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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.

October 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.

- What A Year
Why I'm Going To Conference 
- Introducing Our New HQ Team Members
- A Tale Of Two Charities : The Story of the IPMA's 37th Annual Conference Charity
Book Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team :  A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni
37th Annual
IPMA Conference & Expo

October 13-15, 2021
Managing the New Normal


What A Year!

It is hard to believe that I am coming to the end of my year as President. As we begin to prepare for the 2021 virtual conference, it truly has been Managing the New Normal. (It’s not too late to join the fun at conference!)  Last year this time, we were all still in shock with enormity of what the pandemic brought to our personal and professional lives.  Fast forward, one year and we are still coping with an ever changing landscape of repercussions. Adapting has been the focus for all of us this year.
The IPMA has not been immune to those changes.  Some good and some not so good.  We continued to use Zoom for all of our meetings. While Zoom fatigue is a real thing, our members have been able to build many more relationships than they had in the past while using just teleconferences. We have been able to have virtual conversations in the last eighteen months with those voices we knew from phone calls. The downside is not having our annual conference in person where we renew friendships and get to know our new colleagues. In person conversations and meetings will always be the best way to connect, but that was simply not possible throughout the year and not this year at our conference.  I look forward to Montreal where I will be the conference chair and will be counting on your support and presence to make it a great “homecoming”.
The IPMA faced an unexpected challenge in losing our long-time Executive Director Kelly Ash and Coordinator, Ciara Hodges.  They both took advantage of the burgeoning job market to explore new opportunities.  It is not hyperbole when we say that our managing staff in is the backbone of what makes our organization run. The Executive Committee, Board of Directors, Committee Chairs and members all stepped up to bridge the gap of Kelly and Ciara’s departures.  We all learned that it’s not “magic behind the curtain” that makes all of our activities just happen.  We welcome Jamie Reed, Executive Director and Alfred Chambers, Jr., Association Coordinator.  It has been a baptism of fire for them joining us only a couple of months ahead of our annual conference.  We look forward to working with them and reaping the benefit of their talents.
We still have a long way to go to build our membership numbers to the levels we had several years ago.  An important step in that direction was the updating of our Mission Statement to recognize that Practice Management is a much broader group of leaders in addition to paralegal managers. We are seeing many of our members reach retirement and being replaced by a new generation of managers whose positions and titles are very different than what IPMA has seen in the past.  Embracing theses changes and enlarging “our tent” is our future. I know we will be in good hands with our new president and president-elect, Tara Eberhart and Gary Platton.
Stay well and see you at the conference!
                                                                  - Lisa M. Ricchezza, IPMA President

Why I Am Going To Conference (And Not Just Because I Am The Conference Chair) 

By: Patty Maxwell, Litigation Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP

            I wanted to take a moment to talk to you all about how important Conference is.
As I told you all last year, the last time my Firm fully financially supported my going to Conference was in 2015 (Scottsdale).  After that Conference, I had to be creative- for the next two years they paid for the conference and I paid for the travel.  After that I was completely on my own except that I did not have to take any vacation for the time that I was attending the conference- it was credited as professional development.  During this entire time I was also on the board. 
I understood that even if I was paying to attend out of my own pocket, the rewards were far greater than not going.  I had three days of great learning experiences that helped me be a better manager and frankly, when I moved to my current role all the breakout sessions on budgeting and productivity and realizations came in very handy not to mention the sessions on managing up and down.  In short, going to Conference was my investment in me and my growth in my career. 
Not only did every Conference that I attended after my firm stopped sponsoring me help me grow my skill set, it also provided me the opportunity to solidify my relationships with manager friends all over the US and Canada and allows me to be able to pick up the phone or shoot someone an email when I need advice or perhaps a good candidate or an ear to listen from someone who is in the same unique position as me.  Networking and building those relationships and friendships is a HUGE part of what makes the IPMA so special.
We learned so much last year about hosting a virtual conference last year and I am excited that this year we are building in time for us to have lunch together as well as having extended and better hours for visiting our Business Partners in the Expo Hall.  The content is incredibly relevant and I know that you will learn so much of you join us.  There is DNI content and a session on how remote work fits into our culture to give a couple of highlights.  Check out the link here to see what you all that you can learn.  I am going to ask you again this year to consider, that even if your employer won’t or can’t spring for Conference, that you should invest in yourself and attend anyway.  Come on to Conference 2021 and meet up with your friends, catch up on what’s new and come away refreshed and energized and even better at your job. 
            I can’t wait to see you next month at the 37th Annual IPMA Conference.  It really is going to be a lot of fun!

