Professional Development Galore!

Happily, I work for a continuing education organization that really walks the talk when it comes to professional development for staff; everyone is encouraged and expected to take advantage of these opportunities.

Sadly, though, we don’t have unlimited time or budgets, and not a week goes by without a flurry on Twitter, Storify, or other social media sites from the latest legal education, information, or technology conference. I am tempted more often than I can participate. It’s great that we can follow on social media, though; between the tweets and subsequent blog posts I can usually get a good idea of the big ideas discussed at these events. In the interests of keeping in touch and keeping in tune, here’s a list of some conferences that may be of interest:

ACLEA is the organization for CLE professionals worldwide. I’ve been a member of ACLEA since 1990, and I’ve attended dozens of conferences since then. We meet twice per year; usually mid-winter (January or February) and mid-summer (July or August). This is the conference to attend if you’re looking to learn about the latest in continuing legal education and legal publishing; we have sessions on programming, publishing, technology, and leadership, among other topics. This summer we meet in Montreal from July 29 to August 1. The planning committee is featuring some great Canadian content: we’ll be hearing plenaries from Chris Bentley of the Law Practice Program & Legal Innovation Zone, speaking on Legal Innovation, and Mitch Kowalski (well known to Slaw readers) on Team Millennial – A New Legal Services Paradigm. I encourage all my fellow CLE providers to join us in Montreal!

I’ve been to a few CALL conferences in recent years. I’m a big fan of law librarians generally, and I find that gaining some insight into their thinking is invaluable for a legal publisher. I’m hoping to attend this year’s conference in Ottawa from May 7 to 10. The program contains an attractive mix of lightning talks, vendor demonstrations, and wide-ranging plenaries. I’m particularly interested in the session entitled “Uncharted Ethical Lands: Law Libraries as Creators, Publishers, and Hosts of New Information.” And of course I will look forward to joining my fellow ukulele players for our traditional jam.

Law librarians the world over are also meeting; I particularly like to follow the buzz from the AALL conference (held this year in Austin, TX on July 15 to 18). This group also tends to generate plenty of social media for our education and enjoyment.

The IALL also holds an annual conference; last year it was in Oxford. The theme was Common Law Perspectives in an International Context. I wish I could have attended; Ruth Bird created a fantastic Storify that gives a great picture of what happened. This year’s conference will be held in Atlanta from October 22 to 26.

I first learned about the Law via the Internet conference from our friends at Lexum. This annual conference on the topic of free access to law and legal information gathers legal information institutes from around the globe. The program usually features contributions from Lexum and/or CanLII. They certainly choose outstanding international locations; recent conferences have been held in Cyprus and Jersey. Next year’s conference will be a little closer to home; it’s planned for October 2017 at Rutgers, in Newark, New Jersey. If you can’t attend, though, you can read the papers in the Journal of Open Access to Law.

If you’re looking to keep up with legal innovation and technology generally, numerous conferences are of interest. Take your pick:

  • LegalX: Slaw readers will be familiar with MaRS LegalX: this group held two conferences in 2016 on legal innovation and emerging legal technology. Enthusiastic tweeters at recent conferences made it easy to identify the key theme: artificial intelligence and its potential to transform legal services.
  • Legal Tech is billed as the largest trade show for legal technology; it has over 300 exhibits and is part of Legalweek, The Experience (designed to “bring together the legal industry to address the biggest challenges and issues facing legal professionals”). Legal Tech West will be held in San Francisco this coming June.
  • The ABA Techshow was held in Chicago in mid-March; this is another large industry event with a long and impressive list of exhibitors.
  • Fellow Slaw columnist David Bilinsky has been the driving force behind the Pacific Legal Technology Conference. The 2017 event hasn’t yet been announced, but I expect planning is well underway for this excellent law and technology conference, held every two years in Vancouver.

Gone but not forgotten: for some years O’Reilly produced the Tools for Change for Publishing conference. I attended the 2009 conference; it was an incredibly dynamic event and a fantastic exposure to publishing trends and technology. As a legal publisher, I definitely had the feeling “we’re not in Kansas anymore!” Sadly O’Reilly discontinued these events in 2013 but I remain hopeful that something similar may appear.

Have I missed anything? Let us know about other great conferences in the comments.


  1. Publishing-related conferences this year:

    Editors Canada Conference 2017 will be held in Ottawa–Gatineau June 9–11, 2017:

    Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) Conference 2017 will be held in Montreal June 2–3, 2017:

    American Society for Indexing Conference 2017 will be held in Portland, Maine June 15–17, 2017: