TECHSHOW 2019 Review

Just one month ago, the annual ABA TECHSHOW kicked off again here in Chicago. 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 2019 and suggestions for TECHSHOW 2020.

Our Panelists

Dennis Kennedy (DK), Gyi Tsakalakis (GT), Alexander Paykin (AP), Allison Shields (AS), and Greg Siskind (GS).

What do you like best about TECHSHOW?

DK: TECHSHOW has built an amazing community over the years. It is my favorite show for “learning in the hallway” experiences. Speakers are very accessible and there are a variety of events that allow attendees to meet up with like-minded legal tech enthusiasts.

GT: In a word: people. I have been very fortunate to meet a lot of great people at TECHSHOW over the years. The mindset around networking, learning, and yes “innovating,” is particularly conspicuous at TECHSHOW.

AP: The EXPO. It’s an opportunity to see hundreds of vendors and discover new technologies and solutions that didn’t exist a year ago…

AS: It’s tough to pick just one thing—there is so much to do and see! One of my favorites is the excellent opportunities for networking; seeing people that I usually see only at TECHSHOW and meeting new people, from presenters to vendors to attendees. I love seeing which hot new products are out in the EXPO and meeting the faces behind the products and services.

GS: The program speakers and exhibitors cater especially to smaller and mid-sized firms which makes it a lot easier to apply what we learn back in our offices.

What new experience sticks out to you about this year’s event?

DK: I found the increased attention on the use of tech in legal education and teach tech in law school to be a great addition to TECHSHOW. It’s great to hear about what is actually happening in the classroom these days.

AP: While this year did not showcase any new or ground-breaking technologies, it was good to see a lot more competition in various vendor fields, including especially many more remote receptionist services. It’s great to see a larger choice of vendors with similar products, as this has a great downward effect on price.

AS: I love the idea of Startup Alley and the Pitch Competition; it’s fun to see the new ideas people have in the works! While it isn’t technically part of ABA TECHSHOW itself, the Women in Legal Tech event held on Wednesday was a fantastic event with some excellent speakers and lots of great networking. I was happy to be a part of the luncheon honoring the LTRC’s Women in Legal Tech class of 2019.

GS: On Saturday morning, there was an excellent panel—”60 in 60″—that went session-by-session and noted some of the key points from each. Very helpful if you missed a session you wanted to attend.

What were your favorite sessions/tracks?

DK: I mentioned the legal education track, but, truth be told, my favorite experiences were chances I got to talk with leading legal techsters in the halls and in the EXPO.

GT: Julie Tolek’s session, “Is Your Web Presence Customer Friendly?” and Jess Birken’s session, “Mastering Google Adwords,” stand out. Admittedly, as their co-presenter, I’m biased.

AP: As always, the “60 in 60” session provided a good overview of legal must-haves, without spending too long to spoon-feed the audience as to each app.

AS: I did not have the opportunity to attend too many of the sessions this year, but I thought the academic track was especially interesting, and I think it is important for TECHSHOW to include the law schools and programs for them to encourage and support technology education and innovation for law students. The sessions I attended in this track were definitely enlightening and I look forward to more in the future.

GS: “Automation Tools for Law Firm Operations” (Trending Tech track), “Practical Magic: Actual Uses of Artificial Intelligence in Real Law Firms,” (Trending Tech), and “The Human Side of Technology Implementation” (Choosing and Using).

For someone who hasn’t attended TECHSHOW before, what would you tell them?

DK: I’m not buying your excuses for not attending in 2020. If you want to up your technology game by learning what other legal professionals are actually doing, TECHSHOW is a friendly, practical show with takeaways that you can use as soon as you get back to your office or, with your smartphone, maybe even before you get back.

GT: Meet people. I find myself saying this a lot. The tech is cool, most of the sessions are valuable. But most of that stuff can be found online too. The reason you go is to meet people, pick brains, build relationships. That’s the true value of TECHSHOW, and really, any in-person conference. Otherwise, you read the posts, get the decks, and attend the webinars from the comfort of home.

AP: Get the EXPO Only pass and check out all the new tech!

AS: Here are my suggestions:

  • Keep an eye out for early bird pricing for next year’s event and, at the very least, go for the EXPO if you can’t afford a full pass that would include all of the educational sessions.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you take full advantage of the time the EXPO is open, and if you aren’t attending educational sessions, or if there is a time when there are no sessions that interest you, use that time wisely in the EXPO—you’ll likely get much more attention from the vendors when there are fewer people on the floor. Some vendors will even let you schedule a time in advance for a demo or meeting to discuss your specific needs.
  • Make sure you visit the bookstore to see the latest titles from the Law Practice Division as well as those tried-and-true “evergreen” titles—all books sold at the event are sold at the member price even if you are not an ABA or Law Practice Division member, and attendees get $10 in “Book Bucks” to use for any book they choose.
  • Plot out the educational sessions you’d like to attend so you know when you’ll be free.
  • Bring lots of business cards for networking and for vendor giveaways!
  • Download the app for easy access to schedules, info about social and other events, and session materials.
  • Don’t forget to follow up with all of the great contacts you meet at TECHSHOW.

GS: Spending a lot of time in the EXPO getting to know the products. Networking is one of my favorite things about TECHSHOW. I’ve made a number of good connections after attending year in year out. There are plenty of opportunities at various social events. And, of course, try to get to as many sessions as you can.


TECHSHOW 2020 will be held February 26-29 in Chicago, IL. Join all of our wonderful panelists in attending! Go to for more information. 

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