While April marks the start of spring for everyone, and the end of another tax season for practitioners, for those of us who report on the inner workings of the profession, it highlights the beginning of another conference season.

Attending various industry events throughout the year keeps us in tune with what is really on people's minds. But in the months between January and April, the opportunities to mingle are few as many practitioners are holed up at their desks, churning out tax returns. So, most of our face-to-face networking takes place from now until November, when the number of events slows as the profession prepares for year-end.

Traveling from event to event over the next few months provides us an opportunity to interact with members and leaders of the profession in a way that telephone interviews cannot duplicate. And, in between the formal sessions where we have those conversations that aren't part of the meeting agenda, and which many times tell us the most.

This year, as is often the case, our travel season kicks off next week in Washington with the Spring meeting of the American Institute of CPAs Ruling Council.

Appropriately, the meeting's theme is “Leadership During Challenging Times.” The agenda promises some interesting topics of discussion. In addition to items such as computerization of the CPA exam, update on student recruitment efforts, and a report from the special committee on state regulation, a slot has been set aside on Monday for AICPA chief executive Barry Melancon's report, followed later by a presentation by chairman William Ezzell, titled “Alignment of the Vision: An Interactive Experience.”

Tuesday brings the report from the finance committee, as well as a report from the National Accreditation Commission. The meeting will wrap up with a 30-minute update on CPA2Biz.

Those who have attended Council meetings know that by their nature, they are more formal and businesslike than typical industry events, and they are also often the setting for some spirited discussions on the major issues impacting the accounting profession.

For those of you who will be attending next week's meeting, we'll see you there. And for those of you who aren't attending, we'll let you know what we find.

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