Business Partners

Business Partner and Board Member Mixer


Allie Stanton (First Legal Network), Marni Beach (Terrapin) and Joelle Stone
Allie Stanton (First Legal Network), Marni Beach (Terrapin) and Joelle Stone (l-r)

I have a confession to make: I have never been to a Business Partner mixer! Mainly because I like to go home after work and hang out with my family but also because I consider myself an introvert and really thought this type of event would be uncomfortable for me.

Boy was I wrong!

The August Business Partner Mixer was a lot of fun! Yes, I went to my first Mixer and it had very little to do with the deal I made with Joelle: I will go but she has to complete the Board Member Spotlight questions (which I am still waiting for . . .).

Cindy Snook and Kevin Valine (EPIC)
Cindy Snook and Kevin Valine (EPIC)

There was a great mix (get it?) of SVALA Board Members and Business Partners talking, eating, drinking and catching up like old friends. Joelle Stone, the Business Partner Relations Chair, did a terrific job picking out delicious appetizers and a signature drink.

I realized I don’t get out much when someone mentioned the signature drink was a Lychee Martini and I had no idea what a Lychee anything was!  (Turns out Lychee is a fruit from the soapberry family.)

Okay, I still don’t know anything about Lychees and now realize I know nothing about soapberries either! No matter, people loved the Lychee in their martinis and declared it delicious.  I decided to stick to my sparkling water so will just have to take their word for it.

Kellie Narayan and DeeAnn MacLaughlin (l-r)
Kellie Narayan and DeeAnn MacLaughlin (l-r)

The positive feedback after the event flowed in. Board Members thought it was terrific to see so many other administrators and Business Partners and commented that the venue was just the right size and they appreciated the easy parking as well as the delectable food. But the Lychee Martini may have been the most talked about part of the event!

Joan Gabrielson and Julie Denker (l-r)
Joan Gabrielson and Julie Denker (l-r)

I enjoyed having time to talk to fellow members and the Business Partners without having to be quiet for a speaker like we do during our monthly luncheons. What I loved was seeing our Business Partners talking not only with the SVALA Board Members but with each other. They were chatting, laughing, posing for pictures (because I made them) and having a great time! There was no competition for business and no sales pitches.

It was just a good time.

Greg (Caltronics),
Greg Elko (Caltronics), Ben Hardt (Vandelay Industries), Jean-Paul Taylor (Terrapin)

What is so lovely about the kind of partnership the SVALA Members and Business Partners have is that sales pitches are not even needed. We all just enjoy each other’s company at the mixers and luncheons and when we get  back to our offices and need services or supplies we know who to call – our friends who also happen to be our Business Partners.

I plan to go to another mixer or two and hope you can make it too!






Business Partners

Business Partner Spotlight: Sacramento Placement Services

You know that feeling you get when a valued member of your staff gives their notice to pursue their passion? Whether it is to return to school, teach piano or start their own business (all of which have happened to me), it means one thing: ugh! Interviews! This is going to be so much work!

2015 - Feb mixer - Sylvia Cindy Debbie
Sylvia Warner, Cindy Snook, Debbie Jordan (l-r)

After getting over my initial thought of “Why do people have stinking passions and dreams?!” my first step is to congratulate the person (of course)! (I keep the selfish moaning and groaning to myself.)

My next step is to call one or two of my favorite placement agencies.

Today we are spotlighting one of those agencies: Sacramento Placement Services, owned by Debbie Jordan for many years. Debbie has helped a number of local legal administrators replace valuable staff with first-rate personnel when needed. She not only can assist with direct hires but is able to provide quality, temporary staff during leaves of absence.

Debbie is not one to toot her own horn but she has been a committed Business Partner of the SVALA for several years and you can usually find her at luncheons and many member events. I somehow convinced her to answer a few of our “spotlight” questions.

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.

I choose to support the SVALA because the administrators are the people I directly work with every day and so I wanted to be involved with the organization.

Please tell us about Sacramento Placement Services and the services you provide.

