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Our Mission

The International Practice Management Association is your primary resource for information and education on the management of practice support professionals including paralegals in law firms, corporations, 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 practical resources and cutting-edge solutions to the membership, the legal industry, and the public at large on the value of utilization and management of practice support professionals.

October 2020

© 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.



Conference Connection: What You Should Know!
Looking Ahead to 2021 and the IPMA Presidency
Definition of a Paralegal
How I Give Back to My Community- New Inspired Leadership Series
IPMA Talk Live Wrap-up

Register for Conference Now!


October 14-16, 2020.

Compensation Survey Coming Soon! 

Conference Connection: What You Should Know!


By: Ciara Hodges, Association Coordinator, IPMA

The 36th Annual IPMA Conference & Expo will be presented VIRTUALLY this year. The IPMA conference committee has been hard at work organizing a valuable event full of relevant education and fun networking opportunities. Although this year’s conference will look different, it is still going to be just as beneficial as years past.
Virtual conferences bring many new challenges, but also some exciting new opportunities. This gave us the chance to change some elements of conference and adjust to make sure all our attendees and business partners benefit from a virtual event. The Board of Directors decided to lower the cost of the event to make it easier to get approved or make it easier to pay out of pocket if your organization is unable to cover the cost this year.

Since we’re operating in more than one time zone this year (and we know Zoom fatigue is real), we have shortened sessions and each overall day. Conference will only take up about 4.5 - 5.5 hours each day, leaving you more time to check email and get work done. 

Pro Tip to get the most out of each day’s education: Take some time off from work so that you’re not checking email and worried about what’s on your to-do list. Put your out of office on and ENJOY everything our board and conference committee have put together.

The keynotes and breakout session speakers are sure to leave your thirst for knowledge quenched. Delee Fromm kicks off the conference with an insightful presentation on Gender Bias in the Workplace and offers tips on how to avoid being a part of the problem. Emily Shamsid-Deen will end Wednesday afternoon with an insightful keynote on The Subtle (Yet Dangerous) Ways Racism Shows Up in Workplace. Lara Wharton will show you how to keep yourself centered in Mindfulness for a Healthier Mind and Work Environment. Dennis Dore will kick-off Friday morning's keynote on A Law Firm's Journey through the COVID-19 Pandemic. Aaron Levy is back and set to wrap up conference with his keynote Open, Honest & Direct: A Guide to Unlocking Your Teams Potential.
In addition to our keynote sessions, we have several phenomenal breakout sessions including topics on management, human resources, technology, working from home, and more. Visit the IPMA website to see all of our session descriptions and speaker bios.

The IPMA will be offering different networking sessions to ensure that you are getting the most out of your virtual conference experience. Wednesday's Networking Opportunities consist of your choice of Bingo (Sponsored by Divergent), Trivia and/or a Scavenger Hunt. Thursday's Networking Opportunities will consist of a Cooking Demo with the IPMA Presidents or a Cocktail Demo with a swanky bartender! Friday's Networking Opportunity will be CT's Closing Event and you definitely want to be in attendance. There will be plenty of prizes so don’t forget to bring your competitive spirit. 

Expo Hall
We’ve put together a virtual exhibit hall which will be comprised of zoom meetings and utilizing the IPMA website. For each expo hall break, you’ll be directed to our website where you can peruse each exhibitor’s page and all of their information. From there, you can join a chat with the exhibitors to better learn about new vendors and services in the industry. You’ll need to get the password from each exhibitor to complete your virtual mission. We have strategic times set aside for attendees to visit each exhibitor, and don’t worry – we’re still doing the end of conference raffle. To be entered in the raffle, you must visit and chat with each exhibitor, and complete the missions in our conference game app. We truly could not make this conference happen without all our exhibitors and sponsors, so be sure to visit them during the Expo Hall hours.
Even though this year’s conference will look differently we have gone above and beyond to make sure you still get the best education and networking opportunities. This is still the most productive and cost-effective event of the year. The best part - There is no need to make travel/hotel arrangements. Just make sure your laptops are charged, you are in an uninterrupted space and you are wearing your #IPMATravelingSocks.
We are looking forward to hosting you virtually this year!


