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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, 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 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, chaired by Gary Melhuish, for their efforts in developing this outstanding program!

General Sessions

How We Influence Others and What Has Influence Over Us

SPEAKER: Merit Gest, Keynote Speaker, Author & Creator of The Merit Method for Sales Mastery, Merit-based Sales & Leadership, Inc.

There are three parts to growing our influence; mindset, action, skills. Whether you have to effectively lead a team of people or lead a few teenagers in your household, influence is everyone's job. Before we can effectively influence others, it's critical that we understand the influences that have control over us. In this session, professionals, salespeople, managers, entrepreneurs & owners learn alongside each other the specific mindsets, actions and skills that grow their influence and their business in a non-pushy, non-"sales-y" way.
In this session you will:
  • Debunk 3 myths about influence that could be killing your results right now
  • Discover how to grow your influence in less than 3 minutes without being pushy
  • Learn an influence skill you can use daily
  • See yourself as the powerful secret influential weapon that you are
Wednesday, October 23, 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm
Room: Quinault


The Future of Work: Leading a Multi-Generational Workforce

SPEAKER: Aaron Levy, CEO & Founder, Raise the Bar

Today's workplace can encompass employees from four different generations, all who have been shaped by their own unique social, environmental and personal experience. While people all share the same basic human needs, they are motivated and inspired differently. Aaron Levy discusses the motivating factors and nuances, between the generations in the workplace, how to best lead and inspire them, and unite them together as a high performing team.

Thursday, October 24, 8:30 am - 9:45 am
Room: Quinault


IPMA Talk Live!

MODERATOR: Brian Bernhard, Office Administrator, Ogletree Deakins

Get ready for a new take on the IPMA Talk Live Roundtables! Trust us, you won't want to miss this general session. IPMA members will be acting out common situations you find yourself in all the time. Then you'll benefit from the open discussions about these situations and potential solutions.

Thursday, October 24, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm
Room: Quinault


Mental Health 102

SPEAKER: Tracy Daniels, Master Level Practitioner, Pathways

Friday, October 25, 8:30 am - 9:45 am
Room:  Quinault


Quit and Stayed- Re-engaging You and Your Team

SPEAKER: Ruth Alexandor, Leadership Coach and Learning Consultant, PD Counsel

Every day the spirits of millions of people die at the front door of their workplace. There is an epidemic of employees who are uninterested and disengaged from the work they do, and it is costing your firm and you personally. According to a Deloitte survey, only 20% of people say they are truly passionate about their work, and Gallup surveys show the vast majority of workers are disengaged, with an estimated 23 million “actively disengaged.”. This workshop will provide you with tips and best practices for reengaging your team and show you how to “rumble with your leadership vulnerability” (Brene Brown)
In this interactive session, participants with the opportunity to discuss their leadership challenges with their team members who are disengaged and not working at their full capacity. The program is designed to share practical and useful information that participants will apply when they return back to their firms. 
  • Define criteria to determine engagement level of team
  • Identify signs of disengagement as compared to performance issues
  • Build strategies to re-engage your team
Friday, October 25, 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm
Room: Quinault

Breakout Sessions

Creating a Successful Team Assistant Program: How to Grow Your Own Assistants

SPEAKER: Elise Brickner-Schultz, Director of Oregon Litigation Workflow and Legal Staff Manager, Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP

As our Legal Assistant workforce begins to retire, how do we fill the gaps that are being created?   This program will give you a step-by-step guide to creating and implementing a successful Team Assistant Program. You will be given tools to recruit, train and evaluate a strong team.  You will learn how to get buy-in from attorneys and staff, keep people motivated, and develop a pipeline of future employees.
In this session you will:
  1.  Develop strategies to maximize current and new resources;
  2. Learn how to create a training program for a new workforce; and
  3.  Implement a successful Team Assistant program
Thursday, October 24, 10:30 am - 11:45 am
Room: TBD


Discovery Topics for the loT and Smart Devices

SPEAKERS: Megan Pizor, General Counsel, Litigation Management, Inc. (LMI)
                      Michael Sermersheim, Chief RIM Officer, Vestige, Ltd.

