SVALA Holiday Party: Fun Times!


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Boy, do Paula and Cindy throw a good party or what?


Paula, Loraine, Cindy


The 2016 SVALA party had it all: delicious appetizers (I practically had to arm wrestle Joelle for the salmon dip), an amazing menu that was sure to please everyone, never-ending cocktails and such great company!

Empress Tavern closed for the afternoon for our party which was perfect for us (not so perfect for the gentlemen who realized Empress was closed for lunch only after holding the door open for me, Joelle and Sarah. Sorry & thank you!). The venue was festive with an intimate seating area yet plenty of room to visit before lunch was served.


Geri, Kellie and Christopher glamming it up

The room was loud with laughter and conversation making it clear everyone enjoyed visiting with fellow members, Board Members and Business Partners.

The charity chosen this year was the Sacramento Blue Star Moms which were collecting items for care packages to be sent to our men and women in the service who have been deployed. Loraine Browning, a Board Member of the Blue Star Moms, was a delightful and reassuring (at least to this step-mom to a son about to be deployed) presence who explained the mission of the moms and how their organization came about. (Check out their website and “like” them on Facebook.)


The collection table for Blue Star Moms

Of course the prizes were over the top! Our generous Business Partners provided a variety of gifts and tickets and gift baskets which were greatly appreciated. (Even by those of us who walked away empty-handed. Just sayin’.)

The SVALA Chapter also provided plenty of raffle gifts which made several members very happy as well. There were winners at every table and almost everyone walked away with a gift.

Almost everyone . . .

Moving on –


The festive tables

Paula and Cindy really outdid themselves this year! They thought of everything down to the details on the table. There were photos from 2016 events set on each table (and these were real photographs!) and there was a clever party favor of a copper mug with a Moscow Mule recipe tucked inside. How fun! They also set up a festive photo booth area which everyone enjoyed.

There was not one thing I would have changed (well, except maybe that whole winning a prize thing).🙂


Karen, Paula, Jessica, Cindy, Susan, Debbie (l to r)

All kidding aside, kudos and thank you to Paula and Cindy for a very successful event! Enjoy the pictures here but find more over the next few days on the SVALA Facebook page.

From the SVALA to you, wishing you all a wonderful and happy holiday season!

















Business Partner Spotlight: Sierra Office Supplies and Printing


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Sierra Office Supplies and Printing has been an important business partner of the SVALA for many years and has personally helped me drastically reduce supply costs for my firm.


Kim Pablis and Suzie Schuenemann at the 2015 SVALA Law Firm Leadership Luncheon

Several years ago I was pulling my hair out when the supply vendor I had used for years repeatedly changed my rep and, after several tries, didn’t listen to my concerns about service and price.

It was difficult for me to switch supply vendors because loyalty is important to me and I wanted to stay loyal to the company I had worked with for several years. However, they were not helping their case!

I eventually interviewed competitors, one of which was Suzie Schuenemann of Sierra Office Supplies and Printing.

I was familiar with their business but only had worked with Bill Silvan on the furniture side of things. (Bill is now the Regional Sales Manager and Corporate Sales Coordinator for Sierra.)

I talked with Suzie about office supplies and my goal of working together to keep costs to a minimum without sacrificing quality or efficiency. I stressed the importance of communication so we could keep costs in check and supplies in stock (even on a rush basis). Suzie and Kim Pablis worked as a team at that time and they both assured me they would do everything possible to fulfill those goals.

And they have!

We have been loyal customers for over eight years and Suzie and Sierra Office Supplies and Printing have been loyal supporters of the SVALA for at least that long.

Sierra Office Supplies and Printing also sponsored the SVALA November luncheon and Bill talked about developing a comprehensive branding and identity management package for our firms. Bill focused on print collateral, advertising as well as informational materials and specialty items for a firm’s marketing team.

Suzie recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions for the Business Partner Spotlight feature.

Thank you for being a Platinum Business Partner of the Sacramento Valley Legal Administrators Association. Please tell us why you chose to support our organization.

