This week’s guest on the Mostly Legal Podcast is proof that you really can have it all! Suzy Klepac (Office Administrator, Kirk & Chaney PLLC) has served in multiple administrative roles at various law firms for the last six years, but she recently embarked on her greatest challenge – working remotely full time with a newborn. Working parents everywhere will be inspired to hear Suzy’s story of work-life balance in the fast-paced legal industry, which, according to her, is a little like living life like someone left the gate open. Don’t let the goats out!
Suzy is a self-proclaimed “founding mother” of the First Five, a group of individuals within the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) who at the time, were all in their first five years of working in legal management. They found the organization did not have much programming that catered to professionals who were newbies to the legal industry and set out to change that via an online community. Today, it’s a safe place on the Internet where legal administrators early in their careers can ask questions judgment-free to peers likely going through the same experiences.
Suzy Klepac has been a legal administrator for 8 years. Currently, she is the Office Administrator at Kirk & Chaney PLLC, located in Oklahoma City, where she has served since May 2017. Prior to legal management, Suzy worked as a paralegal and has served in multiple roles within various law firms for 6 years.
Suzy resides in Oklahoma City with her husband, three children, one dog, one cat, two goats, attempted chickens, and lots of raccoons and deer. She enjoys playing piano and guitar, bird watching, quilting, and fishing – as long as the weather is not too cold.
Suzy Klepac has been a member of the ALA since December 2014 and is a member of the Oklahoma City Chapter. Beginning in April of 2015, Suzy has been in an ALA leadership role either in her chapter or in the Association. For the Oklahoma City chapter, she has served as Social Media and Communications Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, President-Elect, and Chapter President. Suzy has also been involved in orchestrating chapter membership drives, chapter visibility campaigns, and community outreach programs. In 2017, she was one of the first members to join the Association’s Product and Service Review Committee, chairing the Committee from May 2020 to May 2021. In 2018, Suzy and two other legal administrators started the ALA FirstFive Online Community, which is geared towards legal managers in the first five-ish years of their career, offering education and a safe space to ask questions. Suzy is currently serving as a Chapter Resource Team member and continues to co-moderate the FirstFive Online Community.
This week, Rob and Amanda have the pleasure of talking to Amylyn Riedling (Paralegal, Office Manager, and Bookkeeper at Robin H. Balsam, P.S.) who went back to school to become a paralegal just because her friend was doing it and she thought it sounded fun. (This makes her a MUCH better friend than us because we’d never go to such lengths for a friendship!)
Through the course of her career, Amylyn has found that her experiences outside of the classroom have been just as beneficial to her success as lectures and tests.
Her first job operating rides at an amusement park set her up to be a paralegal in ways she never expected, like dealing with difficult personalities and the importance of understanding who you’re working with.
To top it off, her continued involvement with the National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS) has helped her further her legal education (and her overall self) beyond what she’s learned working in the industry over the years.
Amylyn brings a unique perspective to the concept of self-sufficiency, and you won’t want to miss this episode where she helps us fill in the gaps between education and the real world!
Amylyn Riedling graduated from Central Washington University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Justice. She went on to graduate from Highline College's ABA Program in 2007 and received her paralegal certificate. She is a Certified Professional Paralegal, a Certified Professional Legal Secretary, and holds a specialty certificate in civil litigation.
She is currently a Paralegal, Office Manager, and Bookkeeper at Robin H. Balsam, P.S. From 2014 - 2020, Amylyn returned to Highline College as an adjunction instructor for the paralegal program, teaching Law Office Technology.
Amylyn first joined the National Association of Legal Support Professionals (NALS) in 2007 and since then has held local, regional, and national leadership roles within the organization. She begins her second stint as a National Board Member later this year and will serve in the position until 2025.
She is also a board member for the Tacoma Chapter of Lawyers Helping Hungry Children and has helped the organization raise over $100,000 since becoming involved in 2017.
Amylyn is a hockey fan - go Kraken! - and English bulldogs will distract her from almost any conversation.
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here next time for episode 10 with Suzy Klepac!
Most people start their careers with the dream of changing people and the world.
This week’s guests, Julie Logan (Director of Strategic Workforce Planning & Development, Thompson Coburn LLP) and Karen Griggs (Executive Director, Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, LLC), have discovered that you can’t necessarily change people, but you can give them the tools they need to succeed.
