New Judges’ Guide to the NCBJ Annual Conference

Attending NCBJ for the first time as a judge? It is a very different experience from attending as a practitioner. There are many meetings, educational sessions, social events, fitness activities, tours, dinners, and other activities. It can be overwhelming, particularly your first time attending as a judge. We hope this guide provides you with the information you need to make the most out of your first NCBJ Annual Conference as a Judge.

Here’s what you need to know:

When is the Annual Conference?
Tuesday, September 17 – Friday, September 20, 2024

Where is the Annual Conference?  
Hyatt Regency Downtown, Seattle, WA

How do I register for the Annual Conference?
Go to Be sure to log in as a Judge to view the Judges-only registration information, pricing, and schedule. Please direct any questions about registration to

When must I register by?
If you want the Early Bird rate, you must register by April 30. Rates increase after that, and then increase again after July 31.

How do I book my hotel?
After registering for the conference, you will receive a confirmation email containing a link to make reservations at the Hyatt Regency at the NCBJ’s group rate.

How much will this cost me?
The early bird registration rate for this year is $605. It increases to $655 on May 1, and increases again to $705 on August 1. The group rate for the hotel for judges is $235 per night (including tax), which is significantly less than the rate for non-judge attendees. But, as discussed below, if you agree to attend two of three NCBJ Business Meetings, you can get a discount on your registration fee in an amount equal to two hotel nights ($470). You will have to make arrangements and pay for your own travel expenses to and from Seattle. Members of certain NCBJ Committees, and speakers and moderators on certain educational panels, however, may be eligible for travel cost reimbursements and an additional hotel night reimbursement as well.

Why is it so expensive?
The NCBJ is a private organization funded by your annual dues and the net margin from producing the Annual Conference. The Judges’ registration price is significantly discounted from the General Registration early bird price of $1250 (increasing to $1350 on May 1, and $1450 on August 1). But for this discounted registration price, you get the following:

  • Hot buffet breakfast on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings;
  • Onsite cocktail receptions with hors d’oeuvres on Tuesday night and Thursday night;
  • The Welcome to Seattle! Reception on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Park, which includes tickets to the Mariners-Yankees game, food and drink at the reception, and shuttle transportation back and forth;
  • Judges’ Private Dinner on Thursday night;
  • President’s Suite Gatherings on Tuesday night and Wednesday night;
  • Closing Plenary Luncheon on Friday;
  • Late Night Party with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on Thursday night;
  • Second-to-none educational programming; and
  • The priceless opportunity to connect and catch up with your colleagues, to interact with practitioners, and to participate in various outreach, mentoring and career development programs for young attorneys.

Can I bring a spouse or guest?
Judges may register a guest for $250 (by May 1), $300 May 1-July 31, or $350 after August 1. Breakfast is available each day for registered spouses/guests of a registered Judge. With their separate registration fee, registered spouses/guests may attend all cocktail receptions, the President’s Suite Gatherings, the Judges’ Private Dinner, and the Late Night Party, with the registered Judge.

When should I get there?
We encourage you to arrive by Tuesday afternoon, so you are there in time to attend the IWIRC cocktail reception that evening, and so that you can attend the first NCBJ Business Meeting that starts early Wednesday morning.

When should I plan on staying until?
The conference ends at 2:00 p.m. on Friday. There is some great educational programming on Friday morning (including the Ethics Roundtable), and you don’t want to miss the over-the-top Late Night Party on Thursday night.

It sounds like there will be a lot going on. Which meetings do I really need to go to?
To qualify for the two hotel-night discount, you must attend two of these three business meetings:

  • Breakfast and Board of Governors’ Meeting. Wednesday, September 18, 7:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. This is a key meeting to attend. It is our business meeting at which various committees report on activities and address issues of concern to all of us. The AO and FJC also generally attend and report on matters of concern. And we introduce our new judge colleagues at this meeting.
  • Breakfast and Judges’ Annual Meeting. Thursday, September 19, 7:15 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. This meeting includes breakfast and programs honoring NCBJ Blackshear Fellows and Just the Beginning Participants, and a memorial for those colleagues whom we have lost in the past year.
  • “Stand Up” Formative Board Meeting. Friday, September 20, 8:00 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. This meeting is the “passing of the torch” from the current NCBJ Board to the next. It is the first meeting conducted by the new president, Jan Baer, for 2025. This “stand up” meeting is scheduled to last for only 15 minutes, and usually no substantive business is conducted.

Which educational programs should I attend?
Most educational programs for general attendees start on Thursday morning and conclude with Friday’s Closing Plenary Luncheon. Other organizations, including the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI), the American Bar Association (ABA), the Association of Insolvency & Restructuring Advisors (AIRA), the Commercial Law League of America (CLLA), the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC), and the American College of Bankruptcy (ACB), also put on educational programming at the Annual Conference. All registered NCBJ attendees can attend all NCBJ, ABI, ABA, and CLLA educational sessions. But to obtain the written materials or CLE credit for the ABA sessions, there is a separate ABA registration fee. The IWIRC and ACB programs are completely separate and require separate registration and fees. Be on the lookout for more information on all of these educational sessions and their schedules as we get closer to the conference. Note that some of these organizations begin their meetings on the morning of Tuesday, September 17.