A locally owned and operated business since 1981, Sierra values the importance of partnering with the local business community. Our expansive product lines and service capabilities fit well with the dynamic and deadline oriented needs of the law firm business environment. We believe it has been and will continue to be a valued partnership. Additionally, the SVALA members are a fantastic group!

Please tell us about Sierra Office Supplies and Printing and the services you provide.

With offices, printing facilities and distribution in Sacramento and the Bay Area, Sierra has become a leader in the office supply, printing, furniture, signage and promotional industries. Sierra is committed to create partnerships with clients and develop a “One Resource Solution” to the constantly evolving office environment.

Give us a little background about yourself. How long have you been in the business? How long have you been with Sierra Office Supplies and Printing?

I am a Sacramento native, born and raised in Fair Oaks. My son and his family live in Sacramento too. I started in sales in the late 1980’s as a facsimile salesperson. Remember those old thermal fax machines, the one with the roll of paper?! In the late 1980’s this was new technology to the marketplace; potential clients would say to me “great idea but who would I send a fax to?” It was a fun and rewarding entre into sales. Most of my clients were law firms at that time too. In 2000, I joined Sierra’s team and over the last 16 years I have been fortunate to forge many long term business relationships with so many of you. For that I am very grateful. My mantra in business is that “people buy from people they like and they trust” and I have always strived to meet that expectation.

How is it different working with law firms than other non-legal businesses?

I believe law firms are somewhat unique in that often times they are more deadline oriented, most likely due to case timelines. Law firms also have unique and specific office supply needs such as legal index tabs and specialty folders. To meet that need, we now stock in our Sacramento warehouse many items specifically for the law firm environment and for next day delivery.

Tell us how you would describe your working style. What makes you successful at what you do?

I guess I am somewhat of a workaholic. Customer service has always been very important to me. With today’s technology it makes it easier to be quick and responsive to my customers needs. I remember years ago a conversation I had with the Telecommunications Manager for Cable Data, which was the billing arm for Comcast then, and he was lamenting about how customer service in this country was sorely lacking and that he appreciated my attention to timeliness and detail. That drives me, the opportunity to exceed my customer’s expectations whenever I can.

Tell us something fun you enjoy doing outside of work.

I have a darling 6 year old grandson, Ryder, who I enjoy spending time with every chance I can. Having him spend the night is one of my favorite things to do. We catch up on what he’s been doing, watch movies, play games and bake cookies. He has a little sister on the way early next year and I couldn’t be more excited. I am also an avid gardener. I bought a house 14 years ago that had an extensive perennial garden that I have enjoyed tending and watch mature. Some of my winter bulbs are just now starting to pop up! I also enjoy taking long walks, camping at the beach, and visiting with friends over a nice dinner and good bottle of wine.

What do you want the SVALA members to know about you and Sierra Office Supplies and Printing?

On behalf of all of us at Sierra, we would like to extend our gratitude for the opportunity to continue over many years as a Platinum Sponsor of the SVALA. We are committed to helping the law industry in all facets of business to include office supplies, printing, furniture, signage and promotional. I am particularly grateful to have made so many wonderful friends in the law firms that I support. My job wouldn’t be the same without you!

Many thanks to Suzie for her stellar work with many local law firms and for being an ardent supporter of the SVALA. Suzie is spot on with her philosophy of “people buy from people they like and they trust.” Having known Suzie for so many years now, I know she is a likeable person and certainly one I trust to give my firm wonderful service at an excellent price.

Looking forward to seeing Suzie and many SVALA members at the Holiday luncheon this week!




Holiday Luncheon



The annual SVALA Holiday Party is always a fun and well attended event and the party this year is shaping up to be as fabulous as ever!


Holiday Party 2015

Paula Lee and Cindy Cintas Pilon have been working hard to create a terrific and festive experience for all of us.

However, we don’t just eat, drink and be merry! We also choose a charity each year to help and this year we will be helping the Sacramento Blue Star Moms. This organization creates care packages to send to our deployed men and women in the service. We are collecting items from the wish list and our donations will be assembled into useful (and very much appreciated) care packages.

