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April 2017 Print

East Bay Chapter Cross-Over Board Meeting 2017/2018

EBALA held its annual board cross-over meeting on March 23, 2017 at Sunol Ridge.  We are pleased to welcome back many members as well as welcome new members to the board. 

Pictured: (left to right) back row: Brian Nervis, Joy Buchanan, Andrea Everage, Stacey Bales, Ann Eikenberry, and Lorie Gehrke; front row: Tina Riehl, Elizabeth Kohlman, Pamela Dutra, Kara Koeberle, Margo Canapa, and Eda Gotterup.  Not pictured: Karin Wiborn and Sara Stuvland. 

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Several members gathered for the Member Roundtable on Wednesday, April 12th. One of the benefits of our EBALA membership is the opportunity to network with other administrators and discuss topics of interest and concern to our profession and our firms.

Members were asked to provide topics/questions in advance to provide some structure for the discussion, with the thought that if one person has a question someone else likely does too. Great discussion ensued on the topics of the current and future market of legal assistants/secretaries, the rising cost of health insurance, electronic signatures and the paperless office, and other related conversations. We came away better informed, hearing perspectives from our colleagues and also with some ideas for future chapter event topics.

EBALA provides lunch for those in attendance and we also provide a call-in option to make it easy for members who can’t break away to participate from their own offices. We hope to have more participants at future Roundtables, the next of which is scheduled September 19, 2017 (location tbd). Mark your calendar!

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The Five Questions of Success

Presenter at this year's Morning in the East Bay Eductional Conference

If someone asked me to describe in four simple words how they could achieve wealth, health, and happiness, my answer would be easy: ask the right questions for success.  When we ask ourselves good questions, it leads us to make better decisions as to where and how to spend our time.  When we fail to ask the right questions, we can easily fall prey to mechanical routines, other people’s goals, and a life of unhappiness.  When it comes to taking charge of your time and your life, asking the right questions can be the answer you’ve been looking for.

I created a list of five questions that seemed the most valuable in gently guiding people back to the life they truly desired.  I have found that answering these questions once a month can be an amazingly efficient way to create the life you really want. When answering these questions, it’s best to say your answers out loud to a mate, friend, or co-worker. Another option is to write down what you have to say in a journal.  Somehow, saying the answers out loud or writing things down has more impact than simply thinking them in your head.

For each of the five questions that follow, I give a brief description of why it can be useful to ask yourself—or those you love—this question once a month.

1) What can I do this week to bring more fun and/or meaning into my life?

As adults, most of us get lost in daily routines, problems, and plans.  Yet, as children, life was very different.  We’re not born into this world as planners and problems solvers, but rather as bundles of playful energy.  This question can help remind you to schedule something each week to bring fun and/or meaning into your life.  It will help provoke your thinking as to what you currently find fun or meaningful, and help you keep these things as priorities in your life

2) What could I feel grateful for in my life?

This may seem like a strange question to get your life in order, but it’s important to remember what is going great in your life.  If you focus only on what’s wrong with your life, you’ll always be thinking about problems.  Part of living a successful life means focusing on what’s going well, and feeling grateful for how blessed you are.

3) How can I use the gifts I’ve been given to better serve people?

If you want to make a lot of money, get good at giving people what they want.  If you want love, become skillful at caring for people.   Whatever you want in life, you can receive it by becoming good at serving people.  This question will help you to consistently ponder how you can do this more effectively.

4) Is there anything I’m doing that is hurting myself, other people, or steering me off course?

When planes fly to a destination, they are off course over 90% of the time.  However, they almost constantly correct their course, so they end up where they’re supposed to be.  We need to do likewise.  When people make mistakes, they often spend a lot of time in blame, self-pity, or distraction.  That just makes matters worse. Instead, what we need to do is quickly realized when we’re off course, and immediately take the actions necessary to get back on track

5) What would be good to do to create more balance, harmony or growth in my life?

