I’ll Be Home (be)for(e) Christmas

Honorable David Langham Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims

Sometimes you get to break the news. Sometimes you are the news. But, usually, you just read the news. The art of blogging requires some temporality. Current events are generally of more interest than yesterday’s news. By now, it is likely that you have noticed that the Workers’ Compensation Institute, postponed from “the year that wasn’t” will be in December 2021, an accommodation to the virus that persists. So, today I merely write some more on that rescheduling, which is perhaps old news. But, read on for detail.

Oh, as The King put it, “I’ll be home for Christmas” this December. That is a Christmas tune, and WCI will just precede – (be)for(e) – Christmas. By then, the whole world should be vaccinated, and our path to normalcy should be well established. I recently noted my exuberance at the opportunities for handshakes, interaction, and normalcy at the WCCP/Bar Forum, in We’re Really Back! Trust me, in December we will be really back, with a vengeance.

I have looked through the WCI2021 program (I am surprised how many do not realize yet that it has been published).

The best programming is pretty obvious. First, on Monday, December 13, 2021, Out Front Ideas with Kimberly and Mark will present the Industry Keynote from 10:00 to 11:30, immediately following the opening session. This panel will address “Does Our System Do Harm?” That is somewhat rhetorical if you think about it. Every system does harm, and good. Which it is doing, at any particular moment in time, is dependent largely upon your perspective. Put another way, whose ox is being gored?

Life has its ways. You may be a loser one day and the winner the next (or vice-versa). Carlos Santana captured that well in Winning (1981). He explained that “lady luck she was waiting outside the door” all along. Sometimes, you just have to open it. All systems have the potential to do good, and as long as that is true the inverse will be as likely. Joining this philosophical conversation is Michele Adams of Walmart, Max Koonce of Sedgwick, and Susan Shemanski of The Adecco Group. I cannot imagine a more diverse and dynamic set of experiences and perspectives on a single stage. And, if I did not mention, Kimberly and Mark! This is a must see.

The second program I recommend for the workers’ compensation nerd is the annual SAWCA Regulator Roundtable on Monday, December 13, 2021 at 2:00-4:30. This is always an eclectic group. One might validly say that the Roundtable is “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” There will be an assortment of regulators from across the country, unscripted and uninhibited. The program moderator, Melodie Belcher of Georgia, will guide them through an assortment of challenging aspects of American workers’ compensation. If you want to know how recent challenges have been met, or what the next challenge might be, this is the room to be in.

You have time just before that, Monday from 1:00 to 2:00 for the Injured Worker Inspiration Awards. This is a chance to come and hear about incredible challenges, dedicated care providers and heroic people. So many injured workers each year overcome odds and persevere. They have heart and dedication that is outstanding and impressive. Each year, the Florida Orthopedic Society honors one such instance. This is a great investment in your appreciation of how this system can do “good.”

Or, catch most of Dr. Brigham’s “Living Abled” presentation in the National Workers’ Compensation Review. This is a story of a physician, author, and recovering patient. It is about perseverance, faith, and inspiration. This will raise your spirits, but may make you a few minutes late to the Roundtable.

The third program that I highly recommend for your Tuesday is at 8:45. The Orlando Orthopedic Center Live Surgery will stream live. With one physician doing the lower extremity surgery and another live in the room to both narrate and address questions, this experience is absolutely unique and impressive. Certainly, the rest of Tuesday is replete with outstanding opportunities in the breakouts for adjusters, lawyers, physicians, and more. Of particular interest may be a series of return-to-work breakouts. After all, the “good” this system is supposed to do is restoration of function and return to work.

On Wednesday, the focus might change to multistate considerations, the operations of Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation, or the latest challenge for all businesses – Cybersecurity. For various reasons, the Cyber program is my recommendation. Too often, folks seem inclined to head home Wednesday. But, this year Wednesday provides in-depth coverage of cybersecurity, ransomware, government regulation and certification, and much more. I will preface and introduce an outstanding program beginning at 8:00 Wednesday – “Cybersecurity Risk Management for your Organization.”

This discussion will help you understand what cybersecurity is, and why it is critical to you, your business, and your success. Technology can do great things for your business and success, but (stealing from Kimberly and Mark, above) does technology do harm? Certainly, it can. There are examples in the news persistently. The recent cyber attack on a gas pipeline will be featured in a future post, but recently Cyber was addressed in Cybersecurity, WCI2021, the Pillory, and More.

When I think of cybersecurity, my mind always wanders to Yoda. In Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, our protagonist Luke exclaims “I’m not afraid,” to which Yoda replies “you will be.” I know so many people who are oblivious to cyber security. They are ensconced in a cocoon of denial (it can’t happen to me) and they are sure it won’t happen to them. They are not afraid, but they need to be educated, cautious, and prepared. I am not suggesting you need fear, but this day of cyber security programming may open your eyes to the threats and challenges your business faces. This is a must see.

Yes, for about twenty years I have made an annual trek to the Marriott World Center in Orlando for the WCI, and for a few years before that to the Peabody. I have spoken on many stages over the years (well over 1,000). But, harkening to my professional beginnings in Florida, and the 1992 conference I first attended, the WCI will always seem like home. I have been on stage there over 40 times; it is a welcoming and familiar environment. I’ll be home (be)for(e) Christmas this year. It will be December 12-15, 2021. I hope to see you there.