Solo and small firm conferences are growing and new ones are appearing all across the country. Last week I received a flyer announcing the inaugural Illinois State Bar Solo and Small Firm Conference. Last week I also was a guest speaker at the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association Solo and Small Firm Conference in Charlottesville. This was their third annual conference and they were warm and friendly hosts. Bruce Dorner, Reid Trautz and I did a day-long technology track on various topics. We had good audiences with lots of good feedback and questions.
I’ve been to solo and small firm conferences in about as many different states as anyone (with a few exceptions.) These gatherings have many similarities and many differences. These variations reflect the various regional needs. Some are one day only. Often they are two or more days in length. Some have few substantive law CLEs. Others have more. All have a significant portion of law practice management and technology programming.
But what these conferences share is extremely important. They always have energy and excitement. There are always groups of lawyers excitedly chatting in the halls. There are always vendors with an opportunity to visit with more lawyers from more different communities than they could in months on the road. There is always a pair of lawyers who haven’t seen each other in a long time catching up. There’s always great CLE programming targeted to the needs of solo and small firm lawyers. There’s usually a lot of loud conversation, along with laughter. There are always lawyers getting questions answered that have puzzled them for a long time.
Many lawyers have used the phrase “revival meeting” to describe their reaction to these solo and small firm conferences. They say they feel like their batteries are recharged by these meetings and they are reminded of why they decided to become a lawyer. Many of these conferences are held at resorts and lawyers frequently bring their families along for the event. I’ve imagined there have been some pretty interesting conversations as the lawyers’ spouses and children make acquaintance and compare notes.
If your state hasn’t jumped on this bandwagon yet and you have an interest in this type of gathering, contact your state or local bar and offer to help. These programs cannot be put together by staff alone. We need volunteer lawyers and bar officers committed to the project. But as the small firm lawyers in many states can attest, you will be pleased if you bring this high-impact type of event to your neighborhood.