When Life Gives You Lemons

COVID-19 soured CLM’s annual conference, but a day of learning sweetened it up

April 29, 2020 Photo

On March 11, just a week before the start of its Annual Conference in Dallas, CLM announced that, because of unknown variables, travel bans, and growing concerns about COVID-19, it was cancelling the event entirely. And just like that, a year-long effort of planning disappeared before our community’s eyes.

It was a devastating and difficult move across the enterprise, but one that proved, especially in hindsight, necessary and prudent as more data became available on the spread of the disease and the risk it imposed on conference attendees and their friends and family. While it may feel like a distant memory already given the pace of change and evolving news, it wasn’t so obvious in early March how the pandemic was going to affect the U.S. However, soon after the announcement by CLM, many states began closing schools, ordering social distancing, and mandating self-quarantine measures. Most workplaces banned travel for employees in the ensuing days, and many were ordered to begin working from home when possible. So while it was the right decision, it didn’t make it any easier.


The malaise around the CLM offices didn’t last long, though. To salvage some of the hard work that speakers had put into their presentations and to provide an outlet for online education—something everyone was suddenly in need of—CLM kicked it into gear, setting up a “Day of Learning” that took place on March 18, which coincided with what was supposed to be the first full-day of live education in Dallas.

The online event featured five hour-long educational webinar sessions throughout the day, most of which were certified for CE or CLE. Topics included the results of CLM’s first-ever defense counsel survey; how technology is being used effectively in claims both today and in the future; the effect of social inflation on jury verdicts and insurers; how to eschew guessing and instead apply predictive analytics and AI to claims; and advice on how to get a grip on nuclear verdicts. Leading each session were some of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and diverse speakers within our ranks.

It was an unmitigated success. Despite only having one week to organize and market, CLM noted that more than 1,100 people listened in on at least one webinar (as noted by their unique email addresses), and, in total, more than 3,100 registrations were received for all five educational sessions. Speakers adapted many of their presentations to address the COVID-19 pandemic, taking live questions from attendees and offering practical guidance and insights, too. Additionally, all of the sessions were recorded and are archived at theclm.org.

To wrap up the Day of Learning, CLM also hosted a virtual awards ceremony to announce its 2020 CLM professionals of the year. As in the past, last year’s winners announced this year’s stars, but instead of doing so live, each previous winner recorded a video that was then played during the ceremony, keeping a little bit of tradition alive during an unconventional year. Congratulations to the award recipients; you can read their reactions to winning on the opposite page.

CLM would like to thank the speakers for adapting their presentations; listeners who adjusted their schedules to attend; and the Annual Conference sponsors, whose support enabled much of the content to be created and disseminated. You know what they say: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content at the CLM, and serves as executive editor of CLM magazine, the flagship publication of the CLM.  eric.gilkey@theclm.org

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