May 2018 ATXConnect Print

President's Message

I have always valued being an ALA member, but it was not until I stepped outside of my comfort zone and moved from Denver to Austin in 2015, that I realized how much I utilized the resources my membership provides.  Not knowing a soul in Austin, I was crippled.  Who would I call if I were presented an issue outside of my area of expertise? How possibly would I succeed without knowing what business partner to call?  How did the laws of Texas differ from those in Colorado? I realized I had taken for granted the resources and relationships I had built in Denver.  I quickly joined and was immediately welcomed to the Austin Chapter where I became actively involved.   

My involvement in ALA is one of the most rewarding of my career experiences. Being a member keeps me abreast of the happenings within the industry. Joining a committee and becoming a committee chair and member of the Board has helped develop leadership skills that are invaluable and an integral part of my career. Through my involvement, I have gained several mentors and made many lifelong friends - both members and business partners.

Take advantage of the benefits your membership provides you. Be an active participant.  Join a committee.  Attend as many of the events and educational sessions as possible.  Don’t be afraid to post a question on the listserve. Let your voice be heard! Give us your feedback.  Please always feel free to contact me or any of your Board members directly.  We are just a phone call or an email away.  We are here to welcome you, to help you, and to serve you. 

-Dea McCart 

President, Austin Chapter 2018-2019


This newsletter is brought to you in part by the generous support of our platinum sponsor, Avison Young.  


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What's Happening?

When you close your eyes tonight the next time you open them it will be MAY. Can you believe that? Time waits for no man (or woman). Our members have taken a carpe diem approach to the tempus fugit dilemma that seems to plague modern life. We have jumped right in and are well on our way to a successful 2018-2019 chapter year. 

We kicked off the first weekend of our chapter year with one of our favorite outreach programs at Urban Roots Farm. The spring warmth that has enveloped the area had not quite sunk in, so those that made the trek were true champions for the cause. The farm provides a rewarding experience for inner-city students who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to learn about growing food and nurturing the earth. The student's also gain valuable experience with business management and the value of local goods through sales of food grown on the farm to local restaurants and businesses. A large portion of food is also donated back to the community through their hunger relief initiative. Learn more about Urban Roots here, and find pictures of our visit in our gallery. We also post events like these and others on our facebook page, so remember to like and follow us for more. You can find us on facebook via this link.   

Things warmed up halfway through April with a strategic planning meeting and the BP 101 & Meet and Greet occurring on back to back evenings. Your board spent a solid five hours talking through the successes and failures of our processes and how we can work smarter (AND harder) to fulfill all the needs of the chapter. We committed to several goals and we hope to share those in a thoughtful way once they have all been solidified at our May board meeting. The evening was also an eye-opener to the sheer amount of hours that our volunteers pour into this chapter. If you haven't already joined a committee, you should take the plunge. You won't regret it.

The same troopers that dove in at the planning meeting met up the next day at the offices of Husch Blackwell to help orient our new business partners and provide them with the resources they need to be valuable members of our community. Be sure to check the business partner listings on our website whenever you are looking for a new vendor or service provider.  Following BP 101, the board ushered the new business partners down to the the faregrounds at 111 Congress for a truly wonderful evening of wine and cheese pairings, introductions, and happy reunions. Members and business partners both old and new shared in libations and decadent samples of some of the finest cheeses - special thanks to Alice Bolander with Norton Rose Fulbright for putting together a wonderful evening!  

Last week we ended April with one of the chapter's longest running educational offerings, the lunch and learn at the Headliner's Club. We were fortunate to have Anna Stepan and Steve Harvey from Maxwell Locke & Ritter give an infomative update on the new tax laws from both a business and personal perspective. Some of the most eye-opening highlights were that reimbursements for moving expenses are now taxable and parking benefits are not deductible, also business entertainment expenses dropped from 50% deductible to 0%. It's time to review how your entity is structured and to seek help if needed. ML&R are happy to help and can be found with the link to our bp directory listed above. Thanks also to our April luncheon sponsors, Aquila and Technology Pointe. They and our other business partners make these educational opportunities possible.   

