We were pleased to host our firm’s tenth annual Legal Conference & Expo at the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa on Nov. 17-18. The event is open to all Alabama lawyers in private practice, and provides them with a full 12 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, for free. The conference has grown steadily each year, from about 400 lawyers in 2007 to 1,453 in attendance this year. It is one of the top five legal conferences in attendance in the United States.
In addition to benefitting lawyers throughout the state, the conference is very good for the Montgomery area’s economy. Dawn Hathcock, Vice President of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor Bureau, had this to say:
The Beasley Allen Law Firm has successfully coordinated a unique conference for the last 10 years, and I applaud their efforts. Lawyers from all over the state have been given the opportunity to see everything Montgomery has to offer as a destination but that is just the beginning. Hosting nearly 1,500 attendees at the state’s largest legal conference provides a huge economic impact in the River Region estimated to be roughly a million dollars.
We are proud to be able to support our River Region in this way each year. Our plan is for the conference to be an annual event for years to come. It’s good to know that we are helping lawyers develop their skills and field of knowledge, which in turn helps their clients. It’s also good to help our area economy.
The conference gives us an opportunity to connect with our colleagues from firms of all sizes, ranging from those in private practice to lawyers from some of the biggest firms in the state. Practice areas addressed at the conference included Product Liability, Business Litigation, Whistleblower Litigation, Consumer Fraud, and Medical Device and Drug litigation. A separate section on Legal Ethics was on the agenda and as usual Tony McLain, General Counsel, Alabama State Bar, did a tremendous job. Tony has been a great asset to Alabama lawyers and is a very good person in every respect.
A number of guest speakers presented special programs, including a panel discussion with Alabama Supreme Court Justices James Allen Main and Tommy Bryan. Other special guest presentations included remarks from Ken Riley, President of the Alabama Association for Justice; Clay Hornsby, Deputy Director of the Alabama Law Institute; Shane Smith, Chairperson, Family Law Section of the Alabama State Bar; and Bill Blanchand, former President, Alabama Defense Lawyers Association. Our own Cole Portis, who is serving as President of the Alabama State Bar, was our luncheon speaker this year.
While all of the presentations were good, the highlight of the conference was the Friday morning prayer breakfast. This part of the program has always been well attended by lawyers and their families. It was again this year. The prayer breakfast sets the right tone for the conference. This year the presentation was by Rev. John Schmidt, the Senior Pastor at Centerpoint Fellowship Church. John’s message was one that any person – especially a lawyer who does trial work – needs to hear.
We also were happy to be able to present our annual Beasley Allen Pro Bono Award to the Montgomery County Bar Foundation Volunteer Lawyers Program. The $15,000 grant will allow the MCBF VLP to continue to provide crucial civil legal services to the poor, who might not otherwise be able to afford a lawyer. Tim Gallagher, President of the MCBF, and Mike Martin, Executive Director, were on hand to accept the award.
A popular attraction each year is the Legal Conference Expo, where vendors provide demonstrations of products and answer questions about how attorneys can best enhance their practice. Event platinum sponsors for 2016 were Jackson Thornton Valuation & Litigation Consulting Group, Freedom Reporting and Virage.
Legal and community groups also participated in the event to provide information about their programs and services. This year we welcomed representatives from the Alabama State Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program, Alabama State Bar Lawyer Referral Program, Alabama Law Foundation, Alabama Civil Justice Foundation, Alabama Association for Justice, and Cumberland School of Law.
The Beasley Allen Legal Conference has been very successful. It is a unique opportunity for lawyers and we are honored to be able to offer this event each year. We look forward to the next one.