NALS’ 61st Annual Education Conference & National Forum, held in Portland, Oregon, on October 18-21, 2012, made for a memorable time. “Take Your Career to New Heights!” was the conference theme, and with over 42 top-quality education sessions tailored to the following specialty tracks designated by NALS: litigation/civil law, corporate law, estate planning/family law, and general practice, taking their careers to new heights is exactly what attendees did!
The addition of a “NALS Genius Bar”, designed to assist attendees with social networking and technology, was also a big hit. Hands-on training for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and various electronic devices was available for attendees, providing them with an onsite technology resource.
The weekend started off with a bang as the dynamic keynote speaker, Sharmen Lane, also known as The How Gal, presented her “Now to WOW” program which provided inspiring, life-changing information and tools to find our passion and take action. Ms. Lane went from being a high school dropout manicurist to a magna cum laude college graduate, millionaire, and private pilot. She has been highly recognized for her award-winning career in sales and leadership and is now a highly recommended international speaker and five-time author. Her programs offer motivation, inspiration, and information to help create the life you want. Ms. Lane’s new book, Giving You the Wow and the How, was available for sale after her presentation.
The education began on Thursday with three sessions in each specialty track. The litigation/civil law track included sessions that focused on products liability, food safety litigation, and insurance coverage. The corporate law track included sessions on construction contracts, HOA, and the importance of due diligence in real estate transactions. Thursday’s estate planning/family law track included sessions on same-sex relationships, balancing work life and caregiving responsibilities, and elder abuse. The general law track offered a session on organization in ever-changing environments, and included a two-part session on the inner workings of Microsoft Word.
The great education continued on Friday with sessions in the litigation/civil law track, which focused on dram shop claims, iPod/iPad technology, trial preparation, and IP litigation. In the corporate law track, participants learned about bankruptcy litigation, the uniform commercial code, securities, and the nuts and bolts of commercial leasing. The estate planning/family law sessions kicked off with a discussion on elder law issues for legal professionals followed by sessions on end-of-life decisions, social security, and bankruptcy tools to stop foreclosures and preserve the family home. Friday’s general law sessions began with “60 Tips, Tricks, and Gadgets,” and continued with sessions on stress management, ethics, and digital forensics.
A fun-filled night was in store for attendees of the NALS Foundation Gala Event on Friday night. With the theme of “Casino Royale,” there were blackjack, roulette, and craps tables, with professional dealers for each. The NALS Foundation provided attendees with “funny money” to spend on the games of their choosing. There were some great prizes given away, including the new iPad 2!
After an enjoyable evening, it was back to business on Saturday with more quality education. The litigation/civil law track kicked off with a session on legal citations, followed by a session titled “Depositions, Discovery, and Difficult People, and wrapping up with a session on reviewing medical records. The corporate law track offered sessions about debt collection, alternative dispute resolution clauses, and immigration law. The Saturday estate planning/family law sessions explored probate from a paralegal’s perspective, followed by a session on divorce, meretricious relationships, relocation and third-party custody. The final session of the day covered disability and special needs planning. The general law track covered the topics of gang enforcement, restraining/protective orders, and legal writing.
On Saturday afternoon, many members were recognized at the annual Recognition Luncheon for their excellent contributions and continued dedication to NALS. One of the first groups that was recognized for their hard work and dedication was the Portland Conference Task Force who worked tirelessly to obtain over 40 speakers for the confernece:
Jeanne Preston, PP, PLS–Task Force Chair
Marie Carter, PP, PLS–Sponsorship Chair
Judy Gehrke, PLS, CLA
Traci Kerian, PP, PLS
Kevin McKenzie, PLS
Brenda Piplovick, PP, PLS
Another group deserving recognition was those in attendance who had, since March 2012, received their CLE Award:
Donrue Talley Brathovd, PP, PLS
Babs DeKeyser, PP, PLS
Jacquelyn Hannigan, PP, PLS
Nancy Harris, PP, PLS
Amylyn Riedling, PP, PLS
Audrey M. Saxton, PP, PLS
Cynthia Squier, PP, PLS
Cheryl Summerhill, PLS
Dara Wasalino Tremblay, PLS
Sandra D. Williams, PLS
Those in attendance who obtained and renewed their certifications since March 2012 were also recognized by Karen Kuhn, PP, PLS, NALS Certifying Board Chair:
Raquel Wood, PLS
Tonya Mashue, PP
Audrey Saxton, PP, PLS
Candace Johnson, PLS
Audrey M. Saxton, PP, PLS
Sharon Wotherspoon, PLS
Janette M. Olexa, PP, PLS
Brynne Williamson, PP, PLS-SC
Certifying Board Chair Karen then recognized those members earning Specialty Certificates in one of the four educational tracks offered by NALS:
Brynne Williamson, PP, PLS-SC Estate Planning/Family Law
The NALS Award of Excellence is the top honor a member can receive from NALS. This award began in 1957 and was then called the Legal Secretary of the Year. The name was changed in 1994 to better reflect the membership of NALS and to be more inclusive of those being honored. Saving the best for last, the final award of the Recognition Luncheon was the 2012 NALS Award of Excellence awarded to Cheryl Summerhill, PLS. Congratulations, Cheryl, and thank you for all of your great contributions to NALS. Check out the Winter Issue of @Law Magazine for more information about Cheryl’s journey to receiving this award.
To wrap up a great day, closing keynote speaker, Nancy Noonan, spoke about creating excellence in challenging times. The session was interactive and allowed members to meet and share something they had done recently for the very first time. Ms. Noonan explained three elements of mastery: knowledge, skills, and the search for excellence. She concluded her session with advice on making creativity the norm in our lives, not the exception, and left us with the following quote: “Possibilities are often disguised as obstacles.”
With numerous opportunities for networking, recognition, education, and entertainment, this year’s conference provided a little something for everyone. If you were unable to attend, check out the conference pictures to see what you missed, and be sure to mark your calendars for October 17-20, 2013, and join us next year in Atlanta, Georgia!
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