Sacramento Placement Services provides temporary services and direct hire for Administrators, Attorneys, Paralegals, Secretaries and Administrative Staff.

holiday party pic 3
Debbie Jordan and John Woodall at a SVALA Holiday Luncheon

Give us a little background about yourself. How long have you been in the business? How long have you been with Sacramento Placement Services? 

I originally worked for a legal agency in Sacramento before branching out on my own over twenty years ago.

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

I am not really sure – I have almost always exclusively worked with law firms. I do know there is a much higher degree of professionalism in the legal industry as compared to many other types of businesses.

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

I have an extensive data base of people I keep in touch with and a very large referral network. I belong to and support many legal groups and organizations in Sacramento so I am constantly involved in the legal community.

Tell us something fun you enjoy doing outside of work.

I love traveling, antique classes, boating, gardening and lots of other things if I had more free time!

labor bkfst - joelle and debbie jordan - 1-2015
Joelle Stone and Debbie Jordan at a Labor Law Breakfast

What do you want the SVALA members to know about you and Sacramento Placement Services?

I appreciate the opportunity to work with the members of SVALA and their friendship.

Many thanks to Debbie for her time, for helping us out in a pinch with our staffing needs and for her friendship! 

As a quick reminder, our August luncheon is coming up on Wednesday, August 24 at Casa Garden Restaurant. Samson Elsbernd, an attorney with Wilke Fleury, will be talking about “Simply Sex. . . Sex, Gender, Gender Identity, Gender Expression in the Workplace, and Tips for Eliminating Bias.” This looks to be an interesting and important presentation!  Hope to see you there!






Business Partners

Business Partner Spotlight: Gallaway Commercial, Inc.

I am delighted to put another Platinum Business Partner in the “spotlight!”

labor bkfst - gallaway - 1-2015
Brian Kuklish (left) and Russel Gallaway (rt)

Russel Gallaway, President of Gallaway Commercial, Inc., and Brian Kuklish, Vice-President Project Management, are familiar faces at the SVALA luncheons and various special events. They have also been a tremendous help to many local law firm administrators who have gone through a relocation of their offices. From the first steps of a lease or purchase to the actual physical relocation, Russel and Brian and the rest of their team can turn a stressful project into a successful project.

Russel and his team recently launched their new website which is quite impressive! Please be sure to take a look (after reading the interview below with Russel, of course).

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.

Gallaway Commercial, Inc. supports the SVALA because so many of our clients are members. We do everything we can to support our clients.

Please tell us about Gallaway Commercial, Inc. and the services you provide.

Gallaway Commercial, Inc. specializes in representing law firms in complex leasing and purchase transactions. The firm also provides complete project management services for their clients which includes everything from construction management to managing the physical relocation. GCI is the only firm in Sacramento that offers this service at no cost to their clients. Our firm currently represents 30% of the Top 40 firms that lease space in Sacramento which is double our closest competitor.

Give us a little background about yourself. How long have you been in the business? How long have you been with Gallaway Commercial, Inc.? 

I have been in commercial brokerage for 23 years. I have owned my own firm since 1998. I started Gallaway Commercial, Inc. in 2004 to provide my clients with full service representation which is when I started offering project management services.

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

The biggest difference in representing law firms is that there are usually several decision makers. It is necessary to continually check in with all parties to make sure you are on the right path. In addition, negotiating personal guarantees to minimize the scope of the guarantee to protect all of the partners can often times be a big part of negotiating a lease.

2016 - Law Firm Luncheon - Gallaway
Russel with SVALA members Sarah Soloaga and Joelle Stone

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

We thoroughly interview our clients to get a complete understanding of what is important to them and what they want. With this information, we create a strategy to aggressively represent their needs. During the process, we provide them with concise analysis so they can make informed decisions. Our goal is to exceed our clients’ expectations on every deal so we never lose a client.

Tell us something fun you enjoy doing outside of work.

I enjoy spending time with my wife and four children, going to Tahoe, or just taking a run.

What do you want the SVALA members to know about you and Gallaway Commercial, Inc.?

