Salary Survey: Last Chance to WIN (and Participate)


You don’t want to miss out on the chance to win a prize do you??

Participate in the Salary Survey by TODAY (October 10th) and you will be eligible to win a fabulous prize!   

But it isn’t just about the prizes . . .

The 2017 Sacramento Valley Association of Legal Administrators Salary & Benefits Survey has become an essential tool for legal administrators to help keep their firms competitive in this market.

We would love to have your input!

The more firms who participate, the more useful the information is to all of us.

Sue Nielsen, SVALA Salary & Benefits Survey Chair, is working hard to make this more and more useful each year. Why?  Because she believes in the power of this survey!

As Sue says, “Your participation in this process is crucial so that the results of this survey can become one of your most useful tools for recruiting and holding on to valuable employees. This survey is unique to the Sacramento, Roseville, Folsom, and surrounding areas, which makes it valuable to local law firms and satellite law firms alike!”

The system is easy to complete, highly confidential and your participation is absolutely FREE!!  In addition, all information entered is being compiled by a third party data company outside the legal field.

Please contact Sue Nielsen at for the link to the survey.

Don’t forget about the prizes!  Participants in this year’s survey will be automatically included in a drawing for several wonderful PRIZES but today is the last day to do so!




Region 6 Conference Recap



I debated about running the Region 6 Conference recaps.  Why the hesitation?  Because the conference was held last month in Las Vegas and I did not want to be disrespectful after the unimaginable horror that just occurred in that city.  I didn’t want to talk about the fun and laughs shared by several of our members just a few short weeks ago when people are now suffering.

Then it occurred to me that the horror in Las Vegas on October 1 does not define that city.  Las Vegas will remain a premiere conference center, a coveted vacation destination and will continue to offer exquisite food, amazing entertainment and even a few casinos.

Las Vegas will not be defined by the evil carried out by a gunman for reasons we may never know.


Las Vegas will continue to be a world-renowned city but now it will also be known as a city with people who showed incredible strength and heroism during the most difficult of circumstances.  It will be a city known for generosity toward the victims of this tragedy.  It will be known as a city with incredible first responders and police and hospital personnel.

It might also be the back-drop of Hangover, Part 12 but we’ll let that slide.

I hope the ALA continues to host conferences in Las Vegas as they have been very successful and enjoyable.  Two of our members attended the most recent Regional Conference which included Regions 4, 5 and 6 and they tell us about the sessions they attended and the networking they enjoyed.

(Please note the recaps were written before the shootings.)

Kellie B. Narayan, Executive Director
Wilke Fleury
SVALA President-Elect and
Programs and Education Chair

Cheri, Kellie, Joelle, Jessica (l-r)

Thank you so much to the ALA for sending me to the 2017 Regional ALA Conference with some of the wonderful administrators from our local SVALA Chapter!  The thing I love most about being part of the ALA is being around other talented law firm administrators who help make me a better leader and manager.  There is so much talent, humor and experience in the SVALA Chapter that spending time with Cheri, Joelle, Jessica and Missy was awesome!

Cheri told me that attending one of Michael S. Cohen’s presentations at the conference was a must-do because Michael is such a knowledgeable and wonderful speaker – and Cheri was right!  Michael’s presentations on Employment Law including handling difficult or sensitive HR issues and his educational session on HR every administrator needs to know were humorous, in depth and relevant.  Michael is the best speaker I have heard at any conference I have ever attended, bar none!  Sharing this experience with some of our Chapter leaders was a highlight of 2017 for me and I look forward to doing it again (with even more attendees next year)!

Missy Brown, Administrator
Pollara Law Group
SVALA Member

First Legal party

Making a trip to Sin City after a 31 year absence proved to be quite the adventure!  Little did I know that the excitement would happen in the meeting rooms and not out in the bright lights and debauchery of Vegas.  This was my first outing to an ALA Regional conference. Thank you to the lovely women who welcomed me into this exclusive club, both the local SVALA ladies and the women from across the U.S. filled with important and timely ideas.