To answer this question, it helps to access your intuition, or still, small voice inside.  Perhaps there has been something you’ve been avoiding, and this question will help you realize it’s time to move forward.  Whenever possible, try to be specific with your answer and the new action(s) you plan to take.  Insights are helpful, but only changes in actual behavior are likely to lead to the results you desire.

These five questions are an easy, quick, and powerful way to gain important insights that will help you to plan your time wisely.  Rather than waiting until a problem is big, these questions will help you to handle things when they’re small and easily handled.  By writing your answers in a journal, or taking turns answering these questions with a friend, you can help each other create the life you truly desire.

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EBALA’s Morning in the East Bay was a huge success, with 50 people attending our annual Educational Conference at the beautiful Lafayette Park Hotel on Friday, January 27, 2017.  We were pleased to welcome our featured speakers, Mark Delgado of Donahue Fitzgerald who provided a 2017 Employment Law Update, and Jonathan Robinson who shared his “Getting on Top of it all” session.  We also heard from Julie Logan, Director-at-Large ALA Region 6 who provided ALA updates. And of course, we all enjoyed the networking opportunities.

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We are pleased to share the article below from Mike Nash.  Some of you will remember Mike from prior Morning in the East Bay Educational Conferences.  Law firms and their management teams continue to face many challenges and changes in today's legal market. The Archer Norris management team recently experienced a number of changes, and we are participating in Mike's team building workshop in July.  I look forward to sharing our training results with you in our next issue.

BY: Karin Wiborn
Newsletter Co-Chair 

Three Key Areas

BY: Mike Nash, Nash Consulting 

Equipping leaders, engaging employees & improving organizations

Before I began working with organizations 16 years ago, I spent 12 years working with families, helping them develop healthier "home cultures."  When I began to transition into the work of organizational development, I noticed something really interesting: families and organizations tend to function in much the same way.

Any time a group of people spend enough time together on a regular basis, certain patterns and behaviors will start to form and, just like a family, a certain culture will begin to evolve.  

Everything we do at NCI stems from the understanding that, like it or not, organizations tend to function a lot like families.  And, just like families, if I want to help an organization improve its culture, I need to focus on three key areas:  

1. Great Parenting Skills 
Organizational Equivalent: Great Management Skills
When I was working with families it was not uncommon for parents to approach me with some version of, "We need you to come in and fix our kids."   In all my years of working with families, I never solved problems by holding training seminars for the kids.  Do you know who I worked with to develop solutions?  That's right: the parents.   If you want to help an organization improve its culture, the first thing you need to focus on is providing a specific set of management skills to those in charge.  A lot of organizations miss this, asking me to "Come in and fix the employees."   While I totally agree that often times the employees do need some training, this usually isn't the biggest bang for the buck and doesn't lead to the long-term, sustainable change the organization is looking for.  Developing a skilled management team will.
2. A Cohesive Parental Relationship
Organizational Equivalent: A Cohesive Leadership Team
Management teams must be cohesive in both of the ways that parenting teams need to be cohesive.  First, they need to appear to get along in front of the children.  Meaning this: when your management team is sniping at one another publicly, bad-mouthing each other around employees or engaging in political infighting or even outright open conflict, the entire organization suffers in terms of morale, trust, respect and employee buy-in.  Just like in a family, when parents fight in front of kids, the children become anxious, angry and uncooperative.  Second, managers need to be on the same page with one another and enforcing the same policies in roughly the same way.  This requires management coordination and cooperation, something that doesn't happen automatically for a lot of management teams, but requires a consistent and coordinated effort by everyone involved.
3. Healthy House Rules
Organizational Equivalent: Healthy Policies & Practices
For most families, the actual "policies and procedures" aren't written down – they tend to just play out in everyone's day-to-day life.  This is also true of most organizations.  What both families and organizations tend to inadvertantly do is reward bad behaviors and punish good behaviors.   I worked with an organiation recently in which an employee (who was a line worker in a utility) spoke up in a safety meeting and said, "Yesterday I made this error, but caught it in time.  I just want to remind everyone here to be careful about this – it could lead to an injury."   Two days later he was called into HR and written up for making the error.  Do you think he's ever going to admit an error again, let alone in a group safety meeting?  Not a chance.  Good behavior was punished.  In another group, employees have learned that they can go above the head of their direct manager and get what they want from their manager's boss.  In this case, bad behavior is being rewarded.  