For judges, there are several judge-only education programs on Wednesday afternoon, as well as NCBJ Committee Meetings, that you might also want to attend. Please check the schedule as we get closer to the conference. Some judges-only sessions you may want to attend include:

  • Schwartz Roundtable (Judges Only). Wednesday, September 18, 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Informal roundtable discussions with your colleagues about various topics, in a small group setting. The conversations at each table are as diverse as the judges. It is a great opportunity to share perspectives with, and learn from, our colleagues.
  • Closing Plenary Luncheon with Dahlia Lithwick. Friday September 20, 11:45 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Free for all judges and guests; attendees must pay an extra fee.

There are also some “invitation-only” NCBJ programs, including the Appellate Trial Skills Program, the Next Generation Program, and the Blackshear Program. If invited to participate, you will receive separate communications about those programs.

Which social events should I attend?

  • IWIRC Welcome Reception. Tuesday, September 17, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. IWIRC (the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation) co-locates its annual meeting at the NCBJ Conference. All judges are invited to attend this opening cocktail reception for free, but please RSVP to IWIRC to let them know you will be attending. It is usually well-attended by judges and IWIRC members and is a great opportunity for judges to meet others and make dinner plans.
  • Wednesday Afternoon ACB/IWIRC Cocktail Mixer. Wednesday, September 18, 2:15 – 4:00 p.m. All judges are invited to attend this cocktail mixer co-sponsored by the American College of Bankruptcy and the International Women’s Insolvency & Restructuring Confederation.
  • Emerging Leaders Reception.  Wednesday, September 18, 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.  All judges, along with participants from Appellate Trial Skills, Next Gen, Blackshear, Just the Beginning, and first- or second-time NCBJ attendees, are invited to a “pre-Opening Reception” for emerging young professionals. This reception is intended to provide a smaller setting for young professionals to meet others, before the start of the big Welcome Reception.
  • NCBJ Welcome to Seattle Reception (@Mariners v. Yankees Game). Wednesday, September 18, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. This is the official opening cocktail reception for the NCBJ Annual Conference, which will be held at T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners, during their game against the New York Yankees. All judges, practitioners, and guests are invited and generally attend. It is a massive event, but a great way to see everyone.
  • President’s Suite Gatherings. Tuesday, September 17, 9:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. and Wednesday, September 18, 9:30 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. An opportunity to close the evening by unwinding with colleagues.
  • ABI Reception. Thursday, September 18, 4:30 p.m. – 6:45 p.m. All attendees are invited.
  • Judges’ Private Dinner.  Thursday, September 18, 6:45 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.  This is a sit-down dinner for judges and their spouses/guests only.
  • Late Night Party. Thursday, September 18, 9:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.  The Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones law firm co-locates a firm-provided industry Late Night Party at NCBJ. Everyone is invited. Generally, it is an over-the-top affair with décor, cocktails, desserts, music, dancing, and surprises.

What should I wear?
The official dress code is “business casual.” Judges generally dress business casual at the judges’ meetings and educational programs. Most people wear more formal business attire for the Welcome Reception. And the Judges’ Private Dinner tends to be a bit fancier, with women in dressy outfits and men in suits.

What should I do for dinner?
The Thursday Night Judges’ Private Dinner is included with your registration. You are on your own for dinner on Tuesday night and Wednesday night. Many judges like to get together with their Baby Judge School Classmates on at least one of these nights.

NCBJ also facilitates “No-Host Dine-Arounds” for all conference attendees on Wednesday night. These are “no host” dinners at local restaurants with the table coordinated by a judge. We encourage judges to join a table (you will be responsible for the cost of your meal). The restaurants will have varied cuisines and price points. An email should be going out shortly asking judges to volunteer to be table hosts.

That’s a lot of eating. Are there any exercise opportunities to burn off those calories?
Yes, join your colleagues for yoga or Zumba, and join all participants for the annual 5K run/walk:

  • Zumba. Wednesday and Thursday mornings, 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.
  • Yoga. Thursday and Friday mornings, 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.
  • Bernstein Burkley 5K Fun Run/Walk. Friday morning, 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. Free annual fun run (or walk). Details will be emailed to all NCBJ registrants in July and August and will be available at the NCBJ Registration Desk.

What off-site excursions can I sign up for?
If this packed schedule isn’t enough for you, you can also sign up for any of the optional off-site tours, for an additional cost:

  • Seattle Glassblowing Experience: $130. Thursday 1-5 p.m.
  • Pioneer Square Wine and Chocolate Tour: $130. Thursday 1-5 p.m.
  • Seattle City Highlights Tour including Space Needle: $140. Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Pike Place Market Food and Culture Tour: $80. Friday 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Argosy Harbor Cruise: $100. Friday 5-8 p.m.

Who can I contact if I have any questions or need more information?
You can direct any questions to NCBJ’s management team, ADG, at You can also reach out to any member of the New Member Subcommittee. Its members are: