After more than two years of adapting to pandemic restrictions mainly by providing online meetings and CLE programming, bars are now finding that eased restrictions require them to decide whether to change once more, by going back to in-person events, staying with virtual, or finding a middle ground. A series of interviews with some bar chief executives and staff members shows that the pandemic-induced online offerings may have changed how bars view the best way to reach their members.
For some, presenting online CLE programming proved to be a way to boost attendance. "We found that member engagement for those types of programs increased by 30 to 40 percent" during the pandemic, says Marc D'Antonio, senior programs manager at the Massachusetts Bar Association.
"We've been able to reach members outside of the city where our headquarters are located, where pre-pandemic we had held most, if not all, of our CLE programs," D'Antonio says. Convenience also is a factor, he adds. Members who attend virtually don't have to travel or pay for parking. The bar can also be flexible in offering seminars at different times of the day, depending on the preferences of the groups the seminars are designed to reach.
"Some practice groups prefer pre-court, 9:00 a.m. programs where they can come in, get their CLE credits out of the way, and then move on with their day," D’Antonio notes, adding that the MBA is also able to be more flexible with volunteer instructors in terms of when programs are offered.