Financial Management

Advanced

FM10: Modernizing Partner Compensation: Incentivizing the New Normal

Thursday, May 3  11:15 AM - 12:30 PM

In some law firms embracing project management, process improvement, and strategic pricing, leaders have observed that the partner compensation system hasn't kept pace and may not fully reward the new behaviors -- even when those behaviors are very profitable for the firm. For some leaders, this is a major understatement! In other law firms, lawyers resist change because of vague fears of disrupting quality or firm culture, but what they really fear is the loss of income. And some law firms have solved it: embracing the new normal of efficiency requires adjustments to partner compensation, adjustments that better link quality, financial performance, and client satisfaction. Turns out, the new normal pays quite well.

This session will explore the typical resistance to change and delve into how compensation plans have been successfully adjusted and rolled out.

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Timothy B. Corcoran
Timothy B. Corcoran

Timothy B. Corcoran is a Principal with the Corcoran Consulting Group and the past President of the Legal Marketing Association. In his practice, he advises law firm leaders, in-house counsel and legal service providers on how to profit during a time of great change. This includes assisting law firm leaders with business strategy, primarily in the areas of operational excellence and business growth, and assisting in-house counsel with managing preferred provider programs.

Location / Room: National Harbor 10-11


Basic

FM11: The Basic Principles of General Accounting

Thursday, May 3  11:15 AM - 12:45 PM

This session focuses on an introduction to accounting department duties, accounts payable process, accounts receivable process, general ledger, general ledger accounts, account types, cash versus accrual accounting methods, and fixed asset management. We will outline duties and processes in detail in the accounting department. There will be a review of the balance sheet and profit and loss statements so that you have an understanding of where account balances reside. We'll also discuss types of expenses and the importance of understanding the main expenses that affect a law firm. We will include a discussion of depreciation and some of the methods of applying depreciation.

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Andrea L. Myers
Andrea L. Myers

Andrea L. Myers, CLM, is the Director of Finance and Operations with Miller Johnson where she is responsible for managing the accounting and collections team for the firm. Those functions include accounts payable and receivable, cash management, financial reporting, tax preparation and filing, and overseeing the firm's billing systems. Myers also oversees the firm's Operations Departments and manages third-party relationships to which document services have been outsourced. An ALA member with 11 years of legal industry experience, she has served on the board of ALA West Michigan Chapter for 10 years in various roles, served as a Regional Representative for two years, and served on 2017 Annual Conference Planning Committee.

Location / Room: National Harbor 12-13


Basic

FM12: Increase Your Knowledge of Banking and Investment

Thursday, May 3  1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

The second session of Law Firm Accounting Series focuses on improving your knowledge in the areas of banking and investments. We'll discuss bank account types, transfers and trust accounts as well as outline the types of options available to your firm. Additionally, we'll identify reasons behind incorporating different types of bank accounts in your portfolio and discuss the importance of banking security features during the session.

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Andrea L. Myers
Andrea L. Myers

Andrea L. Myers, CLM, is the Director of Finance and Operations with Miller Johnson where she is responsible for managing the accounting and collections team for the firm. Those functions include accounts payable and receivable, cash management, financial reporting, tax preparation and filing, and overseeing the firm's billing systems. Myers also oversees the firm's Operations Departments and manages third-party relationships to which document services have been outsourced. An ALA member with 11 years of legal industry experience, she has served on the board of ALA West Michigan Chapter for 10 years in various roles, served as a Regional Representative for two years, and served on 2017 Annual Conference Planning Committee.

Location / Room: National Harbor 12-13


Intermediate

FM13: Going Timeless Workshop

Thursday, May 3  1:45 PM - 3:15 PM

Nothing impacts a law firm's profit as much as pricing does. In recent years, firms have been exposed to all types of billing and pricing models. However, most of these are still based on the "we sell time" mindset. This session will confront the conventional wisdom of the traditional law firm business model and expose the folly that you cannot run a successful law firm without recording time. By the end of the session, you'll have a much better business and pricing model — one that's been adopted by hundreds of professional firms all over the world — that frees lawyers from the restrictions and the deleterious effects of the billable hour and recording time. This interactive workshop will show you how you can run a timeless practice and will provide real-life insights into how some law firms have adopted and flourished under this new business model.

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John Chisholm
John Chisholm

John Chisholm established his own advisory practice in 2005 and is a leading commentator, change agent and adviser. As a third-generation lawyer, he was previously Partner, Managing Partner and Chief Executive Officer. Today, he speaks, writes, educates, facilitates, coaches and consults. For more than 10 years, Chisholm has been the prime Australian advocate urging lawyers to not only stop billing their services by time, but also to burn their timesheets. He works with lawyers assisting them to become timeless practices.

