Distance Learning

Webinar Planning

Select a Topic

Select a topic for your event that would be of interest to your Practice Group (PG), Task Force (TF), Affinity Group (AG), specific audience such as young professionals, health care consumers, or to the health law industry globally, but impacts your audience in some substantive way. Pieces of legislation and regulations currently in the works or on the horizon and current trends in health law are great places to start for selecting a topic. 

Leaders should also consider whether a topic lends itself to a series of distance learning events. A series may be appropriate for a sequence of advanced topics, or may be appropriate where a new federal regulation or law involves areas that will impact different practice areas that would attract different listeners to different topics. 

For distance learning series, the topics for each individual session in the series should be determined prior to submission of information about the series to the Distance Learning Department staff. 

Select a Level of Difficulty

Consider whether the topic should be presented at a “beginner,” “intermediate,” or “advanced” level.  “Beginner” assumes the audience has no experience with the topic. “Intermediate” assumes the audience has worked within the topic’s area, and would spend a small portion of time presenting the basics of the topic and then delve deeper into the topic. “Advanced” assumes the audience routinely works with the topic and would only briefly touch on the basics of the topic if necessary to set the stage.  The vast majority of the session would be focused on the advanced subject within the topic’s area. 

Select a Format

There are several distance learning event formats available through which a group can share content with its members. Each, along with its description, is listed below.

  • Webinars - AHLA holds over 10 webinars each month on various topical areas to reach those distance learners looking to continue their learning between in-person programs.  Typically, webinars are 90-minute-long, live web-based seminars, planned by AHLA's Practice Group(s), Task Force(s), and/or Affinity Group(s). The presentation is followed by a Q&A session in which questions are submitted electronically to the presenters and the presenters answer them in real time during the event. Live webinars usually offer CLE credits and are paid events, with various discounts for AHLA members.  Webinars can take the following formats:
    • Bootcamp/Webinar Series – a sequential series of webinars that cover related subject matter (difficulty level varies). 
    • Brown Bag – a live web-based presentation that is typically held from Noon-1:00 pm Eastern and is presented in a virtual lunch and learn format format. The sessions include a diversity of speakers with a range of experience and perspective.
    • Roundtable Discussion – a live web-based presentation featuring an interactive discussion between the moderator and presenter(s), among the panelists, or between the presenter(s) and the audience through real‐time electronically submitted questions. 
    • Public Interest (PI) Webinar – webinar that features a discussion and Q&A with government officials, Congressional staff, and/or researchers on major health policy issues. The webinar format provides a convenient means through which AHLA members, health care providers, the press, and others can receive a quick orientation to a major policy issue without a major interruption in their busy work schedules.  PI webinars do not usually offer CLE credits. 
  • Educational Calls/Webinars – Practice Groups, Affinity Groups through their Practice Groups, and Task Forces offer live calls featuring guest speakers who present on a specific topic followed by the group's business-related discussion.  These calls are open exclusively to members of the corresponding group and are usually 60 minutes long.  No CLE credits are available for participation.

Select Date(s) 

Review the Distance Learning Planning Calendar and decide when your event or series will take place. For events that are built around specific pieces of legislation or regulations, the release date of said pieces usually dictate when the event will take place to some degree (i.e., close enough to the release of the legislation to be timely and relevant). For events of general interest, and even for events with time constraints dictated by regulatory release dates, please keep in mind the need to avoid holidays and to adhere to the appropriate marketing lead time requirements listed below.

  • Webinars and webinar series of general interest:  75 days in advance
  • Webinars on hot topics/late-breaking issues: 45 days in advance
  • Educational calls: no later than 45 days in advance 

For distance learning event series the dates should be selected to allow for eight weeks of marketing time prior to the FIRST DATE of the series.

Please contact the Distance Learning Department staff at DL@healthlawyers.org for available dates, then select the date and submit your event topic via email.

Select and Secure Speakers

Leaders should choose speakers who are knowledgeable and experienced in the distance learning event topic. Leaders can identify speakers in a variety of ways, including their own experience and knowledge of experts in a particular area or from information received from other members and volunteers who indicate an interest in speaking. Leaders should also consider including the opportunity in the monthly Call for Volunteers all-member email and post on the relevant discussion list(s) and other social media channels. If leaders are not familiar with a particular person’s speaking ability, they may request evaluations from past programs from AHLA.

Leaders should be sensitive to choosing speakers from diverse practice areas and backgrounds. They should avoid having all speakers from one law firm. Leaders also should strive to avoid repeat speakers without very good reason (such as a niche area where only a few individuals have the desired knowledge). If speakers are chosen from a particular industry segment perspective, leaders should consider whether a counter view should be presented for balance. Consideration should also be given to (1) including government speakers where relevant for a particular topic and (2) balancing new attorney talent with experienced presenters in selecting speakers, as the programs are good ways to identify good speakers for in-person programs.

Experience suggests that coordinating more than three speakers and one moderator is very difficult and distance learning events featuring more speakers tend not to be rated as highly. 

Collaborate with other AHLA Groups 

It is possible that the content of your distance learning event may be of overlapping interest to members of other Groups. While planning your event you should reach out to and collaborate with the leadership of other Groups whose membership may be interested in the topic area(s). Co-sponsoring Groups can aid in the planning of your event by helping to select topics, offering speaker suggestions and connections, and providing moderators for the event. Co-sponsoring PG members and/or other Groups (i.e., Young Professional Council, Women’s Leadership p Council) receive the same pricing discount on distance learning events as the sponsoring Group.

Another benefit of co-sponsorship is it allows for the marketing of your event to a broader audience which can increase registrations and participation.

Submit Your Webinar Topic

Submit your webinar elements to the Distance Learning staff via the online Webinar Submission Form. Once the staff receives all of the information, they will confirm the date(s) and begin the setup process (which an take up to 5 business days). Upon completion of setup, the program is ready to be marketed. 

Information for Speakers 

Please have the speakers review our Information for Speakers page which highlights their requirements, due dates, and helpful tips and links to resources that will make their experience as faculty, and that of the participants, both productive and enjoyable. Distance Learning Department staff will also send out call-in information for speakers ahead of the webinar.

Marketing the Event

Marketing staff will begin marketing the event upon completion of setup.  In general, marketing will include:

  • An initial dedicated email announcement
  • Inclusion in various general distance learning program marketing emails
  • Inclusion in AHLA Connections Magazine
  • Various social media posts
  • Other marketing as needed

Additionally, we ask that our leaders, speakers, and moderators help us market our distance learning programs by forwarding marketing emails to colleagues, liking/sharing/retweeting/posting social media posts, and generally outreach to their respective networks to ensure a well attended event.


Please also see Information for Speakers and our Frequently Asked Questions pages for more information.  Additionally, you can contact the Distance Learning Department staff at DL@healthlawyers.org