With the downturn in the economy, dollars are tighter, especially for professional development.

Yet, continuing education, professional development and networking are more important than ever … for the attorney and the legal marketer.

Times they are a changing, and we need to change along with them. Conference organizers need to realize that we need innovating speakers. We need HOT topics. We need real life case studies. We need to walk away with SOMETHING we can implement on Monday morning when we return to the office. We need tangible value for dollars spent.

And vendors should not control and spam the audience from the podium. PERIOD.

Kevin O’Keefe sums up the failure of allowing a LexisNexis control over the agenda and speakers on the their sponsored panels at Legal Tech this past week:

LexisNexis sponsored the Web 2.0 trek at LegalTech New York. As such, LexisNexis, I am told, got to pre-approve all speakers on the panels at the sessions. I was invited and accepted to speak on one the Web 2.0 panels months ago but was ‘apparently bumped off the panels‘ by LexisNexis when LexisNexis reviewed those invited to present.

The result of LexisNexis sponsored panels was taking exciting topics such as blogging, social networking, and social media and turning them into pretty boring sessions. I’ve seen record attendance at similar sessions the last year for legal professionals in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Portland. At each of those events no one left and many crowded the stage to ask panelists questions.

This is unacceptable. Kevin is calling on all of us to voice our complaints (and our praises), and force the conference organizers to provide us with the best possible products:

It’s not enough that bloggers are critical and that the twitter discussion makes fun of the panels. Email conference coordinators and demand better. Email the conference presenters and the CEO’s of their companies, especially those promoting their products from the stage and complain. Comment on the presenter’s blog posts telling their readers how great the presentation was. Voice complaints through comments on their corporate blogs.


Ultimately, it comes down to us in the legal community as a whole to speak out and demand more.


Imagine open and engaging education sessions about social media, effective Internet client development, online word of mouth marketing, effective PR online, effective blogging, and online networking. It can happen if we demand it.