A Complete Guide to the Best Conferences for Lawyers in 2021

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best conferences for lawyers

The legal industry is constantly evolving—that’s why legal professionals need to find ways to keep learning and growing. While this may seem daunting, the best conferences for lawyers make keeping connected and informed easier and more enjoyable.

Attending a legal conference is an efficient way to elevate your career and law firm to the next level. But with so many legal conference options, determining the best conferences to invest your time, money, and energy in can be overwhelming. 

You can use this guide to help you choose the best conferences for lawyers to attend. To start, we’ll delve a bit deeper into the specific value opportunities in legal conferences. Once you know what to look for, you’re better equipped to make a more informed choice. We’ll also provide tips for how to prepare and get the most from the legal conferences you attend. Most importantly, we’ll offer our picks for the best legal conferences this year.

A roundup of the best legal conferences for 2021 

Conference Name Date Location CLE-Eligible Cost Focus
Clio Cloud Conference October 26-29, 2021 Virtual Yes $99 – $199 Legal technology
The SUMMIT November 11-12, 2021 Orlando, Florida $895 Solo and small law firms
Legalweek Through July 13-14, 2021 Virtual Yes $399 Legal professionals including law firm partners
Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference October 22-24, 2021 Hollywood, Florida $1,545 (LMA member) / $2,045 (non-members) early bird pricing Legal marketing
ABA TECHSHOW March 2-5, 2022 Chicago, Illinois  Yes $325 (member) / $400 (non-member) Legal technology
AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law June 9-12, 2021 Virtual  Yes $545 (members) / $745 (non-member attorneys) Immigration law
Trial Lawyers Summit January 30-February 2, 2022 Miami, Florida Yes TBD Civil plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers
Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, November 10-13, 2021 Los Angeles, California Yes TBD Labor and employment law
AIPLA Annual Meeting October 28-30, 2021 National Harbor, Maryland Yes TBD Intellectual property law
Missouri Bar Solo & Small Firm Conference June 9-11, 2021 Virtual (for 2021) MCLE $290 Solo and small law firms

Why attend a legal conference

To grow and remain competitive in today’s rapidly changing legal industry, lawyers and law firms need to stay on top of the latest trends, technology, and issues in the profession. But it can be challenging to balance ongoing lawyer training with your day-to-day workload. 

The best legal conferences offer a dynamic solution: Quality legal conferences allow lawyers to immerse themselves in the latest training and educational opportunities in just a few days. Over a few days, attorneys can gain valuable insights and ideas on important industry changes and information, in addition to meeting and connecting with like-minded legal professionals.

Notably, attending a legal conference is valuable for:

Continuing Legal Education Opportunities

Ongoing lawyer training is key for staying competitive, but you also need to earn CLE credits. By attending a legal conference that offers CLE credits, you can work towards meeting your CLE requirements while also learning from the conference and upgrading your skills.

If completing CLE courses is a priority when looking for the best legal conference for you, there are a few options.

You can look to large-scale conferences that specify CLE-eligible sessions. For example, at the Clio Cloud Conference, attendees can earn CLE credit by participating in eligible conference sessions. You can also attend state bar conferences put on by your local state bar association. For example, the 2021 Idaho State Bar Annual Meeting offers CLE courses both in-person and virtually via webcast. 

Networking and Building Professional Relationships

two people shaking hands

Good relationships are key to success for lawyers, but finding the time and opportunity to connect with other legal professionals isn’t always easy. Because legal conferences bring together like-minded people, they’re one of the best, most natural places for attorney networking

Marketing and Promotion 

Effective law firm marketing is essential for success, and legal conferences are excellent sources for learning the latest strategies for promoting your practice. Legal conferences are also great for connecting with vendors, other attorneys, and potential clients. 

Additional benefits of virtual legal conferences

Additionally, the need for more physically distant conferences has led to the creation of more flexible, virtual conferences. Virtual legal conferences make attending important legal conferences easier. While legal conferences have traditionally centered around physical gatherings, virtual legal conferences give you the benefits of large-scale legal conferences without having to travel. As the 2020 Clio Cloud Conference showed, the best virtual legal conferences can be as immersive and educational as in-person events—with the bonus of being more accessible and affordable. 

If you’re curious about how a digital conference works, this post covers what you can expect at a virtual legal conference

Who should attend a legal conference

It’s simple: Any legal professional who works at a law firm can benefit from attending a legal conference. Here’s why:

Lawyers

a diverse group of lawyers

All lawyers can benefit from networking, marketing, and gaining insights on the latest in the legal industry. But partners and law firm decision-makers may find added value from attending legal conferences that highlight legal technology and innovation. Law firm leaders who can stay ahead of the curve with useful tools are better equipped to help drive innovation and growth at their firms. 

