Byline: Lee Dryden
The State Bar of Michigan's annual gathering will have a much different, scaled-back look this fall.
Members were recently informed that the Board of Commissioners voted to reduce the NEXT Conference/Annual Meeting to its "core elements, as framed in the Supreme Court Rules Concerning the State Bar of Michigan."
"These elements include the swearing in of new officers, the inaugural meetings of the Representative Assembly and Board of Commissioners, and the presentation of the State Bar's annual awards," according to an announcement in the February SBM Today newsletter. "Beginning this year, the annual meeting events will no longer include the Solo & Small Firm Institute, the vendor hall, receptions, or section annual meetings.
"We are consolidating some scheduled end-of-bar-year networking events and moving others to different dates."
Since the State Bar's strategic plan was adopted in 2017, the board has been "engaged in a systematic, data-driven examination of the functions of the bar based on the priorities in the new plan."
"After several months of analysis and discussion, the Board has determined that the NEXT Conference/Annual Meeting should be redesigned to better allocate State Bar resources," the newsletter stated.
The first Annual Meeting in the new format is set for Sept. 25-26 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.
SBM president's comments
"At one point in the life of the State Bar, the Annual Meeting was the signature event of the year, attracting a substantial percentage of members from throughout the state," said State Bar of Michigan President Jennifer M. Grieco. "In Michigan, as in other states and in other professional associations, this has not been the case for quite a while.
"Although Annual Meeting attendance has not dropped significantly in recent years, today fewer than 3 percent of SBM members attend NEXT Conference/Annual Meeting."
The Annual Meeting was revamped to become NEXT Conference in response to the 21st Century Practice Task Force and strategic plan.
"Even that did not result in an increase in members attending and taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by the event," Grieco said, adding that the board decided that resources could be "better spent in other ways to benefit a larger number of members."
Feedback from attendees also played a role in the board's decision.
"They told us there are too many concurrent events going on at the meeting, meaning that those who attend...