The Cactus Quarterly Newsletter - 3rd Qtr 2020 Print

President's Report

Needless to say 2020 has not been the year I planned as my second time around being President of the Arizona Chapter.  Recently the Board of Directors made the difficult decision to cancel all in-person events for the remainder of 2020. This decision was made after much thought and consideration regarding potential health risks and limitations that in-person meetings may have to our Members and Business Partners.

But let’s face it, it is just not the same as sitting at lunch catching up with new and old friends at our monthly chapter meetings, business partner functions and in general our ALA Family.  We are working together with business partners to plan virtual meet-ups through zoom.  We are open to hearing from all of you for suggestions of ways to keep us together as a group.  More than ever we need each other to help us through this unique time in our lives.   Remember that we can always pick up the phone and talk with each other as needed.

The ALA website has a lot of resources available to us, check it out on a regular basis.

We are in this together and together we will handle any challenges we may encounter. If you have any questions regarding this decision, please reach out to me at [email protected].

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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ALA Chicago Invites Arizona to Join CLM Study Group

In anticipation of the November 2020 CLM exam, ALA Chicago is once again launching a CLM study group. The first study session is scheduled for Wednesday, August 5th. Over a year ago, we opened our study group to all ALA members. For this reason, the last Chicago Study Group had over 70 participants from around the country!

To help offset costs, we charge a nominal $100 fee to join the Study Group. ALA HQ has informed me that the chapter discounted price of $59 on CLM study guides is applicable AFTER the first copied is purchased for $159.

Below is a summary of the group’s offerings:

  • A series of one-hour comprehensive study sessions via Zoom webinar – approximately 18 sessions.
  • A variety of highly-qualified speakers including, a CPA, several labor and employment attorneys, counsel from ARDC, technology professionals, insurance brokers, real estate brokers, employee benefits experts and more.
  • Access to speakers for questions and guidance.
  • Full access to the Chicago Study Group’s Google drive of study materials and speaker presentations. Note: You need a Gmail account to access these.
  • An abundance of sample test questions.
  • Support from prior study group participants and current CLM’s to encourage you along your study journey.
  • Access to our chapter’s CLM Director to help answer questions and guide you to success.
  • Opportunities to form new relationships across ALA chapters.

Visit the Certification page on ALA Chicago’s website: If you have any questions, feel free to contact Rita Nielsen ([email protected]).

If any current ALA member has lost their job, or has had their compensation significantly reduced due to COVID-19, we will offer them free registration to the ALA Chicago Study Group. These individuals should reach out to our CLM Director, Rita Nielsen ([email protected]) to complete registration. A reminder that the first session of the Study Group is August 5th, so there’s still time to register.

Ken Koehn
ALA Chicago President

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Staying Up in Down Times

Times are tough. The economy is down and unemployment is up. Trusting others is down, blaming is up. Optimistic outlooks are down and fear is up.  Don’t let the turkeys get you down.
Staying up in down times requires a blend of energy, spirit, self-confidence, and humor. Perception must change and include a broader knowledge and more comprehensive view. What is your perspective of life and the world? Do your lenses and filters of life and the world include a wide-angle lens or do you use a microscope with a narrowed view?
1. Energy: When precious energy is spent trying to control elements that are out of our control we feel down. We must expand our thinking to include new knowledge. For example, continually watching the news can become a real downer. It permeates your thinking ,and validates doom and gloom. The broadcasts and constant influx of negativity can may make you angry. My goal is to feed positive energy into my perception of life in the world.

Here's the rub. We must all clean our lenses of perception to increase our knowledge. Period. Do this by learning more, ask open-ended questions and keep an open mind. Build your energy by learning how to apply some of the new technologies, whether working from home or connecting with friends and family.
What’s the cure? Listen to people who motivate you again and again. Yes, you've heard it all before, but do you really apply these fine techniques on every speed bump of life? Times are hard and going it alone is lonely!
2. Spirit: Definition - Vivacity or enthusiasm. Do you have real enthusiasm in your interaction with others? Spirit is built by caring and learning from your environment and not being engrossed only with you and your opinions.

