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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.

Speaker Bios

As always, this year's speakers are proven leaders, strategists, practitioners, and peers. No matter how long you've been in the legal industry or what position you hold at your organization, there's always something more to learn. Take a look at all of our speakers for the 35th Annual IPMA Conference & Expo. 

 
Ruth Alexandor
Quit and Stayed- Re-engaging You and Your Team
Ruth Alexandor managed Professional Development at two large Canadian law firms for more than 12 years before moving to the healthcare sector and now consulting. She specializes in helping people leaders in middle management roles flex their leadership style in order to build trust and create engaged high-performing teams. Through individual and team coaching as well as creating and implementing leadership training programs, she supports people leaders in developing core leadership skills including effective communication, self-awareness and leading change, coaching and training results in increased engagement and productivity for the leader and their teams.
   
Janelle Belling
Legal Project Management
As the Director of Legal Project Management (LPM), Janelle Belling is responsible for the continuous development and implementation of client and legal project management models and approaches, consultation with partners and clients on pricing, budgeting and matter management solutions to meet Firm and client needs.  She assists in the development and establishment of the firm-wide matter management framework of processes, tools, and technology which ensures efficient delivery of legal services and enables achievement of the Firm’s growth and profitability objectives. Janelle contributes directly to client satisfaction via her involvement and support of Perkins Coie’s Client Advantage™ Program.  Additionally, she is focused on improving efficiencies through shared management responsibilities, strengthening communication and making value (as defined by the client) transparent. Janelle began her career with the firm as a paralegal and has also held roles as an Analyst, Project Manager, Manager of Project Management, Director of Practice Technology Services, and Managing Director of the firm’s E-Discovery Services & Strategy (ESS) practice.  With more than 20 years of discovery experience, she also assists attorneys and clients with developing electronic discovery workflows, plans and strategy, ranging from effective legal hold implementation and management and the identification, preservation and collection of data to negotiations regarding scope of discovery and cost shifting.
   
Elise Brickner-Schulz
Creating a Successful Team Assistant Program: How to Grow Your Own Legal Assistants
As the firm's Director of Oregon Litigation Workflow and Legal Staff Manager, Elise participates in training and supervision, coordination of workflow, and overseeing productivity for the Oregon litigation associates. She currently supervises over 50 staff members, including paralegals, team assistants, legal assistants, word processing specialists, librarians, and others. She is a cochair of the firm's Pro Bono Committee and serves on the Technology Committee. Elise currently serves as the Chair of the Portland Community College ("PCC") Paralegal Program Advisory Council. She is Immediate Past President for the ALA-Oregon Chapter. She is a past-president of the International Paralegal Management Association ("IPMA") and is an associate member of the American Bar Association and the Multnomah Bar Association, as well as the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation. She also chairs and serves on three other health related boards.
   
Danielle Cohen
Bringing Your True Authentic Self to Work
Danielle is an Inclusion and Diversity leader, bringing her passion to work each day to ensure employees can bring their whole human to the office. She is responsible for the strategy and implementation of this portfolio globally. Leveraging strong relationship building skills, she leads with a strategic approach resulting in solutions for frontline employees to executive level. She is proud to be the co-chair for OMERS Pride ERG, recognizing that Pride isn’t just a day or a month, but 365 days of the year.Prior to embarking on the I&D journey, Danielle worked in Learning & Development, providing learning solutions to  global teams. It was here she built her skills around strategic partnerships and a global mindset. Her main focus in this role was manager development, developing and implementing a multi-level, blended learning solution for 800 managers globally. Danielle studied English at Carleton University and has continued to further her education with a Certification in Adult Education and a CTDP designation. Danielle spends much of her time out of the office surrounded by a very close knit family. She loves the outdoor – in the spring and summer – and in those seasons, she can be found hiking through the Ontario wilderness or sailing on Lake Ontario.
   
Matthew Cornick
Ethical Issues Raised by Use of the Cloud in Law Firms
Matthew S. Cornick is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo and Emory University School of Law.  He is the Program Coordinator and a Professor of Legal Studies at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia. He frequently speaks to paralegal educators, paralegal associations and law firms around the United States on technology and legal ethics.  Mr. Cornick has served on the Approval Commission to the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Paralegals.  He is the author of Using Computers in the Law Office, 8th ed., published by Cengage Learning.
   
