Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Last week, as the 55th annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning concluded, I took a few moments to reflect on the conference which, like many events, was different this year. All of the presentations were virtual, with the presenters streaming from their respective locations and all of us in the audience watching from the relative comfort of our homes or offices (or, in many cases, home offices). InterActive Legal was present at our "booth" in the virtual exhibit hall, and I have to give proper credit to our Marketing team for creating a digital space that was both visually appealing and informative.
My assessment of this year's conference is a bit of a mixed bag. Don't get me wrong: the actual conference was well-managed and informative as always. The Institute and the presenters all deserve praise for delivering high quality content with few, if any, technical glitches. There is also something to be said for the virtual format. It was nice to be able to clearly see and hear the presenters. It was also a bit easier to focus without the distractions of finding a seat and connecting to the WiFi. For someone like me who always seems to be late in making it to the ballroom no matter how hard I try, it was nice to know that I had a desk on which to set my computer and my coffee, rather than trying to balance everything on my lap while seated in the rows of chairs in the back. I also found it oddly satisfying to tour the virtual exhibit hall, seeing a scene from my memories rendered in a digital format.
Given those factors, I questioned whether I might actually prefer a virtual conference. When I thought about it more, my answer became a resounding "no," as I was flooded by the thoughts of what I missed. Simply put, I missed the people. I missed wandering the aisles and meeting other exhibitors. I missed seeing former colleagues, now several jobs and cities removed, but with whom I still connect each year at Heckerling. I missed meeting attorneys who are new to the conference and new to estate planning, whose eagerness to learn is evident as they stop by the booth to chat.
I missed our InterActive Legal team, my dear colleagues, many of whom I only see once a year in normal circumstances. As I spoke with them last week, to regroup and debrief on the conference, it became clear to me that the thing all of us missed the most was getting to see and talk to our subscribers. I do not think any of us realized before how lucky we are to be able to do that each year. As a technology company delivering service remotely to firms across the country, we don't often have the need or the opportunity to interact with our subscribers in person. Our team has always enjoyed Heckerling for that reason; it is nice to put a face with a name, to share a laugh, coffee, or even a meal, to have the time to really engage in conversation on the topics discussed in the lectures, and to learn what we can do to enhance our services and provide more value. However, I did not understand until now that it is a gift, and a rare one in the technology business, to be able to make that personal connection.
This is the outcome of my reflections: Despite the silver lining I was able to find in the virtual conference, I look forward to the day when the clouds part, and we can meet again in sunny Orlando next January. Until then, I speak for all of us at InterActive Legal in saying to you, our subscribers, that we miss and appreciate you, and can't wait to see you soon.
Meet Vanessa L. Kanaga, Esq., CEO, InterActive Legal
Vanessa Kanaga serves as CEO of InterActive Legal. Vanessa received her J.D. from Cornell Law School and holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Wichita State University, as well as an Advanced Professional Certificate from New York University School of Law. She is licensed in New York and Kansas, and currently lives in Arizona. Prior to joining InterActive Legal in 2013, Vanessa practiced in New York, at Milbank LLP and Moses & Singer LLP, and in Kansas, at Hinkle Law Firm, LLC. She has experience in a range of estate planning matters, including high net worth tax planning and asset protection planning.
In her role as CEO, Vanessa oversees strategic planning and development of InterActive Legal services and solutions, working with her valued colleagues to continuously provide reliable content and forward-thinking strategies to the estate planning and elder law attorneys who subscribe to InterActive Legal products. Vanessa also serves as the Moderator for the InterActive Legal Roundtable webinar series, fostering collegial discussion among a group of expert panelists on trending topics in estate planning.