Planning a Workshop


Planning a Workshop

Planning a Workshop involves the same processes as planning any continuing legal education offering. It is advisable to field a diverse Workshop planning committee and identify a key staff person or persons from each co-sponsoring organization (i.e., state, local, specialty bar association, law firm, etc.) Your Breast Cancer Task Force liaison and Health Law Section staff can advise you on your planning committee structure, assist you in scheduling conference calls, and serve as a resource on all aspects of program logistics and execution.

For a program to be successful, advance planning is essential. The program planning committee should first work to identify a few possible dates for the program. Ideally, a program will take anywhere from six to nine months to plan from the initial date selection to program presentation. A program format and budget then must be developed and the program location site selected.

  • Date Selection

As all program speakers will be volunteer attorneys taking time out of their schedules to participate in the Workshop it is a good idea to initially consider more than one possible program date and those dates should be far enough in advance so that individuals can plan appropriately. Scheduling should be checked against other programs being offered by other similar organizations (i.e., state and local bar meetings or conferences) and other potential date conflicts such as holidays, breaks, vacations, etc.

  • Program Format

The Breast Cancer Legal Advocacy Guide and its supporting program slides and materials can be adjusted to accommodate a three-to-six-hour program, depending on the number of presenters. If a number of non-attorney guest speakers such as local physicians, insurers, survivors, government officials, advocates or others are invited to speak this will increase the length of the program and the schedule should be planned accordingly. It is not advisable to deliver the substantive program in less than three hours, including scheduled breaks. Sample agendas can be found by accessing the Program Materials link on the right navigation bar of this page.

  • Program Budget

A key component in planning is developing a program budget. The ABA Health Law section staff can provide assistance with this. Additionally, the Health Law Section may be able to reimburse reasonable speaker expenses if they are approved in advance by the Breast Cancer Task Force Executive Committee (if local speakers cannot be secured).

The costs associated with presenting this type of Workshop are as follows:

  • Venue rental
  • Audio visual equipment rental
  • CLE processing fees
  • Food and beverage costs (breakfasts, lunches, coffee breaks)
  • Marketing costs
  • Mailing costs
  • Miscellaneous expenses
  • Registration Fees

Many groups charge a nominal registration fee for each program. These fees have ranged from $25 - $75. Charging a registration fee serves a number of purposes including, but not limited to, offsetting program expenses. Charging even a small registration fee will ensure that once an individual registers for (and pays for) a program, that he/she will attend. Knowing the attendance figures in advance helps planners know how many sets of program materials to make, how much food and beverage to order, etc. Since individuals attending this Workshop will receive CLE credit for their attendance, they should not be surprised that the program has a small registration fee.

  • Program Underwriters and Sponsors

Many Workshops receive valuable underwriting and sponsorships from local bar associations, law firms and/or hospitals. Sponsors can help cover administrative costs of the program (e.g., site rental, CLE registration fees, copying costs, etc.), any travel expenses for the speakers, and food. Local sponsors are needed because the ABA is unable to fund all of the Workshops across the country. As indicated above, the ABA is able to assist with providing copies of the Breast Cancer Legal Advocacy Guide or, if necessary, supplying an attorney expert for the panel. Sponsor contributions can be monetary or in the form of donated space, audio-visual equipment, coffee breaks, or food. All local sponsors must be approved by the ABA.

State and local Bar associations (or specific sections like health law, women’s bar associations, ERISA, or labor and employment law sections) may be willing to participate in a Workshop and can provide valuable assistance in marketing, registration, facilities and soliciting potential panel speakers. When starting the process of identifying potential local sponsors, one of the first things to consider is that law firms often are more likely to agree to be a sponsor if one of their attorneys is on the panel (and the cost is not extravagant). This may be something to keep in mind when selecting potential speakers. Law firms with pro bono departments also may be potential sponsors. In addition, other types of businesses in your area may well be willing to serve as a sponsor, such as pharmaceutical companies, device manufacturers, research and development companies, insurance companies and healthcare systems or hospitals. Local sponsors may be willing to donate the site or room for the Workshop. One idea is to have certain sponsors fund the overall Workshop and other sponsors fund just the food portion or sponsor the keynote speaker. If sponsors desire to contribute different amounts, you may want to consider creating different levels of sponsorship (e.g., gold, silver and bronze levels). The ABA Breast Cancer Task Force liaison can help you and your planning committee begin a dialogue with your program planning partners about potential underwriters.

  • Selecting a Venue

Determining the venue should be done very early in the planning process. Workshops have been presented in a number of different venues including law firms, conference centers, hospital training centers, office building conference facilities, bar association centers and hotels. As with any continuing legal education program, the room must be large enough to accommodate classroom space, a head table, audio visual equipment and a handout table. The most cost effective Workshops have been held in training rooms in bar centers, hospitals, office buildings and law firms. Hotel meeting rooms and related costs such as audio visual fees, and food and beverage costs, can be staggering and will quickly drain any Workshop’s budget.

  • Continuing Legal Education Credit

Other than the information provided in a Workshop, obtaining CLE credit generally is the driving force behind an individual’s attendance at a program. As a result, CLE credit should be addressed in the early stages of the planning process. The local sponsor is responsible for applying for and processing all CLE applications and the payment of related fees. Depending on the state, this can be costly and must always be done in accordance with each state regulator’s guidelines. Sponsoring groups should be knowledgeable of local CLE requirements such as, but not limited to, the need for written program materials, writing surfaces, calculation of speaker credit, the inclusion of presenter biographical information, program evaluations, etc.

  • Program Materials and Handouts

Most states require written materials for mandatory continuing legal education (“MCLE”) accreditation. The Breast Cancer Legal Advocacy Guide will be a major component of these written materials. The ABA Health Law Section will provide each Workshop participant with a copy of the most recent version of the Breast Cancer Legal Advocacy Guide. The Guide will serve as the major information resource for each Workshop.

The other components are program/state specific slides and a Workshop case study. Sample slide presentations can be found by accessing the Program Materials link on the right navigation bar of this page. Although these slides are excellent examples from past presentations it is important to tailor each presentation in accordance with local law. It is advisable that one member of the planning team be dedicated to working with the speakers on their slides so that they are a coordinated cohesive finished product.

  • Marketing the Program

Program marketing is the responsibility of all of the program sponsors. The ABA Health Law Section will gladly assist in marketing efforts by emailing the program announcement and information to attorneys of specific demographics who practice near the Workshop location. However the most effective marketing is lawyer-to-lawyer contact. Program planners are encouraged to post notes on firm message boards, newsletter and personal distribution lists, list serves and through their professional associations and their respective marketing tools. Sample marketing materials can be found by accessing the Program Materials link on the right navigation bar of this page.

  • After the Program

At the conclusion of the program, program planners are asked to submit a final count of program attendees, completed evaluation forms, completed volunteer interest sheets, and copies of all program materials to the ABA Health Law Section staff. Please remember to send notes thanking program panelists and program sponsors.

Program Execution—

The “Who, What, Where, When and How”
of Workshop Management

Program execution can be summed up by answering the following pertinent questions:

  • Where will we hold our Workshop? How much will it cost?
  • What topics will be covered, who will be on the panel of speakers, who will be the keynote speaker (and who will invite them)?
  • Who will register program attendees? When is the deadline?
  • How will we get the word out about our program? Who do we want to tell?
  • Who will process the CLE? How much will it cost?
  • Who will take care of on-site logistics: reserving and checking audio visual equipment and microphones, ordering food and beverage, venue set-up and clean up? What are the associated costs? Who can we ask to help underwrite the costs?
  • Who is handling gathering of program materials and reproduction of slides and other handouts? What is the deadline?

If planning groups are able to answer these questions, the execution of a Breast Cancer Legal Advocacy Workshop should go smoothly. The ABA Breast Cancer Task Force can be a resource for your success. Please contact Simeon Carson of the Health Law Section staff ( at any time for assistance.