This month we asked our panelists to give us their thoughts on TECHSHOW 2018 and whether they have any suggestions for TECHSHOW 2019.

TECHSHOW 2018 Review

Recently, the masses descended upon TECHSHOW 2018 in Chicago, IL. Located in an all-new venue, this year’s TECHSHOW kicked off with a bang and kept up the exciting pace all week long. Attendees left with tips, tricks, new tools, new connections, and plenty of cool swag. Now that they’ve had some time to process the takeaways, we asked our panelists to give us their thoughts on TECHSHOW 2018 and whether they have suggestions for TECHSHOW 2019.

Our Panelists

Greg Siskind (GS), Aaron Street (AS), Steve Embry (SE), Natalie Kelly (NK), Catherine Sanders-Reach (CSR), Mark Rosch (MR), and Dennis Kennedy (DK).

What do you like best about TECHSHOW?

GS: The networking is excellent. I have been attending for years and know a lot of the speakers and attendees. In addition to the sessions, I pick up a lot of great information talking in the halls and over meals. Dan Katz’s keynote was also a highlight.

AS: Definitely the people. It’s great to learn about new technology trends and tips on how to better incorporate tools into my work, but TECHSHOW is the best because it draws such a stellar crowd of innovative lawyers, industry thought leaders, and tech entrepreneurs.

SE: While this was the first year in some time I could not attend TECHSHOW, based on everything I have heard and read, it was as good as if not better than before. The thing I like best about it is it’s a little more low key and easier to navigate than some of the other shows. There seems to be much more camaraderie; people seem to genuinely like each other and like exchanging ideas and stories.

NK: The camaraderie! I absolutely love the new location, and the energy it sparked among old-timers like myself and the newcomers to the conference. Relationships being built around you at every turn, and the refreshing “ooh’s and ah’s” being heard daily is what makes this conference top-notch!

CSR: The immersion into topics, products, and information that I try to keep up with all in one place.

MR: For me, TECHSHOW is always a great opportunity to see what’s new in the legal tech space and what changes have been made to existing products. Unlike some other narrowly-focused conferences, I like that the sessions and the vendors cover a broad range of tools that lawyers can use in their practices.

DK: A law student who has attended several TECHSHOWs said that it feels smaller every year because she now knows more people at TECHSHOW. That sums up TECHSHOW for me. I love the community aspect of the show, seeing old friends and making new friends, and meeting people with a passionate interest in technology. TECHSHOW is truly a conference for me where the best conversations take place in the hallways and over coffee.

What was your favorite part of the experience?

GS: I think more interactive activities like workshops and hackathons would be helpful.

AS: Former Washington State Bar Association president, Patrick Palace, convened an unofficial “summit” of amazing thinkers and doers to discuss how legal industry changes can better address access to justice concerns. It was a great and needed conversation.

SE: While the content is always great, I especially like the EXPO Hall, the receptions, and the Taste of TECHSHOW dine-arounds. It’s here where people meet and talk about what’s going on with the practice and business of law. I have gotten some really great ideas from these impromptu sessions.

NK: Spending time talking to new attendees, particularly the growing number of law students discussing legal innovation was one of my favorite parts of TECHSHOW this year. To see the diverse audience growing to be more inclusive of those outside the typical law practice was impressive.

CSR: The conversations! Getting people’s perspectives on what problems they are trying to solve and how they have been successful (or not).

MR: My favorite part is always the camaraderie of catching up with friends I have made over the years of attending the show. Even with Facebook, etc. sometimes TECHSHOW is the one time per year I see some of these folks in person.

DK: I had two favorite parts. First, I really enjoyed co-hosting the TECHSHOW Today videocasts with Adriana Linares and Steve Best. We did videos about TECHSHOW, women in legal tech, blockchain, and law student perspectives with some great guests. Second, I got to walk around the EXPO Hall with a couple of friends who had never been to TECHSHOW before; I enjoyed seeing things from their perspective and seeing their enthusiasm.

What were your favorite sessions/tracks?

GS: We’re doing a lot of work in artificial intelligence (AI) at our law firm and the sessions that got into that subject were helpful. Also, the sessions on integrating web applications were interesting and gave us some good ideas.

AS: I was so busy with engaging in productive EXPO Hall discussions that I ended up missing lots of amazing presentations. Many of my favorite lawyers were faculty this year, talking about a variety of topics from tech tools to marketing to legal ethics, and I sadly missed them.

