This blog post was written by Brice Duffy, manager of Information Systems at Mackall Crounse & Moore, PLC; Minneapolis city representative and Emerging Technologies Steering Committee member for ILTA

In preparation for the upcoming International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) annual conference, Minnesota-based ILTA members met in Minneapolis last week to share some insights and pointers for those who will be attending, whether it is for the first time or as a seasoned veteran.

The annual conference is a peer networking opportunity for legal technology professionals and continues to be one of the largest legal technology conferences each year. Attendees include IT personnel, CIOs, CTOs and a wide range of other legal professionals and technology experts.

With ILTA 2013 offering nearly 200 sessions, countless demo suites, an expansive show floor and networking opportunities in abundance, it is difficult to even plan out your schedule. Below are some tips gleaned from veteran conference attendees that will hopefully make your experience more enjoyable and productive.

Don’t spend the entire conference in a session room. While there is a wealth of information in the session rooms, don’t fill up every minute sitting in them. If there is an hour or two where you don’t see a session that interests you, spend it in the exhibit hall or a demo room.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There will be an Ask ILTA booth near the registration desk. Also look to ILTA volunteers like city reps and peer group members, who will have volunteer ribbons on the bottom of their name tags.

Double and triple book yourself. There may be a session you really want to attend, but chances are it will be a very popular session. If the session is full, have a second and sometimes a third option. This will save you time reviewing the schedule.

Download the ILTA conference app for smartphones and tablets. The conference app provides a wealth of information including the session list, room numbers, vendor demo rooms and a calendar to build your agenda – and you can even fill out your session evaluations through the app. There is also an interactive exhibit hall map and a directory of all conference attendees.

Plan to attend the conference orientation meeting on Sunday night. Here you will be introduced to the conference co-chairs, meet other attendees and have some questions answered.

It is perfectly fine to leave a session early. A session may not match the actual presentation and it is fine to leave and attend a different session.

Leave the MiFi card in your room. They won’t work in session rooms and there will be separate Wi-Fi access for your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Take a stack of business cards. This may seem like a no-brainier, but I have been to enough events where co-workers forget them. Vendors will ask for your card and so will your new friends.

Take preprinted shipping labels. You will likely collect a lot of materials from vendors and sessions. It is easier to ship them back than to pack them and keep your luggage under the airline weight limits. Plus you can ship back your dirty laundry!

Treat your badge like cash. Your name badge gains you access to all of the sessions, meals and social events. If you leave it in your room you won’t get in to any sessions or the vendor hall.

Wear comfortable clothing. Most attendees will dress business casual, while others will dress up. Bring a sweater or light jacket in case the rooms are cold.

Most of all, enjoy the conference, have fun, learn a lot and meet new people. But expect to have sore feet by Thursday afternoon!

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