By Kerriann Stout • April 25, 2018•Ms. JD, Conference, Law School, Other Law School Issues, Issues, Other Issues
Editor's Note: In preparation for our upcoming 12th Annual Conference in March, I'll be sharing highlights from some of our past conferences. Enjoy!
On March 8th and 9th of 2018, Ms. JD hosted its annual conference at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law. The theme of the conference was “Her Story,” and many of the talks and panels focused on the different journeys of the speakers. This was my first time attending a Ms. JD conference, and I was not sure what to expect, as I was attending by myself. I must say I was pleasantly surprised! It was a very welcoming environment, the Ms. JD staff was extremely kind, and there were lots of opportunities to meet and interact with new people.
Due to my travel schedule, I was unable to attend every event and panel. Most notably, I missed the Ms. JD Honors Reception Keynote Speaker Lily Y. Hughes and her discussion of “Her Story.” The next day, I overheard many conversations and spoke to several attendees who gave Ms. Hughes’ speech rave reviews. This was clearly my loss, and I hope to have the opportunity to hear her speak in the future.
Luckily, I was able to attend many of the other events. Here are my thoughts on select parts of the conference in which I participated:
Access to the speakers: A+
I’ve been to a lot of conferences where the speakers, particularly the more well-known ones, aren’t accessible to the attendees. This was not the case at the Ms. JD conference! In fact, Stacey Hallerman and Michelle Banks (two amazingly accomplished, powerhouse in-house counsel attorneys who engaged in an excellent fireside chat later in the day) were running around playing Ms. JD bingo with all the attendees.
Not afraid to tackle the big issues: A+
#MeToo is a major, and somewhat controversial, issue in the United States right now, and I loved that Ms. JD tackled it head-on. The #MeToo panel provided practical advice for combating sexual harassment in the workplace and the legal profession in general. The panelists bravely shared their own experiences with sexual harassment, discussed the initiatives that they are a part of to solve this problem, and gave concrete advice in response to questions by attendees.
Shameless Self Promotion Presentation: A
The conference started off with great energy provided by Paula Edgar and her presentation on shameless self-promotion. Paula was energetic and engaging. Most notably, she made it relevant to every person, using examples of how personal branding is crucial for law students and lawyers alike.
Start-up stories: B+
I was most looking forward to the panel about start-up business stories. As a small business owner, I love learning about people’s journeys in business, particularly from others with a law degree. The panelists had diverse backgrounds in various businesses, and they provided a wealth of helpful information about starting your own business. The only reason I didn’t mark this panel an A is because one of the panelists repeatedly gave the impression that law school isn’t that hard and that there is a lot of free time to work on other things when you are a law student. As an educator, I found this to be a huge disservice to the law students in the room. It was evident that the panelist was extremely bright, and law school probably did come easily to her, but I know for a fact that isn’t the case for most students. I would hate to think that any of the bright, motivated girls listening walked away feeling bad as a result.
Digital Marketing panel: B
I was also super excited for the digital marketing panel because I use digital marketing in my business and was looking forward to picking up some new tips and tricks. The panelists were excellent and informative. It was clear that they were experts in their field and had a lot of knowledge to share. The reason I am giving this panel a B instead of A is that it seemed this topic wasn’t relevant to many of the conference attendees.
The only reason I am scoring this a C is the expense. The UCLA Law School campus was beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending the day there. However, LA, in general, is a super expensive place to stay, and the hotel that Ms. JD organized a group rate with still ended up being pretty expensive. I have no doubt that it was a great hotel, but I opted to stay somewhere more affordable.
Overall, I had a great first Ms. JD conference experience, and I look forward to attending many more in the future!
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