If discovery is inevitable, it is critical to manage the process carefully in order to control scope and contain costs. This is especially important in litigation involving “smart” and highly technical products. Technology is rapidly evolving – so what does this mean in the legal space? Be ahead of the curve and learn about the new frontier of IoT and smart devices, including privacy and security, IP considerations, and challenges – and opportunities – to expect in discovery. This 60-minute session will conclude with key audience takeaways, as well as a preview of "on the horizon" topics, such as the dark web, artificial intelligence, and continued trends in cross-border discovery.

Thursday, October 24, 10:30 am - 11:45 am
Room: TBD


Recruitment & Interviewing- How to Use the Latest Technology

SPEAKERS: Radha Kachalia, Senior Managing Consultant, Beacon Hill Staffing
                      Katie Molchan, Senior Managing Consultant, Beacon Hill Staffing
                      Lisa Rauhauser, Division Director, Beacon Hill Staffing

Thursday, October 24, 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm
Room: TBD


Ethical Issues Raised by the Use of the Cloud in the Law Firm

SPEAKER: Matthew Corninck, Professor, Clayton State University

It is no secret that law firms have access to valuable client information.  Much of that information is stored and shared using the cloud.  That makes law firms, and the people who work at law firms, targets for hackers, ransomware and malware.  We will discuss the ethical obligations imposed on legal professionals to secure their clients’ confidential data and some of the tricks the bad guys use to access that data.  We will also look at some best practices that can be used to avoid falling into one of the many traps that are seeking your clients’ confidential information.

Thursday, October 24, 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm
Room: TBD


Dealing with Alcoholism in the Workplace

SPEAKER: David Mann, Consultant, The Other Bar

In this presentation, Mr. Mann provides a review of the brain chemistry of addiction and alcoholism, as well as a discussion of the behavioral and health consequences of the disease.  Insights are offered into the personality traits of attorneys and the qualities of the legal profession that combine to make lawyers significantly more susceptible to addiction, and more difficult to treat, than the general population.  The presentation includes a case study of an addict attorney, as well as a self-diagnosis exercise for attorneys to utilize if they are concerned that they may have a problem which needs to be addressed.  Concluding remarks are directed towards both systemic and individual solutions to the problem, with references to specific strategies and resources available to attorneys.  Mr. Mann approaches this very serious topic in a manner that incorporates humor and irony and invites attorneys to engage in a bit of sometimes much-needed self-reflection.

Thursday, October 24, 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm
Room: TBD


HR Topics in Canada- Substances in the Workplace

SPEAKER: Jeremy Schwartz, Partner, Stinger LLP

Workplace substance use and abuse is one of the most legally perilous issues HR professionals face.  Now, one year after the legalization of recreational cannabis, this is an opportune time to take stock of where we are and what we’ve learned.
This session will cover:
  • Health and safety issues related to substance use and intoxication in the workplace;
  • How to navigate human rights and workplace privacy considerations; and
  • How to craft and implement policies to guide and protect your organization.

Thursday, October 24, 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Room: TBD


HR Topics in the US- Substances in the Workplace

SPEAKER: John Hodges-Howell, 

Thursday, October 24, 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Room: TBD


Complexities in the Global Legal Environment

SPEAKER: Bianca Erb, Global Business Consultant, CT Global Services

Expanding operations internationally can provide many exciting opportunities for business growth. However, there are substantial risks and challenges associated with going global. As the legal landscape continually changes, it is important to stay well-informed of laws, regulations, and implications on an on-going basis. Having a trusted partner has proven to be invaluable for many companies looking to cross borders. This seminar will highlight complexities, scenarios, and key considerations within the global legal environment as it relates to global expansion.

Thursday, October 24, 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Room: TBD


Developing a Paralegal Orientation Program

SPEAKER: Tracy Schumm, Director of Legal Professionals, Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.

Friday, October 25, 10:30 am - 11:45 am
Room: TBD


Supervising a Remote Workforce Panel

SPEAKERS: Carol Van Buren, Director of Paralegal Services, Perkins Coie LLP
                      Anna Gutierrez, Trademark Practice Support Manager, Fenwick & West LLP
                      Anthony Iannini, Global Legal Operations Manager, GE Capital

Our panel will include paralegal managers in large firms and in-house who’ve managed teams in several offices who work from home.  You will hear how we developed our programs and have found this to be a successful venture for corporations and law firms.  You will be able to hear our stories and suggestions for you including:
  • Tactics for convincing your partners this is a win-win situation they should try
  • How to run a pilot to test your program
  • How to measure your success in the pilot and show how profitable this new work mode can be
  • How to roll out a program and ensure its success
  • Tips on management issues that arise when managing remote workers
We want this to be an interactive session, so bring your questions and we’ll share our stories, challenges and successes.

