The Cactus Quarterly Newsletter - 2nd Qtr 2020 Print

President's Report

April 1st is typically the time when we welcome the 2020-2021 Board of Directors and Chairs to the Chapter.  2020 is not our typical year.  We have all gone through a unique time in our history, one I hope we will never have to repeat.  As we have all learned very quickly how to take our firms to working remotely, protecting our employees, and understanding all of the new federal programs available for our firms,  I hope all of you are remembering to take care of yourself as well.

For only the second time in the history of the Chapter, I am a repeating Chapter President.  I’m excited to have our 2020-2021 Board of Directors and Chairs in place for an exciting new year.

We have already been very busy planning an exciting year of activities for our members, when we can get back together.  I’m going to challenge all members to stretch themselves a little more this year and try to attend as many events as possible.  Without each other we find ourselves on that island in our own firms, and the challenges you are facing have probably already been faced by other members.  We are here to help each other.

Our annual Business of Law Conference will be held on September 17th at the Bentley Warehouse Project.  We listened and move it out a little, so that more members could attend. We are keeping the same format as last year, where we spend the day with our business partners.  We will have outstanding education and networking.   More information will be coming out soon regarding our speakers.

Our Leadership Event will be held on October 22nd and once again, it will be held at the convenient location of the Phoenix Country Club.  We are currently working on an outstanding speaker that will be meaningful to our Leadership teams.

New this year, we will be having our first Business Partner Advisory Committee.  Heading up this committee will be Sharon Williams.  Sharon has worked with our business partners for several years and does a great job getting them to support our Chapter.   We will be seeking volunteers to join this committee.  We will have 3-4 business partners and 3-4 members working together to collaborate on projects that can help both groups.  If you are interested in participating, please reach out to me or Sharon.

Our challenge this year will be to get more participation at our events.  I realize that everyone is very, very busy, but the value of your membership comes from networking, attending education events and having the business relationships to get the information that your firm needs.  Your Board of Directors have met and collaborated on some ideas, but I would really like to hear from each of you on what you think would be helpful for you and your firm.

Let me conclude by saying thank you for the privilege of leading our Chapter. If you have any thoughts to share, please email me at [email protected].  I will continue to work closely with our Board of Directors and Committee Chairs to help make the Arizona Chapter a leader among  the ALA chapters. I look forward to making a difference, together.

Jerri Buchtel
President, ALA Arizona Chapter

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Business Partner Spotlight

First Legal   


Thank you for your continued support!

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Morton Group

Temporary or The New Norm?

When was the last time you had so much time on your hands?  How many of us have said, “If only I had a month at home to get caught up on projects.” WELL, now we have it!!  How are we using this time to keep our businesses on a successful path to weather this storm?  I would love to hear how you, as firm administrators, are managing the rapid changes to your workplace.

When we packed our files and laptops up and headed home, many of us believe our workplaces would be back to normal shortly.  However, it has been more than three weeks and will be four more until we can consider returning to our offices.  As much as we are not prepared to think this is long term, this is the new norm for the foreseeable future.  How are you managing people who are working from home?  You can encourage autonomy through setting up Work-From-Home guidelines, rules and expectations for everyone working from home.  Yes, even the attorneys.

Some firms already have guidelines in place, but I have spoken with many who do not. There is a sentiment of disconnect which increases stagnation and decreases efficiencies.  These guidelines, rules and expectations do increase productivity, but they also are appreciated and needed by employees often more than we realize.


How are you communicating with your employees while they are at home?  Do you have daily conference calls with the people working on your cases?  I am hearing, “I don’t know what they are working on.”  We cannot see our employees, we are not talking with our employees, we are feeling disjointed and our employees are too!  While we are in this temporary state of working from home, there are ways for attorneys and administrators to receive the same level of confirmation that walking by an office and seeing employees working provides.

Project Management:

You can also consider implementing project management tools.  There are many technological resources for project management, which can help keep your team organized, such as, Basecamp, Trello, and Asana. Many of these come with a cost but provide a quick way to check in with your team. Another simple solution is to have a daily status email. Each employee can list what they are working on and how their progress is developing.