We have just wrapped up the first month of the new chapter year, so obviously there is a lot more story left to be written. The next big adventure is the International Conference which takes place in National Harbor Maryland from the 3rd through 6th. Fifteen members from the Austin Chapter will be in attendance. Stay tuned to our social media pages and the website for updates from the conference and check out the virtual conference to get the most out of your membership.  

-Mike Virga, Communications Chair

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Member Spotlight

Clare Chachere, COO - Slack Davis Sanger LLP

Clare Chachere joined Slack Davis Sanger in September 2016 as the Director of Marketing and stepped in as the Chief Operating Officer for the firm this past January. Prior to joining Slack Davis Sanger, she spent 16 years working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Global Marketing and U.S. Public Relations teams where she managed the operations and public relations efforts for the widely cited MoneyTree Venture Capital Survey, among other responsibilities. Prior to joining PwC, Clare spent three years assisting physicians with the business side of their practice at the Texas Medical Association and a year at Deloitte Consulting helping state run mental health clinics in Louisiana transition to a computer-based accounting system. Clare holds a B.S. in Business Administration from Louisiana State University and an MBA from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. I’m happily married to an attorney (I just can’t get away from the legal field!) named Ramsey Abarca, and he works for the Office of the Attorney General. We have a sassy 7-year old daughter named Landry (no, she is NOT named after Tom Landry!), a full-of-energy 2-year old son named Roman and 2 very old rescue Pomeranians named Charlie and Freddie. I love to sew and do embroidery and monogramming in my spare time; my favorite color is pink (all shades); and I love to drink champagne.


Precious Haynes, Legal Administrator - Strasburger & Price,LLP

Precious is originally from Omaha, Nebraska and a graduate of Creighton University.  She enjoys watching college football (Nebraska Cornhuskers – Go Big Red!), spending time with her family and jamming out to Michael Jackson.  Precious is excited to live in the Live Music Capital of the World and plans to attend as many concerts as possible.


Chas W. Hipp, Firm Administrator - Naman Howell Smith & Lee, PLLC

I started my career in retail management but then moved into the legal field about 16 years ago.  I worked a variety of positions including services and facility manager, accounting manager, and administrator.  I was with Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough in Salt Lake City, UT for about 13 years then moved to Orlando, FL to take a position with Baker & Hostetler to be the Office Administrator for their Orlando office.  I was there for a little over 2 years and then had the opportunity to join Naman Howell Smith & Lee in September of last year.  I have thoroughly enjoyed being with this firm and living in Texas and hope to be here for a long time.  I have also really enjoyed my association with the Austin ALA Chapter so far.  It seems like an amazing group of people, and I look forward to getting to know everyone better.  When it comes to things outside of work I mostly just spend a lot of time with my wife, 9 year old son, and 7 year old daughter participating in kids sports, family activities, and road trips to explore our new state.



Cassidy Kennedy, HR Manager - Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C. 

Cassidy is a proud graduate of Texas A&M University, Whoop! Bringing over 8 years of Human Resources experience to one of the first environmental law firms founded in Texas, and the only environmental law firm based here in Austin. Before entering the legal industry, she worked in both technology and healthcare fields, most recently at MedSpring Urgent Care. Cassidy grew up in a small, South Texas town of Beeville, but now enjoys the big city. Living downtown, she and her husband take advantage of Lady Bird Lake, good food, and local events often. They also enjoy traveling, and good wine.


Maria Mason, CLM. Business Director - Greenberg Traurig 

Maria S. Mason, CLM is the Business Director for Greenberg Traurig’s Austin office.  She began her career in legal administration with Dickstein Shapiro in Washington, DC, before moving to Bangor, Maine to serve as Firm Administrator for Rudman Winchell.  After 11 years with RW she said goodbye to the snow and cold, and moved to sunny Honolulu, where she served as Chief Operating Officer for Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel for 3 years.  In September, 2017 she moved to Austin and joined GT.  She has served in various volunteer roles for ALA at the chapter and national levels, and is currently completing her term as a Region 5 Representative.  She has an 11 year old son, and 2 giant Bergamasco Sheepdogs.


