Friday, January 15, 2016

Get Ready for February! Free Seminar!

There is still time to register for the free WCI/OJCC seminar in Tallahassee next month: February 18, 2016 at the Florida First District Court of Appeal. 

In a procession, the great events of workers’ compensation education pass us throughout the year. Conferences and conventions have been around almost as long as the concept of workers’ compensation. As floats in a parade, some are large and imposing while others are more austere. Some seem bright and alive while others could perhaps use a fresh coat of paint. Some are driven by profit and others not so much.

For some reason many of the conferences and conventions gravitate to summer. Some, like the American Bar Association (ABA) mid-year meeting and College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyer induction dinner actually push the season a bit, gathering in March. WCRI has a major program in March, and NCCI usually in May. To enjoy WCRI you have to brave the cold of Boston, for NCCI sunny Florida is more likely. But leading the parade in Florida each year is the OJCC program at the Florida First District Court of Appeal. This one-day program is by far the best value for your education dollar. Our program is free!

A very few other programs dot the landscape later in the spring. There is the Workers’ Compensation Institute Spring Forum, and The Florida Bar Forum, usually in April. But until school is out, that is about it. These few are the precursors though and they often set the stage for what hot topics take center stage. 

June starts the season in earnest. Florida sees the Workers’ Compensation Claims Professionals (WCCP) in Naples. The Florida Workers’ Advocates (WCA) gather in Orlando, and various state conferences are held across the country, including Tennessee. The SEAK conference occurs in Hyannis each June. By then, a trip north is not as challenging as it would be in winter. 

July brings the Florida Association of Self-Insureds, at the Ritz Carlton in Naples. The Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) gathers each July for its Annual Convention. SAWCA events are national, with an admittedly southern exposure. In 2016 SAWCA will be at the Grand Sandestin, among the most beautiful beaches in the world. 

August ups-the-ante, with the Workers’ Compensation Institute (WCI) in Orlando, a perennial event of amazing breadth and depth. This is simply the largest conference of its kind in the nation. In conjunction with the WCI, the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judges (NAWCJ) conducts its annual Judicial College. Likewise, SAWCA conducts a Regulator College and the unparalleled Regulator’s Roundtable for workers’ compensation. Occasionally imitated, but never duplicated, the Roundtable is a must-see. Georgia then brings closure to the "main-event" summer season with its state conference the last week of August. 

September brings respite and pause. There is a brief interval in the parade, which allows us in the audience to reflect on all that has been presented. September evolves to October as we capitalize on this chance to reflect. 

November brings the National Workers’ Compensation Conference in Las Vegas. I have never been, but have heard a great deal about it. It boasts diversity and complexity on its program. SAWCA gathers again in November for its All Committee Conference. Without the hoopla of big ballrooms and keynotes, this platform affords opportunities for quiet conversations and reflection on comp specifics. 

The year is capped by Comp Laude program in early December, sponsored by WorkCompCentral. Another event I have never attended, but about which I also hear great things. It is on my bucket list for one of these years. But then in the winter of our workers’ compensation content or discontent, we return to the office, prepare for the long legislative sessions, state budget issues, business plans, strategic plans, and more. How will we apply the volumes of knowledge accumulated through the year? 

And soon the year starts again. Not the identical parade each year, but each year brings similarities. There will be beaches, mountains, keynotes, breakouts, lunches, dinners, conversations, revelations, consternation, inspiration and more. 

The floats in this parade are all different. Some more personally appealing than others, but each has its own appeal. We all understand that there is likely just not enough time to attend the whole parade. We come and we go. We meet and we mingle. We listen and digest. We learn and reflect, and grow as we do. 

I am often asked which is my favorite, but that is an unfair question. They are different. They each seem to me to offer something that is of value to agencies, to experts, to novices, to leaders, to followers. Now, in January, let’s reflect on what we all learned last year. Let’s think about what we can do to bring positive change to this thing we call workers’ compensation. After all, that is the point of our collaboration and discussion.

And, we look forward to seeing you in Tallahassee February 19, 2016 for the free continuing education program sponsored by the Florida OJCC and WCI. We are fortunate to have the use of the Court's facilities, the support of WCI, the support team at Resource Managers Inc., and a fantastic committee of organizers, Judges Anderson, Dietz, Humphries, and Lazzara. They have organized a great program to kick-off the 2016 season. Information on the program and registration is here.

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