I can pretty much guarantee these "rewards" and "punishments" weren't the intent of anyone on the management team, but such courses of action simply become part of the unspoken "policies and procedures" – or culture – of the company, and are often carried out without realizing the impact it is having.  



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Waiting For Guidance on Berkeley’s Paid Sick Leave Law

BY: Casey Williams, Senior Associate 
Donahue Fitzgerald LLP 

In 2016, Berkeley City Council joined their peers in neighboring Oakland, Emeryville and San Francisco, adopting a city-specific paid sick leave law that goes into effect in October 2017. The Berkeley ordinance requires employers to pay employees for their time away from work when they or their family members are sick. This local ordinance ups the employer requirements and employee benefits provided by California’s statewide paid sick leave law. 

Like the California law, Berkeley's law requires that leave accrue at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked and employees are eligible to use paid sick leave after 90 days of employment, though accrual begins on an employee's first day. Leave can be used for illnesses, injuries, doctor’s appointments, or other medical reasons. Leave can also be used to care for a family member.

Unlike state law, which has one cap on accrual, for small businesses (fewer than 25 employees) there is a cap allowance of 48 hours, and for larger employers, it is 72 hours. If the employee does not have a spouse or registered domestic partner, he or she may designate one person for whom leave might be used. 

Unlike some other local ordinances, the Berkeley ordinance is detailed in its requirements, which you use to guide employers preemptively preparing to comply with the law in October. For example, the law outlines what postings will be required and when postings in languages other than English are required (i.e., when 5% of the workforce speaks a different language). The Ordinance also states what the fines are for non-compliance (e.g., $1,000 for retaliation and $500 for failing to comply with posting requirements or listing accrual of paid sick leave on payroll records). Those fines are in addition to back pay and other damages to the employee.

The City is also drafting regulations which will provide further guidance and will likely come out sometime in October. The regulations will be worth reading for anyone advising local employers.

About the Author: Casey Williams is a Senior Associate within the Employment Law practice group at Donahue Fitzgerald LLP, a full-service business firm serving Oakland. You may contact her at (510) 451-3300 or

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It’s that time of year!  What did you plan to make your staff feel appreciated on April 26th?

Here are some ideas recently shared:

  •         breakfast provided for the entire office
  •         full-firm luncheon off-site
  •         full-firm luncheon catered in the office
  •         staff-only luncheons  (Per staff request and opportunity to participate in location selection and type of food.)
  •         “one gift a day” including gift cards and firm logo items
  •         several events throughout the week (including coffee cart w/ pastries, small gift w/gift card and dessert day)
  •         special dessert
  •         gift cards or special gift item for each staff member
  •         “time off” certificates
  •         jeans all week 

Please contact me if you have ideas you would like to share with our readers, and we will publish them in the next edition of the newsletter!

BY: Karin Wiborn
Newsletter Co-Chair 

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The East Bay Chapter

announced our next book selection

The Whistler


John Grisham 

             From John Grisham, America’s #1 bestselling author, comes the most electrifying novel of the year, a high-stakes thrill ride through the darkest corners of the Sunshine State. 

            We expect our judges to be honest and wise. Their integrity and impartiality are the bedrock of the entire judicial system. We trust them to ensure fair trials, to protect the rights of all litigants, to punish those who do wrong, and to oversee the orderly and efficient flow of justice.