Tracy Daniels
Mental Health 102
Tracy A. Daniels is currently employee as a Master Level Practitioner with the Pathways program with BayCare and the Behavioral Health Education Trainer for the Pathways program.  As a Master Level Practitioner, Tracy assess individuals for admission or referrals into the Pathways program, complete interpretive summaries which includes assessments for each client, identify and report appropriate barriers in order to promote successful transition to the least restrictive environment as appropriate for clients, develop a plan of care based on the results of the initial assessment and the interpretive summaries, actively participate in interdisciplinary planning process, refer clients to other Bay Care programs and/or appropriate community services based on identified needs that assure continuity of care through the transition planning process, provide effective crisis intervention that responds to the critical needs of individuals served, provide clinical services that are consistent with diagnosis and offer flexibility in regards to the clinical need of the client. As the Behavioral Education Trainer, Tracy conduct prevention trainings such as Mental Health First Aid certification training, Mental Health First Aid 101, parenting skills, domestic violence, sexual assault, diversity, stress management, conflict resolution, communication made easy, depression and dementia, and motivational interviewing.
   
Denise Dellaratta
Leadership- From the Front, Middle and Back in an Evolving Workplace
Denise Dellaratta has been a paralegal for over 26 years, managing paralegals for nearly 15 of those years.  She joined Fox Rothschild in April 2018 as the Paralegal Manager and currently oversee 141 paralegals in 27 offices, spanning multiple areas of practice.  Prior to joining Fox, Denise was a Paralegal Manager (5 years) and Director of Paralegal Services (3) at Morgan Lewis & Bockius. As a practitioner, she was a labor and employment paralegal working on a variety of matters with a focus on class actions in the employee benefits and FLSA spectrum.  Notably, in my time at Morgan Lewis, Denise coordinated/attended/support at 17 trials, including 7 ERISA bench-trials.
   
Susanne Fordham
Managerial Skills Seminar
Susanne has over 30 years' experience in Paralegal Management. She has been the Paralegal Manager for Weil, Gotshal & Manges since March 2004 where she manages paralegals in the Corporate, Litigation and Bankruptcy practice areas. She also coordinates document reviews with Litigation Support and contract attorney agencies. Prior to that, she was the Paralegal Manager for Dewey Ballantine (aka Dewey LeBoeuf).  She has also managed the End User Support groups for Information Systems Departments of White and Case and Davis Polk and was a Contract Manager for Doubleday/Dell/Delacorte Press. She has a paralegal certificate from George Washington University and a BA in English from College of Notre Dame of Maryland.
   
Merit Gest
How We Influence Others and What Has Influence Over Us
Merit Gest, CSP, is the Founder of Merit-based Sales & Leadership, author of Myth Shift: Challenging The Truths That Sabotage Success and creator of The Merit Method: Sales Mastery for Life program. With more than 20 years of sales, sales management, coaching, training, consulting, writing and speaking experience, Merit has worked with thousands of clients across multiple industries with one goal in mind... grow sales and influence. She is certified in Emotional Intelligence and earned the highest designation in The National Speakers Association, one held by less than 12% of professional speakers worldwide, The Certified Speaking Professional, CSP. Merit performs stand-up comedy to unwind... because that's not stressful at all! Prior to forming Merit-based Sales & Leadership, Merit was the Senior VP of Sales for a nationwide sales training organization and the youngest General Sales Manager for a start-up radio station in the country's third largest market. In her various roles as a business owner, trainer, coach, consultant and keynote speaker, she has worked with CEOs, business owners, entrepreneurs, sales management teams and professionals across a wide variety of industries including financial services, manufacturing, engineering, professional services, technology and even pest control.
   
Anna Gutierrez
Supervising a Remote Workforce Panel
Anna Gutierrez is the Trademark Practice Support Manager at Fenwick & West. With over 15 years of trademark experience, Anna oversees a team of 14 trademark paralegals and 9 docketing specialists/clerks, who expertly manage and maintain a docket of more than 50,000 matters. She has significant experience inbounding large trademark portfolios, ensuring the intake process is seamless and all deadlines are accurately docketed. Anna is a technology enthusiast related to all things trademark. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from San Jose State University.
   
