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Our Mission

The International Practice Management Association (IPMA) is the premier resource for information and education on the management of paralegals and other practice support professionals in law firms and law departments globally. Its mission is to advocate for the effective use and management of these professionals, to promote and enhance the proficiency and professionalism of its members, and to provide thought leadership to the membership, the legal industry and the public at large on the value of utilization and management of paralegals and other practice support professionals.

Session Descriptions

This year's three-day educational program features hot topics, latest trends, and current issues that affect how we manage practice support professionals. Whether you manage paralegals, litigation support, docketing, or other revenue-generating functions, you'll find the information you're seeking among programming on human resources, technology and innovation, communications, organizational management, and career development.

Many thanks to the IPMA Conference Committee, co-chaired by Marcia Bibb and Cathy Boette, for their efforts in developing this outstanding program!


General Sessions


Resilience in Work and Life: Overcome Obstacles to Your Success

Session Sponsor: CT Corporation

SPEAKER: Caroline Ceniza-Levine, Co-founder, SixFigureStart®

We live in VUCA times – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous. While we cannot eliminate obstacles entirely, we can increase our capacity to overcome them. In this interactive session, you’ll learn preparation strategies so you can perform at your best. You’ll get bounce-back strategies so you can recover quickly if something does go wrong. You’ll also learn how to maintain resilience for the long-term – market conditions change, your needs and goals become more demanding, you have more obligations vying for your time...you will need ongoing coping strategies. Finally, today’s professional doesn’t work solo but frequently has to influence and collaborate with others, as well as outright manage projects and teams. You’ll learn how to encourage resilience when you work closely with others. We’ll start the session with a fun icebreaker, which will help you ease into the many networking opportunities throughout the conference.

Wednesday, October 11: 4:45 - 6:00 pm
Room: Ile de France II & III


Trends in the Legal Profession

SPEAKER: Eric A. Seeger, Principal, Altman Weil, Inc.

In a market characterized by flat demand, intense competition, rate pressures, and commoditization, law firms are struggling to achieve profitability gains while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and client care. This session offers the distinct opportunity to hear findings from Altman Weil's influential Law Firms in Transition Survey directly from Eric A. Seeger as he discusses the challenges and payoffs of managing change in law firms.

Thursday, October 12, 8:30 - 9:45 am
Room: Ile de France II & III


IPMA Talk Live: Peer-to-Peer Roundtable Discussions

MODERATOR: Gary Melhuish, Manager of Litigation Support Services, Ballard Spahr LLP

This general session will focus on the hottest topics that have been identified as emerging issues in practice support management. This is your opportunity to share your ideas with and to learn from your peers. Come prepared to explore trends facing managers such as: the paralegal of 2020, career paths for and professional development of practice support professionals, utilizing and engaging millennial staff, and evolution of the law practice and its impact on litigation support. A moderator at each table will be prepared to share the ideas generated with the entire audience. All attendees will have a voice in sharing their novel approaches and fresh ideas on the Talk Live topics of discussion.

Thursday, October 12, 1:00 - 2:15 pm
Room: Ile de France II & III


Multi-Generational Approach to Drive Firm Growth

SPEAKER: Terrie Campbell, Chief Executive Officer, Esquire Deposition Solutions

Current firm workforce demographics are impacting the ability of firms to adapt, innovate, retain clients and grow business.  This session explores why millennials are leaving law firms and what can be done to reverse that trend, how firms can leverage their millennial paralegals, practice management staff and associates to improve client relationships, support new business development and lead firm innovation, and it uncovers advantages for firms that adopt a multi-generational approach and mindset.

Friday, October 13, 8:30 - 9:45 am
Room: Ile de France II & III


Leading an Organizational and Business Transformation

SPEAKER: Tracie Crook, Chief Operating Officer, McCarthy Tétrault

Friday, October 13, 3:15 - 4:30 pm
Room: Ile de France II & III


Breakout Sessions

Trends in eDiscovery

SPEAKERS:
Mary Mack, Executive Director, Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS)
Kaylee Walstad, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS)

Thursday, October 12, 10:15 - 11:30 am
Room: Maurepas


Lean Process Management, Part 1: Bringing an Innovator's Perspective to Your Own Work

SPEAKERS:
Karen Dunn Skinner, Co-founder, Gimbal Canada Inc.
David Skinner, Co-founder, Gimbal Canada Inc.