Kristine McDonald, Finance Director - Howry Breen & Herman LLP

Kristine has more than 20 years of experience working with CPA firms, holding numerous controller positions and operating small businesses. She is a QuickBooks Certified Advisor who is both passionate and professional about her work, employees and clients. Having managed the bookkeeping for many businesses, Kristine is proficient with all of the major accounting systems, office management tools, time management and billing systems.

When she is not hard at work Kris enjoys traveling, outdoor activities, tennis, crafts and spending time with family. "My husband says shopping is a hobby of mine, but I let people know it is more of a lifestyle". Tom, my husband of 30 years and I have two kids.  Our daughter, Kayla, is a Drone pilot for Special Forces in the Army.  Our son, Kyle, is a full-time soccer coach with the Lonestar Soccer Club here in town. 


Kelly Pearson, Firm Administrator - Law Office of Becky Beaver

Kelly is an accomplished Human Resource Management professional with 20+ years’ experience in domestic and international companies including high tech, oil & gas, chemical/power, and aerospace. Her key expertise involve rolling out successful HR programs & policies, performance management, employee relations, HRIS implementation and supplier management. She enjoys gardening, reading & teaching womens' leadership classes. She has two dogs, Daisy and Bailey. 


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Business Partner Spotlight


Technology has increased the capabilities of organizations to gather, manage, and store vast amounts of information and data. Law firms are no exception. The practice of law has always been a paper-driven profession. As such, the large volume of documents and files accumulated within the legal workflow represent a significant responsibility. Due to the sensitive nature of the entrusted information, it can increase a firm’s exposure to risk if those trusted materials are compromised.

Law firms worldwide got a wake-up call about security and client records when the BBC and other media outlets reported two recent alleged data breaches, the so-called “Paradise Papers”¹ and the “Panama Papers.”² Reports indicate that millions of sensitive documents about world leaders, wealthy people, and high profile blue-chip corporations ended up in the hands of journalists. According to the 2016 Legal Technology Survey Report from the American Bar Association, 1 out of 4 law firms surveyed reported suffering a data breach.³ According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is estimated at $7.35 million in 2017.? Is your client’s data secure? Here are five signs your office technology may not be as secure as you thought it was:

  1. MANY LEGAL WORKFLOWS STILL PROCESS LOTS OF PAPER. The traditional method of storing client records for most law firms has been an on-site storage room with shelves or cabinets filled with files and documents. Older records were boxed and trucked to an off-site storage facility. Advances in technology and the introduction of digital media have improved the way in which many firms handle documents and client records, but the emphasis may have been on production and storage rather than the security of those documents. A secure document ecosystem can automate some processes, helping to create security advances that aren’t possible with paper. Proactive firms have recognized the value of integrating content within a common ecosystem that can in turn offer advantages associated with integrating automation into otherwise manual workflow processes. Reducing human intervention in content workflows can help to align processes with the firm’s compliance strategies, as well as help improve accuracy, accountability, productivity, security, and access to vital information.

¹ BBC, “Paradise Papers: Everything You Need to Know About the Leak”, Nov. 10, 2017 ² BBC, “Panama Papers Q&A: What is the scandal about?, April 6, 2016 ³ American Bar Association 2016 Legal Technology Survey ? Ponemon Institute, 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study, June 2017

  1. DIGITAL AND PAPER FILES ARE LEFT IDLE AND ACCESSIBLE. If yours is like most firms, digital files are routed from a laptop or workstation to a printer, where they can sit and wait to be retrieved by the person who printed them. For example, instead of a document being sent from a workstation to a remote printer to wait in a bin where anyone can access it, a document ecosystem can store the document, providing access and authentication controls for content. Processes can be set up so that a person wishing to print must enter a code into a keypad on the printer or swipe an access card for the document to be retrieved and printed.


