Over the past few months, Rocket Matter has met thousands of attorneys and others in the legal industry at bar association annual events and other conferences. I’ve been lucky to attend some of these events in states throughout the country, and I’m blown away by just how beneficial they can be for law firm firms.
Here are the top five benefits of attending your state or local bar association’s conferences as well as other conferences throughout the year:
Lots of CLE Credit
If you’re in a state that has mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements, you may be familiar with having to rush to complete them before the deadline. “Because of sponsorships and keeping costs down, attendees to our annual conference only paid $185.00 for an entire year of CLE credit, plus free parking and fabulous food,” says Sheila Baldwin, the Member Benefits Coordinator at the State Bar of Georgia. Their 2017 Solo & Small Firm Institute that I recently attended was only one-and-a-half days, but it was packed with useful CLE sessions on everything from marketing to implementing practice management software in your firm. So not only did lawyers complete those CLE’s, but they also got a lot of valuable info that they could use back at the office.
Direct Access to Leading Experts
It’s one thing to call a legal services vendor and talk to them over the phone, but it’s quite different when you’re face-to-face and can have a real exchange on problems your firm is facing. Most of your state or local bar associations look to have informative content from people who are trusted experts in their field. The State Bar of Georgia, for instance, had national speakers such as Steve Best of Affinity Consulting and Catherine Sanders Reach, who is the director of Law Practice Management & Technology at the Chicago Bar. You have the unique opportunity to not only sit in on their sessions and learn something new, but you can also speak to these experts about specific issues pertaining to your firm. You can also meet legal tech leaders and learn about products and services such as Rocket Matter and LexCharge that can make your life much easier. And you can hang with really smart, fun people like Tom Lambotte of GlobalMacIT.
Cool Swag and Prizes
Vendors clearly want to talk to you, and so they often have really cool swag to entice you over to their booth! Rocket Matter has given away dancing robots, fidget spinners, chip clips, and a really informative book on Payment Processing For Lawyers. One of our favorite swag items ever was at ABA TECHSHOW: Puppies! (You could adopt them on the spot!) There are also often awesome raffles and giveaways for things like Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners, LegalBoards, and Amazon Echos. Even if you’re not into swag and giveaways, your kids (or nieces or nephews) will thank you: Our dancing robots and fidget spinners were a huge hit among parents.
Opportunity for recognition
Most annual conferences have luncheons or dinners that recognize outstanding practitioners or attorneys who have logged enormous amounts of pro-bono hours. For instance, the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Access to Justice Awards honored seven attorneys and one firm, recognizing their service to the community. This annual dinner was sold out. Attending these events is a great opportunity to support your peers and learn about ways that you may be able to make a bigger contribution to the legal community.
Legal conferences are usually a good mix of business and pleasure. Events such as lunches, dinners, happy hours, cocktail parties, and even the occasional 5k are a great way to have more casual conversation and make meaningful connections. There are also niche conferences, like MacTrack Legal (a tech conference for Mac-loving lawyers), that are great events to meet like-minded attorneys, make new friends, and reconnect with old ones. These extra events make it easy to connect with others in your industry in casual settings.
— ABATECHSHOW (@ABATECHSHOW) March 17, 2017
Bottom line: If you’ve never been to a conference before, you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain. We hope to see you at one of these fantastic events soon!