The sessions I chose dealt with social media, employment handbooks and using comedy and improvisation as a way to communicate, just to name a few. The closing speaker provided humor and really worked on a skill we all can hone:  learning to say NO – this seems to be a common thread among those that take on the Administrator role.

I learned that no matter the size of your firm, we all use similar skills to navigate the day and I also valued realizing what I can work on to be a better person/employer and, remarkably, what I am doing well on a daily basis.  Seeing the vendors and gaining new contacts was fun and informative too (especially the First Legal Appreciation party at Tao – WOW)!!

All in all, thank you for allowing me to be a participant in this great organization.  I found a new appreciation for what we do and know I am not out there all by myself.

Thank you to these two talented administrators for sharing their enthusiasm for the Regional Conference.  The SVALA offers a few scholarships to all the conferences so be sure to ask a board member for details!



Community Connection Event:  Mark Your Calendars!


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Participating in the Community Connection Event (formerly known as the Community Challenge Weekend) has been a longstanding tradition for our chapter.

At the Ronald McDonald House

The ALA explains what the Community Connection Event is all about:  “The mission of Community Connection is to encourage ALA chapters, its members, firms, business partners, relatives and friends to come together to contribute time, energy and resources toward improving their own communities.”

The SVALA members have done that over the years in a big way!  Whether it was raising money for WEAVE, helping the Sacramento Children’s Home, revitalizing the landscaping at the Ronald McDonald House or fixing and building dog pens for a local shelter, the membership has come together to donate muscle, time and money to improve our community.

Helping WEAVE

Each year, the Community Connection Chairperson picks an organization for the SVALA to help and there is usually a personal connection to the event.  The last few years we have volunteered to help register walkers at the Walk for Alzheimer’s event in Sacramento which had personal meaning to many of us.

This year is no different!

Penny Stauffer is the Office Administrator of Stoel Rives LLP and the SVALA Community Connection Chair and she has selected The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) PurpleStride walk/run for our Community Connection Event.  Penny created a walk team to participate in the annual 5K family-friendly event to be held November 11, 2017.

Walk for Alzheimer’s

Penny tells us a little bit about her personal connection to PanCAN:  “I have become aware of this organization due to a family connection.  In April of 2016 a very close “family” friend came to me with the devastating news that her beloved mother (Flora) had shockingly been diagnosed with advance stage pancreatic cancer.  Going through all of this with the family made us all aware of PanCAN.  Last November was our first PurpleStride walk and it was so inspiring to see and hear all the stories and meet other people dealing with this devastating disease. It was also a very nice, causal and fun walk.”

Fixing dog shelters

Penny also gives us some shocking information about pancreatic cancer:  “PanCAN, established in 1999, is a United States based charity that raises funds to fight one of the world’s toughest cancers.  Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer with a five year survival rate of 6 percent.  PanCAN’s urgent mission is to save lives and attack pancreatic cancer on all fronts from ongoing research, clinical initiatives, patient services and advocates for increased federal research funding for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.  This network has created a fundraising walk-a-thon called PurpleStride [Wage Hope].  PanCAN representatives across the country organize these walks which are among the largest source of fundraising for the organization.”

Members can participate in a few ways:

Flora walking with family and friends at the 2016 event

Walk with the SVALA team.  Penny has created a walking team called “SVALA Strides for Flora” for the 5K PurpleStride walk/run on November 11, 2017.  The event will be held at William Land Park.  Registration starts at 8:30 and the walk begins at 10:30.  Participation in the team is easy, just click here and it will take you straight to the team page.  There is a $25 registration fee.

Donate to the SVALA team.  Ask your Firms to make a donation to this very important organization to help fight this devastating disease.  Credit card donations can be made through our team link.  Donations can also be made by check.  Follow this link to print the form and mail in a check.  Make sure you write in our team name where noted on the form so our team will be credited the donation dollars.

Also, please be sure to drop Penny an email to let her know if you have sent a check so she can track when it has been added to our team donation amount.

