The 25th Annual Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Law Course: By the Numbers

The feedback we receive for every seminar is carefully assembled so that it may be reviewed, with an eye to improving the next seminar. Some concerns raised, however, are outside of our ability to correct. Others will be assessed as to the feasibility—for instance, is there a way to provide help for those whose mobility is impaired with the great distance between the bus stop and the ballroom. Following are some of the issues raised that require a bit of explanation.

  • “Put the seminar in the host hotel.” We’ve outgrown the hotels. None has the capacity to handle upwards of 1,000 people for presentations.
  • “$12 for a sandwich? Really?” Actually, the box lunches cost quite a bit more: $22 plus 19% gratuity and 8.125% sales tax. TCDLA subsidizes the Hall of Fame lunches to make them more affordable and increase participation. Such is the added cost of using the convention center and/or a hotel.
  • “We need more power strips.” The first five rows of Ballroom B contain power strips. The cost for ten power strips: $2,500. This is for the actual electricity used, labor for installing and taping down to code, and actual plug rental.
  • “We should have a live feed to the hotels.” At this point, the cost for a live feed to any hotel would be $25,000—prohibitively expensive. The wiring is done underground.
  • “There’s no internet access in the ballroom. You need to improve this.” San Antonio, unlike Houston and other cities, is not a wifi city. The cost for TCDLA to pay for access for everyone would be $5,000 a day. Users can pay $13 per day, so some have their own.
  • “There were no soft drinks on breaks” [additional requests for cookies, ice cream, etc.]. The total food bill for the Rusty Duncan Advanced Criminal Seminar this year was $67,000, including things such as the breakfast tacos, fruit, and such. But that also includes 1,500 sodas each afternoon (at $3.25 each), $300 for the water stations, and $55 a gallon for coffee (plus gratuity and tax on all, standard for any venue).
  • “Materials were given in paper bags. Are we really that cheap?” The bags are picked each year according to the theme of the seminar. The backpacks used before run an extra $5,000, though in past years they were bought in a closeout sale that cut the cost. The intention was that the bags could be used for shopping purposes.
  • “You ran out of books. You should order more.” The books themselves cost nearly $50 to print, plus the added cost of shipping. We ordered 100 more than were reserved in pre-registration, and they were all sold. The association would be out $5,000 if we ordered 100 that weren’t sold, which is why we stress ordering them early (and note on the registration form that only a limited number are available onsite).

Thank you for your comments. They help us prepare for the next event and improve everything. Additional suggestions are always welcome.

Joseph Martinez
Executive Director

Joseph A. Martinez
Joseph A. Martinez
Joseph A. Martinez is the former long-time Executive Director of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
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