WE Asked and YOU Answered!
As NALS leaders, we have asked a lot of the entire membership over the past couple of years. We asked you to consider the future of our association as you voted to change our governance structure to a five-member board. After that measure passed, we have asked you to answer multiple surveys and provide continuing feedback to a number of questions we posed on a variety of subjects. We have asked and you have answered time and time again. We ask you to continue to engage with us so that we can continue to bring you products and services which provide value to you as a NALS member and to your career as a legal professional.
NALS Award of Excellence
Three very deserving members were selected as finalists for NALS’ highest recognition, the Award of Excellence. Kathleen R. Amirante, PP, PLS; Ruth Schaub, PP, PLS-SC, AIC; and Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS-SC, ACP rose to the challenge by going through the rigorous process leading up to the announcement of the 2016 Award of Excellence recipient. We congratulate Kathleen R. Amirante, PP, PLS, our 2016 NALS Award of Excellence recipient! You and both of our finalists are outstanding in your accomplishments and should be recognized for all that you have done and continue to do in performance of your jobs and in service to NALS members and the legal community at large. Bravo!
Grassroots Level Think Tank (“GLTT”)
Beginning in March 2015, this group of forward-thinking individuals, which included members, chapter leaders, and national volunteers began to meet to discuss the future of the association. The GLTT gives members and leaders the opportunity to gather together and share experiences, find bright spots, spark innovation, and design solutions for the future—all in hopes of making NALS work better for its members and the legal community. As a result, we have begun to discuss what is—and what is not—working within our organization and start the process of brainstorming potential improvements that will meet the needs of our members at all levels. As we shared with you in the May 2015 issue of the NALS docket, the GLTT identified four topics that are most critical to NALS members and to legal professionals: time, cost, value, and identity. Most of what the Board and NALS committee members have been working on in recent months has centered around these topics.
But this conversation is not over. We are still inviting everyone to be a part of this continuing dialogue. The next in-person meeting of the GLTT will be in Tulsa at the Professional Development & Education Conference in late February. You can sign up to participate on our website at www.nals.org/GLTT. We hope you will join us so we can hear from you.
Conference Survey Recap
We know the value of your time and your money is very important to you. Because of this, we asked NALS members and other legal professionals to answer a survey dealing with conferences. The purpose of this survey was to take the pulse of where people stand, what people want, and what is most important to conference attendees. Here are some of the highlights of what respondents said:
64% want to attend a conference once a year
65% prefer to attend a conference in the fall
43% want to attend either a two-day conference on Friday and Saturday or a three-day conference on a Thursday through Saturday
67% say they prefer one event containing both CLE and leadership opportunities
38% would prefer to attend a conference where half a day is spent on education and the other half on leadership/professional development
52% said that hotel room rates are more important than destination
63% want social networking events and luncheons included in the cost of registration
YOU asked and WE answered!
As a result of your input and engagement when we asked the questions, we have been able to answer with a variety of changes to our products and services. And that action has not and will not stop. We are committed to continuing to serve the needs of the legal professional through the delivery of quality legal education, offering and promoting professional certifications, and providing opportunities for networking and continuous learning. We are thrilled to announce some of the following additions and changes to NALS products and services, all for your benefit.
New Specialty Certificates
Beginning in January 2016, NALS will begin to offer a total of 21 specialty certificates in the following areas:
Law Office Management
Personal Injury Law
Real Estate Law
With the addition of these specialty areas, we have answered the requests of many members for NALS to provide more opportunities for members’ certifications to stand out. A specialty certificate is perfect for the certified PLS and PP who seek to go above and beyond—setting themselves apart from the competition—and making their area of expertise known! We encourage everyone to look at obtaining a specialty certificate as an opportunity to further enhance your careers and NALS certifications.
NALS Mock Exams—Online!
