This week I’ll be attending the Manitoba Bar Association’s annual Midwinter Conference in Winnipeg. The conference provides lawyers with the full 12 hours of mandatory continuing professional development (MCPD), including 1.5 hours that meet the Ethics, Professionalism and Practice Management requirement, but that’s not why I attend.
In this age of webinars, online courses and individualized learning, I look forward to being in a learning environment with other lawyers, one that invariably includes time allotted for discussion and questions. Often I find I’ll learn as much from the feedback from other participants as I have from the formal presentations.
As a solo practitioner who works mostly from home, a two-day in person conference also provides much-needed respite and a change of pace. While there are many benefits to working from home, the lack of social contact is not one of them. MBA events are always good places to catch up with friends, classmates and former colleagues, and increasingly, a place to meet those I’ve come to know through social media.
But most of all, I attend this conference (and others like it) to ensure I remain visible and relevant within the legal profession in Manitoba. Without taking advantage of such events, it is easy to become so immersed in my own narrow field of work that I become oblivious to what is happening in the profession more broadly. Attending the Midwinter always broadens my view of current issues in areas of legal practice I’m not typically exposed to. The bonus is that doing so also creates opportunities for me to market my own practice and seek out new work, whether in the audience of a CPD session, in the coffee lineup or at the Bench and Bar reception.
It’s truly just a fortunate coincidence that attending the Midwinter will ensure I have all my MCPD hours in place for 2014 before January has even come to a close. Of greatest value to me, and what keeps me coming back year after year are the personal connections I’ll make.