Join us for this discussion on learning to be adaptable in the ever-changing legal administration landscape. Julie and Karen both have unique perspectives to share on mentorship and hiring a new generation of talent.
These two Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) dignitaries met through the organization 20 years ago at a Punt, Pass, and Kick Contest and since then it’s been a whirlwind of events, career growth, and a lot of fun along the way.
So, pour yourself that second cup of coffee and prepare yourself for an hour of laughs and interesting legal insights. Your mindset will be forever changed after hearing what these two have to say.
Julie Logan is the Director of Strategic Workforce Planning & Development at Thompson Coburn LLP in St. Louis.
With more than 30 years of experience in the legal industry, Logan is a strategic and influential human resource professional with proven achievements in leading organizational initiatives, process improvement, and comprehensive human resource programs. She has experience leading workforce realignment projects and executing team structures in law firms. Logan has been a member of ALA since 1998 and has served in numerous leadership positions on the local, regional and international levels, including a three-year term as At-Large Director on the ALA Board of Directors and Chair of ALA’s inaugural Human Resources Conference for Legal Professionals. She has served as President of the Kansas City and Gateway Chapters, and is currently the immediate Past President of the Gateway Chapter and volunteering as an ALA Membership Ambassador. Logan acquired Bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Sociology and holds two human resource professional certifications.
Karen D. Griggs, CLM, is the Executive Director of Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice, L.L.C. (BSCR) in Kansas City, Missouri. BSCR has been recognized by Ingram’s Magazine as one of Kansas City’s Best Places to Work. The firm is a member of The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, an organization of corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners dedicated to creating a truly diverse legal profession.
Karen is a Past President of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), an international association that supports approximately 9,000 professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments, and government legal agencies. She served on the Board of Directors for ALA from 2006 to 2012. Karen has also served in numerous leadership positions at the local, regional and international levels of ALA. In 2006, she was presented with ALA’s Outstanding Association Volunteer Award and in 2014 was presented with The Spirit of ALA Award. She is also a former President and member of the Greater Kansas City Association of Legal Administrators where she received the Chapter’s first Legacy Award in 2008.
Karen was honored in the Inaugural Group of Kansas City’s Top Ten Legal Leaders in 2004, the only non-lawyer to receive this prestigious award. She has also served on the ABA’s Law Practice Division Education Board and was Vice-Chair of the Division’s Sponsorship Committee. Karen earned the Certified Legal Manager designation in 1999. Karen is a frequent speaker on leadership and employment issues and has published several articles.
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here next week for episode 9 with Amylyn Riedling!
Imagine this… you’re a junior in college and all signs are pointing to you being selected as a top 30 NFL draft pick. Right before the rest of your life is supposed to start, you sustain a life-threatening injury that leaves you with a paralyzed arm. What would you do? Many of us would probably want to give up, but not this week’s guest! We had the honor of speaking with Inky Johnson (Host, Serendipity with Inky Johnson Podcast) about maintaining strength and resilience in the face of adversity, and we can’t wait to share his story of happenstance with all of you.
And there’s good news. If you’re attending the 2022 ALA Annual Conference & Expo, you’ll get a chance to see him speak in person!
Inky is this year's David W. Brezina Memorial Session Speaker sponsored by the Foundation of Legal Administrators. Make sure to add his talk to your agenda in Kissimmee this May! He’s assured us it won’t make you cry, but maybe bring some tissues just in case.
Husband, father, collegiate athlete, entrepreneur, and author, Inky Johnson is one of the most highly sought-after speakers in the world. For over a decade, executives, professional sports teams, business owners, and people all over have benefited from the raw energy of his thought-provoking and inspirational presentations. Whether the topic is leadership, teamwork, excelling in the midst of adversity, embracing change, mental agility, or perseverance, Inky's message is effective and efficient.
Inky's gift of being an effective communicator has allowed him to crossover into different industries. He is a leader called upon by leaders. A partial list of his clients includes Chick-fil-A, Dell Technologies, Aflac Insurance, Cooks Pest Control, State Farm, AT&T, Comcast, Coca Cola, Bank of America, Stryker, The University of Tennessee, The University of Alabama, The University of Texas, The University of Oregon, UCLA, Clemson University, Orlando Magic, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, The New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves.