Introducing Our New HQ Team Members

By: Brian Bernhard, Office Administrator, Dentons US LLP
Just in the knick of time, the IPMA is excited to introduce to its members our newest Executive Director, Jamie Reed and Senior Association Coordinator, Alfred Chambers Junior. Jamie and Alfred join us as we finalize plans for our 37th Annual Conference “Managing The New Normal”. The work that they have done at this critical time has been a spectacular help. The Board thanks them so dearly for their hard work and dedication. We are happy to introduce Jamie and Alfred to you all, so you can love them as much as we do!

Jamie Reed is approaching her 6-year anniversary with Meeting Expectations and previously worked as the Association Manager for the Children’s Literature Association.  When she is not working hard for you, Jamie loves spending time with her husband, Travis and 8-year-old daughter, Katie. She is also a huge New Kids on the Block fan and is a self-proclaimed “Block Head”.

Alfred Chambers Junior is a creative and bright young man. He is joining us from the world of Fashion based Public Relations and Event Planning in New York City. Personally, he finds solitude in reading Young Adult and Fantasy literature, international travel and hopes to one day own a very large saltwater fish tank.
Jamie to Alfred: Let’s have the staff get to know us better!

Alfred to Jamie: Ok, I’ll go first… Hi I’m Alfred Chambers Junior, this is Bruiser Chambers Junior. We’re both Gemini Vegetarians. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion and Merchandising from CULA. I was a Zeta Lam Denu sweetheart, president of my sorority, Delta Nu, and last year... I was homecoming queen. Oh!, and two weeks ago I saw Cameron Diaz at Fred Segal and talked her out of buying this truly heinous angora sweater. Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed!

Jamie to Alfred: Seriously?

Alfred to Jamie: OK, No… that was from a movie. Legally Blond! I love orange. Let’s start with you. What was the last thing to make you smile?

Jamie to Alfred: Sometimes kids really do say the darndest things.  The other night my daughter was mad at me and called me a “fun sponge just like COVID because I suck the fun out of everything”.  I should have been upset, but I just started cracking up.  I wish I could think of insults that witty.  How about you Alfred?  It sounds like you’ve met a lot of famous and interesting people.  Is there anyone you wish you could meet that you haven’t?

Alfred to Jamie: Not really. I think that working in that industry really desensitizes the idea of fame. They are generally just like normal people and therefore not too interesting. However, I would like to meet God or whoever created the world. I’d have lots of questions for them but back to you. What is one thing you wish was blue that is a different color?

Jamie to Alfred: What?  How do you come up with these? I wish my house had pretty blue siding.  We have a brick house and I wish it had siding that could be updated and painted.  I love painting and redecorating!  Question for you, what is something that everyone loves but you hate?

Alfred to Jamie: Avocado Toast. I don’t like avocadoes in general and cannot for the life of me understand that obsession. I mean they have an Avocado Toast flavored chip, they have socks and pillows, what’s next? It’s like the millennial PB&J. I hate the whole thing. For you.. what was the last thing you’ve read that you wish you hadn’t? (Bills don’t count!)

Jamie to Alfred: So, I don’t regret reading it, but I do regret reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah in a public place. Let’s just say that the person sitting next to me on the airplane must have thought I was crazy, I was ugly crying and trying to hide it. What’s your favorite book?  You mentioned that you love Young Adult and Fantasy literature.

