Monroe County: First Avatar Based Bar Association Conference

Heidi Alexander as an avatar addressing the Monroe County Bar in the auditorium.  3 screens up, with seated listeners.

The conventional wisdom that small firm and solo attorneys avoid eDiscovery like the plague and that bar associations are luddites behind the times in member engagement has been soundly disproven in a live experiment conducted by the Monroe County Bar Association with the EDRM (Electronic Discovery Reference Model).

Niki Black, trustee of the Monroe County Bar Association and legal tech evangelist for MyCase, convinced her colleagues planning the Solo and Small Practice Committee’s meeting to use our EDRM Virtual Campus to host their 2021 event, their fourth annual conference.

Niki Black, who has been blogging for decades and writing for Above the Law, is the early adopter’s early adopter. She ably shepherded her tribe with early virtual campus tours for bar association personnel and leadership and a keen eye on room configurations to support the mission of individual sessions ranging from fireside chats to roundtable discussions to wine tasting on the beach. The conference kicked off with her session on creating an avatar.

The event was held April 8-9, and required no travel, or potential COVID-19 exposure for faculty or attendees.

With internationally known speakers like Heidi Alexander and Jared Correia joining Niki and Monroe County legal leaders, Nathan Herkamp, Langston McFadden, Bradley Kammholz, Nicholas Sprague, Esq. , Aleks Nikolic, Natalie Grigg and others, EDRM learned quite a bit about the challenges of small and solo practitioners to attract and serve clients in this changing technological and pandemic challenged landscape.

The program, including Ethics CLE for Niki’s session on Virtual Practice, could be a blueprint for bar associations across the country struggling to engage under our current circumstances.

Stretching our EDRM campus, Niki hosted the renown Journalist’s Roundtable in our EDRM virtual headquarters boardroom.

Later that afternoon, Bob Ambrogi’s weekly Legaltech Week Journalist’s Roundtable was held on the campus in avatar form. The panelists included Above the Law’s very own Joe PatriceZach Warren, and Victoria Hudgins from Legaltech News, media consultant Molly McDonough, Techlaw Crossroads blogger Steve Embry, me, and of course, Bob Ambrogi — in avatar form! We had a ton of fun and talked about lots of interesting issues. You can watch the full video of the roundtable here.

Niki Black, Above the Law, 4/15/2021

EDRM is grateful for the trust the Monroe County Bar Association staff under the leadership of Kevin Ryan placed in EDRM in choosing our virtual campus to host, and amazed at their willingness to innovate and with their membership willing to take the leap to create, inhabit and engage as virtual avatars in their event.

Kaylee Walstad, EDRM’s Chief Strategy Officer said, “Mary Mack, CISSP and I had so much fun last week hosting your very innovative Monroe County Bar Association on EDRM – Electronic Discovery Reference Model‘s Virtual Campus! Thanks so much for the shout out and the opportunity to work with your amazing Bar Assoc! So happy everyone enjoyed the virtual experience!”

Read Niki Black’s retrospective in Above the Law here.

Listen to the Legalatech Week Journalist Roundtable here.


Mary Mack

Mary Mack is the CEO and Chief Legal Technologist for EDRM. Mary was the co-editor of the Thomson Reuters West Treatise, eDiscovery for Corporate Counsel for 10 years and the co-author of A Process of Illumination: the Practical Guide to Electronic Discovery. She holds the CISSP among her certifications.

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