Ink earned his Master's Degree in Sports Psychology from the University of Tennessee. He was a three-year letterman and two-year captain on the football team, where he started at cornerback. In his junior year, he was projected as a top thirty draft pick. Unfortunately, on September 9th, 2006, he sustained a life-threatening, career-ending injury that paralyzed his right arm and hand. From that day to the present day, Inky has had a burning desire to use his situation and experiences to add value to people's lives.
Inky's words have resonated all over the world - "the one thing we all have in common is that we will encounter adversity, but we have to decide how we respond to it. My arm and my hand are paralyzed but my heart isn't, my mind isn't, my dedication isn't, my work ethic isn't, and my commitment isn't."
Inky is on a mission to serve and is someone that takes tremendous pride in what he does.
Inky is the host of Serendipity with Inky Johnson podcast. He devotes time to mentoring athletes and underprivileged youth and is one of the founders of The Inky and Allison Johnson Foundation. Inky and his wife, Allison, live in Atlanta, Georgia with their two children, Jada and Inky Jr.[vc_column_text]
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here soon for episode 8.
This week’s guest needs no introduction. As a long-time member and past president of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), Teresa Walker’s (CEO, Tennessee Private Trust Services) legacy precedes her. Teresa has been at the same law firm for 45 (yes, you read that right!) years and she’s on the mic this week with lots of knowledge to share.
When Teresa started in legal operations 45 years ago, most firms didn’t even have accounting programs to use. That’s just one example of what has changed throughout the legal industry during her career.
When she's not working in operations or advising law students how to sell themselves as associates, she’s focused on the blockchain industry or singing in a Southern Gospel Music Quartet.
You’ll want to tune in to hear what she has to say about that and what has changed in the legal industry over the years; some of it may even surprise you!
CEO, Tennessee Private Trust Services
Walker joined Nashville-based Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, in 1977 fresh out of college, and has helped grow Waller from 16 attorneys to more than 250 with 5 offices in 3 states. She has opened and closed locations; upgraded accounting systems numerous times; handled endless HR issues; negotiated leases for and built out almost 200,000 square feet of office space in various locations; been involved in every aspect of the firm’s technology for years; worked with the Board and been involved in every aspect of Waller’s Board operations for almost 40 years; worked with compensation systems at all levels; partnered with nine managing partners to keep Waller vibrant helping develop and implement strategic plans. Currently, she is CEO of Tennessee Private Trust Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Waller, and is developing an additional subsidiary, Legal Solutions and Innovations. Walker understands the value of servant leadership.
Walker is a Past President of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) completing a three-year term on its Executive Committee of its Board of Directors and a six-year term on the ALA Board. Walker assumed the ALA President role in May 2015. She served on ALA’s Professional Development Advisory Committee from May 2018, to May 2021, serving as both Chair and Vice-Chair of the committee. She also belongs to ALA’s Large Firm Administrators Caucus, has served as a member of the Large Firm Administrators Steering and Education Committees, served as a Trustee of The Foundation of the Association of Legal Administrators, and was a member of the International Relations Committee of ALA. She is a Founding Member of the Middle Tennessee Association of Legal Administrators, which was chartered in 1980.
Inducted as a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management in 2014, Walker was selected in 2017 to join the College Board of Trustees and served as the College Treasurer and on the Executive Committee. She co-chaired the College’s 2019 and 2020 Futures Conferences. Walker also served on the LogicForce Advisory Board and was a co-founder of the Juris Users Group.
Walker was appointed to the Board of Global Legal Blockchain Consortium in July 2018. She is also a member of the Waller team that established TokenizeTN, a nonprofit trade organization created with a vision to realize the full potential of emerging technologies to drive a new era in Tennessee, with a particular focus on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Walker represents Waller as a member of Standards Advancement for the Legal Industry (SALI) organization. She graduated with a degree in Legal Secretarial Administration from Nashville Community College. She is a Southern Gospel music piano player, singer, and songwriter heading up a quartet that performs regularly, which she has been doing since high school.
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here in two weeks for episode 7.
Professional people wonder where Maria’s secrets lie
She’s not the president of the United States or have a TikTok or Instagram following of a huge size
But when she starts to tell them their potential, they think she’s telling lies
She says it’s in the reach of her message, the span of her experience, the impact of her work
She’s a professional woman phenomenally, a phenomenal professional woman, that’s she.