Give your employees suggestions on how they can stay productive while working at home. These are unfamiliar times for all of us; it may be the first time some people have ever worked from home.  It was not their choice, rather they have been forced into this work style.  Many balancing having kids at home, both parents trying to work or their connection speed being too slow to get their work done. 

Consider sharing these productivity tips: 


  1. Act as though you are still going to work. Stay in your normal routine and structure your day like you would when in the office. If you normally workout in the morning, create a workout routine based on our current situation.  You can use the laundry detergent bottle or paint cans as weights.
  2. Have a dedicated area for work. Ideally this would not be your bedroom.  It is important to use separate locations, so you have a dedicated space for working and a dedicated space for relaxing.
  3. Prepare your environment. Make sure you have all the supplies you need to get your work done (comfortable chair, stapler, tape, paperclip remover, pens, printer, ink etc.),  Having your area set up with the right equipment is essential to staying focused and productive.
  4. Communication is essential. Utilize communication tools such as video calls, Skype, Slack, Zoom, group text, chats, or Google Hangouts to stay connected. Make it a point to contact and check in with your co-workers during the day. These are great opportunities to ask questions, give an update on the cases you are working on and feel connected to the firm.
  5. Minimize distractions. Make a conscious effort to minimize distractions during your working hours. If you normally listen to music at work, play the same music.  Limit deliveries, errands and visitors.  If two adults are working from home maybe they can take turns caring for the children.
  6. Eat healthy. Stick to a nutritious diet and your normal routine.  If you normally make your lunch the evening before or in the morning continue to do that while working from home.  
  7. Take breaks! It may seem counter-intuitive to take breaks to be more productive. Research shows stopping for just a few minutes provides a mental break which can keep you refreshed and motivate.  Most productive workers focus for 52 minutes then disengage for 17 minutes.  Try setting work and break timers to ensure you take time to step away and come back refreshed. 

What are your tips and tricks?!  If you share your suggestions with me, I will thank you with a cup of coffee. The first 10 firm administrators to share their tips will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card. 

In the end, we will come out of this experience with new knowledge and ways to improve, especially in the legal field. However, we want to avoid losing any good employees who did not feel supported or part of the firm during this difficult time. 

To assist, I would also like to offer a complimentary, 15-minute Work From Home strategy session so we can discuss guidelines and expectations for your firm.  You can reach me at: [email protected]

Stay healthy and be kind!


Sue Morton, CPC, CTS
President, The Morton Group

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2020 HR Advanced Workshop

Does anybody besides me remember as far back as January 2020 when our HR worries included the simple things, like sexual harassment, avoiding hiring discrimination and using best practices during terminations, office flirtations, and dealing with an occasional tasteless joke overheard in the copy room?  I, for one, am pining for the return of those easy days now that COVID-19 has turned our law firms and world upside down! 

Honestly, I was on the fence about taking a half-day away from the office to attend Michael Cohen’s presentation on “Harassment:  Prevention and Correction” on January 28th, but deciding to participate in that session was probably the best business decision I made that week.  The auditorium in the centrally-located Central Arts Plaza was a perfect venue and I hope that it will be utilized for future ALA events.  Thanks to Jeri Buchtel for making the arrangements.

Michael Cohen’s presentation covered a wide range of HR topics and was presented in a fast-paced and entertaining style.  I appreciated that his program was completely interactive with Michael asking and answering questions from the audience.  He also took time to listen to different current scenarios, and then offered his expertise on how to deal with real-life (yet anonymous) dilemmas and problems in our offices.  His program reminded me of many things I had forgotten or hadn’t had to think about it in quite a while, taught me some things I had not heard about it before, but most importantly – a lot of what he talked about confirmed for me that I have been handling various HR HHRsituations I’ve come across over the years correctly and appropriately.  I wonder how many of us question ourselves at times on whether or not we are acting or reacting to an HR problem properly.  Occasional reminders on the “do’s and don’ts” from experts such as Michael Cohen are helpful, validating, and necessary.

