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What to do (and what not to do) at ABA Annual Meeting

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Annual Meeting

With just a few short weeks to go before the 2017 ABA Annual Meeting, we figured some tips for a great Annual Meeting might be in order.  Whether it’s your first time to Annual, or you’re a veteran attendee, each of these tips should help you have a great time in New York!

DO go to the Law Student Division programming

We spent three years attending the law student programming and we can tell you that it has gotten better each year.  The staff and division leaders work together to make sure that each participant feels engaged and gets something useful out of the conference.  By attending the programming (the Q&A sessions, trainings, and mixers), you will learn from your peers, learn more about effective ways to lead your individual law school, and gain a new appreciation for the largest volunteer bar association in the country.  A lot of work goes into planning these events, so make sure you do as many as you can, even if you’re enjoying New York a little too much. A few highlights?

  • Plot out your road to paying down debt at the program Road to Zero: A Strategic Approach to Student Loan Repayments, (Thursday, 8/10, 2-3 p.m., Grand Hyatt New York)
  • Learn more about various sections in the ABA and find your home after the LSD at the Young Lawyers Division Section Connect (Friday, 8/11 from 12-1 p.m., Grand Hyatt New York)

DON’T splurge

One of the great things about bar association meetings is that there are always opportunities to grab free coffee, alcohol, and food. But remember that you are at the Annual meeting for a few days, and you’ll be run ragged by the end if you don’t take care of yourself and enjoy in moderation.  Being a law students means lots of free opportunities, but make sure you pace yourself through them.

DO attend a CLE or two or an event put on by another ABA entity

One of the biggest advantages of attending Annual is that it brings together thousands of attorneys from varied practice areas and focuses within the ABA. Check out the master schedule of programming on the meeting’s website; while it will look like homework to work through the full calendar (it’s 38 pages), you may find the programs you’d otherwise miss. Interested in one or two particular ABA entities? Check out the pages for those sections, as they may have Annual-specific information in a more direct manner.

DONT feel like you need to attend every promising program or event

Take a minute (or a few hours) here and there to regroup and get some rest or explore and enjoy New York! It’s an exciting conference in an exciting city, but you should step outside and take it in, too. Most of the CLEs and bigger events are happening in windowless rooms, we won’t blame you if you skip a session or two of additional programming to catch your breath.

DO challenge yourself to meet 5 new people

Attending specific programs in the area of law you hope to practice in isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good as law students unless you also meet people who may be able to provide advice about how they got into that practice area. Found a panelist particularly interesting? Approach after the program and ask if there is sometime you can grab coffee to hear about their career. At a networking mixer? Well, then, we challenge you to go introduce yourself to someone new, rather than just enjoying the libations.

Do speak at the Law Student Division’s Assembly

Make your voice heard and shape policy at the Law Student Division Assembly, from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday at the Grand Hyatt. This group has historically considered such matters as the bar exam, paid externships, and legal policy beyond law school and legal education; so speak up and be heard.

And, above all else, DO have fun!

It’s a whirlwind few days every year, but it’s well worth attending.

Josephine Bahn and Christopher Jennison Jo and Chris, a pair of recent graduates who were overly involved in the American Bar Association during law school. They heard all the advice that gets thrown at you by your schools, your bosses, your professors, and your cousin-twice-removed. They’ve graduated, passed the bar, and are both working- one for a judge and one for the federal government- and they’re hear to break down all that advice to what actually matters and what actually works.