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Aug. 16, 2021

Biggest consumer lawyers confab is back, with changes

Masks, social distancing ribbons, fewer parties, COVID requirements and a new venue await 2,500 expected attendees at the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles convention in Las Vegas over Labor Day weekend.

The country’s largest trial lawyers convention, hosted by the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles, will be back in Las Vegas this Labor Day weekend after last year’s event was canceled due to the pandemic.

The gathering will feature a new venue, The Bellagio Resort & Casino; changes in party arrangements including a private party and tour of Allegiant Stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders; mask requirements and social distancing ribbons.

Genie E. Harrison, who heads her own firm in Los Angeles, is president of the organization known as CAALA, and said the 2,500 expected attendees will enjoy the same standard of fun, relaxation, networking and legal education as in previous years, but with protocols in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 infections.

“As everyone is aware, Clark County has a mask mandate,” Harrison said. “That mandate is being enforced by the casinos, including the Bellagio, and our convention has a mask mandate.”

“In addition, we’re also using CLEAR’s Health Pass, and attendees are required to upload their vaccine documentation or alternatively they may upload a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the convention,” she said. “If people are not comfortable uploading their documentation, they may bring the documentation with them.”

Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the convention area. And a ribbon system will allow attendees to signal on their name badges what level of physical proximity they are comfortable with.

“These are people who know each other, many of them, so people are going to want to shake hands or what have you,” Harrison explained. “So we thought that we should have a physical, visual marker that will just simply indicate to others how comfortable people are with physical proximity.”

“We’re doing absolutely everything we can to keep people safe,” Harrison added.

Following last year’s cancellation CAALA received feedback from its members regarding the importance of having this year’s event and for it to be in person, Harrison said.

The expected number of attendees is about the same as the 2019 convention, and has had fewer than 100 cancellations, Stuart A. Zanville, the association’s executive director said.

Zanville added the association decided to change the venue for the convention, which is celebrating its 38th year, to keep things fresh. The event had been held at the Wynn and Encore Las Vegas for five years previously. It will go back there after two conventions at the Bellagio, he said.

Networking events include a welcome back party with live music, cocktails and food stations; a poolside brunch; and a private stadium experience at Allegiant Stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders. The stadium experience includes a party above the football field and a behind the scenes tour of the Raiders’ locker room.

In addition to CAALA festivities some law firms will be hosting private events and cocktail receptions. Others who did so in the past won’t this year. Panish Shea & Boyle LLP was planning to host a cocktail reception on Sept. 2, but notified its guests last week the firm had decided to postpone the event due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases and Nevada’s COVID restrictions.

The convention party that was one of the most sought-after invitations was hosted for years by Thomas V. Girardi, who is facing disbarment, bankruptcy proceedings and investigations into charges he bilked clients out of their settlements. It could not be immediately determined if he will attend, though he was recently seen at an American Board of Trial Advocates event.

Attendees of CAALA Las Vegas 2021 will have more than 20 educational panel sessions to choose from with the opportunity to earn up to 16.5 hours of continuing education credits including specialty credits such as ethics and elimination of bias.

Registration for the event is still open on CAALA’s website.

Another convention that is set to be held in person is the Association of Business Trial Lawyers’ 47th Annual Seminar in Hawaii Oct. 20-24 at the Mauna Lani resort on the main island.

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Kamila Knaudt

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