chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
January/February 2019

Editor's Note

Technology Has Taken Over, So Attend TECHSHOW 2019!

Heidi Barcus

After six days of hiking in Death Valley and Sequoia National Parks, I finally have internet access again. I’m not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse, but it’s a relief to read my emails and to check voicemail. And it looks like my practice has survived. I’m thrilled to know what will be on my desk when I get back to the office. No surprises! I hate them.

The automatic reply message I’d left on my email seemed to buy me some modicum of forgiveness from my clients and other counsel. It’s amazing what a short note can do!

Even before email became my dominant communication tool, I was tethered to voicemail, checking in several times a day. But now I can check both email and correspondence seamlessly—in fact, I reviewed a week’s worth of communication today in what seemed an instant. So technology has changed many aspects of my practice. You might as well throw my office phone out the window. No one calls it. My cellphone number was once a well-guarded secret reserved for partners and family; now every client knows it. Quite frankly, clients don’t even call anymore. They text! Text? My clients like to use that communication tool, and I’ve finally figured out how to get the messages into useable files.

A decade ago lawyers never sent letters on Sunday afternoon. Now every Sunday someone files a pleading or fires off an urgent message. So there’s no such thing these days as a slow start to a Monday. The trade-off, I suppose, is a quieter Friday afternoon. So it isn’t that technology has made my practice any better or worse, it’s just that it’s changed. A few years back, I used to interview assistants, inquiring about their typing speed; we even administered a typing test. This year I adopted Dragon NaturallySpeaking after listening to my lawyer brother dictate a month’s worth of time sheets late into the night into an application on his cellphone. When he woke up, his bills were typed and emailed back to him.

The following week I looked for a similar solution for my practice. I found Dragon. It’s quicker and faster for me to dictate into my computer and edit that draft than to wait for my assistant to transcribe a tape. I’ve also adopted TrialPad for trial exhibits and am easing toward using it for depositions. It certainly carries with it the hope that I no longer need to drag notebooks around on airplanes to take depositions in other states.

With these changes in mind, I can’t wait to attend this year’s ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, from Feb. 27 to March 2, to learn what else I can do to upgrade my practice. Did you know that one of the largest groups of attendees at TECHSHOW is litigators? This year’s TECHSHOW will again provide an opportunity for litigators to gather informally at receptions and meals, and to share their professional experiences. Other groups of like-minded lawyers (solo and small-firm attorneys, professors, etc.) and nonlawyers (IT professionals, marketers, cybersecurity specialists, etc.) will also meet at meals and during receptions to exchange ideas and get to know each other. So if you haven’t booked your trip to TECHSHOW 2019, do so now. It’s bound to help you adapt to the ever-evolving practice of law. And if you’re attending and are a litigator, you’ll be hearing from me soon about our first TECHSHOW meet-and-greet.

But first, let’s consider the technology issues raised in this issue of the magazine. Roberta L. Tepper starts us off with “The Flexible Lawyer: Promoting Agility and Innovation,” in which she argues for getting more comfortable with today’s technology and using it to provide predictable fees and unbundled legal services to cost-conscious consumers. We then turn our attention to cybersecurity issues in “The Anatomy of a Data Breach,” by Sharon Nelson and John Simek. They discuss the actors, roles and impacts of a cybersecurity breach. Ed Walters contributes “AI: Practice, Not Promise, in Law Firms.” He looks at how artificial intelligence is currently being used in law firms, from e-discovery to summarizing documents, and from analyzing briefs to making strategic decisions based on data analytics. Celiza Bragança then takes us into the world of cryptocurrencies in “Dipping Your Analog Toe into Digital Coins,” in which she provides the history of bitcoin and how it’s been regulated before considering it as payment for legal services. Next up is Judy Selby’s “Removing the Mystery from Cyber Insurance.” She posits that most law firms these days need this new form of insurance to protect themselves against digital attacks. And, finally, Ben M. Schorr, a senior content developer at Microsoft, gives us “Obtaining the Most from Office 365,” a program that is chock-full of tools that are specifically designed for lawyers.

I’d be remiss not to give thanks to Andrew Elowitt, who, in the Highlights column, delineates succinctly why you should attend this year’s ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago.


Heidi A. Barcus, Editor-in-Chief

Thanks to our Issue Team: Roberta L. Tepper and Mary E. Vandenack

Heidi Barcus

Heidi A. Barcus is a partner with London Amburn, P.C. in Knoxville, Tennessee. She is a past president of the Knoxville Bar Association and certified by the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys. Email her.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.