What to Expect at a Virtual Legal Conference

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virtual legal conference

Virtual legal conferences are here to stay, at least for the next foreseeable future. Despite many obvious challenges, the pandemic has provided the legal industry with a new opportunity to connect, learn, and shape the future of law digitally. 

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.

Remember: There’s no travel hassle and no travel costs associated with virtual legal conferences. 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.

Not all virtual legal conferences 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. 

Shorter days

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—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 traveling, 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 traveling, 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

Image of a home office

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 2021 Clio Cloud Conference is a great one to start with. Last year was the eighth consecutive Clio Cloud Conference—and the first-ever virtual edition. It drew a record number of attendees, with 4,500+ global legal professionals attending over 100 sessions, with more than 50 speakers. If you’re curious about what attending the best legal conference is like, Bob Ambrogi from Above the Law had some nice things to say. 

Why you’ll love this year’s virtual conference

  • Get insights to power your firm’s success. Learn from inspiring keynotes, hear from firms that are succeeding in this virtual-first world, and get VIP access to our Legal Trends Report to stay ahead in this rapidly evolving industry.
  • You’ll have the flexibility to join from anywhere. Connect with lawyers from around the globe, and easily move from session to session to create your own unique conference experience (you can even bring friends).
  • Gain skills to drive your practice forward. Whether it’s learning from world-class leaders, earning valuable CLE and CPD credits, or test-driving new Clio features, the conference presents new ideas and tools to help you separate from the competition.
  • Daily opportunities to refresh and recharge. Virtual events should be fun and relaxing. That’s why we’re planning exclusive entertainment and wellness events tailored for remote viewing. Last year, our entertainment lineup included DJ Questlove, celebrity chef Stephanie Izard, and renowned singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ben Harper. 
  • It’s the most accessible Clio Cloud Conference yet. We’re committed to eliminating barriers and improving access to the Clio Cloud Conference. Passes to the Clio Cloud Conference, are $99 (compared to the original price of $199) until July 4, 2021. And for the second year in a row, we are offering the Clio Cloud Access Grant to increase community inclusion and to make conference attendance feasible for those who otherwise be unable to attend. Clio Cloud Access Grant recipients receive a complimentary pass to the conference. 

Learn more about the 2021 Clio Cloud Conference.

Conclusion

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. With the tools and technology available today, the virtual legal conference 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. 

Categorized in: Clio

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