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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.

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 36th Annual IPMA Conference & Expo. 

 
Karen Anderson
Work Life Balance and Managing Expectations of the Legal Professionals that We Manage Panel
Karen is the Manager of the Corporate Services Department at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP in Toronto and has over 25 years of experience.  She manages a team of corporate law clerks  and assistants.  As a working manager, Karen also uses her expertise in all areas of corporate proceedings and corporate maintenance matters, and assists with corporate acquisitions, amalgamations and reorganizations.  She also manages various firm projects relating to the Corporate Services Team and is also involved in training and mentoring junior law clerks.
   
Elina Balagula
Learning to Navigate the Complexities of International Transactions
Elina Balagula is a licensed attorney with over 10 years of legal practice experience, who serves as a UCC and transactional subject matter expert for law firm and corporate clients in the Northeast region. In her role, she consults on matters related to lien searches and filings as well as corporate compliance issues arising in the context of financial closings, M&A, and real estate transactions, among others. She also teaches CLE seminars on these topics at national law firms and professional associations. Prior to joining CT, Elina served as General Counsel for a privately owned financial services firm in New York City, where she worked on commercial finance transactions and advised senior management on financial due diligence and corporate governance issues. Preceding that role, Elina practiced commercial and bankruptcy law at a national law firm, and served as a Law Clerk for the Hon. Peter J. Walsh in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Elina earned her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law, and her B.S. in Accounting, magna cum laude, from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Elina is a member of the State Bars of New York and New Jersey.
   
Joy Baldridge
How do we get our People Back - Trust & Loyalty
Joy Baldridge is a Certified Speaking Professional, TEDx and globally sought after keynote speaker who has spoken from Boston to Bangkok, Denver to Dubai, and Seattle to Singapore. Joy is the author of 3 business books and does virtual and live keynote presentations on positive change, team engagement, communication, sales and leadership. In 2019 she made the 41 Top Motivational Speakers list along with Les Brown, Daymond John (of Shark Tank fame) and Simon Sinek. Joy has spoken at over 30 universities including Yale, Tulane, Colgate, Jack Welch College of Business and Technology and Loma Linda Medical Center, and over 200 corporations such as Google, BDO, IBM, NBC, Rolling Stone, Architectural Digest and Oprah Magazine, and numerous conferences such as The American Gem Society, Association of Realtors, Global Oral Health Summit, ARMOUR Cybersecurity Expo, Asia Fitness Conference, Private School Educational Summit. Yale University recently chose her new book, The Joy in Business, Innovative Ideas to Find Positivity and Profit in Your Work Life, for their book club read this year. Her first speaking engagement was at the White House at the age of 19. She got there by cold calling the president. Her keynotes are captivating, energizing and filled with tons of tangible takeaway value! Her secrets to success and wisdom from her experiences in work and life provide a positive and pragmatic perspective and toolkit beneficial for professionals at all stages and situations in their work and life.
   
Brian Bernhard
IPMA Talk Live
Brian Bernhard is the Denver Office Administrator for Dentons US LLP.  His career in the legal industry spans 25 years working for both the government and law firms, with a primary focus on the field of immigration law.  He has built and managed high-performing and cohesive teams of legal support professionals at the firms where he has worked.  Brian has been a member of the IPMA since 2007 and is a Past President of the Association.  He currently serves as Chair of the award-winning Communications Committee, which produces Inspired Leadership, the IPMA’s quarterly e-Magazine and the Chair of the Colorado Chapter.  Brian is also an active member in his local chapter of the ALA and sits on the National Federation of Paralegal Association’s Certification Standards Committee.  He and his wife are the founders of Foster Source, a non-profit supporting Colorado’s foster parents and children in care, and are the overwhelmingly proud parents of three crazy kids.  Brian enjoys networking, laughing and moderating the IPMA Talk Live session this conference. 
   