Paralegals

While paralegals are not lawyers, they take on substantive legal work on behalf of lawyers. That’s why it’s just as important for paralegals to stay updated on the latest opportunities in the legal industry. Moreover, paralegals use the knowledge gained from legal conferences can drive change and innovation at law firms.  

Law firm administrators

Because law firm administrators manage a law firm’s processes and implement new technology, they need to stay up-to-date on the latest in law firm productivity and tech. Attending a legal conference is a useful way for law firm admins to discover new ways to make their law office more efficient. 

How to prepare for a legal conference

Strategizing and orienting your mindset before attending a conference is an excellent way to ensure you get the most value from any legal conference. 

Best practices when attending legal conferences

  • Bring an open mind. While you’re not going to change your entire legal practice based on everything you hear at a legal conference, avoid preconceived notions that may limit your experience. 
  • Have goals from the get-go. The best legal conferences pack a lot of information and networking opportunities into a condensed period. You most likely won’t be able to attend every single session at the conference either. That’s why it’s a good idea to plan and come prepared with some specific goals for topics that you want to learn about or takeaways you hope to gain. 

Prepare for the conference

man taking notes

Take some time to look through the conference’s agenda and materials before it starts. This way, you’ll be more focused and less likely to miss out on a session or opportunity that’s especially applicable to your firm.

  • Participate and be engaged. To get the most out of a legal conference, it’s in your best interest to be active and participate. If you’re attending an in-person conference, attend networking events and speak up. If you’re attending a virtual conference, join breakout rooms or live chats to engage and connect. 
  • Clear your calendar. Try to avoid multitasking as much as possible during the conference. Clear your calendar and turn your out-of-office message on so you can focus and stay engaged.
  • Set up your virtual space. If you’re attending a virtual legal conference, you can benefit from a more flexible experience. But it’s still important to be able to focus when you need to—so make sure you set aside time in a place where you’ll be comfortable and won’t be distracted.

2021’s Best Conferences for Lawyers

Now that you know why legal conferences are so valuable for legal professionals. You’re equipped with a strategic approach to get the most out of them. Let’s look at the best legal conferences to consider attending in the year ahead.

We’ll start with the essentials—our picks for the most can’t-miss overall choices. Then, we’ll look at the best legal conferences for different categories like solo firm conferences, legal tech-focused conferences, practice-areas-specific conferences, and more. 

The top 3 can’t-miss legal conferences

1. Clio Cloud Conference, October 26-29, 2021

Clio Cloud Conference

Location: Virtual

Cost: $99 (Until August 27)

Credits: CLE eligible 

As the world’s biggest legal conference, Clio’s annual Cloud Conference brings together thousands of like-minded peers for an experience that touches on all the best things that legal conferences can offer—virtually. 

This year’s virtual conference allows attendees to create a tailor-made conference experience: You can choose from specific tracks and workshops to design an experience customized to your interests, career path, and law firm aspirations.

With a combination of live chats, video meetings, virtual events, and more, this value-packed digital conference empowers you to: 

  • Learn from inspiring keynotes and speakers (from the best in the legal industry—and beyond)
  • Gain valuable insights from innovative and successful law firms
  • Engage with multiple opportunities for networking and connection
  • Earn CLE credits 
  • Pick up practical skills to help you better operate and grow your law firm

2. ABA TECHSHOW, March 2-4, 2022

ABA TECHSHOW 2021

Location: Chicago, Illonois

Cost: $325 (member) / $400 (non-member)

Credits: CLE eligible 

The ABA TECHSHOW brings together legal professionals and technology to showcase the latest tools and strategies to help lawyers practice the law more efficiently and effectively (fun fact: Clio debuted at the ABA TECHSHOW in 2008).

While 2021’s virtual conference has already passed, you can look to the 2022 TECHSHOW, which is set to be held in Chicago.

3. Legalweek, through July 13-14, 2021

Location: Virtual (for 2021)

Cost: $399

Credits: CLE eligible 

Legalweek is one of the largest annual conferences for legal professionals and legal leaders.

Normally held in New York, Legalweek became Legalweek(year) with a series of five virtual events for 2021.

The best legal conference for solo and small firm lawyers

The SUMMIT: National Solo and Small Law Firm Conference, November 11-12, 2021

Location: Orlando, Florida

Cost: $895

With content designed to inspire and educate established, growing, and innovative law firms, the SUMMIT is best suited for lawyers at solo and small law firms. It focuses on special interest topics to small law firms and entrepreneurs—like industry trends and hacks, the latest business practices, and strategy. 