 

 

Location / Room: Chesapeake 8-9


Basic

FM14: Improve Your Knowledge of Trust Accounting

Thursday, May 3  3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Do you know how to handle advanced fees, retainers and real estate settlements as they relate to your trust account? This session will teach you all aspects of trust accounting from beginning to end. You'll advance your knowledge regarding the ABA Model Rules that affect the procedures related to trust accounting. You'll also gain a better understanding of the state trust account rules that also are relevant to your trust account process. Additionally, we'll review the process surrounding requirements of bank reconciliation of a trust account. 

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Lisa  Dasher
Lisa Dasher

Lisa R. Dasher is Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A., a Florida defense firm with more than 185 attorneys and ten offices throughout Florida. A 35-year veteran of the firm, Ms. Dasher is responsible for the overall financial management of the firm and execution of firm policies, as well the management of multiple firm functions, including human resources, technology, vendor relations and marketing. Additionally, she served on ALA's Annual Conference Committee (2010–2012) and currently serves on ALA's Professional Development Advisory Committee.

Location / Room: National Harbor 12-13


Intermediate

FM21: Funding Your Office Renovation, Relocation or Remodel

Friday, May 4  10:30 AM - 11:45 AM

Expanding, updating or making a change to your office space requires a tremendous investment of time and money. Often your landlord will provide a tenant improvement allowance that does not cover the entire cost of your project. As your firm is preparing for a change, it is important to consider the different funding options available. This session will examine the impacts of a lease as compared to traditional financing for your leasehold improvements, furniture, and office and technology equipment. It will detail the accounting and tax considerations, outline the typical funding process, and consider in detail which terms and conditions will affect the logistics and economics of the financing. After attending this session, you'll be more knowledgeable and capable of considering lease and finance options to manage business expansions, office moves and technology upgrades.

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Christina Floyd
Christina Floyd

Christina Floyd is the Vice President of First American Legal Finance and is a Certified Lease and Finance Professional (CLFP). She has almost a decade of equipment leasing knowledge and dedicated experience working with the legal industry. She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from St. John Fisher College and an MBA from St. John Fisher College. Additionally, Floyd successfully completed the Legal Management Finance Specialist Certificate Program through ALA. In her tenure, Floyd has been instrumental in growing First American's Legal Business to more than 200 firms. 

Karen Leastman
Karen Leastman

Karen Leastman is the Vice President of First American Equipment Finance and has more than a decade of equipment leasing knowledge and dedicated experience working with the law firm industry. Since joining First American in 2003, Leastman has been a key contributor in building First American's law firm division, which now serves more than 200 law firms across the United States, including AMLAW 100 and 200 firms. As a Certified Lease and Finance Professional (CLFP), she's a leader in the equipment leasing industry.

Location / Room: National Harbor 2


Basic

FM20: Insights into Special Accounting Issues

Friday, May 4  10:30 AM - Noon

In this session, we'll bring to light various special issues related to different facets of a law firm accounting department. Are you intimidated by discussions of alternative fee arrangements? Do you need to further your understanding of electronic billing? Are you looking for a new accounting system? Is your collections workflow in need of an update? Take this opportunity to learn about these pieces of the accounting puzzle.

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Lisa  Dasher
Lisa Dasher

Lisa R. Dasher is Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A., a Florida defense firm with more than 185 attorneys and ten offices throughout Florida. A 35-year veteran of the firm, Ms. Dasher is responsible for the overall financial management of the firm and execution of firm policies, as well the management of multiple firm functions, including human resources, technology, vendor relations and marketing. Additionally, she served on ALA's Annual Conference Committee (2010–2012) and currently serves on ALA's Professional Development Advisory Committee.

Location / Room: National Harbor 12-13


Intermediate

FM22: How to Plan for a Personal, Successful Retirement

Friday, May 4  2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

Americans are living longer, healthier lives more than ever before and we are doing more in our retirement years. Whether you have 20 years or two years to go until retirement, one thing we all have in common is our desire to retire and experience financial independence. Attend this presentation and learn how you can improve your retirement strategy to help you create a successful, fulfilling retirement.