Volunteer at the event.  Please let Penny know if you are interested in volunteering for the event and she will put you to work!

Penny has set a conservative goal of $3,000.00 for the team but let’s see if we can blow past that!   As Penny says, “The more donations our team receives, the more PanCAN can do to fight Pancreatic Cancer!”

Help us make the Community Connection Event memorable this year and let’s all work to help Penny fight pancreatic cancer for Flora!






Chapter Leadership Institute: Paula Lee


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It’s conference season!  Wait, maybe that’s all year long . . .

Let’s start with the Chapter Leadership Institute (aka, “CLI”).  Paula Lee, Operations Manager for the Sacramento office of Klinedinst PC, attended this year and shares her thoughts on the experience:

This year’s Chapter Leadership Institute was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. H – E – Double Hockey Sticks . . . you betcha it was fun!

The theme was about elevating the legal management profession.  CLI provides an overview of ALA’s structure, demographics, member benefits and resources available to chapter leaders.

The opening session was about empowering Chapters to understand and create relevance with the next generation (the Millennial).  Presenter Dan Negroni stated, “Successful chapters understand what their members need to thrive.  Organizations that support the legal community will succeed if they understand what the next generation leaders want, need and expect from their professional relationships and careers. Today, there are 2.4 billion Millennials, representing 36% of the workforce.  They control $660 billion in spending and will make up 75% of your membership in 2025. They grew up differently, view the world differently and are changing the way we do things – think Blockbuster/Netflix, Taxis/Uber and Hotel/Airbnb.”

This session did a great job of helping us understand that a mind shift is necessary in making our firms relevant to the new generation of employees and clients.

The general session wrapped up with a discussion on the role of the Regional Leadership Teams and how they can help our chapter succeed.  ALA consists of six regions, each of which are led by a Regional Leadership Team composed of an At-Large Director, Regional Director, and two to four Regional Representatives. The primary objective of these teams is to serve as resources to ALA chapter leaders within their region.

Did you know that there is an ALA Volunteer Handbook online (66 pages) with chapter specific information?  Check it out on ALA’s webpage, under Membership/Chapter Leader Resources/ALA’s Volunteer Handbook.  The Volunteer Handbook has information on chapter insurance, how to give CLM credit for an educational program, and has our business partner guidelines.

Ever wonder what topics are prohibited to discuss?  See page 15 of the antitrust guidelines for a comprehensive list.  A short list on prohibited topics includes billing rates, interest rates, billing procedures, compensation, and refusing to do business with a vendor.

The conference was a great reminder that we are part of a larger community.  Volunteering to support our SVALA chapter as a board member is about having support within our Sacramento community as well as having support from a larger outside legal community.  SVALA does a good job of keeping it real in regards to the commitment one gives.  Fellow board members always step forward to lend a helping hand so don’t hesitate to volunteer.  It’s doable and you will definitely find any support you need in volunteering as a chapter leader.

Many thanks to Paula for sharing what she learned at one of the most beneficial conferences of the year.  Please contact any member of the SVALA Board of Directors at the next luncheon (or just send us an email) to let us know if you are interested in serving on the board.  We would love to have you!



Board Member Spotlight: Trish Hughes Kreis


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Well, I have put it off long enough! Sure, it was easy to prod my fellow Board Members to “tell me a little something about you” but now it’s my turn and I’m speechless! (I know . . . hard to believe.)

Plus, it’s not that easy to interview yourself.

Here goes!

Trish and Joelle enjoying a firm fundraiser

Tell us about your professional life.  I am the firm administrator of Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP and helped them open in 1999 but have worked with some of the attorneys at Murphy Austin for far longer.  I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology while double-majoring in Psychology and Peace War Studies. (I was kind of a hippie and had aspirations of joining the Peace Corps and then working toward world peace. You know, the usual.)

Neither of those things happened but I haven’t given up on those two goals. There is still time!

