COSA School Law Practice Seminar

October 22-24, 2020 | Seattle, Washington 

COSA is seeking creative and engaging speakers for its 2020 School Law Practice Seminar to be held October 22 – 24 in Seattle, Washington. We are always looking to expand both the topics and speakers at this seminar. See below for a list of suggested topics. However, we encourage you to submit a proposal on any topic that you have extensive experience with and can provide in-depth materials and discussion. Our most highly-rated speakers are also engaging and encourage active audience participation.  

Responses to frequently asked questions are below. 

Call for Proposals

  • School Law Seminar Audience

    The School Law Practice Seminar attracts more than 200 school attorneys from the U.S. and Canada. These attorneys are employed by firms, school districts, and state school boards associations. They are an engaged, energetic, and informed audience with important questions and examples to share from their practices. For the most part, our attendees have many years of experience in the school law field. They are looking for in-depth materials and discussion, not an introduction to your subject. Our most highly rated speakers are engaging, have extensive knowledge of their subject areas, and encourage active audience participation. 
  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credit

    COSA applies for CLE credit in all states with a mandatory CLE requirement. This seminar will offer at least one hour of ethics credit and 10-12 hours of CLE in total.
  • Program Format

    Although the program format is subject to change based on the proposals received, space and time have been set aside for general (entire seminar audience) and concurrent (break-out) sessions. Concurrent sessions will offer in depth experiences for 50-150 participants. These sessions ideally are held in more of a “workshop” format rather than a lecture format. All presentations should be designed to involve participants in a meaningful way.
  • Required Materials

    Because COSA seeks approval of our seminar for CLE credit, all sessions must be supported by substantive materials with legal references. COSA requires a presentation paper as well as a visual presentation such as a PowerPoint slide deck. If your proposal is accepted, papers will be due in late June/early July, and visual presentations will be due in early August. Your materials must be submitted in final, edited, and proofed form. We will not do significant editing or proofreading before publication. COSA reserves the right to withdraw an invitation to present at the 2020 School Law Practice Seminar if materials are not received in a timely fashion or are inappropriate for publication.
  • Event Registration

    COSA offers one complimentary registration and one complimentary hotel night per session. Additional presenters who wish to attend the seminar will be required to register and cover their individual travel expenses.
  • Submission Alternatives

    In lieu of a formal proposal, you may submit a resume listing areas of expertise, prior speaking experience, and references. Speaker resumes may be used by the committee to fill speaking slots at the School Law Practice Seminar and will be retained by COSA. Future seminar committees and COSA staff may refer to resumes to fill other speaking opportunities.

    If you would like to be considered in this manner, please send your speaking resume to Cheryl Richardson at
  • Proposal and Speaker Approval Process

    Please use the Session Proposal form to submit a proposal for a specific session.

    All proposals/resumes received by Friday, March 6, 2020 will be evaluated by the seminar planning committee. Each firm or organization may submit up to three (3) proposals. The committee will make every effort to contact invited presenters by April 2020.

    You may submit a short video, but please do not submit audio tapes or materials of an extensive length with your proposal, as the selection committee will not be able to review them. If you intend to submit a video, please notify Cheryl Richardson at prior to submission.

    The committee vets speakers with state school boards associations, and gives preference to speakers with significant success presenting to attorneys at the state and/or national level. However, new speakers are encouraged to submit a proposal. The committee is always looking for new dynamic and engaging speakers to include in the program. New speakers, please provide a reference to serve as an endorsement of your presentation skills. 

    The committee vets speakers with state school boards associations, and gives preference to speakers with significant success presenting to attorneys at the state and/or national level.

    However, new speakers are encouraged to submit a proposal. The Committee is always looking for new dynamic and engaging speakers to include in the program. New speakers, please provide a reference to serve as an endorsement of your presentation skills.

  • Topics

    The Seminar Committee encourages proposals for sessions that address current and relevant school law issues in an in-depth and interactive manner. Please submit proposals on topics that you know well, and have experience addressing with school board clients, even if the topic does not appear on the lists below. We are open to any topic that is of interest and current relevance to public schools.