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Darren Straniero

Darren Straniero is a Financial Advisor and Certified Financial Planner with OnPlane Financial Advisors. Over the last 10 years, he has presented to multiple law firms in and around the Washington, D.C., area and has previously presented at ALA conferences. Today, Straniero continues to help legal staff, attorneys and administrators plan and prepare for retirement. Simply put, he manages the tomorrows for his clients, so they can spend more time today focusing on the other meaningful areas of their lives.

Location / Room: Potomac 4-6


Intermediate

FM23: Beyond Financial Reporting: Demonstrate Value, Increase Credibility, and Become a Trusted Adviser to Partners and the Management Team

Friday, May 4  2:15 PM - 3:15 PM

A reliable legal management professional is essential to managing a successful law firm. How do you make sure that your value is known to the leaders of your firm? The numerous spinning plates in the back-office of a business are vital — when one drops, everyone hears about it. When everything goes as it should, no one notices. The key to having your value noticed is to keep all your plates spinning on one hand, while also maintaining a strategic conversation with the partners on the other. We'll examine the six topics you can focus on to improve communication and increase the trust in your role as adviser to the management team and partners.

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Rebecca Haack
Rebecca Haack

Rebecca Haack is the Firm Administrator for Fullenweider Wilhite, and has been in the legal industry since 2006. Haack has degrees in accounting and management from the University of Houston. She also serves as a Finance Committee member of the American Bar Association (ABA) and is a current editor of Law Practice News, an ABA webzine. She has previously held positions as the Financial Administrator and the Director of Operations at two successful law firms.

Location / Room: Maryland C


Intermediate

FM24: Tax Update: Legislative Developments and Tax Planning for Law Firms and Attorneys

Friday, May 4  4:15 PM - 5:30 PM

This session will focus on the latest developments in the tax law and the impact of these changes to the profession. We'll emphasize tax planning strategies for both law firms and individual attorneys. Additionally, we'll cover why it's always important for businesses and individuals to understand the tax implications of their business activities and be proactive in tax planning. For example, entity and ownership structure can impact these strategies. We will review the pros and cons of each structure and how the tax laws impact each. We'll also look at a variety of tax savings ideas for law firms and will provide insights into tax and wealth planning tips for individual partners.

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Kristin Bettorf
Kristin Bettorf

Kristin Bettorf is a Partner in RubinBrown's Tax Services Group and the Vice Chair of RubinBrown's Law Firm Services Group. She has more than 15 years of tax experience with an emphasis on tax planning and consulting services. She specializes in corporate tax and provides services to clients in a variety of industry groups, including manufacturing and distribution and law firm services.

Henry Rzonca
Henry Rzonca

Henry Rzonca, CPA, serves as the Partner-In-Charge of RubinBrown's Federal Tax Services Group and Vice-Chairman of the Manufacturing & Distribution Services Group. He is also a Partner Liason for the RubinBrown Advisory Board. Before joining RubinBrown in 2012,  Rzonca served more than 20 years in the role of Tax Director for Edward Jones and Watlow Electric Manufacturing Company, overseeing federal and state income, property, sales and, use taxes. Prior to gaining this industry experience, he was in the tax practice of KPMG for seven years.

Location / Room: Potomac 4-6


Basic

FM25: The Ins and Outs of Payroll, Taxes and Reporting

Friday, May 4  4:15 PM - 5:45 PM

Have you ever had to calculate and produce a payroll check without the use of payroll software? If not, you will have the skills after attending this session as we focus on payroll from beginning to end. It is important to understand all aspects of deductions and taxes being withheld from paychecks. We'll also cover the specific rules related to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) requirements and employee deductions. 

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Lisa Waligorski
Lisa Waligorski

Lisa Waligorski, CLM, is the Executive Director at Newmeyer & Dillion, LLP. She started her career in a legal assistant/paralegal role, and the past 20 years have been spent as either an Executive Director or Director of Finance/Controller. Waligorski has been a speaker on both law firm accounting and human resources topics. She has also been an ALA e-learning Law Firm Accounting and Financial Information and Analysis instructor for the past three years. Most recently, she was the Finance Instructor at the Law Firm Management Essentials Conference and presented "It's No Fun if you Can't Negotiate" at the HR Conference.

Location / Room: National Harbor 12-13


Intermediate

FM30: Advanced 401(k) Planning and Strategies

Saturday, May 5  8:15 AM - 9:30 AM

This session is directed toward those who manage the firm's 401(k), profit sharing and cash balance plans. This structured discussion will facilitate communication regarding best practices, positioning and what results in a successful retirement outcome for the firm's employees. We'll also discuss how the 401(k) plan is evolving.

