ELA's First "Hybrid" Annual Conference a Success!

2021 Conf image hotel Zoom jpeg

67th Annual Conference was held October 20-23, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas and virtually

This year ELA held its first "hybrid" event, in-person in San Antonio, Texas, and online. Virtual participants viewed featured programming synchronously and recordings of other sessions. Check out the 2021 program!  

The purpose of ELA's popular Annual Conference is to present scholarship, training, interdisciplinary dialogue, and opportunities for networking for attorneys, scholars, and educational practitioners. The gathering attracts attorneys, professors, education leaders, graduate and law students, teachers, public officials, consultants, and others from the worlds of PreK-12 and higher education; public, private, and charter; colleges of education and law schools; plaintiff- and defense-side; and labor and management. It's an extraordinarily welcoming gathering, with the richness of programming ELA's diversity makes possible.  


This year's Annual Conference featured four keynote sessions:

  • A discussion of the history, legacy, and future of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision in San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez, featuring Patty Rodriguez, teacher at Edgewood ISD and daughter of named plaintiff Demetrio Rodriguez; South San Antonio ISD Superintendent Marc Puig; University of Virginia Professor or Law and Professor of Education Kimberly Robinson; and University of South Carolina Professor of Law Derek Black;
  • A update on civil rights in education by Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, head of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and the Chief of the Educational Opportunities Section of that Division, Shaheena Simons;
  • A discussion of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in NCAA v. Alston and other recent and potential legal developments related to collegiate athletics, featuring sports law and university attorney and former NCAA football coach Andrew Rhoden of the Stewart Law Group in Dallas, University of Kentucky General Counsel William Thro, and Superintendent of Wayland Public Schools in Massachusetts and former National Football League player Omar X. Easy.
  • Our annual Supreme Court Update, delivered again this year by Mark Walsh, education law reporter for Education Week, SCOTUSblog, and the American Bar Association's ABA Journal.


ELA's Annual Conference always features an array of general and featured panel discussions, concurrent paper sessions, round tables, and poster sessions, on a range of substantive topics as well as on the teaching, study, and practice of education law. The basic schedule this year was:

  • Wed., Oct. 20: Preconferences (in-person); Special Welcome to First-Time Attendees and Students (synchronous) Welcome Reception (in-person)
  • Thurs., Oct. 21: Featured Panels (synchronous); Concurrent Paper Sessions (in-person, also prerecorded); General Session on Rodriguez (synchronous); Poster Sessions (in-person, also prerecorded) and Reception (in-person; Dinner Dine-arounds
  • Fri., Oct. 22: Featured Panels (synchronous); Concurrent Paper Sessions (in-person, also prerecorded); General Sessions on U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Update, ELA Awards, and NCAA v. Alston (all synchronous)
  • Sat., Oct. 23: Round Table Discussions (in-person); ELA Business Meeting (synchronous); U.S. Supreme Court Update (synchronous)

The eight Featured Panels, held synchronously for virtual attendees, discussed:

  • Social Justice and Education Law
  • Hot Topics on the First Amendment's Religion Clauses
  • Hot Topics in School Finance Litigation
  • Hot Topics in the Law of School Safety
  • Hot Topics in Charter School Law
  • Hot Topics in Higher Education Law
  • Hot Topics in K-12 Education Law
  • Hot Topics in Special Education Law

In addition, ELA's conference provided ample opportunities for networking, socializing, small discussions about shared interests, special opportunities for students and for first-time attendees, and recognition for excellence in the field through the bestowing of ELA's five annual awards on Friday.


In addition to the PDF of the program schedule above, attorney attendees can obtain other documentation to enable them to self-apply for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit using certificates of attendance and other forms typically available from their own state bars (again, ELA did not apply directly to state bars for preapproval). We recommend that attendees who did not already use the "My Agenda" feature on the Whova conference app note down which sessions they attended while their memory still is fresh. For state bars that require papers or annotated outlines, these are available on Whova with the session recording. ELA also can provide certificates of attendance for school employees to self-apply for professional development credit. 


ELA offers stand-alone preconferences, deeper dives available for a separate fee that can be taken in addition to, or without registering for, the rest of the conference. This year's lineup was:

  • Education Law Workshop for Texas School Administrators and Educators (full-day: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm)
  • Ethics in the Practice of Education Law (ethics CLE for attorneys) (half-day: 1:30 - 4:30 pm)
  • Unconscious Bias in the Legal Profession (ethics CLE for attorneys) (half-day: 8:30 - 11:30 am)
  • Best Practices and New Ideas in the Teaching of Education Law (half-day: 1:30 - 4:30 pm)
  • An Introduction to Education Law (both K-12 & Higher Education) (half-day: 1:30 - 4:30 pm)
  • Introduction to K-12 and Higher Education Law for Law and Graduate Students (half-day: 1:30 - 4:30 pm)


Registration fees this year were as follows:

  • In-person member attendance (non-student): $350
  • Virtual member attendance (non-student): $200
    • Discount off above prices for ELA members attending their first ELA conference as a non-student: -$50
  • Student in-person attendance: $150 (includes 12 months of student membership in ELA)
  • Student virtual attendance: $100 (includes 12 months of student membership in ELA)
  • Non-member in-person: $550
  • Non-member virtual: $350

To learn about ELA memberships and to join, click here.

This year's preconferences all were priced at $50, except for the all-day Education Law Workshop for Texas School Administrators, which was $100. 


We again used Whova as our conference app this year, not only for virtual participants but also for in-person attendees. Registrants may view recordings of sessions, including the synchronous programming, for six months after the conclusion of the conference, so through April 23, 2022.


ELA's next annual conference will be held Nov. 2-5, 2022, at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace in Florida's Disney Springs area.

We look forward to seeing you next year!