Tips for building your spirit:
- Stay hopeful.
- Take risks.
- Volunteer for two hours a week.
- Celebrate with your family, even if it is virtually.
- Enjoy the outdoors and breathe.
- Share a positive thought.
- List reasons for gratitude in your life.

3. Self-confidence: When you feel you can handle life’s challenges, you create the capability to move forward in a positive manner. This is self-esteem. The external application of self-esteem spills over into self-confidence.

Tips for building self-confidence:
- Maintain a strong belief in your own competencies to stop the thoughts of vulnerability.
- Review your talents and build on them. Check your weaknesses and if they are the problem, learn to change them.
- Cancel your membership in the whine and cheese club. “Oh, cheese, this is so hard being at war with the economy in the tank and everyone is susceptible to the virus.” (You can hear the tone, can’t you?)
- Keep your focus on being solution-oriented rather than danger-oriented. Understand that there is a problem to be solved not a threat to your life or well being. This helps tackle problems quickly.
- Rise above it. Pretend you are in a hot air balloon and lift your thoughts over the issue to get a new view.
- Picture what you want vs. what you don't want. Be careful of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep an anastrophic (forward thinking)  view rather than a catastrophic  (everything is awful) outlook.

4. Humor: We take ourselves way too seriously. The challenge is to put the humor back in your personal and professional life. Our perspective becomes so shallow that we lose a sense of happiness. Watch Blazing Saddles or Trains, Planes, and Automobiles.

Staying up in down times becomes a choice. Search for the silver lining. Learn to blend energy, humor, spirit, and self-confidence. This combination is marinade to make those turkey's more palatable and for a happier you.

by Marsha Petrie Sue, MBA
[email protected]
Cell: 602 418-1991

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Pacific Office Automation

Pacific Office Automation is Committed to Helping you Work from Home

For the past seven years, the Association of Legal Administrators has been a valued partner of Pacific Office Automation.

With that being said, POA strives to support the ALA and its membership through these uncertain times

Until the end of 2020, our no-cost services are available to your association. Complimentary services include: Setting up phone and video conferencing within your employees' homes, including phone-bridge applications, with capabilities of conferencing with up to 30 people to improve collaboration.

We are also offering work from home packages and remote workspace assistance at this time. Packages include laptop computers, home office printing solutions and file sharing access with Datto remote installation. All packages include full four-year warranty on laptops, plus three hours of set up and delivery.

Pacific Office Automation looks forward to continuing the outstanding partnership we hold with the ALA!

Please reach out TJ Weisenburger for more information regarding our no-cost phone and video conferencing and other specialty WFH packages.

[email protected]

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Total Networks

Ransomware – What Businesses Need to Know

Ransomware is malware that holds your data hostage
It all starts when an employee clicks on something they should not have. At first there may be no signs of a malware infection. But in the background, evil software is going to work and encrypting your data. The program is scrambling all your computer information with the key that theoretically somebody else has. The cybercriminals say they are willing to give you the key to get your own data back if you pay the ransom.

Types of Extortion
The common form of payment is Bitcoin. Pay up and you will be given the key (the password) to unencrypt your data and retrieve your information. There's also what's called scareware, where instead of encrypting your data, the criminal knows a secret about you and is trying to threaten you or scare you into paying money. For instance, they may say, “I've been watching where you're browsing and I'm going to share your browsing history” or “I know some crime that you committed.” Often the “secret” they claim to know is false, but they are gambling that it will seem real to you.

Bitcoin, the Payment of Choice
Cybercriminals’ payment of choice is Bitcoin. Why do they ask for Bitcoin as opposed to U S dollars or your credit card? Traditional payment methods are very traceable and could aid the FBI or police to catch them. A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin does not have a clear trail.

