When it comes to continuing legal education (CLE), the benefits of online webinars are undeniable. Who wouldn't want to earn free credits from their couch? Nonetheless, there’s much to be said for taking time out for CLE by attending a major professional event.
In addition to great destinations and training, in-person CLE and continuing professional development (CPD) events offer unparalleled networking opportunities to build one-to-one relations with colleagues and counterparts in your field and possibly even connect with leading legal luminaries. But with a seemingly endless array of sometimes costly events offered nationwide, it can be tough to choose which conferences to attend. Here are four to consider putting on your list:
Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Annual Meeting
Billed as “the world’s largest gathering of in-house counsel,” more than 3,000 attorneys attended the most recent ACC Annual Meeting in New Orleans, making this annual event an excellent networking opportunity and, according to the ACC, the best value in CLE. In just three eight-hour days, you can complete your CLE/CPD requirements for the year at a cost of $79 per credit. By comparison, the ACC notes, you would require 15 separate events and a minimum of 37.5 hours out of the office — at an estimated $100 per credit — to satisfy your annual requirements via individual CLE/CPD sessions. The ACC even offers talking points to help convince your boss.
American Bar Association (ABA) Annual Meeting
The ABA Annual Meeting offers attorneys the country's largest multi-practice legal exposition (the ABA EXPO), designed to provide cost-effective, one-stop shopping among more than 100 legal vendors, who sometimes offer event-only deals. Full registration includes a choice of 150 CLE sessions, but the ABA also offers lower-cost modular options. If your primary goal is to network, buy the networking pass. For a single course, add an individual CLE program option, or attend only your own section/division/committee/commission/forum events on the inexpensive standard pass. The ABA also offers a great portfolio of year-round group, section and regional events nationwide.
Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) CLE Expo
At the MCCA Annual Expo, you'll see CLE sessions, networking events like the (members-only) MCCA Exchange and an expo hall of legal service providers. The annual gathering also hosts the regional Thomas L. Sager Awards, a celebration recognizing law firms demonstrating a sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion. Once you return home, referring contacts you make for positions that open in your firm could help you assist your organization.
The Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) Annual E-Discovery Conference and Exhibition
Top experts in the litigation and e-discovery arena gather at the ACEDS E-Discovery Conference and Exhibition to help attendees learn how they can assist their firms in lowering the costs and risks associated with electronic data. Their site describes the conference level as "intermediate," with material most useful for “professionals with detailed knowledge in the subject matter” presented. Not quite at that level? ACEDS offers an online introductory eDiscovery course, which also nets you 10.5 CLEs and one ethics credit. Conference attendees can also earn CLE/CPE credits at educational sessions.
When it comes to CLE and CPD events, your biggest challenge is choosing. Draft a proposal today for your manager showing potential return on investment in addition to less quantifiable benefits in training, networking and exposure.