Monday, July 30, 2007

NALA's 32nd Annual Convention - New Orleans

Logoartblack The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) held its 32nd annual convention July 10-14 in New Orleans. Three institutes, three educational tracks and one very special leadership program = Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! The Convention was fabulous, to say the least.

I serve on NALA's Board of Directors as Chair of its Advanced Paralegal Certification Board so of course that was the primary reason I was there. However, even if I didn't serve on the APC Board, missing Convention would be out of the question! It seems that every year this event gets bigger and better and I just love attending. True, Convention is all about education and leadership training but it also offers an opportunity to re-connect with old friends and to make new friends. This year was no exception.


While the entire Convention was spectacular, there were two outstanding events that I believe deserve to be highlighted. Both events demonstrate that NALA is all about "vision." First, NALA President Tita A. Brewster, ACP, announced NALA's Leapwebwindow brand new LEAP Program that will focus on leadership training. LEAP is an acronym for "Leadership Enhancement And Preparation" and is a new training program coordinated by NALA's Professional Development Committee. LEAP is designed to explore various facets of leadership and prepare volunteers for the challenges of national leadership roles with NALA. Since I am Past President of NALA, I realize the value and importance of training future leaders.

As if that were not enough, the Membership forum featured nationallyLevin_tif_2 recognized professional speaker, Mark Levin, CAE, whose very entertaining audience participation session was available to all convention registrants at no charge. What a benefit! Mr. Levin stressed that effective leaders not only have the ability to do things, they also have the ability to get things done... but they must be able to influence others to work with them.

Mr. Levin's interactive session covered: identifying the biggest challenges to leaders; determining what it takes to be a successful leader; bridging the generation gap; getting others to do their part; and planning for success. He is truly a gifted speaker who has the ability to combine laughter and learning.

Just one more comment about the LEAP Program. Fifteen NALA members from across the country were chosen to participate in the first LEAP class. It is my pleasure to mentor Lorena Shingleton, ACP, of Charleston, West Virginia during this year-long program. Congratulations to all who were chosen for this first class. I urge my readers to acquaint themselves with this program and consider participating next year.

And, last, congratulations to NALA President, Tita Brewster, ACP and all the NALA staff, particularly Executive Director, Marge Dover, CAE on an another outstanding Convention. See you all next year in Oklahoma City!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

NALA Convention - New Orleans LA

The 32nd Annual Convention of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) is now history. It was held in New Orleans, LA...and what a grand convention it was...a great time to learn, network, re-connect with old friends and make new friends.

There will be more about the Convention in my next post. First, I have to rave about New Orleans. The city is back in business and, as their banners proclaim, they're "jazzed" to have visitors. While I must admit my exposure to the city was limited to being transported from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport to the Sheraton New Orleans on Canal Street and then the walking I did in the French Quarter, I have to say I saw a city open for business and anxious to please.

Cafe_du_monde The Cafe du Monde still serves the best coffee and those fabulous beignet's...square pieces of dough fried and and drenched in powdered sugar. There's nothing like heading

down Decatur street as the sun is Cafe_du_monde_3_12rising to join other early risers enjoying the coffee with chicory and devouring the heavenly beignet's. I did my best to bring several beignet's home on my hips ... they're worth every calorie.Hurricane_4 While most of my day was spent in meetings at the Sheraton, there was still time to sample some of New Orlean's finest restaurants in the evening: The mandatory Hurricane at Pat O'Brien's located at St. Peter and Bourbon Street; a fabulous filet mignon at Arnaud's at 813 Rue Bienville; and succulent Red Fish at Emeril's Delmonico.

The only downside to the trip was that it was too brief. There was not time for any tours and my list of restaurants to try is still long. This is definitely a city that merits a return visit. Do any of you have suggestions for places to visit/restaurants to try when I'm there again?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Organizing for Safe Travel

At exactly 4:00 p.m. this afternoon I stood before the water dispenser in the kitchen at my office, filling a Styrofoam cup with hot water as I dunked a Red Rose Tea bag up and down until the water was a color of my liking. I would be sipping my tea and munching on a Girl Scout cookie.

Seabourn_spirit_3 Something was terribly wrong! Where was our wonderful, white-gloved server, Anna? Where were the exotic teas, delicate cucumber sandwiches, tender scones, and sweet pastries? Alas...High Tea was taking place somewhere in the Ionian Sea aboard the Seabourn Spirit and I was back to real life in Charlevoix, Michigan. Sigh!