It’s not often a podcast guest is introduced via poetry, but this week, you’re going to hear exactly that. Take a trip down memory lane with us as one of our Season 1 guests, Jenna Carter (Director of Administration, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP) introduces us to Maria Stanfield (Founder, My Sister CEO) to the tune of Maya Angelou. A speaker, executive career coach, and bestselling author with a heart for service, Maria’s message is simple: it’s never too late to realize your full potential.
Maria started her career as a receptionist at a Washington, D.C. law firm, met some “girl boss” mentors in a male-dominated industry, and the rest is history. Okay, her career progression is a little more in-depth than that and you won’t want to miss a second of this episode where she tells us all about it.
Founder, My Sister CEO
Author, Speaker, Executive Coach, and Career Consultant
Maria Stanfield is a speaker, executive career coach, and bestselling author with a heart for service. In 2015, Maria founded My Sister's Closet, a nonprofit organization that supports disadvantaged women in their quest to achieve a strong financial, professional, and spiritual foundation. She works to support women by providing professional attire, career development training, and spiritual guidance that fosters long-term personal prosperity and career success. Additionally, in 2018 Ms. Stanfield launched her dynamic professional development and career coaching practice, My Sister CEO. The organization's mission is to connect women in business, entrepreneurs, and brand builders to fuel a cycle of collaboration and growth. My Sister CEO hosts monthly events and workshops that provide resources, social networking, and strategic planning sessions to drive this mission home.
Maria has been a featured panelist, breakout speaker, and featured Career Coach for the Steve Harvey "Act Like a Success" Conference, Keynote Speaker of the Daughters of Legacy Conference, career advisor, and breakout speaker for the Washington DC Next Gen Summit, breakout speaker for the Association of Legal Administrators, and a host of other Human Resources conferences and radio shows too numerous to name. Ms. Stanfield was profiled in the Washington Lawyer DC Bar Magazine's "Changing Dress Codes for Law Firms" and the Washington Journal's "Change at the Top: A Two-Part Series About Making the Most of Management Changes" discussing her successful integration and communication tactics. Ms. Stanfield has also been featured in Working Mother magazine as Working Mother of the Year's "Best Companies for Working Mothers" edition.
Ms. Stanfield achieved this and more while holding an executive-level leadership position as Director of Administration for an international law firm. Recently, Maria parted with the firm to launch The Future Face of Law, an organization built to bridge the diversity gap in the legal industry by providing law students of color with strategic programming rich in networking and mentorship opportunities, targeted roundtable discussions, and robust professional development resources.
You can read more about Maria's incredible story of determination, tenacity, and how she worked her way to the top, which she highlights in her new book, "From the Front to Desk to the Corner Office."
Director of Administration, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Jenna Carter currently serves on the Association of Legal Administrators’ Board of Directors, where she has also assumed the role of Association Treasurer. She is also a Past President of the Association of Legal Administrators’ Capital Chapter. She works as the Director of Administration at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Carter earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and her master's degree in accounting from Strayer University in Washington, D.C.
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here next week for episode 6.
What superpower do you want to have? Most people would say flying or the ability to read minds.
Debbie Foster (Partner, Affinity Consulting Group) has a superpower of her own: getting people to make a change without explicitly telling them a change is necessary.
As a consultant in the legal industry, reluctance to change is an attitude she knows all too well.
This week, Debbie takes the mic and shares her tips for making law firms a great place to work from the top down – one change at a time.
Partner, Affinity Consulting Group
Debbie Foster is a nationally recognized thought leader on people, strategy, efficiency, and innovation in professional legal organizations. Her 20+ years of experience, combined with a mix of strategic management and strong leadership skills, has enabled Debbie to develop a unique ability to work with law firms and legal departments to help them build a future-proof organization and to navigate the ever-changing legal services delivery landscape. Debbie consults with firms across the country helping them solve their most challenging issues. Debbie is very active in the Association of Legal Administrators, the Law Practice Division of the American Bar Association, and was the Chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2010 and 2018.
Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here next week for episode 5.
How far would you go to get the career you’ve dreamed of since your childhood?
In high school, Kyle Weigand (Director of Operations, Brouse McDowell, LPA) wrote letters (yes, back when snail mail still existed!) to 40 law firms in the Cleveland area and got one response. He started in that firm’s mailroom soon after.
