Resolved Polycom feedback issue during deposition break; and
  • Assisted with creating and playing a video inside of a PowerPoint.

To solve these issues, I had to have a very good understanding of iPhone, Apple ID, server-space allocation, Dropbox, software tools that can locate and restore deleted files, hardware technical knowledge to swap out laptop components, Active Directory knowledge, VMWare / Datto / Veeam backup software knowledge, troubleshooting skills in this case centered around Polycom speakers, and an understanding of how PowerPoint works with videos.

Who has these skills?? Where do they come from? 

My career started in accounting. Two years later, I saw my first computer and I was hooked. Two years after that I had bought a computer, upgraded it, and learned Lotus 1-2-3. I then got a job in IT and haven’t looked back. I started my own company in 1993. By then it was Windows operating systems, Microsoft networks, the internet, and Office 2xxx. During this time, I learned how to setup and troubleshoot networks, work with any software application, build computers, setup and execute upgrade plans, work with administrators and shareholders, and teach folks about computers and software. The skills I developed were primarily self-taught, including on-the-job training, working through difficult situations, experience in the field, and working with all types and levels of people. 

There are others who followed a similar path, but not many of us are left - the in-house IT manager. 

What makes us all similar is a passion for technology. This passion, partnered with acute problem solving skills developed when the computer industry was born and growing, allows us to resolve all kinds of issues whenever they are presented. Chances are that we have either seen it before or something like it. And if we haven’t, we know how to find the answer. 

We placed ourselves in roles where the buck stopped with us. Our focus was never about billing service hours; it was in the determination of an issue and how to resolve it. We made a career out of it, and still do. 

I have to tell you that what we do is so much more than just solving break fix issues. We understand our firms, who they are, how they operate, and what is needed so that everyone excels. We can budget IT because we’ve seen the entire picture. We understand the future because we still do the things necessary to keep up with technology, and we haven’t forgotten the past. We know how to say NO when something isn’t right, provide risk analysis on when and how to upgrade our systems, and we can do data manipulation as well as any paralegal. 

We are fully accountable and take responsibility. We know how to work with people - all kinds. It really doesn’t matter if it is a network connected postage meter, copier, cost recovery device, time clock, scanner, server room, server room air-conditioner, or a conference room - we know how it fits in with the firm’s strategy and budget, as well as how to make this stuff work. 

Many firms today are outsourcing. It sounds like the thing to do, and for many of you, it is. 

It does cause me to wonder - who can do all of this stuff? I don’t image there are many who can. Usually those who can, move on to other roles leaving the firm to re-train the newest tech and accepting whatever skills that new tech has. I don’t imagine that outsourcing firms have firm operations in mind, in terms of the firm’s big picture pursuits, as you are one of xx firms being supported by the outsourced company. If my firm had outsourced my role for the Friday I experienced, my users would be sitting here waiting for their turn once the tech arrived; the tech wouldn’t have the breadth of experience and knowledge to resolve all of the issues. My administrator would also be involved, managing the process. Instead, I was able to prioritize the issues and take care of everyone without getting my administrator involved. Everyone wins!

Lucky for them I’m here. I can do all of this and more. My firm operates as efficiently as possible, and my users don’t have to wait for me to arrive to get their problem solved. My users and I talk face to face, and that makes a huge difference.

Please don’t forget about us. We may be a dying breed, but we are really talented, can save you money in the long run, and can make a difference in the everyday life of your firm.
-David Silverman

Director of Information Technologies
Johnson Trent & Taylor LLP
Tech & Social Media Committee Update:

Working as chair of the social media committee at ALA’s Houston Chapter has truly been rewarding in more ways than I could have imagined.

Not only am I trying to keep all of the members up to date with upcoming events, but I sometimes find creative ways to post the same so that such events do not fall off your radar. 

Why is that important? Because you are! Every member has something to contribute to this chapter to make it stand out and continue to be successful. 

If you have something you would like to contribute to inform our members - please feel free to reach out to me.

I have been thoroughly surprised at how much positive feedback the ALA Houston Chapter gets on its functions, attendance and the notification process on its social media outlets.
Please feel free to like the posts/comments that you do read on ALA’s Social Media outlets. I think the traffic flow will show just how “Houston Strong” we are.
-Paul Mouchette
Tech & Social Media Chair

Practice Assistant Senior Team Leader
White & Case LLP
* * New Year Resolutions * *

"As 2020 approaches, my resolution is to open up my ears, thoughts, mind and heart so that I will be more receptive to new friendships, relationships and opportunities – both personally and professionally."
DeAnna Lopez, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Chapter President
Office Manager
White & Case

"I am declaring 2020 a time for family."
Candace K. Childress
Office Administrator

"For me, 2020 will be the year of following my special interests and passions, apart from my daily work life. I plan to try new experiences and hobbies. Looking forward to a great year!"
Rebecca Haack
Newsletter Chair
Firm Administrator
Reynolds Frizzell LLP
Community Connections Committee Update:
The HALA Community Connections Committee has several great events to report on.  

On October 26, we volunteered and had a wonderful morning at the Spring Branch Family Development Center assisting with their annual Fall Fiesta. We spent the morning helping where needed from moving furniture to running the craft tables for the kids! 

See Rachel Pinney (left) waiting for kids to come create candy corn faces with her. Thanks to everyone who came out and volunteered. 

On November 18 th, Deena Marsh delivered a full spaghetti dinner to Casa de Esperanza for 25 adults and 14 children. The organization is grateful every year for our donations and we appreciate Deena for organizing and delivering the meal!   

Finally, the chapter raised over $1,000 in donations for three students at CIS for the holidays.

Here is what Joni Cooper at CIS had to say:
I wanted to thank you and the ALA family deeply for the support you provided three CIS students this holiday season. The support you all came together to give really made their holiday special. It meant having good hearty food, a couple of presents and much needed supplies for them to feel settled in this winter season. All of them expressed gratitude and were lost for words.”  

Thank you all who donated!
- Kayci Avant, MBA, SHRM-CP
Community Connection Chair

Human Resources Manager
Susman Godfrey LLP
Contributing Editors
Kristie Manning
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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.
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- Rebecca Haack
Newsletter Committee Chair

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