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The International Practice Management Association (IPMA) is the primary source of information and education for managers in law firms, corporations, and law departments. We provide an inclusive community that promotes and enhances the proficiency and professionalism of our members. We deliver practical resources and cutting-edge solutions on the value and management of professionals in the legal environment.

March 2021

© International Practice Management Association. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the written consent of the IPMA. Opinions expressed in Inspired Leadership are those of the writers and are not necessarily those of the IPMA. The appearance of advertisements and product or service information does not constitute an endorsement by the IPMA as to the quality and/or reliability of the products or services. Product information is based solely on material received from suppliers.


Setting Boundaries During the Pandemic
What Shows Are You Watching?
The Value in Strategic Relationships with Business Partners
First-Generation Professionals Are Instrumental in Developing Second-Generation Professionals
Book Review: How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Making Business Relationships that Really Work, Shari Harley
Corporate Transparency Act: United Corporate Services, Inc.

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Setting Boundaries During the Pandemic

By: Carol Van Buren, Director of Paralegal Services, Perkins Coie LLP

This year at our first virtual conference, Gary, Melhuish, Karen Anderson, and I had a panel discussion on the various ways those of us in management and our paralegals have needed to set boundaries to keep our productivity up and our sanity intact. I’ll share in this article some of what we discussed as a reminder that setting realistic boundaries is a necessary component of our job now AND in the future. Managing our work lives and our children all in the same space this year has been a monumental task for all parents. Creating a plan for sharing responsibilities and work schedules was the first step for families. Switching to alternative work schedules for both parents seemed to be the first stepparents took to begin to manage their children and their workload. Many firms offered the flexibility to reduce your FTE or to keep a full-time schedule by splitting your day, with several hours in the middle of the day for childcare. Finding assistance outside the family and creating a healthy bubble with that caregiver and maybe one other family was a path taken by those who could afford this resource and/or had neighbors close by with similarly aged children.
Communicating regularly with supervisors to advise of unexpected changes that occur was also critical to parents’ success. As managers, remembering to support paralegals who were experiencing many of the same challenges was essential to helping them be successful in this new environment. Some set up parent support groups which they led to stay on top of current staff parental needs and to just share the challenges of parenting during the pandemic.
One of the reminders Gary shared was to be kind to yourself and learn to “Say Yes to Less” and “Let Go of Perfection and Guilt,” a mantra that works well for parents whether they are surviving a pandemic or just the teen years. Along with taking care of yourself and your partner during this time, an important priority was to find time for yourself to just be. It might mean rising at 5:00 a.m. to just relax in peace or finding one night a week to snuggle together and watch a movie with your sweetie when the kids are in bed.
Our members include working managers, who in addition to supervising a team of paralegals carry a client workload too. This created its own special challenge since focus is already split each day with switching gears between file work, balancing and prioritizing management duties, and managing tight deadlines. Adding the personal challenges of isolation and staffing changes, which were voluntary and involuntary, also contributed to the stress of this unique role.
Coping with these challenges required limiting how much you took on as managers and taking on the right type of work that you could accomplish in these circumstances. Anticipating management asks and coordinating your file work accordingly was essential. Reexamining strengths within your team and delegating both file work and management duties to them lightened your load and gave others a chance to shine and learn new skills. Connecting with your team individually, as well as in groups, helped keep morale up and helped you stay on top of their workload. Finally, recognizing and embracing positive changes that have happened due to the pandemic and working from home gave you a more positive outlook on your situation.
Managing paralegals during this pandemic was a combination of managing attorney expectations and empowering paralegals to draw personal boundaries when necessary. Many of our offices had work- from-home policies, as mine did before the crisis hit last February. Some attorneys were already becoming accustomed to working with paralegals on a remote basis and the pandemic just increased this comfort. This made it slightly easier to share work across offices for the same practice group. It also allowed for better coverage for case support and gave paralegals with low work more opportunities to make their hours. I encouraged my paralegals to always let their attorneys know when family obligations or, sometimes, surprises would interfere with their work duties. Thankfully, since many of the attorneys were experiencing the same challenges, no one has ever complained when they were notified. Our firm allowed us to reduced FTEs on a temporary basis for our parents or those caring for parents in their homes, and that has helped us keep great talent. So many of our star performers were having childcare issues that, by giving them the flexibility they needed to manage their families, we also helped them know we care about them. Finally, being clear about expectations of deadlines and expectations on length of projects has helped keep everyone apprised of workflow and availability to complete projects.
This has been such a challenging year and we hope some of these ideas will help you and your team continue to manage remotely. Be well and stay safe.


What Shows Are You Watching?

