The goal of the NEXT Conference is to bring lawyers together from all across Michigan in order to share ideas, make connections, and discuss the future of law. In this episode of On Balance, hosts JoAnn Hathaway and Tish Vincent talk to Samantha Meinke about the 2017 Next Conference including what’s new and what opportunities are available for attendees. Some of the highlights of this year’s conference included an all-member networking luncheon and reception, the Exhibitor Hall with companies like Clio and MyCase, and the Learning Lounges with educational opportunities for all variety of lawyers.
Samantha Meinke is the communications manager at the State Bar of Michigan. In this role, she creates and oversees communications, marketing, social media and media relations strategies.
State Bar of Michigan: On Balance Podcast
An Overview of the 2017 NEXT Conference
Intro: Welcome to State Bar of Michigan’s On Balance Podcast, where we talk about practice management and lawyer wellness for a thriving law practice with your hosts JoAnn Hathaway and Tish Vincent, here on Legal Talk Network.
Take it away ladies.
JoAnn Hathaway: Hello and welcome to another edition of the State Bar of Michigan: On Balance Podcast on Legal Talk Network. This is JoAnn Hathaway, Practice Management Advisor for the Practice Management Resource Center at the State Bar of Michigan.
Tish Vincent: And this is Tish Vincent, Program Administrator for the Lawyers & Judges Assistance Program at the State Bar of Michigan. We are recording today’s show at the NEXT Conference in Detroit, Michigan.
JoAnn Hathaway: Joining us now we have Samantha Meinke. Welcome to the show Sam.
Samantha Meinke: Hi. Thanks for having me Tish and JoAnn.
Tish Vincent: Welcome. Before we get started, please tell us a little more about yourself, where do you work and what do you do.
Samantha Meinke: I am the Communications Manager at the State Bar of Michigan. I help lawyers figure out how to use social media to their best advantage and I do the social media for the State Bar as well as working with the news media and all kinds of other communications outlets.
JoAnn Hathaway: Well, thank you for joining us today Sam. We have been recording from the NEXT Conference here at Cobo in Detroit, Michigan and many people may want to know more about the NEXT Conference and what it is. So can you discuss that with us today?
Samantha Meinke: Sure. Absolutely The State Bar of Michigan has an annual meeting every year at the end of September, beginning of October when our year changes over to the new bar year. And our State Bar is looking toward the future and looking to help attorneys figure out how to navigate the future and the legal marketplace as it’s changing these days. And we thought that our conference needed to start reflecting some of what we are doing to work with attorneys to better move into the future.
So it has now turned into NEXT Conference and we have all kinds of new features that are aimed at all of our members, all kinds of new educational and networking opportunities available to them.
Tish Vincent: Interesting. So it’s different than meeting has been in years past.
Samantha Meinke: It is, yeah. We have offered some new events for all members. This year for the first time — every year we have an inaugural lunch, where we swear in the leadership of our Bar Association and we still have the inaugural lunch because that’s a very important component of our meeting is that our leadership transitions to the new leadership. But this year we also offered an All-Member Networking Luncheon. We recognize that lawyers need to have an opportunity to network in person with each other and if they are coming in for a section meeting or an educational session, we want them to stay and start building their professional network in person as well.
And in addition to that luncheon, we also offered an All-Member Networking Reception this year. It took place in our Exhibitor Hall, so members had the opportunity to come and have food and drinks. We had prize drawings. It was really fun in there yesterday. And then they could talk to the exhibitors to meet them in person and also get some information about legal technology and opportunities that exist for them here in Michigan.
JoAnn Hathaway: Well, I had the opportunity to stop by at those two events yesterday and it looked like they were really well attended.
Samantha Meinke: Fantastic. That’s great. That was my experience too, but it’s always good to get some feedback from other people.
Tish Vincent: You had mentioned the Exhibitor Hall and I know that’s something we have had at annual meeting in the past and that has really grown this year with a lot of exhibitors that have joined the foray of those that have been here in the past. Can you talk just a little bit about what types of exhibitors our members might be able to visit in the hall?
Samantha Meinke: Absolutely. We have got people here from Clio and MyCase. A lot of the legal technology companies that specialize in creating software and platforms attorneys can use to streamline their law practices, make everything more efficient. We are all pressed for time these days and if you utilize technology like that, you really can get a lot more done in less time. So you can focus on what really matters.
We had some folks here from Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the Paul Goebel Group insurance people, who can help attorneys stay insured, keep coverage, stay safe and feel like they have a buffer zone.
We have had people here from other firms like Rocket Matter, lots of people who help attorneys have better law practices to be successful.
And I think a lot of people think about these exhibitor showcases at conferences in general and they don’t know if they help them, because you can just look things up on the Internet these days, but I think there really is something to be said for meeting people face-to-face, so that when you call them, you know who you are talking to, and this is an opportunity to get to do that while you are here.
Tish Vincent: Well, and as I understand it, some of the vendors have actually been showcasing and giving demonstrations in the Practice Management Resource Center Learning Lounge, so people can stop by and see some of the technology in action.
Samantha Meinke: Yes, that’s right. This year we also offered a lot more educational opportunities than we have in the past, and the Learning Lounge was one of those opportunities. This was half-hour sessions that are really easy-peasy, where people can come in and figure out how to use MyCase. They can come in and figure out how to use Dragon, the naturally speaking speech recognition software; Casemaker for legal research, which all members of the State Bar get for free by the way, if you didn’t know that, it’s pretty cool.
The Law Library of Michigan, they have all kinds of resources that are available that people don’t know exist. They came in and did a session. We have a new pro bono program that’s available called MI Free Legal Answers that lawyers can participate in really easily. It lets you do pro bono without having to get fully invested in a case. So they did a demonstration of that.
And then we have got the Legal Talk Network right outside this room, so people can see all of the great information that’s coming from the Legal Talk Network in these podcasts, including yours.
And then this year we also let attorneys have — in the past we have had attorneys do educational tracks where they have had to come all day long to do a track. This time they could come in and just go session by session. We wanted it to be really an experience that can be tailored for the individual so it’s as valuable as possible to them.
Tish Vincent: Well, wonderful Sam. Well, thanks for sharing that. I think that really gives a good overview of the NEXT Conference and what people can look forward to in the future from the State Bar of Michigan.
It looks like we have reached the end of our program. I want to thank our guest, Samantha Meinke for joining us today.
JoAnn Hathaway: If our listeners have any questions or wish to follow-up with you, how can they reach you?
Samantha Meinke: They can find me on Twitter @sammiem; I hope they do.
JoAnn Hathaway: This has been another edition of the State Bar of Michigan: On Balance Podcast. I am JoAnn Hathaway.
Tish Vincent: And I am Tish Vincent. Until next time, thank you for listening.
Outro: Thank you for listening to the State Bar of Michigan: On Balance Podcast, brought to you by the State Bar of Michigan and produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network.
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