Patricia Hartnett
Managerial Skills Seminar
Patricia “Patty” Hartnett is a veteran professional in the paralegal management field.  She started as a litigation paralegal over 2 decades ago and quickly rose to managing several paralegal programs in both east coast and west coast law firms.  She currently works at Munger Tolles & Olson as a Senior Manager of the Case Support Services department in Los Angeles. In her current role, Patty manages the daily workflow and personnel administration of the paralegal, case clerk and litigation analyst divisions. She also works closely with ediscovery vendors for temporary attorney services and large document review projects. Patty is routinely involved with talent recruiting, onboarding, performance management, training and professional development, statistical reporting, policy and procedures, compensation recommendations and other administrative duties. She also regularly participates in outside organizations such as IPMA, WIE, LAPA and the UCLA Advisory Board for Paralegal Studies. During her free time she enjoys spending time with family, friends and doing activities such as biking, hiking, yoga and golf.
   
Michelle Hess
Master Class Series: Creating a Training Program
Michelle Hess is the Paralegal Manager for Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP. She is a graduate of the Master of Paralegal Studies program at The George Washington University. Michelle received her Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2012. In 2000, she received an Associate of Science Degree in Paralegal studies from Hillsborough Community College, graduating with Highest Honors. Michelle obtained the Advanced Certified Paralegal Designation in Discovery in 2010 and Trial Practice in 2013. She has worked with notable Florida law firms in various areas of litigation and trial practice, including commercial litigation, intellectual property litigation, media law, medical malpractice, nursing home litigation with an emphasis on fraudulent corporate schemes, and technology and on arbitrations, mediations, and trials across the nation. Michelle has lectured to paralegals on trial practices through the Institute of Paralegal Education, sat on panels for COALSP and the Arkfeld ASU eDiscovery conference, and spoke on eDiscovery at the GW Alumni Association annual eDiscovery conference.
   
John Hodges-Howell
HR Topics in the US-Substances in the Workplace
John Hodges-Howell is a labor and employment attorney who enjoys guiding his clients through thorny, even legally arcane, litigation and regulatory matters. John gets truly excited when a client asks a question no one has had to answer before. And he brings this same dedication, creativity, and curiosity to every matter, whether he is defending his clients in civil litigation; providing legal advice on leave laws, reasonable accommodations, or whistleblower protection statutes; or representing them in labor negotiations, grievance arbitrations, or proceedings under the National Labor Relations Act or Railroad Labor Act. John also believes that developing lasting solutions to his clients’ problems requires helping them achieve their business goals cost-effectively while also taking the steps necessary to make sure past problems stay in the past.
   
Anthony Iannini
Supervising a Remote Workforce Panel
Anthony is currently the Advocacy/Paralegal Manager at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP headquartered in Seattle, WA.  Prior to that, he was the Global Legal Operations Manager/Paralegal Manager for GE Capital, in Norwalk, Connecticut for the past 8-1/2 years. Prior to joining GE, Anthony lived in Delaware where he spent six years with the litigation department of the Philadelphia-based law firm Saul Ewing, LLP and four years prior to that in the litigation department of Margolis Edelstein. He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Center for Family Justice in Connecticut as its Governance Committee Chair and on the Board of Directors of the Delaware Law Related Education Center as chair of its Scholarship Committee and has been teaching at Delaware Law School’s Legal Education Institute for over a decade.
   
Radha Kachalia 
Recruitment & Technology- How to Use the Latest Technology
Radha Kachalia is a Senior Legal Consultant with Beacon Hill Staffing Group, where she manages all phases of direct-hire (permanent) search and placement of paralegals, legal secretaries, IP professionals, business development and marketing staff and other legal support professionals throughout the Greater Philadelphia area, including candidate sourcing and recruiting, client development and account management.  She works with prominent national and global law firms and companies to provide legal solutions, as well as serves as a resource for her clients when assessing present and future needs.  Radha started the direct-hire division of Beacon Hill Philadelphia in 2015, and she has since grown her team by two professionals and has taken on overseeing recruitment efforts in other geographic markets.  Radha graduated from Villanova Law School and thereafter was an Associate with a small white-collar defense law firm in New York City, as well as a Staff Attorney with a securities litigation boutique in Philadelphia. 
   