Alfred to Jamie: I do, so I must give mention to The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It’s an amazing 3-part series that is like an adult Harry Potter. They’ve turned it into a TV show as well but, the books are always better. However, my absolute favorite novel is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It is such a modern-day fairytale. For a final assignment in undergrad, I actually wrote a B-side of the novel. It composed of about 9 journal entries and letters surrounding the main characters and followed additional feelings and storylines that Austen left open for interpretation. I hand wrote everything, put the letters in envelopes and used torn pieces of paper for journal entries. My professor refused to give it back to me. Well thank you for your time! I’ll get back to working on these registrations for our 37th Annual Conference : Managing the New Normal which I am soooo excited to join. 😊

Jamie to Alfred: Yeah, get back to work and quit slacking, we have a conference to run!  Just kidding, thank you for all of your help and jumping right in when I need you! I’m so excited to have you on my team!

A Tale Of Two Charities : The Story of the IMPA's 37th Annual Conference Charity 

By: Patty Maxwell, Litigation Specialist, Arnold & Porter LLP
Gary L. Melhuish, Manager of Litigation Support Services, Ballard Spahr

It was the best of times (the 37th Annual IPMA Conference), it was the worst of times (another year where a virtual event would have to suffice), it was the age of wisdom (that even if you are unable to attend Conference, you can donate to this year’s charity), it was the age of foolishness (no member wants to be foolish and miss out on the chance to win a gift card by giving $10), it was the epoch of belief (that one country would prevail), it was the epoch of incredulity (that your country could lose), it was the season of Light (that there is light ahead and next year we will be together in person for Conference), it was the season of Darkness (that we have to wait a little longer to get there), it was the spring of hope (that we get to see everyone in person next year), it was the winter of despair (that we will miss the in-person social events this year), we had everything before us (the 2021 Annual Conference and a choice – to give to the Canadian charity board or to the U.S. charity board or both), we had nothing before us (but the time to donate this year) . . . .

Ok - so you get the idea and we have butchered Dickens enough. Back by popular demand, the IPMA Conference Committee has once again selected The IPMA as our charity.
Just like last year:

·     You can choose to give to the U.S. or Canada (or both) “boards”;

·     The funds raised will be used to support memberships for folks who may not have us in their budget for next year;

·     At the 2020 Conference, the charitable donation competition was a raging success with the total U.S. donations barely beating out the Canadian total;

·     Your generosity allowed us to offer 3 U.S. and 3 Canadian memberships to our colleagues;

We are asking for your help again this year. It’s a great cause - our members and our community! And we can have fun with a little U.S./Canada cross border competition to go along with it.
This year, the charity donation process is a little different:

·     You can give through the below links which will go live on September 30 without selecting specific numbers from a board;

·     For each $10 contribution, your name will be entered into the gift card raffle held at the Annual Conference closing raffles on Friday, October 15;

·     To help defray the costs incurred by using the on line credit card service, we will ask contributors to give a tip (strictly voluntary);

·     While we won’t be picking numbers off a physical or virtual board this year, there will be 3 gift cards awarded per 40 donations.
Each time we reach $400 in contributions per country, the “board” resets and more chances to win another round of gift cards begins.
Even if you can’t make it to Conference this year (but remember it’s still not too late to register), we would be so grateful and, of course, you will be entered into the gift card raffle. Details about how to enter the raffle to win a membership will be circulated once Conference is over and we determine how many memberships we can offer based upon your contributions.

So pick a team or pick both teams and give to our favorite charity – membership in THE IPMA.

2021 Conference Committee


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team :  A Leadership Fable, Patrick Lencioni

Book Review Written By: Katrina Braden Wilkins, Director of Prosecution Support Services, Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox P.L.L.C.