Michele Bush
How Your HR Team Can Help You Manage
Michele is the owner of Meglyn Consulting.  After an extensive 30 year career in corporate HR, she bravely reinvented herself and now helps businesses to improve their productivity and employer brand through leadership behaviour and employee engagement. Michele is also a Certified Coach Practitioner, providing customized career transition and job search support for her clients. Michele is known for being a charismatic speaker, an engaging facilitator and a progressive mentor for aspiring HR professionals.  She has worked in both private and public sectors, with entrepreneurs, large multinational and global corporations, across various industries from insurance to biotechnology, spending 10 years in Senior Executive roles in mining and heavy equipment. Michele holds a degree in Psychology and a Business Diploma from Wilfrid Laurier University, an Executive Management Certificate from McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business, and a CHRM designation from the Human Resources Professionals Association. Michele has a genuine desire to advance the profile of the front-line leadership function, ensuring that they have a sustainable, profound impact on their team’s success and ultimately the business results. She is actively engaged in multiple Women In Leadership and local community groups and has a side gig as an actor/model, which keeps things interesting.
   
Dennis Dore
 A Law Firms Journey through the COVID-19 Pandemic
Dennis Dore is currently the Director of Business Resilience at Perkins Coie, LLP responsible for proactively protecting the firm through strategic planning, preparation, management, and recovery from an impactful event. Has established a holistic resiliency program within the firm through leading safety and security modernization projects firmwide and establishing a mindset of shared responsibility for safety in the office. By working with and supporting departments he has conducted Business Impact Assessments and led the development and management business continuity plans to ensure firmwide capabilities continue under a variety of critical incidents. Most recently Mr. Dore has successfully guided Perkins Coie  (all domestic and international locations) through the COVID-19 Pandemic using a multi-discipline approach. 
 
Prior to joining Perkins Coie, Mr. Dore worked as a Defense Contractor (seven years) with Raytheon and (10 years) with Boeing. He planned, executed, and completed major programs vital to national security. He was responsible for successfully managing these programs within the triple constraints of budget, schedule, and scope, including the acquisition and managing of resources, developing risk mitigation, and crisis planning. 

Mr. Dore has his master of science in project management from The George Washington University and his bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). He also holds certificates in systems engineering from California Institute of Technology and information security and risk management from the University of Washington. In addition, he is a Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and is in process of becoming a Certified Threat Manager through the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals.  
 
   
Devlin Fisher
Learning to Navigate the Complexities of International Transactions
Devlin Aaron Fisher is the Global Sales Support Manager at CT Corporation, serving as a resource to both CT’s global law firm and corporate customers and internal sales and service teams. He is a licensed attorney with 8 years of legal practice experience. With expertise in global corporate governance, compliance and entity management, he consults on complex matters related to global corporate entity formation and dissolution, annual compliance, integrations of global entities subsequent to M&A activity, capital infusions/injections into global corporate entities, changes/amendments to the charter documents of global corporate entities, global due-diligence work and more. Devlin tracks and analyzes trends and changes in global jurisdictional corporate law that can affect the planning, execution and completion of these matters. Devlin also regularly presents on these topics at national law firms and professional associations. Devlin earned his J.D. cum laude from the Duquesne University School of Law, his M.B.A. from the Duquesne University Donahue Graduate School of Business and his B.A. in Political Science, magna cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Devlin is currently a member of the State Bar of Pennsylvania.
   
Delee Fromm
Gender Bias in the Workplace
Delee Fromm is an author, lawyer and psychologist who has taught and coached for 30 years. As a former partner at a large law firm, she practised commercial real estate for 17 years. Prior to law, she worked as a neuropsychologist. Since 2003 she provides consulting services to a variety of organizations on implicit bias, women’s advancement and career skills. She is a guest lecturer at various universities and is author of Advance Your Legal Career: Essential Skills for Success and Understanding Gender at Work. She is a career coach with the Law Society of Ontario and on the Advisory Board of Young Women in Law.
   