SE: I usually just pick and choose based on the topic and speakers rather than a track. I generally look at more the philosophic and futuristic sessions rather than the how-tos.

NK: Taking it back to the basics in the Core Production Tools track and taking a front seat and gazing into the future on the Trending Tech track were my favorites this year.

CSR: “The 411 on Texting for Lawyers” (Jim Calloway and Ivan Hemmans) was great because while it is by no means a new communication tool, lawyers are getting increasing demands from clients to text and there is a lot to sort out in terms of retention, security, and time management. I also thought the Process Management track, while hardly “sexy,” was really important for lawyers to understand in order to improve and expand services. The program “Better Client Service Through Process Automation” with Gina Bongiovi and Britt Lorish was especially useful.

MR: Admittedly, I spent most of Thursday and Friday shuttling between volunteering at the TECHSHOW Conference Concierge booth (on the educational sessions level) and Law Practice Divison’s Bookstore Booth (down in the EXPO Hall), so I missed out on Thursday and Friday’s sessions. I found the DIY automation session, “Connecting the Dots—Automating Web Apps and Services” on Saturday morning to be informative, and the finale “60 in 60” useful and entertaining as always.

DK: I might have to take the Fifth Amendment about what sessions I actually attended. I spent a lot of time in the EXPO Hall this year, especially talking to the legal tech startup companies in Startup Alley.

What was different this year? What did you think of the new venue?

GS: The new hotel was a welcome change. I’m not sure I liked the layout of the EXPO Hall so much—definitely more confusing. The Start-Up Pitch Competition having its own place was a definite improvement.

AS: The move to the Hyatt was definitely the most noticeable new thing this year. It’s a much more comfortable and lively hotel, which is a great change, but change also means there was some initial confusion about the hotel layout which probably reduced some of the flow down to the EXPO Hall.

SE: While I wasn’t there, I have heard nothing but good things.

NK: Again, I felt like the new space gave attendees the ability to mill about more and, consequently, interact more. The flow between educational tracks and the EXPO Hall worked well, and I had an opportunity to fully engage with this model that did not work as well in past venues.  I’m looking forward to future conferences in the new space.

CSR: I really liked the buzz and format of the Startup Alley, from exploring new products/services to hearing the pitches and seeing the winners. I really like the new venue, and putting the sessions close to the huge EXPO Hall space made it much easier to hop back and forth. And, new restaurants to explore!

MR: I like the new venue very much. Getting downstairs was a bit of a maze, but once you were down there, everything was easier to find than at the previous venue. Having the sessions so close to the EXPO Hall was nice.

DK: The new venue definitely made a positive difference, despite the fact that I kept getting lost and retracing my steps. The big difference this year was the overall increase in energy and enthusiasm. The large increase in attendance by law students was great to see.

Any suggestions for TESCHSHOW 2019?

GS: More programming on AI. There are a lot of aspects to that subject that can be broken out into different panels.

AS: If it’s logistically feasible, I think it would be interesting to have meals served in the back corner of the EXPO Hall to make sure attendees spend time walking the floor and seeing all the cool new offerings.

SE: I’m really encouraged that so many law students and academics attended and hope we can continue this trend. They are the future.

NK: Continue to speak to the heart of what the legal professional of today needs—practical technology solutions—and focus on the future of law and getting there via technology.  The Start-Up Alley space needs to be updated to accommodate more folks and allow for more showcasing of innovation of the day.

CSR: Keep up the great diversity in sessions and speakers, the meet and greet opportunities, and attracting new lawyers.

DK: Maybe a little better signage and direction arrows for the absent-minded among us. Or maybe that’s just me. I liked what I saw at the show—let’s keep evolving and trying new things.

Will you be attending TECHSHOW 2019?

GS: Hopefully.

AS: Definitely.

SE: We used to have a saying where I grew up in rural Kentucky: “The good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.” I have every intention of attending next year and beyond.

NK: Yes, having attended every TECHSHOW since 1996, I expect to keep my record attendance going, à la Sister Jean of recent NCAA fame.

CSR: Yes. (Full disclosure I’m joining the Planning Board.)

MR: I’m going to be presenting at a conference in Hawaii just prior to TECHSHOW 2019 and plan on continuing on Westward to present in Australia and New Zealand afterward. So, while I’ll be sad to miss TECHSHOW 2019, I’m not sad for the reason. I will be there in spirit!

DK: Yes. It’s a highlight for me every year.

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