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Episode 66: What’s on Tap for the Knowledge to Leadership Educational Conference ALA 2020 with Hannah Lincecum, Northern California HR Manager for Reed Smith

Guest: Hannah Lincecum, Northern California HR Manager for Reed Smith

Episode 66: What’s on Tap for the Knowledge to Leadership Educational Conference ALA 2020

Sharon:   Welcome to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast. Today, my guest is Hannah Lincecum, a SHRM-certified human resources manager at Reed Smith in northern California. She is also the conference chair of the Knowledge to Leadership Conference and Exposition held every other year by the Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, or ALA. This one-day signature event will be held January 30, 2020, in San Francisco. Today, Hannah will be telling us more about the conference.  Hannah, welcome to the program.

Hannah:  Thank you for having me.

Sharon:   So glad to have you. You’re a human resources manager in the Northern California office of Reed Smith, a large law firm, and you’re SHRM-certified. Can you tell us what that is and tell us about your background and how you got into human resources and the legal industry?

Hannah:  Sure, so I actually only ever worked in the legal industry—I began in a small insurance defense law firm as a receptionist when I was 19 and I slowly and surely and subtly worked my way up the ladder doing virtually every professional staff role there is in a law firm. I eventually found my calling in HR and I have underlined the certification test that is administered by the Society for Human Resources Management, which is where the acronym SHRM comes from. I am certified by the largest recognized human resources organization in the world, actually, and I manage the HR function for Reed Smith’s Northern California offices located in San Francisco and Palo Alto.

Sharon:   Now, had you thought about going to law school? Is that how you got into the legal industry or is it just that’s where you started? How did you end up opening that door?

Hannah:  My story, I find, is pretty similar to a lot of people in the professional side of a law firm.  I did have aspirations of going to law school and so I thought while I’m studying, I might as well get my foot in the door in a law firm and it wasn’t until I started working on the soft side, the support staff side, that I realized I appreciated the business side of a law firm more than the actual practice of law, and I felt like I was stronger in that area.  I eventually decided to not pursue a degree in law school and focused on business instead.

Sharon:   That’s great and I know there are a lot of lawyers who realize after they’ve gone to law school and started practicing that they like the business side a little bit and find that interesting too. So you sort of sidestepped that part. There are a lot of benefits to going to law school, but it’s also three years of your life.

Hannah:  Absolutely.

Sharon:   You’re on the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators.  What geographic area does the Golden Gate Chapter cover?  It’s fairly large, isn’t it? And how long have you been a member?

Hannah:  Sure, yes, the Golden Gate Chapter of the ALA is one of the larger chapters. We have about 130 members at this moment. The Golden Gate Chapter generally covers the San Francisco metropolitan area, and we work very closely with our East Bay Chapter and then also the South Bay Chapter. So the Bay Area itself is governed by three independent chapters. I’ve been a member of the chapter for about four years.  To give you a little bit more of my background, I’m originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, and I moved to San Francisco about four years ago and I immediately joined the Golden Gate Chapter. I was familiar with the Association of Legal Administrators from my time in New Orleans and I understood the value of the association. So I immediately joined the Golden Gate Chapter to start building my network and to start understanding the specific nuances of the San Francisco market.  I decided to get involved on the board level mainly because I was so grateful for the generosity and friendship that the chapter had afforded me and I wanted to give back.

Sharon:   It’s a really great organization. I know there’s a lot of camaraderie and a lot of being able to share best practices and education, which is one of the points of your conference and that’s quite a change, New Orleans to San Francisco, wow!

Hannah:  It was a massive change and I can’t say enough that it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. So it paid off.

Sharon:   Oh, that’s great. Well, they’re both great cities, but San Francisco is such a fabulous place. Now you’re the conference chair for the January 2020 Knowledge to Leadership Conference that your chapter holds every other year. Why was that name originally chosen, Knowledge to Leadership?