We our thankful to be a part of SVALA and hope to have the opportunity to discuss how your firm would benefit on your next lease renewal or relocation regardless of where your office is located. Approximately 35% of our business is outside of the greater Sacramento area. If you want to learn more about Gallaway Commercial, Inc., please check out our new website.

Many thanks to Russel for his time!  Please stop by to say hi to him and Brian at the next luncheon or event.




CLI: A Whole Lot of Dancing!  

Note from the editor: The SVALA President-Elect, Julie Denker attended the 2016 ALA Chapter Leadership Conference in Fort Worth, Texas with Cindy Pilon. (You can read Cindy’s recap here.)  Julie shares her experiences from her first CLI event below. Thank you for sharing, Julie! We know you will make a terrific President next year! 

2016 - CLI - Julie and Cindy 2
Julie (left) and Cindy (right) Not sure who is in the middle!

As President-Elect I had the great privilege of representing SVALA at the CLI Conference in Fort Worth, Texas last month along with Cindy Pilon, CLM, Law Firm Leadership and Holiday Event Co-Chair. The conference was held at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel downtown Fort Worth, in the heart of the historic Sundance Square.

The first night, as Cindy and I entered the elevator en route to experience our first Texas BBQ, we met a group of ALA members from Calgary, Alberta. They insisted we join them for dinner as they, too, were on the same mission. You just couldn’t have met a finer group of warm, welcoming and friendly people.

2016 - CLI - Julie - cowboy signThis year’s conference theme was “Let’s Dance!” and each session that followed was also a dance theme. The General Session, “Moving from Two Left Feet to Usher or Shakira” was led by ALA’s President, Laura Broomell, CLM. She got the dance theme rolling by providing an overview of ALA structure, demographics, member benefits and available resources followed by a Welcome Reception of hors d’oeuvres and.…wait for it…..dancing!! Wow, ALA Members can cut a rug!

Friday morning’s Keynote Session, “Are you Dancing (and Leading) from Your Soul?” was led by guest speaker Robin Getman. Robin is a hospitality expert with over two decades experience in training and management. She is funny, engaging and inspirational.  She taught us that personal power in organizations increase when people begin leading from their souls rather than positions of authority. The audience had the opportunity to learn about, talk about – even argue about – the conditions and consequences of the six stages of personal power and everyone received a resource packet to serve as a reminder of the implications and applications of the model. Fun was had by all!

I followed Robin to the next session as she led “Take This Job and Love It!” Here, Robin described common performance behaviors and characteristics using a fun, easy-to-remember, four-horsepower model. We learned ways to reinforce desirable behaviors and characteristics. We also learned how to redirect undesirable behaviors and characteristics and why it may be helpful to put the C.A.R.T. (Communication, Appreciation, Relationships and Tools, Training and Resources) before every horse.

2016 - CLI - Julie - statue“The Leader Shuffle Without a Wobble: Dancing Through Your Chapter Presidency” provided guidance, strategies, tools and resources to help me successfully lead as Chapter President. Here I learned how to navigate ALA’s website to locate tools and available resources that will help me make my presidency successful.

Chapters then separated by chapter size. This is where the ideas and conversation flowed like a beautiful Cowboy Cha Cha. As an example, the Indiana Chapter meets with local high schools and community colleges to educate students and the community to show that there is more to a career in legal than being a lawyer. The Jacksonville Chapter participates in mock interviews with a local paralegal school and reaches out to the local community to educate about the many diverse employment opportunities in the legal field.

Another chapter puts on an annual event for business partners called “Funky Bowling” as a way to strengthen and build those relationships in a fun, relaxed, and no pressure environment. They say it’s a huge success and it sounds like a lot of fun!  On-boarding and mentoring new members, especially those new to legal management, brought forth a lively discussion.

The Philadelphia chapter launched a YouTube channel to showcase the benefits of membership.  Check it out here.  Common amongst chapters is the reduction in webinar participation. Of note, the Cyber Chapter offers free monthly webinars.

