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!

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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.

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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!

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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!







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! 

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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.

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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!  

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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



Business Partners

Business Partner Spotlight: Terrapin Technology Group

One of the benefits of being a member of the SVALA is getting to know our fabulous Business Partners.  Several have been supporters of our group for many years so the members get to see these companies on a regular basis and talk with them on a personal level without the pressure of a sales presentation.

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Terrapin Technology at the 2015 Labor Law Breakfast

Business Partners are people too!

Terrapin Technology Group has been one of those long-time supporters and is one of our Platinum Sponsors. Nathan Johanson has created an IT firm that many of our members are familiar with and use in various capacities. My firm (Murphy Austin Adams Schoenfeld LLP) has used Terrapin for some of our training needs and Boutin Jones uses them for tech support and training as well.

There are several other member firms that have used Terrapin which probably has helped propel them into the Sacramento Business Journal’s Top Ten Fastest Growing Companies in the Sacramento region! Wow!

Terrapin Technology is hosting a “Let’s Talk Tech” Administrator Roundtable at our July 27 luncheon at the Casa Garden Restaurant.

For now, let’s learn more about Terrapin Technology Group and Nathan Johanson!

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.

Terrapin is focused on meeting the IT needs of law firms. We work with legal administrators all the time and help them make effective IT strategy and purchasing decisions. We respect the work that SVALA does in serving these professionals, so it’s a natural fit for us.

Please tell us about Terrapin Technology Group and the services you provide.

Terrapin provides a full range of IT consulting services, from day-to-day user support to system maintenance, complete system engineering and training, with a focus on serving the needs of law firms. Terrapin also offers installation of network cabling, telephone, audio visual and security systems. Our dedicated team is available whenever issues arise – even during odd hours.

Give us a little background about yourself.   

I worked for The Computer People (now Terrapin) for six years prior to purchasing the company with my business partner Tim Raney in 2008. I was previously the west coast information systems manager for Pumatech in San Jose, where I managed IT for the San Jose, Los Gatos, Santa Cruz and Emeryville facilities.

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

Because of the nature of the business, law firms understand the importance of their IT infrastructure and can easily calculate the costs of downtime: they simply need to multiply the number of billable hours lost across all attorneys. They’re a highly educated client base and are quick to understand our recommendations for securing and improving their infrastructure and systems.

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

Terrapin is fortunate to have a tremendous team, with the right combination of technical and people skills. We have a real understanding of the legal community and many of our employees have previous experience as legal secretaries, administrators or law firm IT professionals. In fact, the two latest additions to our team each have more than 20 years of experience at law firms. We only hire people who have an attention to detail and a strong work ethic, including a personal sense of obligation to the client.

Tell us something fun you enjoy doing outside of work. 

When I’m not at work, I enjoy spending time with my family. We keep busy with our kids’ activities, including soccer, guitar lessons and swimming. I also love listening to music; I’m an audiophile and have been steadily building my record collection. Remember those old vinyl records? I also recently started cycling and will compete in my first Eppie’s Great Race this year.

What do you want the SVALA members to know about you and Terrapin Technology Group?

Since our formation, Terrapin has developed a strong reputation for providing excellent customer service and, as a result, virtually all of our new business is generated by referral. This is due to our strong team, who are not only tech-savvy but who have a real commitment to doing a great job for our clients. We pride ourselves on having employees who are professional, well-spoken and friendly. We get the legal business, so there is no learning curve when we start work with new law firms.

Many thanks to Nathan for his time! I am looking forward to the “Let’s Talk Tech” Administrators Roundtable and hope to see everyone there!