In less than two weeks, we’ll head south to join the nation’s top civil plaintiffs’ and criminal defense attorneys at the Trial Lawyers Summit, held this year in Miami Beach from January 20 to 23.
Between the plethora of educational sessions, vendor exhibits and social gatherings, the Summit can be overwhelming for first-time attendees. But, if you take the time to prepare a strategy, you’ll be able to make the most of this unforgettable event.
By answering the following five questions, you will be able to take advantage of everything the Summit has to offer.
1. What do you want to learn?
This is the most important question to ask yourself, as it dictates which sessions you’ll attend. Drill down on your key goal for attending the summit, and arrange your schedule to help you achieve it.
2. What problems does your firm need to troubleshoot?
Are any of your current vendors attending the show? If so, this is the perfect time to talk to them about your needs for customization or problems you’d like resolved. At the Summit, you’ll have easy access to vendor representatives who will be delighted to problem-solve with you. If not, you may still find yourself networking with others who have encountered — or overcome — similar problems. Organize your thoughts ahead of time so you can get the most from these interactions.
3. What are your firm’s technology or support needs?
Talk with your colleagues and staff to assess your current roster of tools and evaluate whether there are any gaps you’d like to fill. Before you arrive in Miami, do a bit of research on the attending sponsors to see whether any of them have services you’d like to explore. By studying the vendors' products and solutions in advance, you’ll have more productive discussions. Don’t forget to collect business cards and sales collateral (and swag!) so you can continue the conversations later.
4. Who do you want to meet?
Don’t get so caught up in sessions and conversations with vendors that you skip networking. You’ll have many opportunities to interact with your peers; make time to chat with these new contacts over coffee or drinks, a meal, or before and after sessions. Your fellow attendees are a potential gold mine of information about best practices, tools, and techniques. Chances are, they’ve dealt with challenges similar to yours. Don’t forget to bring extra business cards with you to exchange.
5. How will you record what you learn?
With so much information coming at you in such a short time, it’s essential that you take notes that will be decipherable later on. Plan ahead and bring a notebook or a tablet, or consider using your phone's voice memo or an app like Evernote to record information you'd like to remember. Calendar some time shortly after your return to reflect on what you learned and who you met, share your learning with the rest of your team, and create a to-do list so you’ll be sure to follow up on tasks and conversations.