Annual Meeting

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Special Meetings and Events of the Virginia State Bar

Annual Meeting

Better Annual Meeting Committee

article originally published in the April 2012 issue of Virginia Lawyer

BAM! You’re Better!

by Gordon Hickey

How bad could it be? It’s at the beach. It’s in summer. There’s golf. There’s Bingo. There are cocktail receptions. And dinner. You can bring your family. Or not.

Still, as good as it’s been, the Better Annual Meeting Committee has been working every year for the past ten years to improve the meeting for everyone.

Former Virginia State Bar President Jean P. Dahnk was the first chair of BAM and has been a member of the committee ever since. She is an unabashed lover of the annual meeting. Lawyering, she says, “is kind of a singular pursuit. There’s a lot of time I spend by myself.”

So, when the annual meeting comes along, she runs with it. She said she loved the first annual meeting she went to in Virginia Beach. “It was so open, accessible, interesting, fun.” It was also, back in the late 1990s, in decline. The economy was not doing well and neither was attendance at the meeting.  Not enough young people were attending, Dahnk said, and something had to be done about it.

So, an informal committee of people interested in revitalizing the meeting was formed, “and BAM was born,” Dahnk said. The committee was formalized by VSB President Bernard J. DiMuro in 2002.

The committee has come up with ways to make it more attractive to members. The CLEs are topical and relatively cheap. Registration is lower for first-time attendees. The showcase seminars were added — one centered on the infamous D.C. Sniper case and another on mental health issues following the Virginia Tech tragedy.

David P. Bobzien stepped down this year after serving as committee chair for several years.  He said one thing the committee tries to do is take some of the pressure for putting on the meeting off of the VSB staff. The committee members help line up vendors, they suggest speakers, and they vet the CLE presentations.

“We also take a step back and look at everything, including should we keep going to the beach,” Bobzien said. The answer to that has always been yes. It’s a great time of year to go to Virginia Beach, the meeting falls on Father’s Day weekend and it’s family oriented. “People have really come to look forward to it,” he said.

The committee also looks at ways to structure the four-day meeting, and that includes getting speakers interesting enough to entice people to attend the Saturday morning business meeting.

“We get really good speakers,” Bobzien said. This year, “We’ve been working on it hard and I think people will be very pleased with the outcome.” The scheduled speaker, Mike Rubin, is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and heads the Appellate Practice Team of the multi-state law firm of McGlinchey Stafford PLLC. Rubin has presented more than 350 major lectures and papers throughout the United States, Canada, and England and is an author or co-author and contributing writer of thirteen books and more than thirty articles.

In addition to Bobzien and Dahnk, the committee includes Chair Kevin E. Martingayle and members Barbara S. Anderson, Irving M. Blank, Douglas D. Callaway, Manuel A. Capsalis, Maureen E. Danker, Thomas B. Dix Jr., Karen A. Gould, Ira L. Hancock III, W. David Harless, Jon D. Huddleson, Ronald E. Kuykendall, Howard W. Martin Jr., Darrel T. Mason, Sharon D. Nelson, Julia S. Savage, George Warren Shanks, Ronald R. Tweel, and George D. Varoutsos.

Ideas? Pass them on.

e-mail: Annualmeeting@vsb.org

Updated: March 7, 2014