Even a hippie needs to make some money so I worked at temp jobs for a while and landed at a law firm in the early-80s.  I remember walking up to the large, wooden double-doors and feeling pretty excited that I would be working at a LAW FIRM. Was there a drumroll too?  Maybe a band playing?  As I said, I was pretty excited.

Rach, Robert and Trish at the 2017 State Fair

I fell in love with the firm (which was Marron Reid) and met a few of the attorneys I work with today. I started as a temp secretary and word processor and found a regular gig there as secretary.  I eventually left to stay home with my daughter who needed heart surgery at two months old. The doctors said she was fine after the surgery but I couldn’t bear to leave her so soon after surgery. (Don’t worry; she is now a healthy, 28 year old newlywed!)

After a few years as a stay-at-home mom, I entered the workforce again and, with a brief stint at a three attorney appellate firm in between, came back to Marron Reid. I was secretary to the managing partner for a few years before convincing him I could tackle the recently vacated administrator position.  I suspect he promoted me because, as he likes to remind me, I was not the best secretary he ever had. (Probably because I taught him to put his own coffee cups away instead of leaving them in his outbox.)

Trish, Robert and Mickey at Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland (2016)

I now have more than twenty years of experience as a legal administrator and consider my specialties closing offices (I’ve closed three – not my fault, I promise!) and moving (I’ve lost track of how many moves I have orchestrated but I have organized so many that I have spreadsheets for my spreadsheets).

Looking back at my college degree and choice of majors, I think they have definitely served me well as a legal administrator.

Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board?  I think I have to blame Cindy Harris for becoming involved on the Board!  Cindy has since retired but she was in the same building as I was when I became a new administrator.  She reached out and told me about the SVALA and was very helpful to me as a newbie. I have found the same kindness and mentoring from many other administrators and am extremely grateful.

I was an SVALA member for a while before being lured to a lunch with a few board members. The next thing I knew, I was working on the SVALA newsletter. That was back when we actually had to cut and paste and mail in a mock-up to a printer! (I cannot believe how old that makes me seem.)

I have served on the SVALA Board of Directors for several stints as Newsletter Editor and now Communications Chair with a stint or two as Board Secretary sprinkled in.  I love to write so the Newsletter and Communications Chair have always been my favorite Board positions.

Richard, Trish and Robert at Epilepsy Awareness Day at Disneyland (2014)

Tell us a little about your personal life/passion.  Well, as I mentioned I do love to write and have written a few articles through the years on topics affecting legal administrators but one of my favorite topics to write about is my experiences as a caregiver.  My husband and I care for my disabled brother, Robert, who has lived with uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. Despite this, he was able to live independently with family oversight until he was in his 40s.  He was in the midst of a health crisis when I took over his care nine years ago and I soon came to realize he could no longer live on his own. It was a whirlwind education on health, caregiving and advocacy.

Robert is a delight to have in our home as he loves to declare everything “excellent” and even declares my meals “delicious.”  Cooking is not one of my passions so let’s just say, he is being very generous.

Robert’s health has steadily declined through the years as a result of the uncontrolled seizures, numerous concussions he has suffered because of falls and due to the boatload of medications he takes daily.  He requires a great deal of care and has numerous specialists on his team but I am grateful to have an employer who is flexible and understanding.

Trish, Robert and Richard

Caregiving reawakened my advocacy tendencies and I soon realized that not only my brother needed help but so did other caregivers. I frequently write caregiving articles for several websites and am a self-described incontinence expert. (Hey, everyone has to be an expert in something, right?).  I am also in the second year of a partnership with four other caregivers (one of whom is my husband, Richard) to write caregiving tips books!  We just released our third book and are very excited to see our little books helping other caregivers.

I am very aware of the challenges facing working caregivers and consider myself lucky to be in a position to help employees and partners alike going through similar challenges. The flip-side of that is I also have high expectations of working caregivers since we have so much to juggle and need to do so successfully.

Thank you for reading my “spotlight” (so much for being speechless)! I would love to run more spotlights on not just board members but also SVALA members. Please contact me if you are interested in telling your story!