Kyle’s personal touch paid off; from there, it’s been a steady rise from paralegal to director to helping start a law firm from the ground up for this go-getter.
Join us for this fascinating discussion on why transparency and communication for all levels of employees are crucial to a firm’s success. Kyle brings a unique perspective to this topic and gives us all a lot to think about.
Director of Operations, Brouse McDowell, LPA
Kyle Weigand is the Director of Operations at Brouse McDowell, LPA, overseeing management, operations, and budgeting for the firm’s administration, human resources, facilities, records, and library resource departments. Kyle is the Assistant Corporate Secretary of the firm. He works directly with the firm’s CFO, Managing Partner and Executive Committee to develop and implement firm strategies, and to ensure all firm directives are effectively communicated and properly enacted throughout the firm. He serves on the Diversity & Inclusion, Records Retention and Hiring committees.
Prior to joining Brouse McDowell, Kyle was the Firm Administrator for a litigation boutique that was one of the only certified women-owned law firms in the state of Ohio. He helped found the firm on January 1, 2010, and it combined with Brouse in 2018.
Kyle has been a member of the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) since 2010. He is a former NW Ohio (Toledo) chapter president and current Business Partner relations committee co-chair for the Cleveland chapter. Kyle is the current President of the Foundation of the ALA, the association’s charity affiliate, where the overarching goal includes developing the next generation of leaders in the legal management profession.
A lifelong Clevelander, Kyle is passionate about his city, Lake Erie, food, and international travel. He resides in the city with his fiancé Steven, a Chiropractor, and their tabby Jasmine Marie. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School 25-years ago (oy!) and earned his B.A. in Political Science from Fordham University. He went to the University of Toledo for law school for a year then wised up.
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here next week for episode 4.
How do you earn the nickname “Major Problem Solver” throughout the course of your career? We won’t say it comes solely from holding a variety of positions and working your way up in the legal industry, but that’s a great place to start.
Brandi Hobbs (Director of Operations and Process Improvement at Offit Kurman) started her career thinking she was going to be an attorney, but now she’s a strategic change innovator and has a Master of Professional Studies in Law Firm Management from the George Washington University, one of the only schools to offer such a program.
You won’t want to miss this fascinating discussion on the sheer impact marketing can have on law firms. Brandi has some wild insight to share that just might blow your mind!
Director of Operations & Process Improvement, Offit Kurman
Brandi Hobbs is an Accredited Legal Professional and has a Master of Professional Studies in Law Firm Management from the George Washington University. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies from Pepperdine University. After working with professional speakers for almost 7 years, Brandi moved to legal, starting as a temp “Executive Assistant” to the office managing partner of the largest law firm in the world at the time. After a two-year trial by fire, she wedded her speaker management and law practice experience to move into law firm marketing and later, law firm management. Brandi has almost 20 years of professional services management experience across industries and is passionate about ensuring her firm’s clients are receiving the best service possible from the professionals they hire.
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here next week for episode 3 with Kyle Weigand.
The Mostly Legal Podcast is back for season 2 and we’re starting this second go-around off with a bang!
How do you know when it’s time for a career change? Maybe you’re not enjoying the work you’re doing, not happy at your current employer, or perhaps you’re in the wrong industry altogether. Alex Su (Head of Community Development for Ironclad) thinks you’re much more likely to be successful in your career if you focus on doing something that’s aligned with your strengths instead of trying to fix your weaknesses.
A former lawyer now working in legal technology, Su found one of his many strengths was social media, and before he knew it, he had almost 70,000 followers on TikTok watching his jokes about the legal industry. But there’s so much more to him than just some content about paralegals…
Join us for this discussion on what it means to find your own path and be successful, even if it’s not what you initially envisioned.
Head of Community Development, Ironclad, Inc.
Alex Su is a former lawyer now working at the cutting edge of legal technology as the Head of Community Development at Ironclad (YC S15), a contracts technology company backed by Accel, Sequoia, and other leading investors. You may know him as @legaltechbro on TikTok, where he makes silly videos poking fun at the legal industry.
Previously, he was an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell and clerked for a federal judge. Su graduated from Northwestern Law, where he was editor of the law review and the student commencement speaker.
For more of his stories about his journey through law and legal tech, subscribe to his Substack (linked below).
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Thanks for tuning in! Join us back here next week for episode 2 with Brandi Hobbs.