OK, I admit it! I’m totally powerless over Solo & Small Firm Conferences! I *LOVE* the whole experience of attending as a speaker. This year I’ll have spoken at more SSF conferences than any previous year. If I could, I’d just travel the SSF circuit (you know, get a VW Microbus, psychedelic paint, the whole nine yards). Why the passion for these events? Because there are no more friendly folks on the planet than those State Bar people and the attendees of SSF conferences. I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited multiple times to many of these events and each year, it’s like old home week – seeing several hundred of my friends.
Here’s the rundown and one great takeaway from each of the conferences I’ve presented at this year so far:
- Louisiana (early May in New Orleans) – Eric Barefield and his team from the Louisiana Bar had what I believe is the most heavily attended first year SSF conference in history – with 340 paid attendees – way to go Louisiana Bar. Getting to eat charcoal-grilled oysters THREE times at Drago’s in the Hilton was a highlight as a wonderful time spent with techno.pals Tom O’Connor, Monica Bay and Craig Bayer. Top takeaway – great conference, but those Drago’s oysters are one of the world’s ultimate culinary miracles.
- Indiana (early June in Fort Wayne) – Steve Terrell’s Indiana Bar swansong after seven successful years. Ever hung out with Hoosiers for a few days? If not, you’re really missing something – what incredibly kind, appreciative and welcoming folks! Great to be able to spent time with uberpal Bruce Dorner (who just happens to be the founder of Solosez and the original brain behind the entire SSF conference idea!) and to co-present with him, as well as Ellen Freedman, one of my favorite people on the planet and the PMA for the Pennsylvania Bar.Â I had the great pleasure of presenting at the very first Indiana SSF at Valpo Law school back in 2001, and now have presented there three times. Can’t wait to come back to Indiana! Way to go Steve (and Jim Springer, conference co-founder)!
- Chicago Bar Solo Success Conference (late May in Chicago) – the second year for this event which played to a sold-out crowd at the Chicago Bar Center. Planners Tony Schuman, Josh Friedman and Beth McMeen get a standing ovation from me for putting together a great slate of programs. I had the pleasure of being on a panel with Tim Stanley, co-founder of Findlaw and now CEO of legal webhaus, Justia.com. Terrific questions from the audience and many familiar faces in the crowd.
- Missouri (mid-June in Osage Beach) – the mother of all solo & small firm conferences, the 13th annual event at the Tan-Tar-A resort in the Lake of the Ozarks area shattered all previous attendance records with over 900 attendees! Linda Oligschaeger’s name is synonymous with solo & small firm conferences for good reason – no one, anywhere does it better. This was my 10th appearance at the conference – I just love these people – the incredible MoBar staff and most of all, all the Missouri lawyers and their staff who I’ve met over the years and are so welcoming every time I get the privilege of joining them.Â Top takeaway was the E-Discovery program I presented with pal Dennis Kennedy. While we only got through four of our 80+ slides, the time was taken up by audience questions which ended up being a totally interactive conversation on this ridiculously complex and grey topic. Audience members made a point of telling both Dennis and me that they felt it was perhaps the best CLE program they’d ever attended. Not bad when Dennis and I both thought we’d let them down by only getting through three slides. Also enjoyed our luncheon conversation about parenting and our kidlets.
My materials for all six of my Missouri SSF Conference sessions are available to download now as PDFs. Perhaps the other takeway was the utterly fascinating (in a disturbingly absurdly comedically insane kind of way) dinner conversation with pals and co-presenters Nerino Petro, Jr. and Ellen Freedman and our dinner companions including long-time pal Penny Umstadd-Cope from the conference planning committee.
Up next are the Washington Bar in Wenatchee in mid-July, the Wisconsin SSF Conference in October in the recently water-logged Wisconsin Dells area, and then the West Virginia SSF Conference in late October. Can’t wait!