Looking Ahead to 2021 and the IPMA Presidency

By: Lisa Ricchezza, IPMA President Elect & Senior Paralegal and Legal Professional Manager, Dechart LLP

Wow, 2020 has been the longest and shortest year in my memory! I can’t believe conference is just around the corner and I will assume the role of President of IPMA in a short couple of weeks. With everything that has happened this year, pandemic, raised awareness of racial injustices, personal struggles and the reimagining of my professional life, it is hard to believe that this has all happened in one year (or actually closer to 6 months.) The year 2020 is truly a watershed moment that has made an indelible mark on our lives. So what’s next?
So many people want 2020 in the rear view mirror as quickly as possible. I totally understand that sentiment. However, there are so many lessons learned this year that we need to remember them and incorporate them in how we move forward. The IPMA has not been exempt from feeling the impact of this year’s events. Those changes have been positive and to some degree negative. I want to build on all of them.
Let’s get the negative out of the way first. The pandemic took a bite out of our finances. With a membership drop and the projected income from conference not anticipated to match past years’, our association is back in austerity mode. As many of your past presidents agree, we know how to do austerity! Being an eternal optimist, I see these challenges as opportunities for success.

I believe our members will be back once the crisis is over AND we are introducing ourselves to many new potential members. The fundamentals of IPMA has not changed, we are the premier resource for education and networking among legal professionals. We have built it, they will come.
You ask how? The positives from this year are many. They are making us stronger. We along with everyone else has been pushed into the virtual world, some kicking and screaming. We met this challenge head on.  Under the leadership of our president, Patty Maxwell we forged ahead and looked at everything we do and how we could continue and expand our offerings with a virtual focus. Our annual conference and local chapter meetings was when we met in person. All of our other activities were not face to face. Today they are!  Zoom has allowed us to see and talk to our members like we never did before. More and more members are feeling comfortable turning on the video feed and that is building our connections across the association. Zoom is here to stay and it will serve us well into the future.
Having spoken and listened to so many of you this year, I think this has been a great year for paralegal/practice group management. We all have been on the front line of figuring out how to get our jobs done and effectively supporting our paralegals and legal professionals to remain productive. We are a creative group and those lessons learned will help us in the future as we transition from an exclusively remote work environment to whatever the hybrid remote/office model that I believe will be our future. IPMA will continue to be on the forefront of sharing the lessons learned and reimagining the way law firms and legal departments function.
I look forward to supporting and facilitating the work of our Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board as it grows from its initial stages. Racism needs to be exposed and rooted out in all avenues of life. We need to continue to educate ourselves on these realities. As managers we have the opportunity to make and direct decisions that impact the inclusion of all members of society. 
Confidence! That is my word for 2021. We have struggled mightily this year, but we have succeeded on so many levels. We need to be confident of what we have learned and make sure we use our voices to speak up and share the lessons with our colleagues at work and within IPMA. I look forward to continue to work with everyone I have met over the years and I am excited to meet the rest of our members in the coming year. 
See you on a Zoom call soon! Hopefully at our conference this month! Register today!


Definition of a Paralegal 

By: Jane Anne Gross, Paraprofessional Coordinator, Reed Smith LLP
The American Bar Association (“ABA”) has long appreciated the value the paralegal profession can bring to the legal world.  The ABA established a Standing Committee on Paralegals whose mission “is to improve the American system of justice by establishing ABA standards for the education of paralegals and by promoting attorneys' professional, effective and ethical utilization of paralegals.”  The Standing Committee is comprised of attorneys familiar with the paralegal profession and/or active in paralegal education and development, with a goal to “develop[s] and promote[s] policies relating to the education, employment, training and effective use of paralegals.” The Approval Commission works with the Standing Committee to promote high quality paralegal education through the approval of paralegal education programs that are in compliance with the ABA Guidelines for the Approval of Paralegal Education Programs (“Guidelines”). Together, the Standing Committee and the Approval Commission set the standards for high quality paralegal education and paralegal programs undergo a rigorous approval process on a regular basis in order to be considered an ABA Approved program.