2016 - CLI - Julie and Cindy outside
Julie Denker and Cindy Pilon

Chapter Management software is on the rise using StarChapter and Wild Apricot. Overall, this was one of my favorite sessions. I was inspired by the eagerness of others to share their knowledge and experiences to help fellow chapter members.

Up until now the “Let’s Dance” theme leaned a little towards the country two-step. That is until Judy Hissong stepped on stage and led the entire audience in the “Whip & Nae Nae.” Yahoo, now that was a hoot!  Whip & Nae Nae, I do not do very well. Judy’s “Don’t Dance Alone: Running an Effective Meeting” was informative and entertaining. We have all attended meetings that are poorly run. Judy said, be mindful of the collective time and talent of the parties in the room; send out the meeting agendas early; approve financials and minutes via email 48 hours before the meeting; create useful agendas and set ground rules. Judy said she never leaves home without, “Meetings Matter” by Paul Axtell, and, of course, I had to buy it!  Judy nailed it gracefully with her wisdom, humor, enthusiasm and charm.

Again, I am grateful for the experience, for the newly formed friendships, and for Southwest returning Cindy and I home without incident. I came away from CLI with tools, resources, leadership materials and the motivation to be an effective chapter leader. I sure have big shoes to fill.



CLI: New Friends, Texas BBQ and Renewed Commitment

Note from the editor: Cindy Cintas Pilon recently attended the 2016 ALA Chapter Leadership Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.  This is one of those conferences that gets high praise year after year! Cindy shares her enthusiasm and much of what she learned below. Thank you for sharing, Cindy!  

2016 - CLI - Julie and Cindy
Cindy Cintas Pilon and Julie Denker

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the recent CLI conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Our President-Elect Julie Denker and I traveled together to represent SVALA. A noisy hotel construction project, hot humid weather, and a Southwest Airlines network outage could not dampen our spirits or enthusiasm!

Our first official act was to join a contingent of Calgary, Canada, members for a Texas BBQ dinner. They were the first of many warm and welcoming folks we met on our trip. For me, the best part of CLI is interacting with other members (from the U.S. and other countries) and to listen and learn from their experiences. There was an instant bond and camaraderie formed with many that we met. I was energized by the tips and strategies they shared that can be applied to our board, my firm, and in my personal life. Here are a few things that inspired me, made an impact on me, and new ideas that I can implement.

I heard from other chapt2016 - CLI clockers how they built successful alliances with other legal organizations to collaborate in the sharing of knowledge and resources and to promote visibility. The other legal organizations include ILTA, ARMA, LMA, SHRM, and bar associations. Other chapters also shared ideas for membership outreach and succession planning. I learned that ALA has a volunteer handbook at their website, which I will definitely check out. Also, I learned that each chapter, including SVALA, has its own online community (chapter discussions) that we can utilize.

I heard that ALA is working on CLM study materials, a subject near and dear to my heart. I also learned that ALA is looking at possibly combining regions 5 & 6. I learned about what other chapters are doing for business partner events. Progressive lunches (like speed dating!) and funky bowling (with fun and challenging bowling moves) are my favorite. Did you know that the Cyber Chapter offers free webinars for all ALA members? And that the UPBMS program (Uniform Process Based Management System) is getting ready for rollout. The UPBMS is a common language used to describe legal support activities and processes, which can be for job descriptions and many other management and HR activities. The session that was the most fun for me was Express Yourself: Communication and Public Speaking. Region 5 leaders put together a creative, entertaining, and informative presentation.

2016 - CLI water fountainSome of my favorite inspirational quotes from the conference were “There are no bosses in ALA – we are all members.” “Help people feel good. Help people. Feel good.” “ALA is a safe place to try new things.”

I left the conference inspired by regional and chapter leaders who led sessions and shared their experiences, which renewed my commitment to my volunteer role. I am thankful for the Board’s support, fantastic Texas BBQ, and for Southwest getting Julie and I home without cancellations or delays!

Please let me know if you are passionate about any of these topics and would like to know more. I am happy to share the details with y’all!

Cindy Cintas Pilon