By: Ciara Hodges, Senior Association Coordinator, IPMA

The Communications Committee has implemented a new series to find out What You Are Doing. Whether it's a TV Show you binged-watched in 72-hours or a new recipe you cooked. The IPMA wants to continue to get to know its members. 

Here's what your peers are currently watching:
  • Bridgerton
  • Freud
  • Outlander
  • The Sinner
  • The Handmaid's Tale
Prime Video:
  • Breaking In
Apple TV +:
  • Palmer
  • All Creatures Great and Small
  • Flip or Flop
  • Fixer Upper


The Value in Strategic Relationships with Business Partners

By: Tara Kim Eberhart, Practice and Docketing Director, Dentons US LLP
      Karen Tuschak, Canada Director of Paraprofessional Services, Dentons LLP

Almost every stage of my professional career has been intertwined with key outside vendor relationships or as we like to call them here at IPMA, our Business Partners. Early on, as a Paralegal trying to learn my craft, I (Tara) was fortunate enough to meet many highly knowledgeable people working in Electronic Discovery companies. As we were all trying to figure out the difference between a gigabyte and a megabyte, what steps we needed to follow to preserve chain of custody and how to capture data from a laptop with a proprietary software application, in Japanese, I quickly came to rely on a core group of experts working at companies who were pioneers in the field. I was able to reach out, ask questions and then go into team meetings with practical answers to very complicated questions, all thanks to those ongoing relationships. From the corporate perspective, our business partners were truly partners in not only the services that they provided but in the training of our more junior paralegals. They often had senior paralegals on their staff that would both coach and mentor our team and there was always a voice on the other end of the phone to meet our needs and help us grow.

As I continued my career into management and became more involved in professional associations, we quickly realized that the relationships with my circle of Business Partners were even more critical. In addition to offering very important technical information, our networks provided us with options when we were asked to:
  • Quickly restructure a team/bringing in multiple new hires - Thank you Beacon Hill and Trustpoint.One or
  • Take on managing a new department like Docketing - Thank you American LegalNet, or
  • I needed an innovative solution to a very common business problem - Thank you ECFX and LegalInc or
  • A Partner called me on short notice to get a referral for a Court Reporter in the middle of nowhere - Thank you TSG or
  • One of the Paralegals on my team needed translation services - Thank you Lango and Divergent.
  • When we needed a partner in moving to a national corporate services database – Thank you Athennian
  • Trying to obtain multiple corporate searches across jurisdictions – Thank you Dye and Durham and ESC
In addition to helping me on a personal member level, our Business Partners are incredible resources for IPMA as an association. Our Business Partners make it possible for us to hold our Annual Conference, our New Manager Skills Workshops, our Master Class series and the many Chapter meetings that we have during the year. They volunteer to speak, participate in panels, sponsor sessions/meetings and invite our members to events that they are holding for the broader legal community. They know about emerging trends, which firms/organizations have exciting news and offer insight to us on the wide variety of topics that are of interest to our members. As a past president of the IPMA, we could not have provided the programming that we did without our Business Partners. On a more personal note, my year as President of IPMA was a difficult one as I (Karen) was diagnosed with breast cancer just as I was about to start my term. The support that I received from the Business Partners both personally and professionally was unbelievable and helped me lead during a difficult time. One Business Partner, at the time, Vision Legal Recruitment, even sponsored a team of us to walk in the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure through Central Park and had my sisters, husband and I fly to New York to participate in the walk.  IPMA Business Partners truly are the best!  

So, the next time that you use the pen you picked up at conference from one of our Exhibitors, or someone calls you to catch up and see if their latest product, service or idea can help you make sure to return their call, set up a meeting, treat yourself to a great conversation with a subject matter expert in the legal field because they really are our Business Partners and you never know when you are going to be really glad that they are in your professional network and on your phone a friend list!


Corporate Business Partners:
American LegalNet (ALN)
Beacon Hill Staffing Group/DBA Beacon Hill Legal
Capitol Services, Inc.
CT Corporation
Divergent Language Solutions
TSG Reporting, Inc.
Individual Business Partners:
All American Document Services
International Business Company Formation, Inc. (IBCF)
Lexalia Inc.
Paralegal Boot Camp
United Corporate Services, Inc.
Worldwide Corporate Advisors LLP


First-Generation Professionals Are Instrumental in Developing Second-Generation Professionals

By: Kimberly Barrett, Legal Professional and Paralegal Administrator, Latham & Watkins LLP

As a first-generation professional, you have embarked on a lifetime of “firsts.” This may be your first professional job. You’ve attended your first staff meeting in a professional environment. You’ve been invited to your first office holiday party. You got your first promotion. You’ve been assigned your first office. You’ve led your first team. You’ve completed your first performance review. For all of us, whether we are first-generation professionals or not, this is the first time that we’ve been ordered to stay home and work remotely. Luckily, we are in a position to be able to carry out our professional duties remotely. There are so many more firsts that you will experience over the course of your career. One of the things that you will also do is be a member of the group of firsts that creates a group of seconds. How can you help? Well, I’m glad you asked.