The Approval Commission is comprised of attorneys and paralegals working in the field of paralegal education, representatives from professional paralegal and paralegal education associations such as AAfPE, NALA, NFPA and the IPMA, a paralegal and a public member. Approval Commission members chair and second site visits, write site visit reports and present programs for approval and reapproval at Approval Commission meetings. As the IPMA representative on the Approval Commission, I can attest that the Commission takes very seriously its mission to evaluate paralegal programs up for approval and reapproval and their compliance with the Guidelines.
The Standing Committee and Approval Commission was also recently tasked with the issue of whether the ABA’s definition of paralegal should be updated in light of modern usage. In April 2019 I attended a meeting of the Conclave, a gathering of associations and groups invested in the paralegal profession and education and the topic of modifying the ABA’s definition was raised by ABA representatives. The National Federation of Paralegal Associations had previously sent a request to the ABA to revisit their definition to remove the term “legal assistant.’ The definition adopted in 1997 by the ABA read as follows:
“A legal assistant or paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”

The discussion to modify the definition centered around the deletion of the term “legal assistant.” Some saw the term legal assistant as more applicable to legal secretaries in today’s market. Others voiced that use of the term “legal assistant” on a resume made the reviewer consider that the candidate had performed more clerical instead of substantive work. Questions were raised as to whether the two terms create confusion, thus contributing to a “branding” problem and whether two job titles describing the same roles creates confusion among the general public about what a paralegal does. 
Thomas McClure, the Approval Commission Chair and Conclave attendees noted that the Standing Committee would be continuing their discussion on modifying the definition soon and he was interested in the Conclave members’ thoughts as to the impact of the removal of the term “legal assistant” might have on our respective constituencies.  Although at the Conclave meeting no one raised significant opposition to the proposed change, he suggested the question be raised with our membership and any feedback sent to the Committee. The IPMA’s Board of Directors did not have any concerns with the removal of the term legal assistant from the ABA’s definition of paralegal.  No other associations raised issues with the modification. The ABA Standing Committee and Approval Commission continued to seek feedback on changes to the definition from the legal community and stakeholders in paralegal education and the profession and to discuss the topic at Committee and Commission meetings before submitting a resolution to the ABA House of Delegates. 
Thus, at the February 2020 ABA Midyear meeting, the ABA's policy-making body, the House of Delegates, adopted the current definition of paralegal, as recommended by the Standing Committee on Paralegals. The current definition now reads as follows to mirror current usage and to highlight the substantive work paralegals are expected to perform. The term “legal assistant” is now removed from the definition:
“A paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.”
*The views presented in this article are those of the author and do not represent the views or policy of the American Bar Association.


How I Give Back to My Community

By: Tracy Schumm, Director of Legal Professional/Professional Services, Snell & Wilmer LLP

