American Bar Association / ABA, Conferences / Symposia, White-Collar Crime

The White-Collar World: A Tale of Two Conferences

It’s tricky to be a lawyer these days.

You have to get clients. You have to know how to help them with their legal needs.

You have to know the law, and know how to work appropriately with other lawyers (the ones who have interests aligned with your clients, adverse to your clients, and in that funny other space where you aren’t really sure yet).

And, at some point in your career, you also have to figure out how to get someone to pay you for doing this work for your clients.

If you’re trying to build a white-collar practice, it can be daunting to figure out how to do these things. Happily, there are a few places that can help (with the knowing the law, helping clients with their legal needs, and knowing how to work with other lawyers problems – the getting clients and getting paid problems less so).

Perhaps you also have a strong pressing need to go out of town where you can have all the fun of both missing your family and increasing the chance that you’ll be attacked by bedbugs.

If so, you’re in luck! The white-collar world has not one, but two great conferences (and one of them is coming up soon).

My take on which are the must-attend conferences of the white-collar world is after the jump.

First, the American Bar Association’s White Collar Crime Conference is coming up in March. This year, it’s back in Miami (last year it was in Las Vegas, causing a slump in attendance from East Coast folk (including me) unwilling to accept some seriously lousy flight options).

The ABA conference is normally pretty close to the main event in the white-collar conference world. It’s been going on for 27 years, and draws a broad cross-section of the white-collar bar, from former federal prosecutors in private practice to federal prosecutors thinking about going into private practice. This year, there are also a few former federal prosecutors who are now judges coming to speak. It’s a diverse group.

The program in Miami has talks on much of the bread and butter white-collar work, from health care fraud to securities fraud. And, of course, there will be a session on sentencing in white-collar cases.

Though, of course, I’m going to the conference with a few other folks from my firm, as you might suspect from this description, I tend to think that the Miami conference is a little government focused.

Happily, the conference in Miami will address one question that simply cannot get enough attention — why, five years after the financial crisis (which is the statute of limitations for most federal offenses), there haven’t been any major boardroom prosecutions. I’m looking forward to hearing exactly the same things that others have said in the past, but said either with a more thoughtful or vitriolic tone. The surprise is killing me!

If your tastes run more defense-sympathetic, yet you still find yourself interested in learning more about the white-collar world, Abbe Lowell has been putting on a great conference every fall on white-collar issues through the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. (the link is not yet up on the NACDL webpage, but it’s normally a September/October thing).

Sadly, the conference is not in a vacation hotspot (unless you’re from Iowa and think New York or Washington, DC is a vacation hotspot), but it is a great event for folks on the defense side in white-collar cases.

At the NACDL event, which is, of course, an association of criminal defense lawyers and not a group open to all lawyers — like the ABA — there are no prosecutors in the audience. At the last one, the closest we came to a prosecutor was when White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler came to have a visit with Abbe Lowell about her view of the white-collar world.

In general, the focus of the NACDL event is on how to protect and defend clients. It’s refreshing that you can talk about how bad it is when your client goes to prison. There’s generally some discussion of sentencing strategy, but a whole lot more on how to litigate cases and stand up to the government rather. With, of course, a white-collar focus.

If you’re looking to break into the practice of white-collar defense work, these are both great conferences.

And, of course, it’s not too late to register for the ABA conference in Miami.

Matt Kaiser is a partner at The Kaiser Law Firm PLLC, a boutique litigation firm in Washington DC, which handles government investigations, white-collar criminal cases, federal criminal appeals, and complex civil litigation. You can reach him by email at mattkaiser@thekaiserlawfirm, and you can follow him on Twitter: @mattkaiser.

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