Association of Legal Administrators

Disaster Experience Proves Challenging & Thought Provoking at ALA's Annual Conference

The Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) provides support to professionals involved in the management of law firms, corporate legal departments and government legal agencies, according to its web site. The association sponsors an Annual Educational Conference and Exposition, which this year in Seattle featured more than 100 educational sessions; one of these was Attainium’s interactive Disaster Experience.

"The Disaster Experience interactive training is designed to put participants in the throes of a real-life disaster situation, as it unfolds," said Bob Mellinger, Attainium president and CEO. "Teams of participants are tasked not only with making the critical decisions they might have to make in an actual disaster situation, but also dealing with the consequences of those decisions! It’s an eye-opening experience."

Sherry L. Hurst, administrator for Fox Galvin LLC in Missouri, agrees. Hurst, who had never attended an interactive session, said, "You can draft all the documents but, until you get into a disaster situation, it’s hard to think of everything you need to. The session really helped you think through things you never hit on when drafting a plan."

"The opportunity to deal with real people and their different reactions was better than just sitting and listening," said Carol Sarter, office administrator for Krieg, Keller, Sloan, Reilley and Roman LLP in San Francisco. "It absolutely gave me some ideas about things I could apply within the firm."

"The format forced you to think through what to do in various situations instead of being a passive listener," said Scott Mecham, Chief Operating Officer at Durham Jones & Pinegar in Salt Lake City. "It caused us to become engaged in the action and think things through before the next action unfolded."

Sarter liked the teamwork aspect of the session and found benefits from the group talking among themselves. "I saw how important it was to stay calm and cool, since everyone is looking up to you to decide what to do next. The interaction was very realistic, because we were left to work together, on our own."

"It was challenging, as we dealt with the unknown and saw the different layers of the disaster unfold," said Hurst. "Things happened in a realistic manner, and everyone got into it and recognized how important it was. Our group had different areas of expertise and different backgrounds, so we found we had the resources available to meet the challenges that faced us. It was easier to deal with the situation as a team."

Mecham agreed. "Within the group, we were able to look at the situation from different angles and come to different conclusions, all of which helped us deal with each new thing that happened.

"This session was outstanding, the best session I attended," he said. "The format is great, particularly because of the team interaction. I want to discuss the session with my local chapter and recommend that ALA invite Attainium back to a future national and/or regional conference."

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