Thanks for reading the second article in our “How I Give Back” series.  The idea behind these articles is to learn more about how IPMA members and their firms give back to their communities and the legal industry and learn more about our members while we’re at it.  I’m thrilled I was asked to write for the series and share how I give back to my community.  I hope you enjoy it!
A little about me.  My husband and I are raising two equally amazing and exhausting kids while balancing our careers, a happy home, family, hobbies, scouts, athletics, etc.  Believe me – I have a full plate, but I always find myself saying yes when given an opportunity to give back.  I volunteer, I answer the call when asked, and I’m always happy I do.  So, you’re probably asking why I add more to an already loaded plate and it’s a valid question.  In order to tell you how I give back, it’s easier to tell you why I give back.
Former Arizona Cardinal and fallen Army Ranger, Pat Tillman once said, “Passion is what makes life interesting, what ignites our soul, fuels our love and carries our friendships, stimulates our intellect, and pushes our limits.”  I have immense respect for Pat and his legacy.  These words have deep meaning and I always challenge myself to live them.  I give back because it gives me a greater sense of purpose, it exposes me to new things and people, and it feeds my passion for life.  My why is passion. 
My first love and passion has always been education.  I earned my bachelor’s degrees in political science and secondary education and had contently planned to teach high school history, sociology, and economics for the rest of my life.  Instead, I followed my college sweetheart (now husband) to Arizona and landed a great job at a prestigious law firm in Phoenix where I am now celebrating my sixteenth year.  That said, I still love teaching and continue to have the utmost respect for our educators. 
Good news is I still fulfill my love of teaching in a couple ways. I have been a volunteer for Junior Achievement for the last five years. I am a trained volunteer teacher working with 6th – 8th graders teaching them about economics, personal finances, and high-growth careers. I also participate in mock interviews and networking activities with high schoolers.  I find this time in the classroom rewarding and look forward to the post-Covid days when I can volunteer again. I am also on the advisory board and an adjunct faculty member with Phoenix College’s Legal Studies program where I teach the communications section of the NALA CP preparation course and occasionally organize resume writing workshops for paralegal students. I thoroughly enjoy being a member of the local education community because I satisfy a passion while also playing an influential role in paralegals’ early careers.   
I am also a strong advocate for first responders. The passion to advocate for first responders comes from a tender and personal space in my heart. My big brother Bill has always been my hero.  He was smart, fun loving, and driven. He fulfilled a professional dream when he became a flight nurse working on a helicopter trauma team in Chicago. On October 15, 2008, while on a lifesaving mission, his helicopter crashed and all onboard were killed. He was 31. On April 22, 2009, I found myself at a House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Hearing in Washington DC to advocate for increased safety measures for medical helicopters. The Air Medical Safety Act passed the House and was introduced to the Senate in June 2009. Through this tragedy, I knew I needed to take the best parts of Bill, the parts I admired most, and carry them with me forever. This is what drives my continued passion to advocate for those who sacrifice their own safety to save others. 
To honor my brother’s legacy, I have also become passionate about advocating for our active military. I support the Pat Tillman Foundation in providing scholarships to our extraordinary service men and women. I have this foundation to thank for my love of running as I participate every year in Pat’s Run along with 28,000 other Phoenicians. My fundraising efforts are always done in my brother’s name. I also support our veterans who struggle with re-entry to civilian life. I have participated in training (and even joined the Army Reserves for a day) to learn how to better advocate for veterans who are seeking employment after their service.
If you’re looking for ways to give back to your community, I encourage you to peel back your reasons of why and find your passion. The stronger the why, the easier it is to follow through. If you already know your why, then the rest is easy.  We all have unique opportunities to give back to our communities. Next time you have a chance to volunteer or are asked for your time, I challenge you to say yes.  You never know what that experience will teach you about yourself.    


IPMA Talk Live Wrap-up

By: Gary Platton, Mass Tort Manager, Ulmer & Berne LLP

The Vice Presidents – Chapter Development & Support, along with other members of the Board of Directors, held a Talk Live Call on September 10, 2020 regarding what it will look like as employees start returning to work and what challenges they will face regarding their home lives. Members ranging from small and large law firms to in-house members, were on the call, and shared their experiences.
The majority of members indicated that all their offices are still closed with some opening up on a voluntarily basis in the next few weeks. Those that would be opening will be issuing staggered starts to limit the number of people in the office at a given time and staff members will have to get permission to go in to the office. The consensus among the members on the call was that a lot of their staff would not be returning on a regular basis until their offices issue a mandatory return to work, which most felt won’t be until after the first of the year.
One of the main concerns members were hearing from staff, especially those who work in secretarial pods, was that they did not feel safe. The members whose paralegals are in physical offices indicated that those individuals would most likely return to the office occasionally because they would be able to remove their masks, unlike those staff members sitting in pods who are surrounded by other staff. Another concern members and staff reported had to deal with the use of public transportation, especially in the larger cities. The other concern discussed related to staff that would have school and daycare issues and how that would affect their lives. Most members indicated that those issues would be resolved on an as-needed basis, but also indicated that they would most likely approve those staff members to continue to work from home in order to accommodate their work-home balance.
The call wrapped up with all members agreeing that they have not seen a drop off in productivity, but rather an increase. With that being the case, the members on the call agreed that their offices will have to look long and hard at either creating or revising their “work from home policies post COVID.