Erika Kirby
Complexties in the Global Legal Environment
Erika is a high energy and seasoned Global Account Executive for CT Corporation. She has a deep understanding of the complexities of corporate compliance outside of the United States which she shares with clients and prospects to ensure seamless continuity for those expanding internationally. Her broad expertise in global compliance, and CT’s best in class service, allows her to effectively support both law firms and corporate clients alike. She is a frequent speaker at conferences and in-house events, and is subject matter expert for CT regarding international compliance requirements. Outside of work, Erika enjoys snowboarding, beach volleyball, and biking.
   
Aaron Levy
The Future of Work: Leading a Multi-generational Workforce
Aaron is the Founder and CEO of Raise The Bar, a team focused on helping companies create high performing teams by building better leaders. Aaron is the author of Open, Honest & Direct: a guide to unlocking your team’s potential, the host of the Open, Honest & Direct podcast, the Co-Director of Startup Grind Chicago, a Thrive Global contributor, an 1871 mentor, an ICF Certified Coach and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council. Over the last decade, Aaron has worked with over 7,500 business leaders in a variety of industries, inspiring them to define their goals, create tactical action plans, and achieve sustained success. Aaron is on a mission to transform the manager role by empowering each manager with the tools, skills, and training to be leaders of people who unlock the potential of their team.
   
David Mann
Dealing with Alcoholism in the Workplace
David Mann is a graduate of Ohio State University and Stanford Law School.  He served as a Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco before becoming a solo criminal defense practitioner.  After 12 years of practice, substance abuse-related issues caused him to resign from the bar with disciplinary charges pending.  Following a relentless battle with addiction which included numerous hospitalizations and periods of living on the streets, he succeeded in getting clean and sober in 1998.  Since then he has worked, among other things, as a cab driver, a private investigator, a paralegal, and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor.  He presently serves as the Northern California Consultant to The Other Bar, a statewide organization of recovering attorneys, judges, and law students.  In this capacity, he spends his time providing outreach and education to the legal community and assisting attorneys as they struggle with substance abuse and related challenges that threaten their ability and/or eligibility to practice law.
   
Toni Marsh, JD
Master Class Series: Creating a Training Program
Toni Marsh, JD, is the founding director of The George Washington University's paralegal studies programs and an Associate Professor of Paralegal Studies. She designed and launched the paralegal studies program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and designed the first-ever formal paralegal program in the nation of Tanzania at the University of Bagamoyo. Professor Marsh teaches Legal Writing, American Jurisprudence, and Contracts and presents regularly on paralegal careers, unauthorized practice of law, and paralegal utilization to increase access to justice and firm profitability.
   
Gary Melhuish
Managerial Skills Seminar
Gary Melhuish is the Manager of Litigation Support Services in the Philadelphia office of Ballard Spahr, LLP. Prior to joining this firm in 2006, he was the Legal Assistant Director in the Washington, D.C. office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Gary has over 30 years' experience as a paralegal including more than 20 years as a paralegal manager. He is a Past President of the International Paralegal Management Association (IPMA). He was Adjunct Faculty at the Georgetown University Paralegal Studies Program from 2002 through 2005 where he taught Legal Ethics and Legal Technology. Gary is former member of the ABA's Approval Commission of the Standing Committee on Paralegals and serves on the National Federation of Paralegal Association's PACE Advisory Committee.
   
Katie Molchan
Recruitment & Interviewing- How to Use the Latest Technology
Katie Molchan is a Senior Managing Consultant at Beacon Hill Legal where she recruits solely on permanent legal support opportunities while managing two permanent recruiters. With a focus in the Chicago market, Katie and her team handle paralegal, legal secretary, docketing, conflicts, office administrator & legal marketing searches for law firms and in house legal departments.  Beacon Hill Legal is a national search firm that delivers the very best legal staffing solutions, document review services, and direct hire search and consulting capabilities. Prior to Beacon Hill, Katie worked for a national event staffing company. Katie can be a great resource for legal jobseekers and law firms who are looking to add top legal staff talent!
   
Megan Pizor
Discovery Strategies for the loT and Smart Devices
Ms. Pizor earned her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Akron School of Law and is admitted to practice law in the State of Ohio. Ms. Pizor graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Akron. She is also a Certified Litigation Management Professional. During her career at LMI, Ms. Pizor has served as the Manager of Client Relations, where she worked closely with clients in the development and monitoring of comprehensive discovery strategies for the defense of large-scale litigation. Ms. Pizor has specific expertise in litigation support operations and is experienced in affirmative discovery strategic planning and project management. In her current position, Ms. Pizor solidifies new and existing client relationships by serving as a liaison between clients and LMI management, identifying and developing new product lines, and monitoring and improving business development and operational metrics.
   