Runner up: Missouri Bar Solo & Small Firm Conference, June 9-11, 2021

Location: Virtual (for 2021)

Cost: $290

Credits: MCLE eligible

After 26 years, this annual conference is a leader in legal conferences for small and solo law firms. Ideal for individual lawyers and staff at small law firms, this conference aims to teach skills and deliver the latest information for small firms to improve their law practices. The best legal conference for large firms

Legalweek, through July 13-14, 2021

Location: Virtual (for 2021)

Cost: $399

Credits: CLE eligible 

With a focus on driving the industry forward, Legalweek is an ideal conference for large firms. It has content targeted to a wide range of roles—including law firm CEOs and partners, legal technology leaders, legal operations professionals, inside counsel, marketing professionals, and knowledge management leaders. 

The best legal technology conference

Clio Cloud Conference, October 26-29, 2021

Clio Cloud Conference

Location: Virtual

Cost: $99

Credits: CLE eligible 

When it comes to innovation and future-thinking in legal technology, the Clio Cloud Conference offers a unique blend of cutting-edge and innovation-minded learning along with connections with like-minded professionals. In addition to inspiring keynotes, CLE opportunities, and networking, attendees can learn about the latest solutions from carefully selected legal tech partners—and gain early access to the latest product and feature updates from Clio.

The best legal conference for intellectual property law

American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) Annual Meeting, October 28-30, 2021

Location: National Harbor, Maryland

Cost: $TBD

Credits: CLE eligible

This multi-track annual conference is designed to help intellectual property practitioners elevate their careers and skills with sessions focused on pertinent topics like patent prosecution, copyright, trademark, and more. 

For those who cannot attend the in-person conference, a digital experience package will also be available to provide access to select live events, on-demand recordings, and digital networking opportunities. 

The best legal conference for criminal law

Trial Lawyers Summit, January 30-February 2, 2022  

Trial Lawyers Summit

Location: Miami, Florida

Cost: $TBD

Credits: CLE eligible

The annual Trial Lawyers Summit is a unique gathering of America’s most outstanding civil plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers. Offering various 

With networking events, informative sessions, and CLE opportunities focused on trial skills and business management; the Trial Lawyers Summit brings together civil plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers, paralegals, students, and law firm administrators. Topics covered at the summit include criminal defense, digital marketing, women’s leadership, traumatic brain injury litigation, and more.  

The best legal conference for labour and employment law

Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference, November 10-13, 2021  

Location: Los Angeles, California

Cost: $TBD

Credits: CLE eligible

The American Bar Association’s 15th annual Labor and Employment Law Conference offers a mix of networking, CLE opportunities, keynote speakers, and panelists with insights into all aspects of the practice of labor and employment law.

The best legal conference for immigration law

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Annual Conference on Immigration Law, June 9-12, 2021

AILA Annual Conference on Immigration Law

Location: Virtual

Cost: $545 (members) / $745 (non-member attorneys)

Credits: CLE eligible

This conference is targeted towards practitioners from all immigration practice areas. It’s designed in a multi-track format with a fundamentals-based track for those new to the practice of immigration law and intermediate- and advanced-level programming—allowing attendees to find content that suits their current career path.

The best marketing conference for lawyers

In addition to conferences targeted at lawyers, you can also look for events that can help grow the business side of your firm. Look out for events related to topics like marketing and small business ownership. 

Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, October 22-24, 2021

Location: Hollywood, Florida

Cost: $1,545 (LMA member) / $2,045 (non-members) before September 10, 2021

$1,645 (LMA member) / $2,145 (non-members) after September 10, 2021

Focused exclusively on legal marketing and business development, this conference offers educational content focused on themes like strategic planning, overcoming current challenges in the industry, and unlocking professional opportunities. Attendees range from managers to administrators to attorneys working at law firms, legal and professional services, marketing and PR firms, and other related industries.

This year, the LMA is also offering a one-day Virtual Extension on October 28, 2021, for those who cannot attend the in-person conference. 

Make time for legal conferences

It’s easy to get caught up with the day-to-day of your legal work. But taking the time to attend the best legal conferences can be incredibly motivating, informative, and valuable for your work as a lawyer.

Whether you choose to attend a conference focused on legal technology or your practice area, it’s important to be prepared. You’ll want to prepare for the legal conference experience by reviewing the agenda, setting some goals, and bringing an open mind.

Some legal conferences offer an immersive in-person experience. But you can also get the networking, information, and inspiration of legal conferences with virtual events. A great example of a rewarding virtual conference is this year’s Clio Cloud Conference.

No matter what point you’re at in your legal career, there’s always room to grow. The best legal conferences for lawyers are an efficient and effective way to invest in your career, your law firm’s future, and yourself.

Categorized in: Clio

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