For many law firms and attorneys, participating in legal events is a major part of not only maintaining licenses and certifications through Continuing Legal Education (CLE), but they also serve as a primary means of networking within the legal community. Unfortunately, the continued impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made attending in-person events nearly impossible. Because of this, virtually focused online events have now become the norm. While many aspects of virtual events remain similar to in-person ones, there are important differences for which to plan. Understanding how to properly prepare your law firm for a virtual legal event will make the entire process run more smoothly.
Legal Events in the Age of COVID-19
Lawyer speaking events are incredibly important not only for lawyer education, but also for the establishment of thought leadership, as well as for marketing the attorneys and the law firm. Speaking events are a great way for firms to enhance their reputation and build a book of business simultaneously.
Although the circumstances of legal events have changed, the overall landscape of firms looking to stand out in the event space has not. Because of an increase in pandemic-related event postponements in the legal world and beyond, it’s important for firms to raise the bar with virtual events in order to better stand out in the increasingly digital-first landscape. Some of the best ways for law firms to prepare for virtual or hybrid speaking events include:
Adapt Event Sessions
No matter the meeting or event format, presentation content must be adapted for a digital audience. This is one of the first things firms should consider when transitioning from in-person to virtual or even hybrid events. Move away from a concisely packaged agenda with little room for error or breaks toward carefully curated sessions scheduled throughout the day with an adequate amount of time for attendees to take breaks and/or attend only certain sessions as their schedule permits will go a long way toward increasing attendance and active listening by attendees. Even live panels and small group discussions can be adapted to a digital format for a more engaging experience.
Assemble a Team
While some attorneys and law firms may take a more individualized approach to speaking events, it’s incredibly helpful for your firm to have a designated committee or team that handles the assessment of, preparation for, and optimization of the firm’s events as a whole. Having insights from others – like legal industry consultants – as well as a representative segment (read: all levels of ownership and otherwise inclusive) of your lawyers and other team members who can troubleshoot any technological issues that may occur over the course of the event allows for a much smoother experience.
Your law firm’s virtual speaking team should include:
- A digital event strategist: This team member should have a strong understanding of the overall digital event landscape. This person should be responsible for finding ways to improve attendance, engagement, online networking sessions, and manage the necessary videoconferencing technology.
- A content and resource manager: This team member will collect all presentations, resources, and any other assets from speakers and sponsors in the appropriate format, while also ensuring they are made accessible to attendees.
- Communications expert and social media moderator: This team member ensures all speakers are comfortable with the platform being used during the event and understand the different tools available to them. A great way to ensure competency and comfort level is to stage a dry run of even a few minutes per segment in the weeks leading up to the event. This person is also responsible for managing the firm’s various social media platforms and engaging with attendees before, during, and after the event within the videoconferencing sessions or via another previously identified means.
Select the Right Platform for Your Firm
Selecting the right digital platform for virtual events can be overwhelming with so many options to choose from. Because of this, it’s important to test available options and consider the different elements of each platform – such as ease of use, available networking options, as well as the adaptability on different devices.
While there are a multitude of different platforms available, some of the most important features for firms to consider include the ability to run multiple sessions at once, attendee messaging capabilities, discussion forums, and media and file sharing.
Need More Help With Virtual Law Firm Events?
As the legal industry event landscape continues to change due to the pandemic, it’s important for law firms and those in the legal field to have a good understanding of how to properly use digital platforms to engage with others. Consulting with an experienced digital marketing team can be incredibly helpful. At Stacey E. Burke, P.C., we create full-scale marketing plans for small to medium-sized firms in a variety of practice areas. If your law firm would like to learn more about how we can assist with a virtual legal event, contact us today for more information.