By Lauren Nevidomsky • April 08, 2016•Writers in Residence, Law School, Other Law School Issues
This time last year, I was accepted onto the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal. I was honored to get to do cite checks that would last hours and judge professors, who are probably much smarter than I ever will be, on their scholarly work. In the midst of this, I applied for a Managing Board position – because every law student needs more work – and was selected as an Assistant Programs Editor. In that role, I helped plan this year’s Sports and Entertainment Law Symposium alongside three amazing and extremely hard-working journal members. It took place on March 25, 2016. What follows are my takeaways on Symposium planning, as told by Kanye West’s tweets.
Stage 1: Inviting Potential Panelists
In the planning stage, you need to decide on panel topics and then invite panelists who can speak on those topics well. It is important to figure out a particular speaker’s skill-set before inviting him or her, in order to avoid inviting five people who are all on the same side of an issue or all have the same scholarship/background. For example, one of my team members helped plan a Content Distribution panel. She invited one panelist that was an expert in content distribution on the collegiate sports side and another that was an expert on the professional sports side. Each panelist talked about what he or she knew best and the difference in breadth of knowledge led to a lively discussion. Since “everybody has something they do best,” it is important to invite those panelists that have shown to be experts in their field and can relay their opinions on a matter in a relatable way.
Stage 2: Booking Travel
Once a panelist has committed to attending your symposium, you need to figure out a way to bring him or her to your school. If you go to a school in a big city, and a certain panelist is an attorney working 5-subway stops away, this stage may not be difficult. However, if you go to a school that is far from a major city figuring out the travel logistics for all your panelists may be tricky. Planes and rental cars and hotels all cost tons of money. This year, we had speakers fly in from California, New York, Florida, and Texas. At times, it felt like we might not “have enough resources to create” the best Symposium we could. However, we found ways to make our dreams a reality. For your symposium, it may make sense to petition your law school for additional funding or fundraise to offset other costs (i.e. lunch the day of the event). Partnering with other student grounds or getting sponsorships from law firms may be another way to get the necessary resources for your symposium.
Stage 3: Last-Minute Preparations
Everyone knows Kanye feels as strongly about his music as he does Kim K. As such, when he is in the music-making zone, he clearly needs to be far away from distractions. Similarly, when it comes down to a few days before your symposium, you’ll realize that you might be saying this exact tweet out-loud, substituting “album” for “symposium.” There will be programs to print and organize, travel arrangements to finalize, listservs to email about the event, food to order for panelists and attendees, etc. Then the day before the symposium, a plane with 5 of your panelists may get cancelled and you may have to drive 6 hours round-trip to pick up some of them to salvage months of hard work.* No matter what, though, even if you need to tell your friends, significant others, parents, etc. that you will be off-the-grid for a bit, you should know that you are working towards achieving an amazing feat: having a symposium that will introduce you and your classmates to experts and cutting-edge issues in various areas of the law.
Stage 4: D-Day
On the day of the event, you need to go with the flow. You should hope for the best and expect the worst. Inevitably, something will go wrong – someone will cancel last minute, a visual aid won’t work, food will be delivered late, etc. However, if you start the day with positive thinking, like Kanye did here, nothing will be able to get you down. You spent months planning and organizing and finally the day has come – CONGRATS, YOU PLANNED A SYMPOSIUM!!
*True story – sometimes you have to do, what you have to do. Shout out to American Airlines for cancelling flights with two hours’ notice and no explanation!
Have you ever planned a Law School Symposium? Trying to decide who to invite, when to have one, or whether having one is worth it? Leave your comments and experiences below!
Lauren Nevidomsky is your "average" law student trying to figure out her way in the legal world. She tells the tales of her law school trials and tribulations with the hopes that she'll help make the life of even one law student easier and less stressful.
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