If the criminal uses Bitcoin “correctly”, it can be used successfully for nefarious purposes. The whole reason cryptocurrencies were created was to establish untraceable transactions. The rate of Bitcoin fluctuates; one Bitcoin can generally be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Generally, ransomware will request a payment of a fraction of a Bitcoin.

Should you pay the Ransom?
Avoid paying the ransom! While there have been cases in the news where a company or a government has had to pay the ransom, paying should not be your initial reaction. Paying should only be a last resort.

The Value of a Business-Grade Recovery Plan
Ideally your firm will be able to recover the data from backup. Sometimes the malware first disables the backups, waits patiently, and then encrypts that data several days later. It’s important to be constantly monitoring and testing your backups.

Businesses need to review what backups they have, and review how often they are checked for making sure that the bad guys haven't gone in and disabled them. It is also important to be familiar with your backup system’s Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) to ensure they meet your business needs.

Security Defense Checklist
Security is built on layers. The more layers your firm uses, the lower the risk. While this is not an exhaustive list, these are key areas to review:

  • Employee Training. This is one of the most important security tools. Most breaches are caused by human error, so it is crucial that employees are trained on how to spot a phishing email and when to use caution. Implement regular security awareness training. Set up simulated phishing campaigns. Use a service to monitor the dark web for any stolen company usernames and passwords.
  • Patch Management. When systems are patched with the latest updates, it reduces the exposure to flaws that infections can exploit.
  • Business-grade endpoint protection, antivirus, and anti-malware software.
  • Web filtering. Ensure risky websites are blocked (both at the network perimeter and on endpoints).
  • Email filtering. Use a 3rd party spam/virus filter service to prevent suspicious or malicious messages from ever hitting your mailbox. Many services will also include tagging for external messages to make it easier to identify messages that appear to be from an internal user but that actually originate outside your organization.
  • Use Native Cloud Applications. Online hosted applications are generally safer because the application provider manages the security. There is not a direct path for malware to infect your system and access your data. Be sure to vet your vendors and understand how the data is backed up and how you would recover data.
  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication, Strong Passwords, and a Password Manager


In summary, be ready. Ransomware is a potentially catastrophic event. At best a ransomware attack is a huge financial and public relations distraction. At worst many small to medium companies have gone out of business following a breach. Every business needs to have a disaster recovery plan. Assess your risks and do everything practical to mitigate risk.

Total Networks Stacked


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Occupiers around the world are asking: how should we modify our real estate strategy for the months ahead? What is our plan for today and how does it change as vacancy increases and landlords become more willing to negotiate?

Our answer is: “that depends”. Whether you are renegotiating an existing lease, looking for new space or considering subleasing space, time is on your side. We recommend discussing these points of negotiation with your attorney and local Cresa advisor.

In every instance, we work to achieve the following for our clients:

Reduce Cost

  • Rental Rate Leverage market conditions for a more favorable rent structure
  • Base Rent Escalation Reduce the rate of escalation to lower your fixed costs
  • Rent Abatement Delay rent to start, offsetting costs
  • Tenant Improvement Allowances Reduce exposure by reducing capital expenses
  • Security Deposits Use your cash to support your business
  • Base Year Minimize expenses over the long term
  • Audit Rights Landlord mistakes are unintentional, but inevitable
  • Repair & Maintenance Keep the landlord accountable
  • Operating Expenses Ensure you get what you pay for

Maximize Flexibility

  • Length of Lease Is shorter really better?
  • Renewal Options Renew all or part of your space with less notice
  • Termination Rights Only you should decide how long your space works for you

Mitigate Risk

  • Holdover Planning for the unexpected
  • Subleasing & Recapture Rights Use your space your way
  • Landlord Default Protect yourself from overleveraged landlords
  • Abandonment Reserve the right to work where you want, when you want
  • Notice Provisions Secure communication timeframes that meet your needs
  • Force Majeure Rent protection from the unknown (e.g. pandemics)

For additional information please contact:

Scott Maxwell
Managing Principal [email protected] 602.648.7348

Brandon Clarke
Principal [email protected] 602.648.4965

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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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