Learn to see your work—and the work of your team—with new eyes. This presentation will introduce you to the innovator's mindset and teach you the essential Lean concepts of value and waste. After completing an interactive exercise designed to challenge managers to think differently about routine tasks and processes used every day, you'll walk away from this session equipped to immediately kick start improvement initiatives within your own team.

Thursday, October 12, 10:15 - 11:30 am
Room: Conde/Frontenac


Managing Difficult Conversations

SPEAKERS: 
Danielle Cohen, Manager, Learning and Development, OMERS
Rhona Berger, Enterprise Learning and Development Consultant, OMERS 

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable. Working day in and day out with people having different experiences, different values, and different goals is challenging. Add pace, change, and pressure to the mix, and conflict is bound to occur. Your ability to recognize the different types of conflict in the workplace and understand personal conflict styles is the first step to harnessing the power of conflict.

Thursday, October 12, 10:15 - 11:30 am
Room: Orleans/Rosalie


Recruiting in Today's Legal Marketplace

SPEAKERS: 
Kristin Guyton, Senior Managing Consultant, Beacon Hill Legal
Vanessa Russell, Senior Manager, Recruiting & Retention, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

To be successful in the legal profession, you also have to be successful in courtship - of top talent, that is! Low unemployment means that firms must be creative with hiring strategies, and that includes how they engage with candidates and their recruitment agency. This session gives you all the tools to navigate this complex relationship - including how to get buy-in from your company's stragglers, what questions you need to ask your recruiter and what information will help them, and how to make sure that you and your recruiter are on the same page. For those who don’t always have the opportunity to work with an outside recruiter, you'll learn strategies for wooing candidates and getting them through the door. In a panel discussion format, this session will include plenty of opportunities to ask your own questions to both presenters.

Thursday, October 12, 2:30 - 3:45 pm
Room: Maurepas


Lean Process Management, Part 2: Getting the Right People Doing the Right Job at the Right Time

SPEAKERS:
Karen Dunn Skinner, Co-founder, Gimbal Canada Inc.
David Skinner, Co-founder, Gimbal Canada Inc.

Mapping is one of the most powerful tools in your process improvement toolkit. Learn how to use process maps to increase your productivity, improve your resource allocation, and create visuals that help demonstrate the value paralegals and practice support professionals can and do bring to legal work. Using an interactive exercise, participants will analyze an actual process map, looking for opportunities to improve the process and allocate resources more effectively.

Thursday, October 12, 2:30 - 3:45 pm
Room: Conde/Frontenac


Access to Culture: 6 Keys to Successful Cross-Cultural Interaction

SPEAKER: Sharon Schweitzer, JD, Cultural Consultant, Founder, Author, Access to Culture

Learn how to expand your global presence, encourage understanding, and show your wisdom. If you are at your best, aware that you may be serving a customer with a different cultural background, you and your company will make a lasting impression, potentially leading to years of collaboration and continued growth. This hands-on session will increase self-awareness and encourage self-assessment. Participants will have an opportunity to adapt or consider their cultural mindset to develop more robust cross-cultural relationships and increase revenue. Discover how individualism, power, rules, a sense of time, informality, socialization, communication, and gender impact trust and relationship building. With country quizzes, self-awareness profiles, and unique graphics with memorable humor, this session will provide you with takeaways to implement immediately for face-to-face communication.

Thursday, October 12, 2:30 - 3:45 pm
Room: Orleans/Rosalie


Hot HR Topics, Canada

SPEAKER: Vanessa Paton, Associate, Stewart McKelvey

With each new year, employers and human resource professionals are faced with new challenges. Laws impacting Canadian employers are changing rapidly and staying ahead of the curve is crucial to success for both employers and those advising them. Join this session to explore the most difficult and sensitive issues currently facing Canadian employers, as well as those on the horizon.