But what happens when a judge bends the law or takes a bribe? It’s rare, but it happens.

           “Riveting…finely drawn…The Whistler centers on an elaborate conspiracy involving an Indian reservation, an organized crime syndicate and a crooked judge skimming a small fortune from the tribal casino’s monthly haul.” 
–The New York Times Book Review  

            Stay tuned for an update on the date and location for our next book club meeting! 

If there is a book you would like The East Bay Chapter to consider in the future, please let Tina Riehl know. Her email is:



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BY: Andrea Everage, EBALA President 

I had the great opportunity to attend ALA’s Annual Conference and Expo in Denver, April 2 – 5, 2017.  As you may be aware, the typical spring weather in Denver is a-typical.  It can be bright and sunny one day, and snowing the next (sometimes it all happens in the same day!). 

Following is a snapshot of the nearly fifteen hours of educational sessions I attended.

Monday’s opening session, The Manning Playbook for Leadership was presented by the patriarch of the Manning clan, Archie Manning, father to Cooper, Peyton and Eli.  A football great in his own right, Archie played for “Ole Miss” in college, and the New Orleans Saints, among others.  All of Archie’s sons were enthralled with football.  His eldest son, Cooper, was forced to curtail his pursuits early due to a medical condition.  Archie kept attendees captivated with riveting anecdotes of his family’s relentless pursuit of perfection, while remaining humble and grounded.


Mark Robilliard, FCA, helped non-financial administrators in Connecting Business Goals to HR Metrics through his Color Accounting® method (  Mark suggested business entities view the value cycle in reverse:  Determine source of funds (income, equity and liabilities) by first deciding on the use of funds (assets and expenses) to come up with a profit projection.  

In addition, we can set a clear connection by keeping business goals in our direct line of sight; connecting with the business unit by providing value to partners/shareholders; measuring what matters by being ruthless with data collection and reporting; join the business conversation by asking how the business is operating, and being genuinely interested and invested in the bottom line; and, being profit-minded.  Think like a profit-center and work to revenue generating activities.


The timely topic, Replacing the Annual Performance Appraisal Ritual, was presented by Ron Baker, CPA.  Citing authors such as Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins, Samuel A. Culbert, and Jay Shepherd, Ron posits that the traditional performance management tool – performance appraisals – is like inducing or using a disease to treat the problem (iatrogenic disease). In their book, Abolishing Performance Appraisals, Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins put forward that performance appraisals are generally used to justify decisions made long before the appraisal is completed.  Further, Ron indicates that, “According to management research firm CEB, 95 percent of managers are dissatisfied with performance reviews, and nearly 90 percent of HR leaders say the process doesn’t even yield accurate information.”  A growing list of employers, such as Accenture, Adobe, and Deloitte, has ditched the performance appraisal process (read here).    Perhaps, instead of the tedious task of distributing and collecting forms which usually yield unusable information, we should consider Peter Drucker’s Stop/Start/Continue model in his Manager’s Letter.

  1.     Meet with the employee twice a year;
  2.     Define objectives of employer and employee;
  3.     Determine what performance standards apply;
  4.     Agree on critical objectives;
  5.     Find out what helps/hampers employee;
  6.     Learn which resources the employee needs and the entity’s ability to meet that need;
  7.     Make this the covenant or agreement.

You are trying to learn,

  • What results have to be achieved to make a difference;
  • How is the firm helping the employee achieve their professional goals and aspirations;
  • What the firm do right and what it should continue doing;
  • What are the firm’s weaknesses and what it should stop doing;
  • What critical things the firm should start doing;
  • Why the employee continues to work here; and
  • Does the firm deserve their loyalty?


The labor law update is always a well-attended session.  This year was no exception, as Todd Frederickson, J.D. discussed Federal Labor and Employment Law Compliance Under the New Administration: Are You Prepared?

