Nine Things I Learned from Running Counselwell Summit 2022

May 18, 2022

On May 11-12, we ran our first conference for in-house lawyers, entitled Counselwell Summit 2022 (we're working on the name still). After collecting feedback from 30+ people, we have 9 take-aways:

1. People really, really liked this event. 

Here are some testimonials:

"The Counselwell Summit was fantastic - equal parts informative, engaging and thoughtful. There was a great balance of substantive content, practical advice and networking, and I am coming away with some really interesting new perspectives. Highly recommended for any in house lawyer looking to improve themselves or to broaden their network." - Stefano Taucer, Deputy GC, OraSure Technologies

"Very creative approach and a totally unique virtual conference experience. Haven't seen anything like it over the course of 2 years into the pandemic." - Dan Chapman, Legal Counsel, Commercial Real Estate at Skyline Group of Companies

"Very well planned and executed event, with lots of fun moments to connect and network with people! Enjoyed the conference, learned a lot, and thanks to Counselwell from bringing the in-house and associated community together!" - Dhairya Patel, Legal Counsel at League 

2. Games are fun within moderation.

We enlisted the help of TriplePlay to run a 30 minute Trivia game on Day 1 and a 60 minute CodeWords game on Day 2. We had a blast (proof below) and gave away lots of gift cards and two grand prizes (AirPods Pro and a Herman Miller office chair). This was a great way to break up the day and most people enjoyed. However, most people did not attend and of those who did, some felt that it was a bit too long. For next event we'll shorten the game time relative to the substantive portion of the event. 

3. It's time to explore a membership model.

Currently, we have a pay-per-product model for all of our paid products and services. We polled attendees and asked if they would consider paying a flat rate annual membership fee that would give them access to: multiple live and virtual events across Canada; on-demand and live training content; bi-weekly newsletter with substantive legal updates covering a variety of practice areas, as well as industry news, other events, etc.; free job postings; a precedent bank; and exclusive surveys (e.g. in-house compensation).

We were excited to discover that 92% of in-house lawyers polled are interested in becoming a Counselwell Member! Our goal is to introduce a membership model in 2023. If you have any suggestions, feedback, or want to participate in any way, please reach out to me at [email protected]

4. Invest in live events.

Nearly 50% of respondents said they would have preferred an in-person event. Most of us are tired of looking at the screen! Going forward, our plan is to run large events in person (with the option to watch the live-stream), and smaller, ad-hoc events virtually or in-person where appropriate. 

We were pleased to see that 100% of those polled are interested in returning for our next event (as long as there is an option to watch the live-stream)!

5. Let people pee. 

We had so much great content packed into two afternoons and there was only one scheduled 10 minute break on one of the days. Not cool. 41% of respondents indicated that they would have liked more breaks.

6. Allow more time for networking.

We ran Zoom breakout rooms for 15 minutes on both days. For each day we gave attendees a prompt to help them connect ((1) "Would you rather live without music or live without tv?" and (2) "Would you rather be stranded on an island alone or with the person you hate the most?"). We split people up into breakout rooms of 2-4 each and then shuffled the rooms a few minutes later. While this provided for some networking, over 55% of respondents indicated that they would have liked more time for networking. We earned an average 3.4/5 rating for the networking portion of the conference. Next time we will provide more time for meaningful interaction!

7. Continue building relationships with great sponsors.

A significant portion of event revenue (62%) came from our 9 sponsors (Presenting -; Platinum - MinuteBox; Gold - Wildeboer Dellelce LLP, RICOH, Alexa Translations, and ALT Recruitment Partners; Silver - Torys LLP, Goodmans LLP, Koho Consulting). We thank them again for their sponsorship and hope to continue building our relationship with them as we produce more events.

8. Don't save Zoom sessions locally.

When we ended the conference I realized that none of the recordings were saved to my computer! After some panicking I realized that the recordings were saved to each presenter's computer instead of my computer as the event organizer, which is strange. For next virtual session, we will choose cloud recording.

9. Continue focusing on curating great content.

We ran 19 sessions throughout the event, led by amazing presenters. Every single session was rated on average higher than 4/5. We're going to continue offering great content tailored to in-house lawyers.


Missed the event? You can access the recordings on-demand for 60 days (includes 5.25 CPD hours) by clicking here.