Back in March, when the coronavirus over took the country, shuttering courts and sending lawyers packing from their office to remote work, virtual conferences and webinars began popping up all over the place. In fact, you couldn’t spend a second on social media without being bombarded with a notification of a free webinar on COVID-19 issues, or a reminder to register for that in-person conference which had since gone remote. I was equally guilty myself; on March 27, 2020, I hosted a nearly 2-hour free webinar on Law in the Time of Corona Virus.
Fast forward five months, and Zoom-fatigue has become a real thing. We learned that online meetings demand our attention yet somehow they just don’t feel the same. Indeed, many believe that the vibe of face-to-face meetings at booths or trade shows is irreplaceable.
Many of us have been left longing for the personal connection.
So why, beneath the dark cloud that’s settled over the world of online conferences would I think to host one? And not just host the type of traditional how-to marketing or substantive training conferences sponsored by legal tech companies and bar associations, but instead to create something that’s never been done before: a summit focused on lawyer moms who own firms (or practice areas within firms) and that addresses topics related to law practice AND life. Welcome to the first ever LawyerMomOwnerSummit.com. Here’s my top ten reasons for tossing yet another online conference into the mix:
Reason No. 1 – Because the LawyerMomOwner Summit Isn’t “Another,” It’s the “Only”
My top reason for sponsoring the LawyerMomOwner Summit now is because I don’t view it as just another conference. To the contrary, it’s the ONLY conference of this sort. These days, most legal conferences focus on substantive practice areas, marketing and building business with maybe a smattering of mindset, stress-reduction or civility 101 thrown in. But as lawyers – particularly lawyer-moms, our lives are more intertwines – or seamless, as I once put it. Sure, we need to know how to run a sustainable practice during the pandemic and we want to run profitable enterprises. But many lawyer-mom-owners (particularly those who are solo moms by choice, divorced or widowed) are working to pay for kids’ college or save for retirement or to launch a second career – and so they also have a multitude of financial questions. Lawyer-moms struggling to home school kids or with illness also need more than just an offhand class on relaxation – they need practical advice on how to get through from others who have been there or are doing it now.
The pandemic has also put many lawyer moms at a career crossroads. Lawyers who took time off to spend at home are either burnt out from 24-7 time with family or worried about the need for a second stream of income with the future uncertain. Meanwhile, some lawyer moms who spent 60-hour weeks at the office away from family have grown to appreciate time at home and are considering more flexible career paths. Our Transitions panel will show you how 8 lawyers of different backgrounds have moved on to new careers.
And that my friends, is why we are not just Another conference – but the ONLY conference to focus on law and life. We don’t add to the pile, we fill a gap.
Reason No. 2 – Because There’s Got to Be A Better Way Though I always enjoyed in-person conference, I also believed that there had to be a way to improve them and make them more accessible for all lawyers and in particular lawyer-moms. For example, because conferences take place during the week, they pose an opportunity cost for solo and small firm lawyers who don’t just have to pay the price of admission, but also forego a day of billing to attend. Many conferences also invite the same speakers over and over again, favoring the tried and true over introducing new faces. And some can’t afford to speak at all because they’re not paid.
Meanwhile, for all the talk of face to face interaction, at many conferences, audience participants may be intimidated about asking a question publicly, so instead of lively discussion there’s radio silence.
An online conference by its nature is forgiving when it comes to scheduling and payment. For the LawyerMomOwner Summit, we’ll have programming in the evening and throughout the day with gaps where you can return to work responsibilities or childcare. And, because the costs of hosting an online conference are lower, the cost of admission is affordable (just $39), and as a result, we have developed a business model that to enable us to pay speakers.
Reason No. 3 – To Create, Not Duplicate As I’ve written, we’re more likely to succeed in the new normal if we create something new rather than duplicate the old. Recall for example, the first generation of websites? They were nothing more than glorified brochures that served no purpose but to look pretty (and still didn’t look as good as they did on paper). Websites really hit their stride when they morphed into something more – blogs, sites to self-pulish content to educate clients and portals to purchase legal services.
Our challenge today is to re-imagine the conference. Instead of duplicating the experience online, we need to come up with ways to make it different and interactive. We’re already adopting those initiatives for the LawyerMomOwnerSummit by offering ALL attendees the chance to record a FREE video headshot introducing their law firm or presenting their elevator speech. We’ll have a conference app that lists attendees in a searchable format so they can search for others in similar practice areas and connect via email. And we’re still adding more so stay tuned!
Reason No. 4 – Because Everyone Is Talking Diversity and No one Is Doing It In the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, businesses and law firms alike pledged to improve diversity and become anti-racist. As usual, a lot of talk for the moment, but not much action. Many of the conference panels in legal are still populated by white men. And when women or women of color are trotted out, it’s not to speak authoritatively on big picture topics like the future of law or building sustainable law practices, but on nuts and bolts type issues. Our LawyerMomOwnerSummit represents diversity in race, age and practice areas of participants as well as educational backgrounds, work experience and practice areas. And of course, 100 percent female.
Reason No. 5 – Because We Need to Recognize The Lawyer-Mom-Owners on the Front Line of the Pandemic – In most cases, women, including women lawyers, are disproportionately impacted by being forced to pick up the slack when it comes to childcare. Yet even as we know that this is happening, the legal profession has been complicit in its silence. To be sure, a single conference can’t change this overnight. But by gathering together, 1000 strong, the LawyerMomOwnerSummit makes the statement that lawyer-moms are here and making it work. We can support and celebrate just how freaking awesome these women are. Maybe not much, but a start.
For additional information on the Summit or to register for just $39, visit our website at LawyerMomOwnerSummit or contact the conference co-captains Carolyn Elefant at [email protected] and Jeena Belil at [email protected] We can also provide you with additional information on sponsorships.