    Here is an example of a list of proposed topics for this year’s Seminar. Note: This list is not exhaustive; rather, we encourage you to submit a proposal for one of these topics or others that you believe would be relevant and timely for school attorneys:

    1. Prescription Drug Use, Cannabis and Vaping in Schools
      1. Employee
      2. Student
    2. School Operations
      1. Video and Audio Recording on Campus
      2. Media Access to livestream Board Meetings versus Athletic Events
    3. School Security
      1. Arming Teachers
      2. Weapons searches and weapon sniffing dogs
      3. No Trespass and Protective Orders
    4. Transgender student issues relating to
      1. First Amendment Rights of Faculty
      2. Updates from the Supreme Court and state cases
      3. Participation in interscholastic sports
      4. Modifying records
    5. Student Discipline issues relating to:
      1. Use of social media off campus
      2. Appropriate discipline standards for Title IX and related matters
    6. Data privacy issues relating to:
      1. School boards’ ability to access student information;
      2. Teacher privacy (i.e. Board members asking for personnel files); or
    7. FERPA
      1. Records requests for Employee and Student Email
    8. New Title IX regulations, if applicable
      1. How to conduct an objective/neutral investigation
    9. School board governance relating to:
      1. Board Governance: Making decisions that fit the scope of the Board responsibility
    10. Special Education
      1. Student mental health
      2. IDEA Reauthorization
  • Tips for Effective Presentations

    • Be enthusiastic and let your passion for the subject shine through.
      • Smile and make eye contact with your audience.
    • Focus on the audience’s needs.
      • Always bear in mind what the audience needs and wants to know, not what you can tell them.
      • Make it easy for the audience to understand and respond.
      • Keep in mind the key points your audience should take away.
      • Avoid jargon if you can.
    • Start strong. Grab your audience’s attention and hold it.
      • Start by entertaining them with a story or an attention-grabbing (but useful) image on a slide.
    • Apply key rules for slide shows.
      • Slides should be the sideshow to you.
      • Use a font size of no less than 30 point.
      • Don’t read from the slides.
      • Fewer slides are better. 
    • Tell stories.
      • Using stories is more engaging to the audience and therefore, they are more likely to remember your points afterward.
    • Use your voice effectively.
      • Vary the speed at which you talk and emphasize changes in pitch and tone. This makes your voice more interesting and holds the audience’s attention.
    • Use your body too.
      • Make your gestures open and confident, and move naturally around the stage, and among the audience too. 

    Some Ideas for Effectively Engaging the Audience:

    • Turn your presentation into a conversation.
      • E.g., “I know there are 3 questions you’ve got about my topic. I’m going to tell you about . . . “
      • Ask rhetorical questions, asking the audience to respond with a show of hands.
    • Turn to the person next to you and give them your 30 second elevator speech, best argument, etc.
    • Present a scenario (A vs. B) and ask your audience for the best argument for A and then the best argument for B or the best rebuttal to A’s argument.

    Final Thoughts:

     Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be during your presentation.

    For more information, check out this link which includes some tips that provided to TED Talk speakers. 

    Adapted from

  • Evaluation Criteria

    The Committee will evaluate proposals and speaker resumes based on the following criteria:

    • Presenter demonstrates how the session will involve audience participation (discussion, Q&A, small group work, etc.)
    • Presenter demonstrates creativity and innovation in both the format and the content of the session
    • Topic is of high interest and relevance to school attorneys and addresses the needs of the experienced school law practitioner or the attorney new to the practice
    • Presenter provides references for prior speaking experience. The Committee will give preference to speakers with strong references from his or her state school boards association.
    • Proposal gives a clear, concise picture of what the session will include. 
    • Session objectives are clear and can be met realistically in the time allowed.
    • Presentation will provide solid, practical “how-to” information such as a sample policy or procedural check list.
    • Program is not wholly based on state law, but is national in scope.

Schedule at a Glance

9:00 a.m.  - 1:30 p.m. Work-Alike Luncheon Meeting, State Association Counsel*
9:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Work-Alike Luncheon Meeting, In House Counsel*
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Early Bird Workshops
  #1 Students
  #2 Labor & Employment
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Early Bird Workshops
  #1 Students
  #2 Labor & Employment
4:00 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Refreshments & Networking
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Opening General Session
7:00 p.m. COSA Dine Around Seattle
  *Separate registration required
7:30 a.m. -  8:15 a.m. Breakfast Discussion
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. General Session
9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. General Session
11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. General Session
12:45 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Lunch Discussion Forum*
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Concurrent Session
  Topic #1
  Topic #2
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Concurrent Session
  Topic #1
  Topic #2
4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Concurrent Session
  Topic #1
  Topic #2
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. School Law Practice Reception

*Separate registration required

7:30 a.m. - 8:15 a.m.  Committee Breakfast Meetings 
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.  General Session
9:45 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. General Session
 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. General Session