Virtual Annual Meeting Q&A

Why did the ABA decide to move the Annual Meeting to a virtual platform? 

In a special session, the ABA Board of Governors made the difficult decision to cancel the in-person 2020 ABA Annual Meeting scheduled July 29 – August 4 in Chicago and move to a virtual (online) platform. This discussion comes after much consideration of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Hosting a virtual meeting is the safest option for the members, staff and affiliate groups of the American Bar Association.

What factors were considered when making the decision? 

The health and safety of the members, staff and affiliate groups was the primary reason for the Board of Governors decision to move the Annual Meeting to a virtual platform. Many factors were considered in the decision including:

Current city and state restrictions on group gatherings.

statewide order has been issued for Illinois residents to stay at home or in their place of residence. The order requires all residents to stay home, unless traveling for essential needs or business, and requires businesses not engaged in essential activities to cease all activities except for minimum basic operations. The Order took effect on Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m., across the State of Illinois and will remain in place until the Governor’s Disaster Proclamation expires on May 30.  Learn more about what this means for residents and businesses

Under the stay at home order gatherings of any kind larger than ten (10) people are prohibited, and hotels are only to be used for lodging and delivery or carry-out food services.  Although any restrictions on gatherings beyond May 30 are currently unclear, the Governor of Illinois has expressed concern about large groups of people gathering until there is a vaccine.

Limitation on air travel.

The US domestic flight schedules were reduced by 90% at the end of March and are currently down 80% from last April. Airlines are adding some capacity back in certain destinations and plan to be back close to normal by end of the summer. Airlines continue to serve all destinations domestically, currently just at a reduced capacity. They are deep cleaning aircraft, have modified boarding and on-board services to comply with social distancing recommendations. They have waived seating restrictions and have blocked 50% of all center seats allowing passengers more distancing.  In addition, many states currently have self-quarantine orders for travelers flying and/or driving from pandemic hot spots. A list of state to state restrictions can be found in the New York Times article.

Social distancing practices being implemented by our hotel partners.

The expectation is that during the month of July there will still be social distancing guidelines in place limiting our ability to do proper room sets, hold meal functions, networking and social events, and maneuver easily throughout the hotel. There will also be restrictions and limitations in place on hotel food services and amenities.

Why was the decision made so far in advance?

In addition to the compelling factors considered above, this decision was made now to allow time to transition to the highest-quality virtual experience possible. With over 500 meetings and events held at the traditional in-person Annual Meeting, there is much to consider when restructuring the content and the delivery method. 

What is the format for the Annual Meeting?

The ABA is transitioning the meeting to an online platform that allows attendees to easily access meeting content in a single platform. The content will include Entity governance and business meetings, General Assembly, CLE Showcase Programs, Award Events, House of Delegates, as well as other meeting content that were originally developed for the in-person meeting. More information about the virtual Annual Meeting will be available soon. 

Will the Annual Meeting be held over the same meeting dates? 

Yes, the Annual Meeting will be held July 29 – August 4 as currently scheduled; however, the date and times of some events will change. More details regarding the schedule of events will be available soon.