Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most legal conferences taking place in the foreseeable future have gone virtual. This brings a different experience than one might normally see. For example, hugs and in-person chats will be replaced with smiles over video calls and clever virtual backgrounds.
If you’re a lawyer or legal professional attending a virtual conference for the first time, you might not know what to expect. What will hours of virtual presentations be like? How can the engagement and energy of an in-person conference be re-created online? Is it even worth it to attend?
Certainly, not all legal conferences are created equal. And, with the deluge of new content that’s flooded the legal sphere in recent months, you’ll need to be discerning about where you spend your time. But if you attend high-quality virtual legal conferences like the Clio Cloud Conference, you’ll still get the networking experience and burst of new innovative ideas you normally get from the world’s best legal conference. And this will help set your law firm up for success in the new year.
I wanted to make sure that any lawyer or legal professional who’s hesitant about an online conference experience has the information they need to decide what’s right for them—and doesn’t miss out.
To do that, I spoke with a number of our team members who’ve attended virtual conferences in recent months, and with the rest of the incredible team organizing the Clio Cloud Conference. I’ve summarized some of the main takeaways below, but the main one was this: Virtual conferences aren’t better or worse than in-person ones. They simply have different benefits.
Here’s what to expect:
There’ll still be a cost—but you’ll spend far less
If you’re looking to attend a quality, full-on conference, in many cases, “virtual” likely won’t mean “free.” In fact, if a virtual legal conference is free (and isn’t free as a bar member benefit), I’d recommend doing additional research. Yes, virtual events may be cheaper to run than in-person ones. However, notable, impactful speakers, and tools to make the experience engaging for all attendees still require investment. To make sure that the time you’re investing is worth it, go for virtual legal conferences that charge for passes, even if the price is nominal.
If it still bothers you to pay for a virtual conference, remember this: There’s no travel hassle and no travel costs! This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of attending a virtual conference. You may not be able to visit a new (or favorite) city, but without the need to fly, change time zones, or find a reasonably priced hotel, you’ll appreciate the convenience of switching it up and engaging with other industry leaders from home.
Tip: Look into a virtual conference’s keynote speakers before deciding to sign up. You may be able to get some deals. For example, one of this year’s Clio Cloud Conference keynotes is Seth Godin, a New York Times bestselling author and a business and marketing visionary who’s written 19 bestselling books and who runs one of the most popular blogs in the world. Members of the legal industry believe that seeing Seth alone is worth the price of a pass!
Not all are sales pitches
Some online events may be sales pitches, but don’t let a few bad apples ruin the concept of virtual events for you. Most events, both in-person and online, are a mixture. If there are multiple content tracks then you can decide which sessions to attend, and which sales pitches to avoid. And, if you’re researching a particular new tool for your firm, you can attend one session to get a concise rundown of what you need to know and save the rest of your time for educational content.
The trick is to choose a virtual legal conference that allows you to choose your own adventure.
Tip: Make sure to take a close look at the content and value that’s being provided.
An online conference with a price tag is less likely to be a sales pitch and is more likely to provide meaningful insights for your business.
Zoom fatigue is real. However, this should not be a reason to avoid a virtual conference! Savvy virtual legal conference organizers are adapting their conference structures to minimize video meeting fatigue and get the most out of their day by scheduling shorter sessions and half days in favor of eight-hour marathons. The result is a valuable and convenient conference experience that won’t leave you needing a nap.
Tip: Choose a virtual conference that’s hosting presentations during fewer hours over more days to minimize screen fatigue and get the most out of your experience. For example, the Clio Cloud Conference, which normally takes place over two days, is spread out over four in virtual form.
Plenty of networking opportunities
I’ve heard many people say they worry that networking during virtual conferences is awkward and unnatural, or that they won’t be able to connect with other attendees. This simply isn’t true.
Networking is never easy regardless of platform or location. But with tools like algorithms to enable curated networking opportunities, breakout rooms, and dedicated conversation leaders virtual conferences take the difficulty out of connecting. Some of the most valuable networking I’ve done has been completely online, and virtual conferences enable this in a new way.