During a time where there is much being discussed about people leaving jobs as part of the Great Resignation, there is considerable interest in what managers can do to get team members to stay. A question I often ask myself is how can I build a team where people are thriving and want to stay because they have found job satisfaction and are moving towards realizing their full potential? One resource that I refer to frequently when considering how to build teams where people want to stay is a powerful book written in the format of a fable – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In this bestselling book, author Patrick Lencioni speaks to issues that can cause teams, including the individual team members, to stumble and eventually fail if the issues are not resolved. The issues discussed in this book speak to the very heart of matters that most if not all teams struggle with – absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results.

In the book, Lencioni walks us through a fictitious story of a new CEO who has taken over a once promising and shining star of Silicon Valley, an organization that is now plagued with the loss of good employees, missed deadlines and low revenue.  From the very start, the new CEO makes it a point to observe company culture by walking the halls and talking with various team members. Instead of running her initial meetings, the new CEO allows the former CEO (now head of business development) to continue running the executive meetings as she takes notes and plans for a senior leadership retreat. No one understands her approach and no one seems on board for a full two-day offsite meeting. However, once at the retreat, the CEO reveals her strategy – she wants the team to rise to the challenge of fulfilling their purpose at the company. She wants the team to achieve results. However, there is a roadblock to the team accomplishing this goal and that roadblock just happens to be the team itself. The team as the CEO firmly informs the leaders at the start of the retreat is dysfunctional. From there, the CEO takes the next two days to cover five layers of dysfunction that she believes prevent teams from being successful.  These five layers are as follows:
  • Absence of Trust – this is the first layer in a pyramid that the CEO uses to illustrate the five dysfunctions. As the first layer, it serves as the foundational piece for building a great team. This trust goes beyond just taking someone at their word, but is more of a vulnerability type trust where people trust they can show up as their whole and authentic selves and not be judged. Without this level of trust, teams can never achieve “real” teamwork because there will always be someone holding back out of fear.
  • Fear of Conflict – immediately above the layer of trust lies conflict. Without trust teams will hold back on showing their true selves.  With no or limited trust also comes a fear of conflict where team members don’t fully engage and share constructive feedback or “blue sky ideas.”  When there is a fear of conflict, a false sense of harmony is created.  A sense of everything is going well and that everyone is on board, when the reality is the opposite is true.  The perceived harmony is not real.
  • Lack of Commitment – the next layer of dysfunction deals with failure to buy into decisions, which is a directly related to the previous dysfunctions dealing with trust and conflict. If people don’t trust their team enough to share their true feelings, if they don’t feel as if they have a voice in the process, they won’t actually buy into the process.  Without being heard, people will likely not really commit to the plan or decision even if the artificial sense of harmony indicates otherwise.
  • Avoidance of Accountability – the fourth dysfunction the CEO tackled with her team connects back to not having real buy-in. It proves to be a difficult task to hold a team accountable when there is not real agreement on what the expectations are. This is how teams miss opportunities and deadlines. Behaviors and productivity become unreliable. Instead of stretching and reaching high, standards are lowered to meet the bar set by a lack of commitment and a fear of conflict. 
  • Inattention to Results – At the top of the pyramid sits the last dysfunction – a lack of focus and commitment to achieving collective results. The success of one overshadows the goals of the team.  Status and ego shows up a great deal in this layer of the pyramid. It isn’t so much that status and ego are bad things, but the individual ego should not ever trump the collective ego. When there is inattention to our results, managers may see their department as their primary team and overlook the fact that they are part of a leadership team that needs to achieve collective results.
A very interesting read that I recommend to anyone exploring the concept of how to build or maintain a successful team. While it is certainly true that this book alone is not the answer to all questions regarding how to build a high-functioning team, it does provide good insight into many issues managers and teams face today. Communicating expectations around these five layers of dysfunction and how to avoid them has been at the center of my management philosophy for more than a decade.  I encourage others to try it out as a possible resource to add to your management toolkit.

Author: Patrick Lencioni is a best-selling American author of books on business and team management.  He is one of the founders of the management consulting firm, The Table Group, and is considered a pioneer of the organizational health movement.