The party this year will be held at the Empress Tavern (next to the Crest Theatre). Now if the food, drinks, socializing and charitable giving isn’t enough to get you to attend, there’s also this:



Sue, Maureen, Trish (l to r)

You don’t want to miss out on the creative raffle prizes the committee chairs always come up with (no pressure, Paula & Cindy!).

Please RVSP to Paula Lee at by November 15!

See you there!

Trish Hughes Kreis


October Luncheon Recap: Managing Law Firm Records


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If there was ever a group of professionals that could be overrun with paperwork it would have to be lawyers! Thankfully, there are ways to manage the overwhelming amount of paper, emails and electronic documents that law firms produce.

And, thankfully, we have a Platinum Business Partner to help us with the job: Pacific Records Management.

Richard Steed, Nitza Medina-Garcia, Mike Young (l-r)

Richard Steed, Nitza Medina-Garcia, Mike Young (l-r)

Richard Steed and Mike Young of Pacific Records Management brought speaker and consultant Nitza Medina-Garcia, CRM to our October luncheon to give us tips on how to get our business information back under control. Nitza (as she said, it rhymes with “pizza” – simultaneously making us not only remember how to pronounce her name but hungry as well), is a Certified Records Manager and shared some terrific ideas for keeping our firms organized!

Nitza runs InfoCompass Business Solutions and provided terrific solutions for keeping our paper and electronic records manageable. Nitza gave us specific take-aways that can be easily implemented into our firm procedures such as:

  1. Include “review offsite storage documents” on the Departing Partner Checklist;
  2. Create a Records Policy Statement and include it in the Employee Handbook;
  3. Create a Retention Schedule grouped by types of documents;

Keeping control of the mounds of paper law firms produce is not only a “real estate” issue but also a legal one. There are plenty of reasons to keep documents for as long as legally necessary but also plenty for disposing of them when the time is right.

Sue Nielsen, Richard Steed, Paula Lee (l-r)

Sue Nielsen, Richard Steed, Paula Lee (l-r)

Creating a solid Records Policy and Retention Schedule can be overwhelming at first. To help, Nitza suggests creating two paths for records management: procedures for handling documents going forward and procedures for handling documents pre-policy.

Creating records management policies and procedures using this method is a good way to break the task up into more manageable pieces.

Working with your offsite storage vendor is also an important piece of the task. I have personally worked with Pacific Records Management as part of our overall records management organizational project and have been very satisfied. Not only are Richard and Mike accommodating and flexible in helping us achieve our goals but their staff is friendly and knowledgeable as well.

We could definitely tighten up our procedures (and from the show of hands at the luncheon, other firms are in the same position) but using Nitza’s suggestions will help us stay on the right track.

Thank you to Pacific Records Management for sponsoring an important topic to many law firms and many thanks to Nitza for sharing her expertise!

Coming up: The November 16 luncheon will feature a panel discussion hosted by Sierra Office Supply and Printing on Print Collateral for Law Firm Marketing & Business Development.

2016-october-luncheon-place-settingsAlso, mark your calendars! The SVALA Holiday Party will be Wednesday, December 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Empress Tavern. Please RSVP by November 15 to Paula Lee at

Hope to see you at an upcoming event soon!

Trish Hughes Kreis




SVALA Board Member Spotlight – Joelle Stone  


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I hope you are having as much fun reading these Board Member Spotlights as I am!

(You can easily access the other Board Member Spotlights by going to the “Meet the Board” page and clicking on a member’s name.)

This Spotlight is especially near and dear to my heart not only because I have known Joelle the longest of any of the board members but she also happens to be my best friend. (Of course, I adore all the board members!)

Joelle's babies: (top to bottom) Dolly, Bellah, Woody

Joelle’s babies: (top to bottom) Dolly, Bellah, Woody

Joelle and I first met when I joined Diepenbrock, Wulff, Plant and Hannegan. I had just come from a small firm as a fairly new administrator and became the administrator at a firm of 200+ people. It was a culture shock for me but Joelle, as the HR Director, stood by me and gave me sound advice and helped me navigate “big firm” life. With any newcomer, I think the staff eyed me a little warily but they all respected Joelle and her opinion and I suspect she put in a good word for me to help make it a smooth transition.

