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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.

Julie