You can be a mentor to a second generation professional, and IPMA can help you be a better mentor.  IPMA provides many opportunities for peer mentorship to help provide the support necessary to be better mentors to new professionals.  You can reach out to someone in the next generation to let them know what it’s like to get that promotion and to be assigned that office. Be the mentor to a second generation professional that you wish you had as a first generation professional. For those of us who are first generation professionals, we didn’t know what to expect or how to digest the experiences we would encounter.  However, I can attest that through my professional connections at IPMA, I have learned how to be a better professional and to help new professionals grow into their best professional selves.

Second generation professionals are looking to us to show them the way because we’ve been there, we’ve done that. But, if we are being honest with ourselves we know that we are all still figuring it out. We are still learning what being a professional is. We are still making the connections that our colleagues who come from a long line of professionals already have. We are still learning what it’s like to work a networking event when we are still unfamiliar with the rest of the audience. We are still navigating our way through conversations that include others talking about their parents’, grandparents’, and great-grandparents’ careers in the professional world as doctors, lawyers, and business executives. We are going to pave the way so that the second generation of professionals can talk about how we taught them to be professionals in the business environment. We need to band together and hold each other to that.

Most of us had to learn by trial and error how to navigate our way through the complex and stressful college application process. Our next battle was the process of searching for and securing a job that would be the gateway to our professional careers. We had to figure out which books to read to help us learn even outside of the classroom. The more we share our stories, the more we can create a safe space for that second generation to come to us with their questions when they are unsure or nervous.

Let’s not be the only person in our family to be professionals. As IPMA members, let’s live up to what it means to be a first-generation professional and begin the line-up so that we create that second-generation professional, and so on.


Book Review: How to Say Anything to Anyone: A Guide to Making Business Relationships that Really Work, Shari Harley

The Communications Committee and Inspired Leadership are bringing back Book Reviews. Any member of the association is eligible to submit a book report for publication in our e-magazine. Thematically, we are looking for reviews of books proposed books will primarily focus on the work we do, whether it’s managerial, legal or something closely related to the field.  Of course, we will also consider a review of any fiction or nonfiction that one of our members found particularly compelling and appropriate for this audience.  We hope you will enjoy these book reviews and will consider submitting one yourself!  Here is JUST ONE THING that you can do for our association. 

Review Written By:  Brian Bernhard, Office Administrator, Dentons US LLP

Raise your hand if you attended the IPMA Annual Conference in Vancouver in 2012!  If you did, I’m certain you remember our closing keynote speaker, Shari Harley.  If you didn’t, I would recommend definitely seeing her speak if you ever get the chance.  Shari gets to the point quickly, is very direct (aka candid) and will make you laugh throughout the presentation.  Her book, “How to Say Anything to Anyone…” is no different.  Shari does not dilly-dally as she tells you exactly how, what and when to say things to your direct reports. Even in writing, she will keep you entertained throughout this quick read. Since Shari is from Denver, I’ve seen her speak and have read her book several times.  Each and every time, I realize that no matter how good of a job I think I am doing at the time, I can always learn to communicate better with my team.  

The two most important things Harley discusses in this book is why candor is so important in our conversations at work and how building candid relationships at the office ESPECIALLY as managers is part of the key to our success.  When we hear the word “candor” with regard to our workplace, we often go to a not-so-pretty place.  Harley explains to us how using candor isn’t only a way to present bad news or a way to have hard discussions.  “Candor is stating expectations rather than expecting employees and vendors to read our mind.” According to the author, developing a candid work environment is a way of taking the guess work out finding out what people want and need to be successful and that we should all be working toward creating relationships where all parties can speak their minds openly and without concern.

Harley walks us through setting up agreements with our people that define how you will work with your employees and/or clients and how they can most effectively work with you.  Teaching your team how best to work with you is brilliant!  Why should your team be guessing where your boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed are?  Harley states that forming candid relationships with your team will keep people out of your danger zone! 

What I most appreciate about Harley’s guide to working more effectively with the team is the number of examples she provides.  She practically walks us right through handling some of the more challenging situations we face. For those that she does not specifically map out, she makes it easy enough to apply her theories to any other situation.  She even provides for “preventions,” which take into account that people are people and mistakes will happen, and “fallbacks,” the consequence for a violation to the agreement, which the team has previously decided on.  She really covers it all! 