Friday, October 25, 10:30 am - 11:45 am
Room: TBD


Leadership- From the Front, Middle and Back in an Evolving Workplace

SPEAKERS: Denise Dellaratta, Paralegal Manager, Fox Rothschild
                      Karen Xander, Paralegal Manager, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

This program will focus on building a sustainable future for career paralegals with a focus on leveraging technology for innovation and growth. Attendees will walk away with practical, easy to implement strategies/ideas to engage all team-members, identify and address development needs while supporting the Firm culture/philosophy, and grow the next generation of leaders. Attendees will learn skills to lead from all steps of the ladder and engage colleagues with fervor and enthusiasm to remain relevant and engaged.

Friday, October 25, 10:30 am - 11:45 am
Room: TBD


Hybrid Paralegals: How to Supervise Paralegals who Perform Secretarial Duties

SPEAKER: Janelle Rynes, Senior Director of Legal Support Services and Records, Arent Fox LLP

Arent Fox has created a hybrid-paralegal position that combines the duties of both a legal secretary and a paralegal.  This emerging hybrid role helps entry-level individuals acquire practice area experience while allowing the Firm to fulfill administrative entry-level work and legal entry-level work with the same resource. Join Janelle Rynes to learn about how Arent Fox has experienced a cost-savings, found efficiencies that cross all administrative groups in the firm, and increased job satisfaction for experienced employees overall.

Friday, October 25, 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
Room: TBD


The Legal Project Management Journey

SPEAKERS: Janelle Belling, Legal Project Director, Perkins Coie LLP

This session will provide an overview of the Legal Project Management (LPM) group at Perkins Coie.  We will also discuss how paralegals can transition into the role as an LPM or simply incorporate fundamental LPM techniques into their daily practice to help ensure you are working efficiently, effectively, and are delivering value to the clients and attorneys you support.  Attendees will gain an understanding of why LPM is a critical component of law firms’ response to their clients’ demand for greater efficiency, increased visibility, and cost predictability.

Friday, October 25, 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm 
Room: TBD


Mental Health Awareness

Friday, October 25, 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
Room: TBD

Pre-conference Events

Managerial Skills Seminar

SPEAKERS: Susanne Fordham, Paralegal Manager, Weil, Gotshal & Manges
                      Patricia "Patty" Hartnett, Senior Manager, Munger Tolles & Olson LLP
                      Gary Melhuish, Manager of  Litigation Support Services, Ballard Spahr LLP

The IPMA Managerial Skills Seminar is designed to develop and refine practical managerial skills involved in the supervision of paralegals, litigation support, docket, technology, and other legal practice support professionals. This full-day program is the first and only seminar designed by and for active practice support managers and presented by IPMA members. Both new and experienced managers will learn valuable management, team building, and communication skills essential to supervision in a legal organization. Subjects covered include recruitment and retention, orientation, evaluations, training programs, performance management, and positioning your program for success.

Tuesday, October 22, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm 
Room: TBD


Master Class Series

SPEAKERS: Michelle Hess, Paralegal Manager, Lewis Roca Rothgerber
                      Toni Marsh, Director, Paralegal Studies Master's Program, The George Washington University

Please join us for our first master class: Developing Internal Training Programs. Training stumps many of us, but with ever tightening budgets, the need to cross-train, and the lack of commercially available specialized training, it's becoming necessary for paralegal managers to develop their own in-house training programs. This class will give you the tools you need to successfully implement internal training programs. We will outline the education and training models managers can use to develop their workforce professionals; guide managers in choosing the right options to suit particular objectives; and review the principles of good teaching to assist you in training and educating your workforce. This will be an interactive session and includes building an outline for a customized internal training on a discrete topic using the method Toni Marsh and Michelle Hess have developed as paralegal program director at The George Washington University and paralegal manager at Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie respectively.

Wednesday, October 23, 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Room: TBD