The Legal Services department at the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) is bustling, and Jamie Chandler is at its center. As Operations Manager, she is responsible for ensuring department workloads, communications, projects and budgets are on track and moving forward, and she oversees the record management division and paralegal functions. Her value extends far beyond that job description, however, and her creativity and grit have resulted in process improvements, new services and benefits to counties and TAC employees alike.
“I cannot imagine navigating the challenges of COVID-19 without Jamie,” says General Counsel Michael Pichinson. “Despite relentless duress, Jamie has inspired our team with determination, creativity and optimism. We are so fortunate to be working with her as each day presents new challenges and opportunities to support our county members and our company.”
In addition, Pichinson says, “her perseverance and determination have enabled the team to continue to succeed."
Chandler’s determination extends beyond the job. For example, in addition to being truly exceptional at TAC, she has become an ad hoc schoolteacher for her two young boys during the pandemic, and she is pursuing an Executive Master of Public Service and Administration degree through Texas A&M University. Earlier in her career, Chandler completed her paralegal certificate and a bachelor’s degree in organizational communications and leadership while working full time at TAC.
What’s your history here at TAC?
I joined TAC in 2010 as a temporary Legal Assistant because the department needed help answering the phone while the paralegals were out on vacations. I did that for a few months, then had an opportunity to be a legislative intern in Legislative Services. I was lucky enough to be hired full time in 2012 as Legislative Services Operations Manager. In 2014, I returned to the legal department as Paralegal. I worked in that position for almost five years alongside some of the most brilliant people I have ever met who are now some of my dearest friends. I left TAC for about a year in 2019 but accepted my current position in early 2020.
Was there a particular initiative you enjoyed?
I helped develop the monthly e-newsletter LegalEa§e, which includes timely and often entertaining legal topics affecting county government. You may not know this, but some people think the law can be dry! This newsletter is a fun way to frame and answer questions that come up in the world of county government. For example, one of my favorites is, “We had the estray bull in the pen yesterday, I swear, but it appears he broke out overnight to visit greener pastures. What do we do now?” I’m really proud that we’re finding new, creative ways to serve our members.
“Despite relentless duress, Jamie has inspired our team with determination, creativity and optimism.”
— General Counsel Michael Pichinson
What do you find satisfying about the work of Legal Services?
The TAC Legal Helpline is a flagship service of TAC, and the reason it’s so valuable and why our members call it all day every day is because of the phenomenal attorneys we have. They are some of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the state when it comes to county government law. Being able to call and have a real human answer the phone is invaluable and hard to find these days. The helpline is one of the most important services we offer.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
My start in operations was an unusual one. I worked as the operations assistant for an iconic Austin institution, Amy’s Ice Creams. My claim to fame at Amy’s was that I was voted “Company Sunshine” by the 200-person staff all three years I worked there. I was also given an annual creativity award in 2009, which was a huge honor considering the great deal of creative talent at Amy’s.
What are you working on now?
I am really excited about the launch of a new interactive webpage for our members related to the forthcoming release of the 2020 U.S. census. Many statutes apply differently based on population brackets. As population data changes with the release of each federal decennial census, a county may consequently move into a new classification and be subject to new (or fewer) requirements. There has not been a centralized place to view these impacts, but when the new tool is available in late summer, a member will be able to click on their county and not only see their population changes in the census data, but also get a list of the population bracketed statues that apply to them. The interactivity of this tool will make legal information more accessible and tailored for each county, and I cannot wait for it to go live. I love that I have been given the opportunity to develop and then implement ideas that would benefit members, with the collaborative support of others across the organization.