With advances in technology, and in response to the stated desires of students and those teaching and studying for NALS certification exams, it is time for our association to “get with the times.” You have asked for it and we are answering. Thanks in large part to a grant from the NALS Foundation and the hard work of dedicated committee volunteers, NALS is pleased to announce it will soon be rolling out a new, robust LMS (learning management system) which will give us the ability to provide mock exams online and later, even certification exams! By the spring of 2016, we will be in beta-delivery mode of mock exams for the ALP (Accredited Legal Professional) exams, with later releases of the other certifications’ mock exams as they are developed. As each stage of this developing project is ready for launch, we will continue to update you.
Partnering with Related Legal Associations
Adding value to your membership with NALS is just one of the many things your Board is committed to achieving. Acting on the suggestions of the GLTT, the Board has been actively pursuing partnerships with related legal associations, such as the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE), and others. Our hopes are that, as we continue to build relationships with the many players in the legal industry, NALS will be better positioned to serve the needs of legal professionals throughout the entire country and beyond. That being said, the process is ongoing. As more comes out of these continuing conversations, we will be sure to let you know. Promoting you as a professional and as an indispensable asset to employers and the legal community is just a part of our mission.
It is no secret that it has been getting more difficult and more expensive for members to attend two conferences each year. Often, you have been forced to make the choice between one or the other—either because of time concerns, financial strains, or other considerations. An overwhelming majority of those we have polled have responded they think only one conference a year is needed and/or possible given their limited means. Because of this, and after careful consideration of the results of the conference survey (discussed above) and the fact that we have had declining numbers at the annual Tulsa conference in recent years, the Board has voted to offer only one dynamic and comprehensive education and leadership conference each year in the fall.
Consequently, this makes our upcoming NALS 2016 Professional Development & Education Conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the last one to be offered in the late winter/early spring. This is not sad news, we say, but an opportunity to answer the needs of many.
What does one conference a year look like? Merging a robust professional development and leadership-training track into one fantastic multi-track education conference is the vehicle which will take us into the next outstanding chapter of the association’s future. NALS will continue to offer superior continuing legal education alongside opportunities to obtain the skills, qualifications, and experience that allow you to make progress in your career. We are confident we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by delivering what you and your peers have been asking for.
Free Certification Exams
Yes, you read that right. Aside from the prospect of joining us to celebrate the next chapter in NALS conference offerings and kicking off a new NALS leadership term, the NALS Board has voted to offer certification exams—completely free of charge—at the final Tulsa conference in February 2016. If you have been holding off on taking a NALS certification exam or retaking parts of an exam, now is the time to take advantage of this limited-time offer. Free exams will be offered to anyone who is fully registered to attend the 2016 NALS Professional Development & Education Conference—this is a savings of anywhere from $40 to $225!
The exams will be offered on Wednesday, February 24, 2016 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the DoubleTree Warren Place (6110 South Yale Avenue in Tulsa) prior to the regular conference scheduling. This will give you the ability to take advantage of the full conference education, committee orientations, or the opportunity to participate with the Grassroots Level Think Tank (GLTT), if you are so inclined.
To participate in this free examination opportunity, you must be registered and paid in full for the NALS 2016 Professional Development & Education Conference. There is a ticketed event called “NALS Certification Exam” listed on the registration form. Once your registration is fully processed and the “NALS Certification Exam” ticketed event option is selected, the NALS Resource Center staff will send you a promo code via email. Once this promo code is received, you may then complete the application process for the exam of your choosing for the March 2016 exam period, listing the NALS 2016 Professional Development & Education Conference as your test site. The promo code will reduce the amount due to zero once you reach the payment page. The deadline to apply for this free examination opportunity is January 15, 2016. To view full details, please visit: www.nals.org/news/258237
We know that this is a lot to digest and take in and we are sure that you will have more comments and suggestions you would like to share with us as we go forward. Please remember you can always reach us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or through our NALS website contact forms. Our Resource Center staff is also available to answer questions. We are always listening and doing what we can to answer your concerns. So keep engaging!
Until next month ….
- NALS 2015 Board of Directors