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MSBA conference forecast: Lots of programs, lots of people

About 950 people, including 300 judges, expected for bar association's annual gathering

As the Maryland State Bar Association’s 2016 Joint Bench/Bar Conference begins Wednesday in Ocean City, hundreds of attorneys, judges and legal professionals will gather for sessions on a range of issues, from veterans’ courts and attorney grievance complaints to voir dire and technology in the courtroom.

Presiding over the Maryland State Bar Association’s 2016 Joint Bench/Bar Conference is the last official duty of President Pamila J. Brown, left, a Howard County District Court judge. Among the conference speakers is American Bar Association President Paulette Brown, who headlines a special plenary session Friday during ‘Solo Day.’ (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Presiding over the Maryland State Bar Association’s 2016 Joint Bench/Bar Conference is the last official duty of President Pamila J. Brown, left, a Howard County District Court judge. Among the conference speakers is American Bar Association President Paulette Brown, who headlines a special plenary session Friday during ‘Solo Day.’ (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

The meeting, held at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, kicks off with a welcome reception at the hotel Wednesday evening, followed by a crab feast at Hooper’s Crab House. While the MSBA holds its annual meeting every summer, this is only the third time the association has held a joint bench/bar conference, said Wanda A. Calvin Claiborne, the association’s director of meetings.

The event was sold out as of Friday morning, with 950 people registering for this year’s conference, a number Claiborne called “mind-blowing,” even considering the joint nature of the meeting — typically, about 550 people pre-register for the event, with additional on-site registrants joining in Ocean City, she said. Of the 950 who are set to attend, about 300 of those are judges, Claiborne added.

Educational programs will begin Thursday morning at 8 a.m. Attendees will have a variety of options, ranging from broadly applicable topics — “Razzle Dazzle the Jury: The Do’s and Don’ts of Using Technology in the Courtroom,” sponsored by the Litigation Section, for example — to the more practice area-specific — such as “Surviving the Maelstrom: Treading the Murky Waters of Residential Construction Defect Litigation,” sponsored by the Construction Law Section.

There are two separate educational program tracks scheduled for both Thursday and Friday, allowing attendees to take part in several sessions of their choosing.

“There’s going to be some amazing educational programs, some really good topics, and one of the key things that wasn’t so much there [during the previous joint bench/bar conferences] in 2000 and 2007 is that all of the programs sponsored by sections and committees have active judge participants, whether they were part of the planning process or they’re moderators or speakers,” Claiborne said. “That will make the programs of interest to everyone.”

Thursday’s schedule also features a meet-and-greet reception for Maryland’s new judges, to be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Clarion.

The Maryland Bar Foundation will hold its annual meeting Thursday afternoon, while the President’s Reception will take place that evening.

Friday will include another pair of educational sessions, as well as the early-morning Young Lawyers Section Sun Run, sponsored by The Daily Record. An annual “Solo Day” program geared toward solo and small firm practitioners will include sessions on e-filing, choosing the right clients and the future of the profession, among others. American Bar Association President Paulette Brown is scheduled to speak to attendees on Friday during a special plenary session.

Recreational activities for conference attendees and their families are sprinkled throughout the week and include yoga sessions, a children’s pool party, a tennis tournament and an ice cream social.

On Saturday morning, at the MSBA’s annual business meeting, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Harry C. Storm will be formally installed as the bar association’s president, replacing outgoing leader Pamila J. Brown, a Howard County District Court judge.


About Lauren Kirkwood

Lauren Kirkwood covers the business of law beat at The Daily Record.