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Illinois Paralegal Association: Increasing Education, Community

About five years ago, the Illinois Paralegal Association (IPA) was struggling to get support from its association management software provider. Since the 2008 financial crisis, membership had fallen and they needed a solution to help, said Yvonne Kriss, Executive Director.

The board began to research alternatives and found ideas on Capterra, a website with descriptions of different types of software. ClubExpress was one of five options they reviewed through demonstrations, she said. They chose ClubExpress because of the price, the quality of the demo, and the fast, personal support.

“ClubExpress’s support is just unrivaled, in my opinion,” Yvonne said. “I can send an email and within three minutes have a response. Most association management companies don’t have that kind of support.”

IPA’s mission includes promoting communication among members of the paralegal profession and helping them get together across firms and fields; enabling continuing education; and promoting the profession among high school students. With 10 board members, 10-20 chairpersons, more than 800 members and one paid staff member—Yvonne—ClubExpress helps reinforce that mission, she said.
“ClubExpress’s support is just unrivaled, in my opinion,” Yvonne said. “I can send an email and within three minutes have a response. Most association management companies don’t have that kind of support.”
“I’m able to definitely save time in the financials—running financial reports, importing information from credit cards, running reports,” Yvonne said. “That saves us a lot of time. That means we can spend our time doing other things like reaching out to members. It has increased our ability to communicate with members.”

There is a lot to communicate! IPA offers members a mentor program, job posts, discussion forums including topics such as seeking resources for issues that come up in their work, social activities, and training and discussions in sections of law and changes in the profession.

And at a time the organization wants to build and retain membership, she said, the ClubExpress online renewal process has “definitely helped.” Since they implemented ClubExpress in 2014, IPA has been able to add a mid-month email to members and enhanced forums because of the ease of the communications functions.

“It’s also helped us lower our expenditures,” she said. “Every online association has gone toward more technology. I started in 1999 printing renewals and manually mailing them. I would get maybe 300 renewals and then have to mail them a second time. That’s a lot of money. It’s helped us lower our costs for sure.”

Yvonne also recommends ClubExpress to her own clients, other associations. Why?

“The support. I kind of feel like our support contact is an additional employee of IPA,” she said.

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