Jeff Koller
The Changing Landscape - Digital Reporting
Jeff Koller has had a split legal career for nearly 30 years during which he had his own litigation practice handling state and federal matters from inception through trial and appeal. And, for more than 20 years, he has been in the litigation support sector handling matters from legal, operations, client support and development, as well as training on an array of topics covering litigation technology, social media, deposition procedures and eDiscovery. He serves as the Legal & Development Director for Veritext Legal Solutions.
   
Aaron Levy
Open, Honest and Direct: A Guide to Unlocking Your Team's Potential
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.
   
Matthew Linton
The Current State of Artificial Intelligence 
Matthew Linton advises clients on a broad range of workplace and environmental safety and health issues, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, employment matters, and government investigations throughout the nation. He routinely handles the legal and crisis response to workplace accidents and fatalities and safety related whistleblower complaints with agencies such as OSHA, MSHA, and many others. Matthew’s knowledge and experience as a former U.S. government attorney helps clients achieve the best possible outcomes when facing complex, high-profile agency enforcement actions. Matthew also provides counsel on how to navigate legal issues related to transforming workplaces with artificial intelligence and robotics technologies as well as the issues surrounding the development of autonomous vehicles. In addition, Matthew continually reviews strategies for incorporating artificial intelligence and other technological solutions into his legal practice to most efficiently and effectively represent clients.
   
Jill Maganza-Ruiz
Hot Topics in HR- USA
Jill is a senior Talent/HR executive with more than 20 years' experience supporting professional services organizations.  A change agent, she brings innovation, enthusiasm and a collaborative approach to achieving business and talent management strategic goals. Presently the HR Director for Dentons US LLP, overseeing a team of more 25 HR professionals across the United States, Jill is responsible for developing and executing human resources strategy in support of the Firm’s key strategic priorities. Jill has oversight of all elements of human resources including overall talent management and acquisition, total rewards, risk/compliance, development and advancement, integration and engagement, mobility and immigration, policy development & implementation, and workforce analysis. 
   
Gary Melhuish
Managerial Skills Seminar
Work Life Balance and Managing Expectations of the Legal Professionals that We Manage Panel
Gary Melhuish is the Manager of Litigation Support Services in the Philadelphia office of Ballard Spahr, LLP where he manages paralegals, e-Discovery services, litigation docketing and contract attorneys,  Gary has over 35 years' experience as a paralegal including more than 30 years as a paralegal manager. He is a Past President and Life Member of the International Practice Management Association (IPMA). He was Adjunct Faculty at the Georgetown University Paralegal Studies Program 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 served on the National Federation of Paralegal Association's PACE Advisory Committee.
   
Michelle Muhleisen
Hot Topics in HR- USA
Michelle has devoted her career to advising and counseling employers on issues affecting their relationship with their employees.  From questions about compliance with state and federal wage and hour laws to drafting effective policies to prevent discrimination, harassment, and violence in the workplace, as well as assisting employers in navigating complex pay equity concerns, Michelle has extensive experience assisting employers to prevent potential liabilities down the road. In addition to advising clients both proactively and reactively, Michelle devotes a significant percentage of her practice to defending employers against single-plaintiff, collective, and class action suits in both state and federal courts. She is also a frequent speaker on issues impacting the employment relationship and regularly conducts training for clients, professional organizations, and continuing legal education seminars across the country.
   
Emily Shamsid-Deen
The Subtle (yet dangerous) Ways Racism Shows Up in Workplace
Emily Shamsid-Deen is the Owner and Principal of ESD Consulting, which provides facilitation and consultation services to help organizations create equity based, values driven change through transformational leadership practices. Emily brings over 17 years of experience in nonprofit management and has worked in the areas of leadership development, advocacy, racial equity, nonprofit capacity building, domestic violence, disease prevention, and community engagement. Emily’s career has been spent committed to—and has primarily worked with—disfranchised and marginalized communities. Emily also taught as an Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Denver in the Graduate School of Social Work teaching social welfare policy analysis and practice. Regardless of her role, Emily approaches all her work with a social justice framework. Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts of degree in Political Science and Black Studies and a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management with a Certificate in Program Development & Evaluation. Most recently, Emily worked as a Community Engagement Manager implementing equity driven, community, and organizational advocacy efforts. Emily strives to create relationships with transparency and honesty in order to effectively advance organizational goals.
   