Janelle Rynes
Hybrid Paralegals: How to Supervise Paralegals Who Perform Secretarial Duties
As Senior Director of Legal Support Services & Records at Arent Fox LLP, Janelle is responsible for managing the firm’s support service departments which ensures that client work is completed. Janelle oversees more than sixty paralegals firm-wide who support all practice groups. Janelle obtained PMP certification in 2013. She served as a Commissioner on the ABA's Paralegal Education Approval Commission. Janelle taught "Legal Technology and Litigation Management" for George Washington University's Paralegal Program, and served on Georgetown's Paralegal Program Advisory Committee. Prior to working at Arent Fox, Janelle was the "Electronic Discovery, Special Projects Case Manager" at Arnold & Porter. There, she was tasked with managing large litigation matters.
   
Tracy Schumm
Developing a Paralegal Orientation Program
Tracy Schumm is the Director of Legal Professionals for Snell & Wilmer L.L.P.  She is responsible for the daily business affairs and training of the firm’s paralegal, paralegal assistant, and litigation support programs in Phoenix, Tucson, Orange County, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.  She earned her B.A. from Illinois State University and her MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.  Tracy worked previously as the Legal Professional Program Manager for four years before being promoted to Director in 2018.  Tracy serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Legal Studies program at Phoenix College.  She also serves on the IPMA Board as Division I Chapter Development Chairperson. 
   
Jeremy Schwartz
HR Topics in Canada- Substances in the Workplace
Jeremy Schwartz is a Partner at Stringer LLP, a leading boutique employers’ labour and employment law firm in Toronto, Canada. Jeremy routinely advises and represents employers in litigation concerning occupational health and safety, human rights, and wrongful dismissal allegations. When he’s not representing employers in health and safety prosecutions, civil actions and applications before courts, arbitrators and other administrative boards and tribunals, he is busy strategically guiding employers to effectively manage their workplace and minimize litigation and liability.
   
Michael D. Sermersheim, Esq., ERMp
Discovery Strategies for the loT and Smart Devices
Michael D. Sermersheim, a certified Electronic Records Management Practitioner, provides management consulting services, where he specializes in information privacy, information security, management of information, and a broad array of compliance matters impacting businesses today.  Mr. Sermersheim previously served as Associate Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Industrial Security Supervisor at the University of Akron for over 35 years, where he focused on a range of legal issues in higher education, including records and information management, data privacy and security, and labor and employment matters.  Mr. Sermersheim has also served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School, teaching courses in electronic discovery and discovery management.  He is currently an active volunteer with Community Legal Aid in Akron, Ohio, where he heads the Peace of Mind Debt Clinic, advising area residents on issues involving significant debt and bankruptcy.  He was the recipient of the Legal Aid Pro Bono Volunteer of the Year Award for 2018.  Mr. Sermersheim is a frequent lecturer and author of numerous publications on legal, technology, records management and higher education issues. 
   
Carol Van Buren
Supervising a Remote Workforce Panel
Carol Van Buren is the Director of Paralegal Services at Perkins Coie, LLP, where she is responsible for the paralegal program in all the US offices. She works with the firm’s practice groups managing the paralegals, including staffing, training, profitability, and policy innovation and development. Carol has worked as a paralegal director for the last 26 year at AM Law 100 & 200 firms. Carol is currently serving as a co-chair of the PNW Chapter of the IPMA and is a member of the Emerging Trends Committee. She is a member of the University of Washington’s Paralegal Advisory Board.
   
Karen Xander
Leadership- From the Front, Middle and Back in an Evolving Workplace
Karen Xander has worked in the legal industry for over 36 years with over 20 years as a paralegal.  She is currently the Paralegal Manager for the Labor & Employment practice group at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, managing 15 paralegals across the nation.  Karen has extensive trial experience in various jurisdictions, including FINRA and OSHA Arbitration Hearings, as well as jury trials in various state and federal courts.  For 12 years, Karen was a part-time adjunct instructor with the Paralegal Institute at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh teaching Intro to Paralegalism, Technology courses, and Labor & Employment courses.