There are four areas of concern:

  1.     Department of Labor (DOL)
  2.     Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  3.     National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and
  4.     Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The DOL has hired hundreds more investigators.  Their current mind-set is adversarial, and is enforced by shaming employers. 

The DOL will be focusing in on:

  • Employee misclassification (exempt vs. non-exempt);
  • Overtime violations (keep accurate records of hours worked);
  • Unlawful deductions

The EEOC will be focusing in on:

  • 21st Century Employment Relationships;
  • Muslim/Sikh and Arabic/Middle Eastern/South Asian backlash discrimination;
  • Data-driven employment screening that has a negative effect on diversity;
  • Equal pay for equal work

The NLRB will be focusing in on:

  • Employee Handbooks;
  • Social Media Police;
  • Second-Guessing Internal Investigations;
  • Expanding “Joint Employer” Doctrine;
  • Expansion of the Unionized Workforce

Under the new White House Administration the DHS appears:

  • Less hospitable toward immigration;
  • To be going after abuse of visa programs which undercut the American worker;
  • Intent on curbing outsourcing of U.S. jobs, and free-trade/guest-worker programs

Further, Mr. Frederickson anticipates the following developments:

  • Mandatory E-Verify nationwide;
  • Tightening up/securing the border;
  • Increased size of ICE;
  • Increased enforcement actions (e.g., I-9 audits, inspections, and raids);
  • Increased deportations;
  • Cancellation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals); and
  • Changes in the H-1B Professional Worker category


Those of us obsessed with anything to do with process improvement and efficiency were drawn to Operational Excellence: Legal Process Improvement Applied to Business and Administrative Functions, presented by David and Karen Skinner.  As does Kaizen and Legal Six Sigma, legal process management is centered on adding value and eliminating waste.  It is about digesting the process, rather than the person, and adding value. Value is whatever moves the matter forward; for which the client will pay; and, work which is done right the first time.  Anything not meeting these criteria equals waste.

Each of us has these three things in common: a finite number of hours in a day, too much work to complete in one day, and we feel pressure to get everything done.  Reducing the volume of work may not be possible, and there are only so many hours in a day.  Thus, collapsing tasks and reducing waste should be our focus.


Pressure =


Volume of work

Six Sigma™ uses the DMAIC acronym to work through process improvement/management.  In law firms DMAIC might look like this:

Define – What does the client want?

Measure – How can we get there?

Analyze – Why are we doing it this way?

Improve – How can we improve?

Control - Are we following processes/protocol?

The “client” represents whoever gets your work, be they internal or external.  Further, we are to understand expectations from the client’s perspective, not your own.


Sunjay Nath, author of the 10-80-10 Principle lead a session on Strength-Based Leadership.  10-80-10 represents the top 10%, middle 80%, and bottom 10%. 

The top 10% represent those exhibiting the qualities you are looking for.

The bottom 10% are the behaviors you are avoiding.

Everyone else falls into the middle 80%.

The 10-80-10 Principle can be applied to every area and circumstance of one’s life, and dictates we focus our energies on top 10% behaviors, and minimize the focus given to the bottom 10%.  We don’t completely ignore the bottom 10% -- just shift our energy on the top 10%.

In a work situation those exhibiting top 10% qualities are your “go-getters” who arrive early and stay late.  The bottom 10% represents those who arrive late, leave early and grumble in between.  The difference between a dynamic organization and one that is static is whether the majority moves with the top 10% or the bottom 10%.

Those of us who try to “fix” broken workers tend to spend too much time with the bottom 10%, which leaves both of you frustrated.  Targeting the bottom 10% will not yield the results you want.  Like-follows-like, whether that is action or inaction.  Focus on the top 10%, and the majority 80% will most likely follow.  The bottom 10%ers will either become late adopters, or disengage from the company.  Both actions are what you want.


Renee Culotta, JD, brought us up to date on the ADA and ADAAA.

