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Ready to participate in The Florida Bar’s Virtual Annual Convention? Here’s how

Senior Editor News in Photos

Florida Bar 2020 Convention LogoYou won’t have to drive or fly to Orlando, and won’t have to check in to the hotel. Walking will be limited to getting a cup of coffee from your kitchen or office break room.

But attending this year’s Florida Bar Annual Convention – the first ever to be virtual in response to the coronavirus pandemic – will still take some planning to ensure you’re signed up for seminars and meetings you want to attend.

Most committee and section meetings and seminars planned for the convention are going forward, although the meeting times may have changed. Some events, such as the Judicial Luncheon, have been canceled. Originally, events at the convention were scheduled from Tuesday, June 16, through Saturday morning, June 20. They will now run from Monday, June 15, through Friday, June 19.

The convention schedule may be found here. Because of the challenges in switching to an online convention, the schedule will be updated daily.

“The Meetings Department and all Bar staff have spent countless hours transitioning 2020 Annual Convention to a Virtual Convention,” said Beth Anne Trombetta of the Meetings Department. “The best tip I can give to Bar members for a smooth digital experience is to take a little time prior to convention week to plan out their schedule so that they have the information necessary (Zoom links, conference call numbers, etc.) prior to the scheduled start time of meetings and seminars. While we are excited about the virtual convention, it will be different than an in-person event where members can roam from meeting room to meeting room figuring out where their next meeting is located. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out how to join your scheduled meeting!”

One easy way to help keep track of everything is downloading the Bar’s convention app. Trombetta said the app allows members “to create their own schedule as well as see all of the seminars, sponsors, and general information. It will be kept up to date throughout convention week.”

A link to the app will be posted shortly to the convention webpage.

Unlike past in-person conventions, there will be no physical sign in and no convention registration fee, which also covered admission to many events.

Meetings and seminars will be held on the Zoom Webinar platform, in the InReach platform, or by teleconference. A couple meetings will use the FreeConference or Microsoft Teams platforms. Seminars on Zoom will not have a registration fee while those on InReach will.

“Members can register and pay for each seminar online like they would for any online webinar the Bar offers,” Trombetta said.

The CLE Overview page with a daily list of all seminars along with links for their CLE outline and registration may be found here.

“For committee and section meetings, each staff liaison is responsible for setting up and sending out Zoom or conference call information to the committee/section members. We are not publicly publishing Zoom links to avoid Zoom bombing during any of the meetings,” Trombetta said. “The staff contact for each function is listed on the schedule so that if members want to attend a meeting of a committee for which they are not members, they can contact the staff liaison for meeting information.”

Outside organizations that hold meetings in conjunction with the convention – such as The Florida Bar Foundation, the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers – also have contacts listed so Bar members can arrange to attend those meetings.

Because its last two meetings have been virtual, the Bar Board of Governors will be having an extra online meeting at the convention on Wednesday, June 17, from 2 to 5 p.m. Board committees will be meeting the previous day.

The Elder Law, Family Law, City, County and Local Government, Appellate Practice, Administrative Law, Business Law, Government Lawyer, Health Law, Labor and Employment Law, Animal Law, Entertainment, Arts & Sport Law, International Law, Public Interest Law, Solo and Small Firm, and Criminal Law sections and the Out of State Lawyers and Young Lawyers divisions all have business and committee meetings scheduled.

Bar procedural rule committees are meeting and many substantive law committees are also gathering.

In keeping with the theme of “Looking Back – Moving Forward,” on June 15 there will be a two-hour panel discussion on The Florida Bar’s history. This year’s convention – probably the most unique in Bar history – comes as the Bar marks its 70th anniversary.

The online convention, said Bar President John Stewart when he announced the in-person event would be replaced, “will allow us to showcase that The Florida Bar continues to be a leader in the nation and can and will continue important and necessary business utilizing available technologies.”

News in Photos