Association of Legal Administrators/Gateway Chapter Treasurer Kara Brostron
Attorneys who file well-researched briefs or make sparkling arguments before a jury aren’t the only ones who make law firms a success.
They depend on a bevy of non-lawyer professionals to take on the endless series of logistical hurdles that keep their firms or organizations running. That’s the daunting challenge individuals like Kara Brostron take on every day.
“I think the big thing is that people don’t realize that law firms are a business,” said Brostron, office manager of Lashly & Baer in St. Louis. “It is different than running just a regular run-of-the-mill business, but it is a profession.”
And it is a profession that requires support. That’s why Brostron is treasurer of the Gateway Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, a resource group for legal management professionals and specialists. Founded in 1971, the ALA provides law management professionals with training and tools they need to do their jobs effectively and share knowledge with one another.
Among the tools it recently has developed: the Uniform Process Based Management System, a comprehensive system of codes that encompass varied processes needed to support the practice of law. The codes provide a standard framework for legal operations to develop, implement and maintain successful management and operations strategies, using a common language and approach across the legal industry, Brostron said.
Prior to the system’s creation by the ALA, no universally recognized standard existed for identifying, organizing and performing administrative and operations processes within legal organizations, Brostron said.
The ALA also offers important educational and networking opportunities, and the connections built by the latter provide a lifeline for its members.
“A lot of [my] knowledge was from the people I met at the association at the local level and the international level,” said Brostron. “Being able to call anyone when something came up while I was learning that stuff was essential for me.”
Debbie Elsbury, president of the association at the international level, agreed.
“I believe I would have quit my job years ago had it not been for this association,” said Elsbury, an administrator at an Indianapolis law firm. “I found ALA to be that peer network that I needed.”
Brostron, who has been active in the St. Louis-area chapter since 2009, said the association also offers a certified legal manager designation, which can add value by recognizing a professional’s skill set.
“That really showed my firm that this association is so important to the firm to make wise decisions and move forward,” said Brostron who has earned the honor herself.
Elsbury said Brostron has become a significant resource for others. In fact, she’ll be chairing the organization’s annual conference next year.
“Her reach is far beyond the Gateway Chapter and the Saint Louis area,” Elsbury said. “People have met Kara through her different leadership roles in the association, and there are any number of people who call and ask her questions. It is not isolated to just those few who work down the street from her.”
Brostron said her chapter now represents about 80 professionals covering 50 firms, a network that during the COVID-19 pandemic has only grown more important to its members and the organizations that rely on them while they share best practices and promote diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“We all communicate,” she said. “We all know what’s going on with each other to make our lives as managers better.”