  • Employers only have to provide a reasonable accommodation if there is an “actual” or record of a disability.  No accommodation is required if it is a “regarded as,” disability;
  • If there is not a medical code for the issue then it is not a disability (like being left-handed);
  • The disability has to substantially limit major life activities or bodily functions;
  • Preferential treatment is mandated for those with disabilities (federal agencies)
  • Employers should begin the interactive process with employees having known, open and obvious disabilities;
  • Employers should spend more time interacting, especially if you think the firm cannot accommodate the disability.  Be sure to document when, where, how, etc.;
  • The employer gets to choose the accommodation which best fits;
  • If an employee seeks accommodation for more than one disability address each one separately;
  • Law firms do not have to  make an accommodation surrounding production standards which maintain an attorney’s same rate and level of pay.


Tuesday’s general session was on, Gray Area Thinking: Understanding Diverse Humans and Welcoming Transgender Attorneys, Coworkers and Clients, presented by Ellen (Ellie) Krug, J.D., who is transgender female.  In relating her story, Ellie considers herself, “a survivor of the human condition,” and encourages us to awareness of human vulnerability, being willing to take a risk, and showing compassion and kindness.  Being an ally requires inclusion.  Inclusion is an action, and a journey. 

Being tolerant is 80’s thinking.  Accepting others might mean you’re willing to be Facebook friends.  However, when you are open to allowing someone into your home – that’s when you have arrived!


Mary C. Gentile, Ph.D. delivered the David M. Brezina Memorial Session, Giving Voice to Values: The How of Values-Driven Leadership.  Giving Voice to Values (GVV) is a values-driven leadership concept.  It is less about ethics, and more about value-added actions.  Leaders should ask themselves: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?”

The curriculum is available at (or under the “Curriculum” tab at


Don't Let the Fine Print Gotchas Get You! 

Always entertaining and informative, Mary Redmond, the FearLess Negotiator, took session participants through a series of contract mark-ups to push back on unacceptable lease terms.  However, she first encouraged participants to first employ careful listening skills as part of the negotiation tactic.


How to Tell When Someone Is Lying by Traci Brown was one of my favorite sessions.  Traci began training with Lance Armstrong in Texas when they were teenagers.  Her first introduction to Lance was when one of her teammates said, “You’ve got to meet this guy Lance.  He’s unbelievable.”  Prophetic words?  Perhaps. 

Traci states, “The basic premise of body language interpretation is that the body can’t lie. Words can lie. But the body can’t. Your job is to look for instances where body language and words don’t match. As trained as our politicians are, they still can’t shake this fact. Their movements are smaller and seem more natural, but they’re there if you know what to look for.”

 Traci is the author of Persuasion Pointand Body Language Confidential.


Robert Southern of the Denver Police Department kept the audience enthralled with advice on Surviving an Active Shooter.  As you can imagine, being prepared with information before you need it is the most important tool you can employ.  Discussion points included gaining an understanding of an active shooter profile; the methodology behind running, hiding or fighting; and, assessing your firm’s emergency response plans.  Officer Southern recommended these resources:

Pocket Card

Training Video

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Breakfast Meeting: Long Term Care Insurance: What Is It? Do You Need It?

May 18, 2017
8:00 AM to 9:00 AM

Miller Starr Regalia
1331 N. California Blvd., 5th Floor
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Everything You Need to Know About Long-Term Care Insurance in 2017

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EBALA Board Meeting Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017
12:30 PM to 1:30 PM

Knox Ricksen, LLP
2033 N. Main Street, Suite 340
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Board Meeting 5/18/17

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ALA Live Webcast - Best Practices in Using Billing and Invoicing as a Business and Client Development Tool

June 01, 2017
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Miller Starr Regalia
1331 N. California Blvd., 5th Floor
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Discover practical, specific and useful strategies.

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EBALA Board Meeting Retreat, Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 15, 2017
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Home of Elizabeth Kohlman

Board Meeting Retreat - Saturday 7/15/17

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