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Spencer X. Smith
Spencer X. Smith

Spencer Smith is the founder of Spencer X. Smith Consulting, and services law firms throughout the country. He's a faculty member for the State Bar of Wisconsin's Business of Law Conferences, and is also an instructor at the University of Wisconsin, where he teaches classes on digital marketing and social media. Spencer has been called a digital marketing expert by Forbes, and publishes articles regularly in The Huffington Post and for Law Journal Newsletters and for the American Bar Association.

Location / Room: National Harbor 6-7


Intermediate

FM31: Profit Planning and Cost Accounting for Law Firms

Saturday, May 5  8:15 AM - 9:30 AM

IT IS SUGGESTED YOU BRING YOUR LAPTOP OR TABLET WITH EXCEL TO THIS SESSION

Most law firms do not believe that cost accounting applies to them, that it applies only to other industries like manufacturing. However, it is crucial for all law firms to implement a cost accounting system to understand their own business. How can you tell if a client, producer, division or office is profitable? Cost accounting can provide you with the answers to those questions. Many law firms face the same challenges when making management decisions, such as allocating overhead and establishing billing rates. These challenges can be overcome by understanding the costs associated with each producer. After understanding your firm's costs, all law firms should establish a profit plan. In this workshop, you'll get a hands-on learning experience that will teach you the fundamentals of understanding cost accounting as it relates to law firms. You'll also learn the practical steps it takes to create a profit plan that works toward your firm's revenue goals.

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Samuel J. Catanese
Samuel J. Catanese

Samuel J. Catanese is a Certifed Public Accountant (CPA) and holds the position of Leading Partner of Catanese Group, PC. He focuses primarily on business planning and development, tax planning, financial and estate planning, and management consulting for closely held businesses, family-owned businesses, and individuals. Catanese serves as an adviser to a wide variety of companies in the health care, retail, real estate, construction and professional service industries as well as not-for-profit organizations. He is an expert in the areas of mergers, acquisitions, corporate financial plans, business valuations and sales of businesses. 

Location / Room: National Harbor 10-11


Intermediate

FM32: Legal Project Management: What Lawyers Can Learn From How Accountants Approach Project Management

Saturday, May 5  1:15 PM - 2:30 PM

The demands of implementing legal practice management (LPM) principles continue to have an impact on law firms in ways that are far-ranging and culture-changing. This session will explore project management principles that have been in place for decades within accounting firms, where there is a heavy focus on managing individual fixed-fee engagements to achieve optimal profitability. While there are significant differences between the practice of law and the practice of accounting, the principles of project management applied in accounting firms may prove useful when implemented in law firms. For a firm to be effective in the implementation of an LPM strategy, culture changes are necessary to address the areas of hiring, training, knowledge management, client service, technology and project analytics. We will provide insight on how the field of accounting addresses each of these matters in order to provide a framework to ingrain project management principles within a law firm environment.

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Angela Rodin
Angela Rodin

Angela Rodin is a Principal in KPMG's Washington, D.C. Risk Advisory Forensic Practice. Prior to joining KPMG, Rodin a served a top 10 pharmaceutical company for 17 years in a number of leadership roles, including Vice President. In her most recent role, she oversaw sensitive and privileged investigations, and optimized risk-based, objective and proportionate monitoring of key business activities that give rise to bribery and corruption, commercial practices and scientific engagement risk.

Location / Room: National Harbor 10-11


Basic

FM33: Understanding Legal Organization Structures

Saturday, May 5  3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

The final session of the Law Firm Accounting Series focuses on the types of organizational structures available to companies. Whether you are working on a start-up adventure or evaluating your current legal configuration, this session will enlighten you on the types of organizational structures that exist. You will learn key facts that influence a decision on what type is right for you and ensure continuity of your business.

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Lisa Waligorski
Lisa Waligorski

Lisa Waligorski, CLM, is the Executive Director at Newmeyer & Dillion, LLP. She started her career in a legal assistant/paralegal role, and the past 20 years have been spent as either an Executive Director or Director of Finance/Controller. Waligorski has been a speaker on both law firm accounting and human resources topics. She has also been an ALA e-learning Law Firm Accounting and Financial Information and Analysis instructor for the past three years. Most recently, she was the Finance Instructor at the Law Firm Management Essentials Conference and presented "It's No Fun if you Can't Negotiate" at the HR Conference.

Location / Room: National Harbor 12-13


Session Code Key
CM – Communications & Organizational Management
FM – Financial Management
HR – Human Resources Management
LI – Legal Industry/Business Management
OM – Operations Management