Why I Loved ABA TECHSHOW Just A Little Bit More This Year

Every year, I get really excited for ABA TECHSHOW. I always register early…pretty much as soon as registration opens (I start stalking the ABA TECHSHOW website in the late fall to see what’s going on). Technology has always been a huge interest of mine (I worked for Apple as a Creative Trainer in my past professional life before the law) so going to ABA TECHSHOW is one of the highlights of my year. It gives me the chance to experience all the things I love together at once: cool techy innovations, being a lawyer, being an entrepreneur, marketing, learning, and just being an all around geek and connecting with other geeks.

This was my third anniversary attending ABA TECHSHOW. However, there was something new that made it extra super special for me this time: this year was the first time I attended as a full fledged attorney!

During the past two, I was still a law student in Boston so I was either preparing for finals or had classes that I could not miss, and thus could not leave Boston until Friday morning (the show runs Thursday through Saturday afternoon). I would inevitably miss many cool, law-geeky classes (I think they are technically called “Sessions” but I like to call them classes because the point is to learn something from them) on Thursday and some on Friday morning. If the fates were working in my favor with friendly skies and planes, trains, and automobiles were running efficiently, I would eventually launch myself onto the expo floor a few hours before it shut down on Friday afternoon, and then catch a few classes. It was never enough time, but hey, I would take what I could get.

This year, I was finally able to plan to arrive in Chicago on Wednesday evening in order to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the first day of ABA TECHSHOW on Thursday.

I planned my heavenly law-geek class schedule while I was on the plane. ABA TECHSHOW has an amazing app (obviously) where you can make your own agenda from the classes and mark your favorite vendors on the expo floor, view tweets, write presenter reviews, and do other helpful tricks, so I started mapping out the things I wanted to do. By the time I was done, I had at least two classes, if not something more like four, competing for each time slot of the show, on all days.

My crazed excitement then became laced with a hint of frustration as I pined over the description of the classes. Would I benefit more from secret Mac ninja tricks, or learning more about creating forms in Adobe? How could I possibly decide?! It was like a nerd’s fantasy to have so many choices but also a nerd’s nightmare to not be able to attend them all at once (I then decided I would have to work on cloning myself for next year. I’ll let you know how that project goes).

It always amazes me how few law students actually attend ABA TECHSHOW (there is a discounted rate for students, and you can find out more at www.techshow.com). I’m sure there are a few who attend, but in my three years of attending, I have only known of one – I overheard one student during my first year attending telling a vendor he was a student as I was walking through the expo hall.

I don’t understand why more students don’t take advantage of such a great experience, not only from a learning perspective but from a networking end as well. Since I had been attending ABA TECHSHOW for a few years, I knew a bunch of engineers, developers, and other attorneys who would be there. This year, just like previous years, a few Twitter followers recognized me roaming around and approached me so we could meet in person. This year I was able to connect with even more like minded people and I witnessed my personal network grow before my very eyes. This year was more important because not only was I cultivating fun relationships and learning cool things, but those fun relationships and cool things became real. I was finally amongst my peers in the intersection of the middle of a venn diagram of industries that I live and breathe and love to be a part of.  For the first time, ABA TECHSHOW applied directly to my life, and I felt like I found my second home.

ABA TECHSHOW has a special place in my heart for many reasons: it quenches my thirst for geeky techy stuff, it provides a forum for me to learn new things to help grow and manage my practice, but most importantly it facilitates interaction with like minded people. It is really pretty awesome that I have met so many amazing people doing the same things I love to do.

Spending time with those people might just be the best part of ABA TECHSHOW…being able to take advantage of the full schedule this year was just the icing on my geeky law cake.

Featured image: “love shape hand silhouette in sky” from Shutterstock.

About Julie M. Tolek

Julie M. Tolek
A solo family law attorney in Boston, Julie Tolek is equal parts geek, lawyer, entrepreneur, and marketing maven. Julie launched her firm Think Pink Law with the goal of providing her clients with convenient access to the law by harnessing technology and keeping things real with a human touch, making the law less intimidating and more accessible. With a previous career in leadership and technology training, Julie is naturally hardwired to solve problems. When not running outdoors or stuffing her face in Boston’s dining culture, you can catch her online at www.legallyblondbos.com (@legallyblondbos) and www.thinkpinklaw.com(@ThinkPinkLaw).

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