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The ALA Annual Conference and Expo may have taken place last month but the lessons and inspiration continue to rejuvenate our local administrators!

Last week, Karen Wilhelmi shared her first-time attendee experience and Cindy Snook shared a few tips she learned from her favorite sessions.

Today, Ken Sockolov, Chief Operating Officer for Boutin Jones, shares his perspective of the recent conference:

Snow in April!

It’s always good to get away from the daily task of putting out fires and checking chores off the list, giving me time to put some thought to those items that aren’t at the top of current priorities.  Additionally, the annual conference gives one perspective on which topics are currently hot in the legal industry and lets you discuss those topics with others outside of your own organization.  The ALA Annual Conference assists in that with Idea Exchanges between firms of like-size, as well as having educational sessions on various topics.  I really like that.  If nothing else, it’s wonderful to hear that others have the same problems with trying to go paperless, addressing succession planning, and keeping up with constant technology changes. The breadth of educational topics is one of the most appealing aspects of these conferences.

My favorite session of the conference was one of the talks which accompany open sessions that include all attendees.  A professor for the University of Virginia, Mary Gentile PhD, gave us her insights on addressing ethics in the work place.  Her take on trying to “teach” ethical behavior lies somewhere between “that’s a good idea” and “most people recognize an ethical question when they see it.”

Photo by Ken Sockolov

Dr. Gentile tells a story about a business school graduate who, while interviewing for a job, was asked if they taught ethics at his school.  He replied, “Yes.”  The follow-up question was about what he learned in the class.  He (the student) replied that there were various theories of ethics (think, Aristotle, Plato, et al), and that you need to know them in order for you to choose the one to apply in a given situation . . . That is, know which one to use as an excuse for not doing the right thing!

So, if learning about ethics isn’t necessary or very useful, what can you teach?  Dr. Gentile has put together a program that helps people move past awareness and analysis to action when they run into ethical issues in the workplace, training them to think about how to put forward their objections when they occur.  Without going into detail, Giving Voice to Values gives you a map of who to talk to, how much to push, or what to expect.

Rather than teaching you about ethics, she wants people to know how to advance ethical behavior.

Aside from the educational aspects, I was only slightly disappointed that there was no live music at this conference.  While we expect to spend hours (days) in sessions educating ourselves, the wind down after a day of speeches and classes is really welcome.  At least the wine and food were plentiful.

Many thanks to Ken for sharing not only his conference experience with us but another snow picture!

Information about future conferences can be found here and, while there are no conferences planned for Hawaii in the near future (sigh), the 2018 Conference will be held in National Harbor, Maryland. (Check out the photos from the resort and convention center website – the location looks fantastic!)  

Also, if you were not able to attend the Annual Conference this year but don’t want to miss out on some of the sessions, please visit the link to the Virtual Conference Sessions. What a great way to keep current on what our fellow administrators have been learning!

Trish