Tip: To get the most out of virtual networking opportunities, get active! Join live chats or networking breakout rooms, and add your insights. Old-school networking tactics like creating a “want to meet” list for the event still apply, too. This article from Moz has more helpful tips for networking online.
(Manageable) conference overwhelm
We’ve all experienced the overwhelming nature of events that deliver on content, and it doesn’t matter whether they’re in-person or online. There’s simply too much good stuff.
However, because you’re not travelling, with virtual conferences, you can take breaks, attend meetings, or continue to get other work done during the day. If you’re getting worn out by watching too many presentations, save on-demand streaming links to view sessions at a more convenient time. You’re not travelling, so you’ll likely find there’s less pressure to remain fully engaged in presentations and networking for 12+ hours. In-person deep-dives can be incredibly valuable. But with virtual events, you’ll have a high level of flexibility as you gain the same knowledge and networking benefits through a different medium.
Tip: Make sure to invest in an event that offers the content on-demand. Reference presentations later, take notes, and apply the learnings in your practice.
An exciting, fully connected online experience
Compared to the experience of walking around a conference venue, visiting booths, and making your way to different sessions, staring at a screen all day might seem pretty boring. But virtual legal conferences are also the easiest way to get meaningful insights for your business these days—so don’t discount them so quickly.
Look for events that use technology to bring the onsite experience home. This could mean curated breakout rooms, fun classes or experiences, or something else. You might be surprised at how engaging the experience can be. For example, Apple’s recent WWDC keynote has been hailed as even more engaging than their in-person events. Attendees even said they felt as though they had a front-row seat at Apple Park headquarters.
Tip: Look for conferences that offer plenty of ways to connect and engage. This includes breakout rooms, Q&A’s with speakers, curated networking events, and engaging extracurricular activities that will spark the mind, body, and soul.
A chance to connect with speakers
At a virtual event, how do you walk up to a conference speaker after their presentation to ask to connect? At first glance, connecting with speakers during virtual legal events might seem difficult. But with the power of technology, it’s easier than ever before. Quality virtual legal conferences feature AMAs, round tables, and even more tech-enabled opportunities to connect with speakers. You won’t get to shake someone’s hand, but you won’t wait 15 minutes to do so either!
Tip: If you’re able, keep your camera on. You’ll feel more connected in the conversation, and it’ll be more likely that the speaker will remember you.
What to Expect at the Clio Cloud Conference
If you’re thinking of attending your first virtual legal conference, the Clio Cloud Conference is a great one to start with. Over the last 8 years, the Clio Cloud Conference has seen thousands of the brightest legal professionals come together for the best event in legal. This year, we’re bringing the conference virtual so you can learn, connect, and get inspired—from anywhere. Wondering how different this year’s event will be from the last? Read on to find out:
- The Clio Cloud Conference will be bigger and more accessible. As more members of the global legal community will be able to join, there will be opportunities to connect with an even more diverse group of the best minds in legal.
- You will get to enjoy a connected experience. With virtual breakout rooms, in-depth Q&A with speakers like Seth Godin and Angela Duckworth, curated networking sessions, and many more opportunities to connect, rest assured that the experience will be a personal one.
- Look forward to engaging sessions, workshops, and legendary social events. You can expect the same fun and flair!
- Gain key takeaways for your law firm. With consulting sessions with our experts, you can learn the latest in legal tech and level up your legal tech know-how.
- Be inspired to create a vision for yourself and your firm. Learn how to navigate change in the times ahead with tips from the brightest in the industry. This includes practice-changing insights from the brightest speakers in legal, technology, and beyond, and the most in-depth pulse of the legal industry in the Legal Trends Report, released annually at the conference.
In case you need more reasons to attend, you can visit the official Clio Cloud Conference website.
It can be tough to take a leap and buy a pass to your first virtual legal conference. But in-person conferences aren’t happening again anytime soon. And with the tools and technology available today, the experience is far more engaging and enriching than you might expect.
This year, at the Clio Cloud Conference, you’ll trade marathon days and in-person interaction for a more spread-out virtual experience, live chats, video meetings, and more. And you’ll leave feeling just as invigorated and inspired as our attendees always do.
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