When I told my clever friend Suzanne Dalton, Suzanne_dalton(clever because not only is she talented, but she's found a way to spend part of the year in Italy teaching English and the remainder of the year in her beautiful studio and garden in Northern Michigan) that I'd be visiting Italy, she had one bit of advice, "Don't wear a fanny pack!" There were two reasons: petty thievery is rampant there with the fanny packs being easy prey AND they make you look like a genuine tourist! 9518_2

I found a terrific bag at the on-line vendor Travel Smith: the PacSafe bag has four anti-theft deterrents: indestructible cabled straps; slash proof sides and bottom panels;tamper-proof zipper clip; and snatch-proof shoulder strap that can be secured on your chair arm or other fixture. I loved this bag and it turned out to be perfect for the trip.


I also purchased some nice new white walking shoes, as well as a pair of Keen sandals. I never wore the walking shoes. The Keen sandals were so comfortable that I even wore them on that death march up the Acropolis with no problem.

These are my recommendations for your next trip, whether you're going to Italy or staying closer to home. If you happen to have High Tea with Anna, give her my regards!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Tom and Melody's Wine Blog

Tom and Melody in 2000In the first post on this blog, I mentioned my friend and fellow blogger, Melody Reifel Werner.  Unfortunately, the link I posted was incorrect.  It should be  This is a charming site where Melody and her husband, Tom, diary their wine selections and offer easy to understand information about down-to-earth, affordable varieties of wine.  They include information about wine from all over the world, including our fine Michigan wines.  When Tom and Melody sip their wine, they know that "...the nose is of black currants and black cherries...the tannins are powerful and the finish is lingering and satisfying."  Since I learned almost everything I know about wine from the movie Sideways, I am aware wine tasting is an educated art that combines experience, knowledge and the cultured use of the senses of sight, smell and taste.  Apparently my senses are not highly developed.  When I have a glass of wine, I know that I either like it or I don't like it.  Nothing more.  That's why I need the information on Tom and Melody's blog.  As always, I get by with a little help from my friends!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Organizing to Increase Billable Hours

Ff_may_07_3 "Does Your Daily Planner Need an Intervention?" was the title of an article I wrote for the May issue of Facts & Findings, the quarterly journal for paralegals and legal assistants published by the National Association of Legal Assistants. That article generated a lot of interest and I heard from paralegals from all over the country. One e-mail was from my new cyber-friend, Susan, who requested additional time organization tips. Her message was my impetus for establishing this blog. Susan’s most pressing issue actually was e-mail. How could she NOT let e-mail messages control her day? We worked on that problem together and she seems to have this concern under control. Then she shared another predicament: “…I’ve been having trouble making myself keep track of my time for billing purposes. I just get going and don’t write stuff down, and then I'm trying to re-create and I know I'm losing time I could bill. I think it's just a question of self-discipline, making myself write it down while I'm working, but I'm really struggling with it!" Oh, my…didn’t THAT strike a familiar chord!

This is a problem for many paralegals. Susan is on the right track, though. She knows she must exercise self-discipline. In addition, she has to establish a routine for entering her time. We will establish a routine that works for her. Whatever the routine, it must feel natural and happen almost automatically. During the month of July, I will be coaching Susan as she establishes good habits for recording her time and increasing her billable hours. Stay tuned as I post about our progress over the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

What to do with that broken platter?

Seabourn_spirit_2While on our cruise on the fabulous Seabourn Spirit we went ashore at the Greek village of Fiskardo Kef_fiskon the island of Kefalonia where I bought a small ceramic platter made by a local artist. I had vowed to bring home only useful clutter! The platter qualified as a useful souvenir because it would be perfect for serving Greek olives at my next dinner party and a nice reminder of our trip. I toted it around Greece, back on the airplane, and gently placed in on the sideboard by our front door when I got home. A few days after our return, I was telling our friend, Nick Aninos (how Greek is that!), about the trip and learned that his grandfather grew up on the island of Kefalonia. I knew I just couldn't keep the platter for myself but must give it to Nick. I wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it in a bag, but as I was heading out the door, the bag slipped and bounced on the tile floor. You can guess the result: the platter broke in two large pieces and some small shards. It is now sitting on my diningroom table. I really want to fix it but, in reality, I know that can't be done and it will never be in any shape to give to our friend. My treasure has been reduced to clutter. to the trash it goes. This is a reminder that while we may discard things, the memories stay with us forever. It is this knowledge that allows me to get rid of the clutter in my life. And I will never forget the beautiful, sunny afternoon in that charming, colorful village. Nick...I'm sure your grandfather loved Kefalonia!