I knew from the beginning Joelle was fearless! During one of my first few weeks at the new job, Joelle came to the office with a horrendous road rash all down her leg and arms from some sort of exercising accident (I think it involved rollerblading). She continued to rock her stylish business suit (and, no doubt, high heels) and didn’t miss a day of work because of it.

She’s tough and fearless and what I have learned over and over through the years is she has a spectacular heart of gold and extraordinary generous spirit which she opens to friends, family, her fiancé, her step-daughter and lots and lots of dogs.

Don’t take it just from me! Let’s learn a bit more about Joelle.

Joelle Stone, HR Director
Business Partner Relations Chair

Joelle with fiance, Bryan, step-daughter, Amanda and Daisy

Joelle with fiance, Bryan, step-daughter, Amanda and Daisy

Tell us about your professional life. Like most of us, I didn’t really choose this position, it kind of chose me. I started my legal career as the assistant to the office manager in a boutique family law firm in Tampa, Florida while attending college. I recall the office manager was on the board of the Suncoast Chapter of ALA and assisting her with projects before board meetings. I had no intention of following this line of work, but here I am, having worked in several different positions in law firms. Many years ago, when I was still hanging on to the vestiges of my 20s, I decided to move from Tampa to the west coast to be closer to family in Oregon and Arizona. I picked Sacramento out of the Atlas, having never been here before, and flew out with a couple suitcases and had my furniture and car delivered. I then started with Diepenbrock, Wulff, Plant and Hannegan and moved with Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP when DWPH dissolved.

Why did you choose to serve on the board? A long, long time ago, Trish was asked to be on the nominating committee…. and there you have it. I love being on the board and being involved with SVALA. I’ve met so many great friends through ALA. I absolutely love the opportunity to attend Regional and National conferences and keeping my knowledge about our profession fresh. And the parties don’t hurt either.

A few of Joelle's foster dogs

A few of Joelle’s foster dogs

Tell us a little bit about your personal life/passion. I am a part of the Sacramento Shelter Networkers, a group of four volunteers who network the Sacramento County Animal Care rescue-only listed animals to rescue. This is a daily list of dogs that for whatever (sometimes specious) reason cannot be placed for adoption and are rescue only. We obtain better photos of the dogs as the shelter intake photos are generally not great, and write up an honest, yet positive, description of the dogs’ personality and temperament. We then market them to various rescues across the state, and sometimes as far as Canada (our friends up north rescue a lot of California Chihuahuas and Pit Bulls). We also arrange to have the dogs vetted (spay/neuter/vaccinated) and then organize transportation if needed. In 2012, our group won the Sacramento County Volunteer of the Year award. I have fostered many dogs from mamas and their newborn babies, to senior citizens dumped at the shelter, and pure bred Labradors that were neglected (all of which are now in loving homes). I also acquired a couple “foster fails” along the way, meaning they joined my home with my first love, Bellah, a yellow Lab/Weimaraner mix.

Joelle and her sister, Jan, enjoying mimosas

Joelle and her sister, Jana, enjoying mimosas

Anything else you’d like to share? My favorite meal of the day is brunch and mimosas of any kind! I make up for that indulgence by regularly working out – I enjoy boot-camp workouts, Body Pump and weight lifting. And, of course, walking the dogs. I love the beach – Ft. Bragg and Bandon, Oregon being a couple favorites. My fiancé (no, we have not set a date) and I enjoy going to Sharks’ games and concerts and see several shows a year. My favorite holiday is Daylight Savings! If you ever need to know how many days are left until Daylight Savings, just ask me as I’ll have a running countdown starting November 6th.

Many thanks to Joelle for her service on the SVALA Board of Directors in various capacities (including President) over the last several years. Her passion for helping (and saving) hundreds of rescue animals as well her commitment to the SVALA is commendable. Her devotion to mimosas isn’t too shabby either. :-)