Karen Skinner
Can Tossing my To-Do List Make me More Productive and Less Stressed?
Senior Attorney and Lean Practice Management Advisor - Karen is a senior attorney and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with over 20 years of international experience in corporate-commercial, regulatory, and education law. She is co-founder and principal at Gimbal Lean Practice Management Advisors, and exclusive Global Advisor (Legal Process Improvement) to the International Institute of Legal Project Management. Karen offers clients a powerful combination of legal experience and process improvement skills. Since founding Gimbal, she has taught Lean thinking and legal process improvement to thousands of lawyers around the world. Karen hosts the popular weekly webinar series, Virtual Coffeehouse, on topics law school doesn’t teach you about running a practice. She speaks and writes regularly on the application of Lean to the legal profession, and facilitates projects that improve the practice and the business of law.
   
Austin Smith
Managing Client Expectations
Austin Smith is the General Counsel, Litigation and Labor & Employment, for Lockheed Martin Space, and he is based in Littleton, Colorado.  He was previously the managing partner of a national labor and employment law firm and spent his outside counsel career litigating individual and class action cases filed against employers, as well as advising employers on issues impacting the employer/employee relationship.  While Austin has significant experience defending employers against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, wage and hour violations, noncompete and restrictive covenant violations, workplace safety issues, and traditional labor law matters, he really values the ability to work with his clients to minimize liability and implement policies and procedures that are both legally compliant and effective at reaching their business goals. 
 
Austin has conducted training sessions both inside the United States and abroad on human resources issues, law firm management practices, and litigation strategies and continues to speak to employers, human resources providers, and legal organizations on labor and employment laws, human resources topics, and management skills.
   
Shannon Stanojevic
Hot Topics in HR- Canada
Shannon has over fifteen years Human Resources experience and works currently as an HR Director at OMERS. Prior to joining OMERS, Shannon was an HR Director at Oxford Properties and held HR positions with the Canadian Tire corporate office and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.  Shannon is a board member with The Neighbourhood Group Foundation in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Western Ontario, Diploma in Human Resources Management from Seneca College and the CHRL designation.
   
Marcia Suelzer
How Not to Blow a Gasket
Marcia Richards Suelzer is a dual-career professional. She is the Senior Manager in CT's law firm segment where she works across functional areas to drive innovation and customer satisfaction. An Illinois licensed attorney, she practiced civil and criminal law prior to joining Wolters Kluwer as a senior writer-analyst with CCH tax products. While at CCH, she managed the flagship tax department and served as a product manager for federal tax research products. In addition to her Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law, she holds an M.A. magna cum laude in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. As an Illinois Licensed Professional Counselor, she works helps clients manage personal and professional stress, anxiety, depression, addictions, and sleep disorders. As an adjunct professor, she teaches Crisis Counseling, Complex Trauma, and Psychopharmacology. She also presents to social service agencies and community groups on variety of mental health issues.
   
Carol Van Buren
Work Life Balance and Managing Expectations of the Legal Professionals that We Manage 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.
   
Lara Wharton
Mindfulness for a Healthier Mind and Work Environment
Lara’s previous career as a corporate lawyer provides her with a genuine understanding of the stresses present in high-intensity, fast-paced work environments. She now offers corporate workshops and weekly in-office mental-health breaks that teach people how to meditate to improve their mental health and find balance amidst the stress and rush of our busy lives. Simple, non-intimidating explanations based on scientifically-proven mindfulness techniques empower participants to fully understand how mindfulness and meditation can help them de-stress, be more productive and improve their overall health and happiness. Lara has been practicing yoga and meditation for 16 years and has traveled around the world participating in and guiding meditation retreats. She is regularly in training studying the neuroscience behind mindfulness, consciousness, psychotherapy and Buddhist studies.