Legal conferences have come of age in the last few years, offering more attendee-driven experiences. Three trends will continue to shape this transformation in 2013:
Democratization of content. The days of providers pushing content out to lawyers are numbered. Lawyers are sophisticated, discerning producers (as well as consumers) of professional development – they know what they want and how they want it delivered. Subject matter experts may still be leading the front of room discussion, but the content experts are in the audience. Social media tools provide countless ways for attendees to define content – from making topic suggestions to choosing speakers to communicating satisfaction levels. Transparency is critical.
How lawyers learn is as important as what they learn. Relevant content is only part of the reason lawyers attend conferences. As information becomes more and more available via the internet, the value of content is decreasing. How content is communicated and received is equally if not more important than the content itself. Today’s lawyers expect conferences to create meaningful face-to-face and digital shared learning and knowledge transfer opportunities, and to keep the learning going long after the face-to-face event ends. A successful conference is the beginning, not the end.
Creating personal, memorable experiences. Smart providers are ditching the tired plenary sessions, rubber chicken dinners, and stale networking breaks. A lot of players are competing for lawyers’ face time, and the ones who get it will be those creating memorable learning and social events that engage attendees in personal and emotionally intense ways. Whether it’s unscripted TED-like presenters or facilitating altruistic achievement, watch for novel ways for attendees to come together, share common interests, and grow. Providers who dare to wow will win lawyers’ affections as the enabler of those life experiences.
Want to keep lawyers coming back to your annual conference? Work harder to give them meaningful connections – with knowledge, people, places and emotions. If you don’t, your competitors will.