This is a strange moment. As I have written before, the pandemic has not changed my daily habits much. I still come to the office everyday (well, I took a vacation in July, but that does not count as "telecommuting" does it?). Things are different in so many ways, but work also remains the same in so many ways. There are petitions filed, disputes, disagreements, and the need for resolutions. We are continuing forward with results, though the paths and processes have evolved.
Usually August brings a push of activity related to the annual workers' compensation conference. It is labelled as such because that description, "the conference" is sufficient. You do not have to add "in Orlando," or "in August," or "WCI." The fact is, in our community of workers' compensation everyone knows when and where "the" workers' compensation conference is. And, for most it is an annual event attended without question. I ran into a retired attorney there several years ago and questioned "why are you here?" The reply: "it's August, this is where you come in August."
What drives the conference? Some would say that it is the continuing education. Last August, I was awarded 10 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit by The Florida Bar for attending. There were more hours than that available. But, I spend a fair amount of time each August coordinating meetings, answering questions, and being accessible to this little community of ours. That interaction, and the learning itself is always one of the highlights of my year.
But, about five years ago, it became more important to me. Before that, Jim McConnaughhay had begun the "service day" activity at Give Kids the World (GKTW), appurtenant to the conference. I was juggling kids, college starts, and more. Judge John Lazzara had encouraged me to find a way to come to Orlando two days early and participate at GKTW, but that was a challenge. I demurred as persistently as he pushed. Then, about five years ago, I found the time. It was inspiring, uplifting, and emotional.
Give Kids the World is perhaps an adjunct to the more famous "Make A Wish" movement that uplifts kids suffering debilitating challenges. I have written about them before, see Pre-Conference Thoughts at WCI, The Man or Woman in the Glass, Some 2018 Comp Laude Honorees, and Give Kids the World - Our Community. The bottom line is that GKTW makes things easy for a huge number of kids in need. The act of working at Give Kids the World is fantastic. The sense of community is compelling, and the chance to participate has made The Annual Workers' Compensation Conference better, bigger, and more fulfilling. As a bonus, I have met many great people there.
But not in 2020. Alas, I will not be in Orlando this August. I will think about it, lament it, and regret it. But I will not be there. It is not that there will not be The Annual Workers' Compensation Conference, see Nothing is Over until we Decide it is! No, there will be a conference, it is just that we will all be tuning in for it from across the globe. But, there will be no handshakes or hugs. There will be no chance to happen upon old acquaintances, renew connections, or be reminded of the great members in our community. It will be, like most of 2020, more isolated and perhaps lonely.
That said, there will be lots of opportunity for education. The WCI has posted the agenda for August 2020, labelled the WCIvirtual August 17-19. Registration is a whopping FREE! You got that right, no charge for a great agenda of programming that includes Kimberly and Mark, Franco and Sanderson, A Florida case law update, two multistate reviews of claims handling, a live surgery, an overview of the AMA Guides, and more on first responder presumptions. It is a weighty and substantial program. Did I mention it is free?
The program has been approved by The Florida Bar for 17 hours of CLE credit. That is half of the 33 hours of general credit required each three-year reporting cycle! That is about 20% of the Board Certification CLE required each four-year reporting cycle! It is a diverse and detailed program with dynamic and interesting speakers. And, did I mention that it is free?
It is not just for attorneys. The Florida Department of Financial Services has approved the WCIvirtual for: CE 3-24c - Adjuster Optional: 1 hour; Industry Keynote; CE 3-24a - Adjuster Law and Policy: 8 hours; and CE 5-620 - Law and Ethics Update – Adjuster: 5 hours. An smorgasbord of ideas and updates. And, as I mentioned, the price is right!
There are also credits available at this time in Georgia and Mississippi. Credits have been applied for in Texas, North Carolina, and Louisiana. Visit the website for details. You, of course, can apply for credits personally in any state. In a year of financial concerns, travel restrictions, and more, shouldn't you take advantage of this and join us for at least some of these outstanding programs?
No, there is no trip to Orlando this August. That is a let down. But there is great education available remotely. This is not an opportunity to pass up. I registered weeks ago, and look forward to the chance to soak up some knowledge and remain current on what is impacting our community. But, I will be back in person in 2021 to turn a shovel, push a broom, carry some mulch or whatever they need me to do at Give Kids the World. I look forward to being back in person, in the moment, and the community. I will see you there.
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Disclaimer: WorkersCompensation.com publishes independently generated writings from a variety of workers' compensation industry stakeholders. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of WorkersCompensation.com.