Big Ideas ALA President’s Letter

Good Things in Store for 2020

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. said, “The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.” In 2020, ALA is moving onward and upward toward the Association we envision!

James L. Cornell III

This year will be one of opportunity, transition and evolution for ALA. This month, we say thank you and good luck to Executive Director Oliver Yandle, JD, CAE, who after seven years with ALA will be embarking on new opportunities and challenges in the association world. Oliver and the staff at ALA headquarters have worked tirelessly during his tenure to position ALA as the premier professional association of over 8,500 leaders and managers within the legal industry. As a result, we are in an excellent position to hire our next executive director, who will lead us into our 50th year and beyond while focusing on innovation, professional development and the priceless value of the ALA membership experience.

The Board of Directors is beginning the search process for our Association’s next leader. We’ll keep you informed on the progress, so stay tuned for updates. If you would like, please send Oliver a note of well wishes and good luck as he begins a new adventure: [email protected].

In the meantime, here’s a snapshot of the exciting things we’ve got on deck for 2020:

  • We will be test-driving our prototype for the Organizational Pricing Model with more than 70 firms, which range in size from 5 attorneys to over 4,000. We’ll apply the experience and knowledge we gain from this pilot program to the model that we’ll roll out to the entire membership in 2021. With this program, we anticipate an influx of new members that will further strengthen our depth and breadth of legal industry knowledge, leadership and expertise, while also invigorating our membership with new perspectives. But this is just the tip of the iceberg for membership enhancements! We’ll be unveiling a member dashboard experience that will deliver enhanced content, services and opportunities that have been curated specifically to the persona of each member.

  • The Board of Directors is also beginning to develop the next iteration of our Strategic Plan for 2021 through 2023. We’re just in the early planning phase, but we’ll be seeking input from members, business partners and others in the legal industry over the course of the year. Our aim is to create a plan focused on member experience and career success at the organizations where we work by providing unsurpassed value in knowledge and resources in the business of law.

  • At our 2020 Annual Conference & Expo May 3–6 in Salt Lake City, Utah — you’ll see a completely reimagined educational format and business partner/Exhibit Hall experience. Annual Conference is one of my favorite events each year, as it allows attendees to create lasting connections with like-minded professionals, collaborate on solutions by tapping into shared experiences, and investigate new products and services for a competitive edge.

  • In the fall, ALA will build on the success of our Master Class conference series that began last year. The September conference in Nashville, Tennessee, will focus on critical skills for legal management professionals; the October conference in San Diego, California, will examine pricing and profitability for law firms. That’s two great topics in two great cities, so mark your calendars and plan on attending one — or both! 

  • Lastly, I am excited about the new Share My Expertise tab on each member’s Account Profile on This tool will allow members to make updates to their interests and expertise at any time, will help populate the Peer Consulting Directory and will serve as ALA’s “volunteer application” going forward. We believe this process will allow ALA to more easily engage members in opportunities to serve the Association and to assist fellow members in both their day-to-day work and strategy. Visit for all the details.

ALA’s mission is to provide extensive professional development, collaborative peer communities, strategic operational solutions, and business partner connections that empower our members to lead the business of law. This is what we as an Association are about and what we have been providing to our members over the course of our 49-year history. But in the words of C.S. Lewis, “There are far, far better things ahead than we leave behind.” I am truly excited about what lies ahead and look forward to discovering it with each of you. May 2020 be your best year yet in all ways and in all things!