I encourage other members to follow my lead and participate in the special workshops the Chapter has put together, and certainly bring along the attorneys or others in your firm who would benefit from the knowledge that is presented.  I am thankful that I spent that morning in January with Michael and my ALA friends and colleagues.  I left the workshop with valuable and useful information that is definitely required on a daily basis.

A debt of gratitude to Don Hoefnagel and his team at First Legal for sponsoring this important, informative, and fun program.

Now . . .  if there was just someone left in the office with a discrimination or harassment complaint, I’d have the right tools to solve the problem effectively and efficiently!  Stay safe and healthy everyone. 

Holly Einspahr
Radix Law

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Board of Directors and Committee Chairs

Congratulations to our 2020 – 2021 Board of Directors and Committee Chairs:

Jerri Buchtel, President
Frazer Ryan Goldberg & Arnold, LLC

Katie Bryant, CLM, Immediate Past President
Diversity & Inclusion Chair
Udall Shumway, PLC

Carrie Valenzuela, President-Elect
Communications Co-Chair and Website Chair
Meagher & Geer, PLLP

Pam Molnar, CLM, Secretary
MacQueen & Gottlieb, PLC

Dana Marinaro, Treasurer
Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, PLC

David Hansen, Director at Large
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC

Naomi Jorgensen, Director at Large
Community Connection Chair
Coppersmith Brockelman, PLC

Stephennie Stuart, Director at Large
Copeland Law Offices PLLC

Tina Vanderpool, Director at Large
Newsletter Chair
Gammage & Burnham

Teresie Zmyslinski
Communications Co-Chair and Social Events Chair
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC

Sharon Williams
Business Partner Advisory Chair
Gammage & Burnham

Tracy Als
Meeting Coordinator Co-Chair
Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC

Cynthia Webler, PHR
Meeting Coordinator Co-Chair
May Potenza Baran & Gillespie, PC

Sarah Dunne
Membership Co-Chair
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law – ASU

Tracy Laskos
Membership Co-Chair
Phillips Law Group, PC

Chris Proctor, CLM
Information & Finance Chair
Levenbaum Trachtenberg

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Stay Safe

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Calendar of Events


May Chapter Meeting via Zoom  |  May 19th at noon

Kathy Scourby Presents "Creating the Resilient Law Firm of the Future"

It could be a burst pipe, a fire in a neighboring suite, a workplace violence incident, a weeklong power outage or a global doesn’t have to be a natural disaster that could close your law firm or affect its reputation. Does your firm’s current business continuity plan address all the essential components necessary to seamlessly continue providing services to clients? As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact the current business landscape around the world, law firm leaders are looking at their business continuity and risk management programs to determine current and future risks to their firms and help make vital business decisions. In this session we will discuss business continuity and pandemic planning and the steps that your firm can take now to protect your employees, make informed business decisions for returning to the workplace, working with clients and ensuring organizational resiliency and profitability. Items such as continuing to have a remote work environment while also phasing back to an office work setting, the future of providing services to clients, risk management and compliance issues, crisis communication systems, and comprehensive written business continuity plans will be discussed.

Register here

A special thank you to Pacific Office Automation for sponsoring this event!


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ALA Resources and Useful Links


The ALA Arizona Chapter website has a new tool call the “Forum.” The forum is a way to engage between members with discussion threads on the ALA Arizona Chapter StarChapter website. 

The “forum” is a drop down under the “Member Area” on the main website page, which is restricted to members only.

To post a thread, any member can go to “Member Area”, then “Forum”, then “Start A Thread”. A small pop-up box will ask for the member to provide a “Thread Title” and enter the “New Thread Content”. 

The person can then decide if they want to receive emails whenever a new post to the thread has been completed by checking the “Email me updates on this thread”.

To post a replay choose “Leave a Reply”
Please contact Teresie Zmyslinski, if you need assistance.

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