This year was my first opportunity to attend ABA TECHSHOW, where I was fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of legal professionals and technology enthusiasts sharing ideas and discussing future ventures all in one place. The EXPO Hall was booming with excitement and conversation; the CLE educational tracks were packed with hands raised high in participation and laughter; the 30th Anniversary celebration brought nostalgia and anticipation together through rousing speeches by ABA Chair Steven J. Best and ABA President Paulette Brown. I felt incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by lawyers who love what they do enough to continue pursuing education and training at ABA TECHSHOW.
This year, the EXPO Hall brought new innovative technologies and attendees together in an exciting atmosphere. Every booth was alive with conversation, live demos, and… puppies. Yes, ABA TECHSHOW 2016 vendor How to Manage a Small Law Firm—a company dedicated to streamlining law firm practices to create more “Happy Lawyers”—surprised everyone when they partnered with Midwest Canine Connection to bring adoptable puppies into the EXPO Hall for attendees to hold and play with as they discussed how their network of outside COOs, CFOs, and MAs could produce happier and more successful solo and small firm lawyers.
There was no shortage of surprises this year. ADAR-IT, a cloud-based solutions provider, had a fully-stocked oxygen bar available for attendees to stop by and “take in.” Flavors included lilac, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, and other refreshing scents that are meant to alleviate stress, awaken the mind, and/or ignite the senses. Just across the aisle, my friends at Legal Talk Network sat down with attendees and ABA members to conduct live, on-the-spot ABA TECHSHOW interviews. Overall, The EXPO Hall was a fun, exciting experience that would wake up any sleepy legal professional.
The Continuing Legal Education Tracks provided a variety of topics on legal technology and the future of the practice. Each track provided a niche area of law practice focus such as Microsoft Office Fundamentals, Mac N Law, E-Discovery, Cyber Security and Privacy, Efficiency and Productivity, and Advanced IT, to name a few. I had the pleasure of attending a few courses that were packed with attendees and insight. My first draft pick of the conference was Creating Compelling Content: Podcasts and Videos presented by Adam Camras and Tom Mighell, who discussed how to utilize video and podcast media content to market law firms in the digital age. Being in the marketing field, I found their session to be incredibly entertaining and absolutely dead on when it comes to digital media marketing. The Lunch N’ Learn Sessions were engaging as well. Good food and great presentations were the highlight of my educational time spent at ABA TECHSHOW 2016.
Keane Award / LTRC State of Legal Technology Luncheon
Speaking of great food and conversation, the LTRC State of Legal Technology Luncheon and Keane Award Presentation truly blew me away. ABA Law Practice Division Chair, Tom Bolt, and ABA Law Practice Future’s Initiative Chair, Chad Burton, presented the James I. Keane Memorial Award to Lindy Frolich of the Colorado Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel. Lindy’s acceptance speech was inspired. She put together a beautiful presentation cataloging her journey in achieving innovation and technological advancement within the Colorado OADC. It was an honor to hear her speak.
Following the Keane Award presentation, the LTRC State of Legal Technology Luncheon commenced. ABA LTRC Board members Sofia Lingos, Aaron Street, Dennis Kennedy, Alison Shields, and Tom Mighell sat on a panel and discussed the technology trends and statistics from their 2015 Survey Report. The panel revealed some surprising statistics. For instance, 70% of large law firms have law practice management software available, but only 20% are using it. And, perhaps the most shocking, a fourth of all law firms do not have a technology policy at all! With the increased risks of security breaches and data theft, you’d think that this number would be significantly different. On a lighter note, the most entertaining statistic was, without question, the fact that 10% of lawyers are still using Windows XP. Just a reminder, this operating system was released in 2001… 15 years ago! I got a good laugh when I heard that. Hopefully, firms will continue to increase their data security and maintain current operating systems and software in their firms after hearing some of these shocking stats.
30th Anniversary Celebration
The 30th Anniversary Celebration was a blast! The Continental ballroom of the Chicago Hilton was filled with excited attendees, past ABA TECHSHOW organizers, and delicious food. Steven J. Best, ABA TECHSHOW 2016 Chair, kicked off the celebration by inviting past ABA TECHSHOW chairs and ABA President Paulette Brown to join him as he thanked everyone for all that they have done for ABA TECHSHOW in the past 30 years. An intense bout of nostalgia quickly filled the room. But, thankfully the music brought us back to life and the party began! The room soon filled with laughter and conversation as attendees gathered around the buffet and bar. The casino theme was spectacular! The ballroom was lined with endless blackjack, roulette, and craps tables. Each attendee was give “$500” worth of chips to gamble with in the hopes of turning those chips into raffle tickets for prizes at the end of the night. I lost “$3,000” at the roulette table but, despite my temporary disappointment, I enjoyed watching other attendees claim their prizes. It was a celebration unlike any other.
Keynote speaker Cindy Cohn, the Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, gave a phenomenal presentation on Friday on data security and protecting our privacy in the 21st century. Cohn discussed the conflict between Apple and the FBI regarding iPhone encryption, privacy, and national security concerns. She touched on the importance of privacy in the digital age and gave us an update on the status of mass surveillance and the NSA. Cohn stated in an interview with Dennis Kennedy and Bob Ambrogi of Legal Talk Network following the keynote presentation, “We’re hoping at some point to get the U.S. judiciary to decide whether mass surveillance of Americans’ internet communications on the backbone is legal or not.” Hopefully, we see a decision made sooner rather than later.
ABA TECHSHOW 2016 was wild ride! I was fortunate enough to witness every aspect of the conference, from CLE tracks and fantastic presentations to a plethora of social networking events promoting camaraderie and celebration of the legal profession. I was able to engage with other attendees and discuss ideas that I never knew existed in the world of legal tech. I was blown away by the exciting atmosphere of the EXPO Hall and inspired by the thought-provoking keynote presentation and plenary sessions. I look forward to attending ABA TECHSHOW 2017 next March to catch up with attendees, interact with new products, and dive deeper into the world of legal technology.