Thursday, October 12, 4:15 - 5:30 pm
Room: Conde/Frontenac


Hot HR Topics, USA: Off-Duty Conduct

SPEAKERS: 
Steven F. Griffith, Shareholder, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC
Alan McKiernon, Human Resources Manager, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

John Q. Employee's arrest mugshot shows up on the 10 o'clock news. You receive a complaint from a client who is on the other side of the issue regarding Jane Q. Employee's political tweet. As a manager, sooner or later you will likely be faced with a situation in which you have to address similar off-duty conduct of one of your employees. It's not always easy to decide what to do in these matters. There are no automatic right or wrong answers. Join Steve Griffith and Alan McKiernon of Baker Donelson as they discuss the importance of having fair policies, keeping good documentation and using good judgment.

Thursday, October 12, 4:15 - 5:30 pm
Room: Orleans/Rosalie


Legal Project Management

SPEAKER: Megan McGrew, LPM Business Support Project Manager, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

Friday, October 13, 10:15 - 11:30 am
Room: Maurepas


In Leadership: Is It Better to Be Feared or Loved?

Session Sponsor: CT Corporation

SPEAKER: Caroline Ceniza-Levine, Co-founder, SixFigureStart®

In the choice between leadership by fear or with love, the answer is YES. The most effective leaders do not have only one approach, but flex their skills based on the situation, the team, and each individual. When leading with love means building positive relationships, practicing servant leadership and fostering engagement, then of course, you want to lead with love. However, an effective leader also needs to maintain accountability, have room to make quick decisions, and direct work output to meet specific results. Sometimes, you need to manage more closely or share difficult feedback, and in doing so, risk invoking fear in your team. In this interactive session, you’ll get a 2x2 framework to help you decide when to emphasize fear or love. You’ll learn coaching and communication strategies to minimize the negative responses to fear but maximize people’s natural desire to avoid pain. You’ll hear real-life examples of how different leaders successfully led varied teams and individuals in varied situations. Bring your questions!

Friday, October 13, 10:15 - 11:30 am
Room: Conde/Frontenac


Current Trends in Information Governance and Cybersecurity

SPEAKERS: 
Doug Kaminski, Director, kCura
Jibran Ilyas, Director, Incident Response, Stroz Friedberg

Friday, October 13, 10:15 - 11:30 am
Room: Orleans/Rosalie


Business Process Re-engineering: What Records Management Can Do for You

SPEAKERS: 
Jessica Bazik, Records Supervisor, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
Melissa Stewart, Records Supervisor, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

Does your department or practice group suffer from information overload? Are employees wasting time by redundantly saving the same information in multiple firm repositories? Are you utilizing standard naming conventions to quickly locate information in your DMS? This presentation features a case study about how Nelson Mullins re-engineered existing practices by designing and implementing team standards that have streamlined processes and eliminated duplicate information. Join this session to discuss how to apply business process re-engineering at your firm to improve productivity, make access to important information faster, reduce costs, increase value, and ultimately improve quality of service to clients and profitability to your firm.

Friday, October 13, 2017, 1:45 - 3:00 pm
Room: Maurepas


Managing Conflict in the Workplace

SPEAKERS:
Danielle Cohen, Manager, Learning and Development, OMERS
Rhona Berger, Enterprise Learning and Development Consultant, OMERS

When managed effectively, conflict in the workplace can be a positive and productive force. Hone your skills to leverage the benefits of healthy conflict in the workplace: creativity, collaboration, problem solving, and increased morale.

Friday, October 13, 2017, 1:45 - 3:00 pm
Room: Conde/Frontenac


How Paralegal Managers, Educators, and Career Officers Can Collaborate for the Benefit of All

SPEAKERS:
Michelle Hess, Paralegal Manager, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP
Kushal Ismael, Employer Outreach Coordinator, The George Washington University
Toni Marsh, JD, Director, Paralegal Studies Master's Program, The George Washington University

Everybody wins when paralegal managers, paralegal educators, and career officers collaborate. Paralegal managers can drive curriculum to suit market needs, grow as professionals, give back to the profession, recruit top talent, and realize solid gains for their offices. Paralegal educators gain expert insight from top-tier professionals, and career services directors have natural placements for their graduates and partners in career events. This interactive session will feature a fun icebreaker as well as discussion about the benefits of collaboration and ways to collaborate effectively, and during a brainstorm session, participants will contribute ideas which will be noted and shared following the conference.

Friday, October 13, 2017, 1:45 - 3:00 pm
Room: Orleans/Rosalie