I find comfort in the making of a list, solace in a spreadsheet. And I find excitement in checkmarks on a checklist. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit I have been known to write an accomplished task on my to-do list so I can mark it off. So you can imagine what I started doing when I was selected as President-Elect of the Association: making lists.
The ideas started churning, I documented my thoughts and I began to plan. By January 2020, I had already prepared for receiving the gavel from President James L. Cornell III at the Association Luncheon during the Annual Conference & Expo. I had written my speech to present, purchased the suit I was going to wear and made my travel arrangements. I had checked all the boxes, and I was ready. However, something outside of my control happened on my way to Annual Conference, something I couldn’t plan for, something I could never have imagined — COVID-19. And, just like that, all those plans I made no longer mattered.
We all found ourselves changing seemingly overnight. What was normal was no longer normal. What we thought was necessary and required, we found was no longer necessary nor required. No matter how well I had prepared for the next week, the next month or the next year, I found myself without a definitive plan. I found I had to give and go, had to jig and jag, and had to find a new way of accomplishing things.
It’s always interesting to observe what happens when the proverbial crap hits the fan. Some cower, some run and some stand tall with the words “Bring It” emblazoned on their chests. As ALA members, we don’t typically walk around wearing the hero T-shirts, or have capes around our necks flowing in the wind. However, we are made to stand tall; we are made of stern stuff that makes us run toward, not away, from challenges. We immediately start figuring out the next steps for ourselves, our staff and our firms, while reaching out to each other to see how we can help along the way. We have ALA — we are ALA.
The ALA resources surrounding COVID-19 are voluminous and timely. ALA staff has worked to accumulate a wealth resources available at your fingertips. Members have shared information on the Online Communities. Roundtables have been formed, webinars have been shared and all of you are stepping up.
In a year of uncertainty, we are all looking at new ways to perform the usual, the normal and the necessary. And ALA is right there with you, and we will be here for you throughout this pandemic, tomorrow and alongside you every step of the way throughout your legal management career.
As you know, there is a lot happening at ALA right now. We are maneuvering through the ever-changing landscape we all find ourselves in, while working to improve the professional lives of our members. We’re also improvising new ways to deliver the content we’ve come to rely on ALA to provide as we search for an Executive Director to lead us into the next 50 years.
In a year of uncertainty, we are all looking at new ways to perform the usual, the normal and the necessary. And ALA is right there with you, and we will be here for you throughout this pandemic, tomorrow and alongside you every step of the way throughout your legal management career. While the last couple months have been beyond what any of us could have imagined, we are the quiet in the storm. We are the constant that our firms and employees are looking to and leaning on. I encourage you to never question the value you bring to those around you, especially in time of crisis. You are armed with the information you need and surrounded by cohorts to support you — ALA is here to help you be the best legal management professional you can be.
And so, it begins. I start my year as your President with my heart full and my head racing (which is better than the other way around). I am not going to pretend I have a roadmap and know where we are going — that would be foolish and insincere. Nor will I pretend that I have a list for what is ahead of us as an Association. I have been reminded that no matter how much one plans — or wants to plan — life has a mind of its own and we all best be prepared to not be prepared. The humility that this planner is learning daily will help me as I serve this Association. In all things I do, know that I am honored to serve with you and for you.