Hannah:  Originally, the chapter wanted to design a conference to give back to its members and so we chose the name Knowledge to Leadership because the conference itself is an educational conference that focuses on a lot of the technical functions that are involved in running the business of law, but also we wanted to focus on the professional development of our members and, in particular, leadership skills. So the conference is a wide-ranging conference. The sessions that are offered are really comprehensive in nature and you can sign up for sessions that really dial in on the technical function that you perhaps are involved in or if you’re looking for more personal development and leadership development, we also have many sessions geared to that theme.

Sharon:   I attended I think four years ago, not the last conference, but the one before that and I found it very worthwhile, I mean just from a legal marketing perspective. As you’re saying, it had something that was more general that pertained to people on the professional side as opposed to if you wanted to dig deep into a certain area, there are also sessions on that. So in addition to legal administrators and legal marketers, who else might want to consider attending the conference?

Hannah:  Really anybody who is serving some sort of professional staff role, this conference is good for you. Not only can you build upon skills that you already have, but also you can sign up for a session on something that you may want to grow more in. Another focus that we have for this conference is to really appeal to people who aren’t necessarily sure that they want to be involved in law firm management and this conference is kind of a peek behind the curtain on what it means to actually run the business of law.

Sharon:   No, that’s a very good point because it really is a good way if you’re not sure that you want—or you want to learn more about the business of law, how a law firm runs as opposed to just—there’s the lawyer side and as I call it, the behind-the-scenes side I’ll call it, it’s a good way to learn about that. There was a lot of really good exposure to that.  So do you want to tell us about any particular speakers or some of the topics that you are more excited about or you could–

Hannah:  Sure, absolutely, so in crafting this conference, we were very diligent to make sure that all of our sessions touch on all of the functional areas of a law firm, at least the business side of a law firm, and that includes information technology, operations, human resources, things that are particular to the legal industry, in particular secretarial management. We will be having a secretarial roundtable with representatives from different-sized law firms sharing how they are currently utilizing their secretaries. I’m very excited for that particular session in addition to communication and organizational management sessions, and then of course there is the leadership aspect of the conference. Like I said, we were very particular and careful to make sure that the conference is comprehensive in its nature so that it’s worthwhile for everyone to attend the entire day.  Something that we’re very proud of is we started K2L in 1993 and it’s been going strong ever since and we’re very proud to present the amount of content for the value. It really is a valuable conference.  It’s just a short one-day conference and it’s just packed with content, and again, the concept of this conference was to be a gift to our members. We’re not looking to make any money off of it. Quite frankly, it’s something that we wanted to give back to show our appreciation for our members. Another aspect of the conference that I wanted to briefly describe is our exhibition hall. Another important feature of the Golden Gate Chapter is our relationship with our business partners and so we will have an exhibition hall with many business partners and non-business partners with booths to show off the different products that they have and services that they have that are unique to the legal industry. I can’t tell you how many great relationships I have forged by attending the K2L conference and meeting business partners and being introduced to products that I didn’t even know existed but have made my job in managing human resources so much more efficient and, quite frankly, enjoyable.  So that is another aspect of the conference that we’re really proud of and we’re anticipating having about 30 exhibitors at the conference. So it’s going to be quite a full day, a day well spent.

Sharon:   I think it’s very smart to just have it one day because people can—even though it’s a day away from the office, at least people have an attention span for something like that as opposed to several days.

Hannah:  Right, exactly.

Sharon:   That’s great. Well listen, Hannah, thank you so much and if people want to find out more about the conference, we’ll have a link to the conference in the show notes and we’ll have your contact information if people want to contact you for whatever reason, but really from my own personal experience, I thought it was a very worthwhile conference and definitely something to consider going to, whether you’re a legal marketer, especially if this is an area that you want to explore or just get to know more about so that you can work better with the business people in a law firm and just facilitate the relationship.  Thank you so much for being here.

Hannah:  I just want to say thank you, Sharon.

Sharon:   And to everybody listening, that wraps up another episode of the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst. If you’d like to contact Hannah, as I said, we’ll have her contact information in the show notes as well as a link to the conference and if you like what you heard and you’d like to hear more, you can subscribe at iTunes or wherever you download your podcasts and please rate us. We’ll be back next time with another thought-provoking guest who can be a catalyst for moving your firm forward.  Thanks so much for listening.


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