To me, fall is always the start of “conference season.” I attend quite a few conferences and annual meetings each year – but my all-time favorite conference is the Wisconsin Solo Small Firm Conference (WSSFC). In fact, I got involved with the State Bar of Wisconsin after attending the WSSFC’s predecessor conference when I first started private practice in 2004. I found it so practical and helpful that I attended it again and again. Later, I was on the planning committee for the inaugural WSSFC when it moved to a new location in the Wisconsin Dells so it would draw attorneys statewide.
Needless to say, the WSSFC and I “go way back.” I left private practice four years ago, but I still attend each year because I continue to find the knowledge that I learn at this conference so useful. I’m past chair of the conference, still on the planning committee, and a proud Lederer Award recipient – which is awarded each year at the conference. In fact, the WSSFC was a co-recipient of the ABA’s Solo and Small Firm Project Award in the year I was chair. So I had some trepidation when I heard the conference that I love to attend was going virtual this year.
But I’ve had a chance to preview the new virtual format for this year’s conference and, frankly, I’m impressed. Yes, it has the same great CLE offerings that we have come to expect. This year’s program includes incredibly timely programming on the ethical requirements in a disaster or data breach; mastering virtual meetings, videoconferencing, and remote workforces; lessons learned from the pandemic; the ethics of social media; and how to identify fake audio and video recordings.
This year, nationally known presenter Professor Sarah Redfield will give a particularly timely presentation on identifying your gut impressions of others (and their impressions of you) and how understanding those impressions can improve your practice of law. Of course, it wouldn’t be the same without the Gadgets, Gizmos, and Widgets presentation. I find great Christmas gift ideas for my family each year from this presentation.
But besides the great CLE programming, this year’s conference really tries to mimic the in-person conference experience. You can chat and trade tips with and learn from the speakers, the sponsors, and other attendees. For my non-techie friends, rest assured it is self-contained. There’s no software or app to download – you just sign in and choose which sessions to attend – much like walking through the conference foyer and picking out which session looks interesting. You can access it on your iPad, cell phone, or computer. There will be opportunities for you to connect (or reconnect) with your peers, sponsors, and speakers and register to win conference swag from the sponsors.
Frankly, State Bar staff had looked at this conference software before the pandemic and were just waiting for an opportunity to try it. The pandemic provided that opportunity. So whether you are a long-time WSSFC attendee like me or have never attended the conference before, check it out. I’d love to see you there!