Big Ideas ALA President’s Letter

I’m Attending! #ALAConf20

I’m attending ALA’s 2020 Annual Conference & Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah! I suppose it’s not breaking news, as when you’re President of the Association, attending it is something of a requirement. I must pass the gavel to Debbie Elsbury, CLM, our 2020–2021 President, during the Association Lunch.

James L. Cornell III

That said, ceremonial requirements aside, I’d still be joining my peers in Salt Lake City for this year’s event. I’ve come to think of attending the conference as essential to my professional development and networking. The amount of industry and role-specific education and accessibility to colleagues, business partners and resources is unsurpassed.

It’s also really fun and an incredible way to recharge professionally. I always leave Annual Conference full of ideas, enthusiasm and renewed vigor for professional legal management. Plus, the firm I work for benefits from my attendance as rubbing elbows with other legal management professionals, consultants and business partners expands my network of expertise, giving them a competitive advantage.

This year’s event, taking place at the Salt Palace Convention Center from May 3–6, will be the 10th Annual Conference I’ve attended. Each year I learn something new, create new relationships and strengthen existing ones while finding great value in the time and money invested in being there. Whether you are considering Annual Conference for the first time or have forgotten how many times you have attended, I’ve created a top 10 list of reasons why you should attend — and why Annual Conference won’t be the same without you there!

Reason #10: Avoid FOMALA (fear of missing ALA) with four conference days encompassing more than 70 sessions from over 100 speakers focused on professional legal management. If you aren’t in Salt Lake City, just imagine what you will be missing.

Reason #9: The Meeting of the Minds (a revamped version of Idea Exchanges) are where attendees will engage, collaborate and innovate. There are also Deep Dives that will allow for more focused, in-depth exploration of a topic that will provide you with key takeaways you can implement at your organization.

Reason #8: The Exhibit Hall will feature more than 140 business partners ready to get to know you so they can be a solutions resource for you and your firm.

Reason #7: Hear Catherine Sanderson, PhD, talk about the Science of Happiness in the Keynote Session. She’ll delve into ways to improve your own psychological well-being. Can’t we all use more of that?

Reason #6: Salt Lake City is close to the Mighty 5 National Parks and several ski resorts, and it’s quite simply a beautiful city to be outdoors in. There is also shopping and lots of cultural activities, so come in before the conference or stay a day or two later to enjoy all that Utah has to offer.

Each year I learn something new, create new relationships and strengthen existing ones while finding great value in the time and money invested in being there.

Reason #5: The First Five Community is going live for members in their first five years as legal management professionals. Whether you’re new to legal or a seasoned member, all are welcome in the First Five as this dynamic group provides a supportive and collaborative environment to help you navigate conference and the daily challenges in your legal management role.

Reason #4: The Brezina Memorial Session, presented by the Foundation of Association of Legal Administrators, will feature Dr. Rick Rigsby as he shares what it takes to be a 21st century leader. Here’s a hint: Leadership is not for the faint of heart. However, Rigsby entertains while he teaches, and leaders willing to grow can have true and lasting impact.

Reason #3: Wednesday night’s VIP Grand Finale features The Party Crashers, who will have us on the dance floor from their opening song! Bring your dancing shoes — you’ll be putting them to good use!

Reason #2: Attending Annual Conference truly engages you with the value and benefits of ALA membership. The education, memories and relationships you experience at Annual Conference will make you a better legal management professional.

Reason #1: You — do it for yourself. It’s an investment for many facets of your life. Attend conference for you, your career and your firm.

Accept my 2020 Annual Conference Challenge to all ALA members and business partners heading to Salt Lake City by tweeting to @JamesCornell3 and @ALABuzz using #ALAConf20 with your reason for attending conference. Share with your colleagues and fellow members why this is a can’t-miss event. We look forward to hearing from you!

Or need a bit more information to help your managing partner or manager give you the approval? ALA has you covered with our Justification Toolkit. Check it out here. Then visit for complete conference details, including how to register.