  1. CLIENT DOCUMENTS ARE NOT MONITORED AND TRACKED. If a data breach happened at your firm, how quickly could you confirm it? Even after you realize there has been a breach, how quickly could you respond or remediate using your current content workflow solutions? Some solutions can provide integrated mechanisms for defining and controlling document access privileges, which can make it easier to identify and trace document distribution within the system. Knowing who handled sensitive, privileged, and/or protected information—and what they did with it—can help a firm remediate problems and respond to audits more effectively.


  1. ATTORNEYS AND OTHER PERSONNEL ARE ACCESSING FIRM FILES REMOTELY WITHOUT AUTHENTICATION. Accessing documents remotely is essential for clients and firm partners, but it can come at a risk when mobile-device users are accessing law firm files without authentication and authorization. Individualized release codes are an example of some of the discrete security features available. When someone wants to access files within the firm’s ecosystem, an individual PIN code is sent to them that must be utilized to access the files.


  1. EMPLOYEES ARE USING PRINTERS, SCANNERS, AND OTHER DEVICES THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE SECURE DOCUMENT ECOSYSTEM. Utilizing non-approved, unsecured devices can pose a risk, because it can leave sensitive information vulnerable to data loss. Learn how CANON SOLUTIONS AMERICA can help provide security surrounding your document management.


 Canon U.S.A. and Canon Solutions America do not provide legal counsel or regulatory compliance consultancy, including without limitation, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, GLBA, Check 21 or the USA Patriot Act. Each customer must have its own qualified counsel determine the advisability of a particular solution as it relates to regulatory and statutory compliance. Canon products offer certain security features, yet many variables can impact the security of your devices and data. Canon does not warrant that use of its features will prevent security issues. Nothing herein should be construed as legal or regulatory advice concerning applicable laws; customers must have their own qualified counsel determine the feasibility of a solution as it relates to regulatory and statutory compliance. Some security features may impact functionality/performance; you may want to test these settings in your environment.

 Neither Canon Inc., Canon U.S.A., Inc. or Canon Solutions America, Inc. represents or warrant any third-party product or feature referenced hereunder. As of December 31, 2017 18-020-2051 800-815-4000


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Calendar of Events

  • May 3-6, 2018 
    • ALA International Conference at National Harbor, Maryland
    • Not able to make the trek? Check out ALA's Virtual Conference 
  •  May 9, 2018   
    • Small Firm May Meeting at the Austin Bar Association Mockingbird Room
  • May 24, 2018     
    • Lunch & Learn at Headliners
      • Please join us as we welcome Lacey Gourley, an attorney with Winstead PC - Attorneys. She will be speaking on wage & hour law & the new City of Austin sick leave ordinance. You won't want to miss this timely and informative session. The changes take effect October 1st, so join us for this important update and keep your firm out of hot water.



  • June 28, 2018   
    • Lunch & Learn at Headliners
      • Allison Bowers, partner with Hutcheson Bowers will be speaking on #MeToo in the Law Firm: Lessons on Conducting Effective Training to Reduce Harassment.
        Each industry has issues with harassment, but they are unique depending on the circumstances and structure of the work environment. Come find out more about the issues that plague law firms and the actions we can take as administrators to reduce the opportunities for these types of situations.


  •  August 16, 2018   
    • Austin Chapter's Business Partner Legal Expo and Educational Seminar at the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin 
      • Join your fellow chapter members for a half-day of legal education and business partner exposition. Bring along the decision-makers for all aspects of your business in order to maximize the value of the exposition. Enjoy lunch and two educational sessions TBA. 


  • October 18-20, 2018   
    • Regional Legal Management Conference at Hilton Austin 
      • This conference will serve the Western regions of ALA International and will provide attendees with ample educational and networking opportunities, roundtables, and the lastest information about legal management products, services and technology. Registration is now open. Early-bird rates end on September 16th. Find out more here.


  • November 8, 2018   
    • Business Partner Appreciation Happy Hour at Fleming's Downtown
      • Take a moment to celebrate our business partners and thank them for their continued support, without which we wouldn't be able to survive. Cheers to the BPs! 





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