I highly recommend this quick read to anyone and everyone who manages people whether you struggle how to establish those initial relationships with their team or not.  Even if you consider yourself an old pro at working with people, it will certainly be refreshing to read Harley’s tales and to make us not feel so alone in the issues that I face managing a team on a day-to-day basis.  


Corporate Transparency Act: United Corporate Services, Inc.

By: Jim Nash, Business Development and New York City Operations Manager, United Corporate Services, Inc.
       Keith Sheppard, Marketing/Business Development Manager, United Corporate Services, Inc.

Until recently, the United States did not require corporations or limited liability companies that are formed to provide information on beneficial owners. This gave people with bad intentions an opportunity to conceal ownership of these entities and use their anonymity to conduct illegal activities such as money laundering, terrorist financing, tax, and drug trafficking.  

On January 1, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 was enacted into law. The bill includes the Corporate Transparency Act (the "CTA") which creates a beneficial ownership registry within the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN"), requiring certain corporations and limited liability companies to report information on their “beneficial owners” to FinCEN. This act will force law firms to collect and store more data on clients who come to them to set-up entities in the United States.

What information is required be reported?
Beneficial owners and companies must report a list of beneficial owners as well as the following for each beneficial owner: 1) legal name, 2) date of birth, 3) current residential or business address and 4) Government issued identification number.

What are the requirements of the CTA? 
The CTA requires corporations and limited liability companies to disclose to law enforcement and others with legally mandated anti-money laundering responsibilities (for e.g., financial institutions) information on who is the real, natural person (a.k.a. beneficial owner) who owns and controls an entity at the point of formation and update such information upon any change. This rule reflects a growing international trend to require disclosure of beneficial ownership and creates a compliance regime like that of many other countries. 

Who is FinCEN?
FinCEN is a government bureau that works to prevent and punish money laundering and related financial crimes of criminals and terrorists’ networks.  They also track suspicious persons and activity by researching mandatory disclosures for financial institutions.

FinCEN receives its duties from the United States Congress and the director of the bureau is appointed by the Treasury Secretary. 

What is a Beneficial Owner?

The CTA defines a beneficial owner as an individual who, directly or indirectly, through any contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or otherwise 1) Exercises substantial control over an entity or 2) Owns or controls at least 25% of the ownership interests in an entity and 3) Receives substantial economic benefits from the assets of a corporation or limited liability company. A “beneficial owner” does not include:

  • a minor child (the information of the parent or guardian must be reported instead);
  • an individual acting as a nominee, intermediary, custodian, or agent on behalf of another individual;
  • an individual acting solely as an employee of a reporting company;
  • an individual whose only interest in the reporting company is through inheritance; or
  • a creditor of a reporting company.

Who will have access to this information? 
Federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement would have access to the information for use in authorized investigations as would financial institutions (with customer consent) that have legally mandated anti-money laundering obligations. Note, the CTA will not require states to maintain a separate beneficial ownership information registry. 

Are There Exemptions?
The CTA explicitly exempts:
  • Companies that employ more than 20 people, report revenues of more than $5 million on tax returns, and have a physical presence in the United States;
  • Most financial services institutions, including investment and accounting firms, securities trading firms, banks, and credit unions that report to and are regulated by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or the FDIC; and
  • Churches, charities, and other nonprofit organizations.

What will be the responsibilities of states on handling the new reporting requirement?
The CTA will require states to notify filers upon initial formation or registration of the federal requirement to provide beneficial ownership to FinCEN. States will have two years after the effective date of the regulations governing the CTA to begin providing such notice. States must also provide filers with the reporting company form created by the secretary of the Treasury and must also update their websites to notify filers of the federal requirements under the CTA. 

When is the reporting requirement expected to take effect?

The U.S. Treasury must pass and put rules into effect by December 31, 2021, at which time reports will commence being required.   

What is the grace period for existing companies to submit their information? 

Starting in 2022, existing companies will have two years to submit initial reports while individuals forming or registering new companies will be required to submit reports at the time of formation or registration. 

Is there a penalty for non-compliance?
Any party that intentionally fails to comply with the reporting requirements of the CTA may be liable for fines of no more than $500 for each day that there is a willful failure to report complete beneficial ownership information and such parties may be subject to aggregate fines of up to $10,000 or a prison term of up to two years. 

How does this change how annual reports are filed?
Companies will be required to submit annual reports that identify the company’s beneficial owners and changes in beneficial ownership.  

What should companies prepare for?
Consult with your attorney on the impact of the new laws and evaluate how your company can remain in compliance. ​​