ABA TECHSHOW is a cornucopia. The horn of plenty that is TECHSHOW offers education, networking and, of course, an array of new, not-so-new and big names in legal technology. The massive amount of information can be overwhelming.
We decided that there was no better time to get in touch with a select group—former TECHSHOW chairs (and co-chairs). We asked them for their top tips—on TECHSHOW, their favorite legal tech or practice management tips. So please join us for the reflections of those who have made TECHSHOW the success it is.
Catherine Sanders Reach (Co-Chair, TECHSHOW 2020) is the director for the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association and was previously the director of law practice management and technology for the Chicago Bar Association and the director of the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center.
A Rainy-Day Exercise
Over the last decade you have probably signed up for more services, trials and applications than you can remember. And, you may not have used unique or strong passwords. It would be almost impossible to determine all the logins you have sprinkled around, but here are a few ways to check on password hygiene.
If you use a pro account for a password manager like LastPass, check your security dashboard and review your at-risk passwords. LastPass will show you weak or reused passwords and makes it easy to change them. Check what permissions you have granted to access your accounts like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, as well as app permissions. If you no longer need those you can log them out. Look in your phone settings, your OS settings and in the privacy and security settings of your frequently used applications.
Check the website “Have I Been Pwned” to see if your data, including login credentials, financial data or other details have been leaked online and get email alerts about data breaches. You can also sign up to stop other people from seeing your data so they can’t search for your email address. To keep up with at-risk passwords you can use Okta’s PassProtect browser extension for Chrome.
Keeping a running list of all your accounts with usernames and passwords, whether in a notebook or a secure file on your network, won’t help you much these days. Practice safe password hygiene and start whittling down that list.
Heidi Alexander (Co-Chair, TECHSHOW 2020) is the director of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being and previously was the deputy director of Massachusetts Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers and headed up their Law Office Management Assistance Program. Heidi is also the founder of the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech.
The best process I’ve implemented in my own work this past year is to avoid scheduling meetings on Fridays. This has increased my productivity and improved my well-being. How do I accomplish this? I use my electronic scheduling tool to block Fridays, therefore no one can schedule with me without my express and intentional permission. If you make it onto my calendar on a Friday, you know you are pretty special! Unfortunately, the scheduling tool I’ve used for the past couple of years, x.ai, was recently acquired and the product was sunset in October 2021. You’ve heard the story before. I see it as an opportunity to experiment with other tools such as CalendarHero, Hubspot Meetings, Book Like a Boss and ScheduleOnce. Or, I may revert back to one of my favorites, Calendly, which has never let me down.
Tom Mighell (Co-Chair, TECHSHOW 2018; Chair, TECHSHOW 2008) is a practicing lawyer, with Cowles & Thompson, PC., former chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section, is a published author, noted legal technologist and author of the Inter Alia legal blog.
Keeping Up With Speakers
After seeing all the great speakers at TECHSHOW, it’s natural to want to learn more from them or keep up with what they are talking about. Don’t just follow them on LinkedIn—use the following tools to keep updated on the latest articles, blog posts, podcasts and tweets from legal technology experts.
Create a list of the TECHSHOW speakers on Twitter (don’t just follow them) and name the list “Legal Technology.” Twitter lists can be created under your Twitter profile. If any speakers have their own podcast, use a podcast app like Pocket Casts (Android, iOS) or Overcast (iOS) to create a Legal Technology play- list that automatically downloads the latest episodes.
To follow TECHSHOW speakers who have blogs, rather than visiting each blog every day, download an RSS app like Feedly (Android, iOS, web); once you subscribe to the blogs in the app, you’ll automatically receive new blog posts the minute they get published.
Sharon Nelson (Chair, TECHSHOW 2006) is the president of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, cybersecurity and information technology company in Virginia. Sharon is a prolific author, national speaker and was the president of the Virginia State Bar.
Website Speed Greatly Improves Google Rankings
All lawyers want their website to come up on the first page of Google search results. Realistically, that is extremely difficult and pretty much limited to whale firms with huge marketing budgets. While nobody knows all the details of Google’s search algorithm, we do know that load speed is a huge factor. How many of you have checked your website’s load speed recently?
The good news for many solo and small firm lawyers is a free tool to analyze your website and load speeds across all devices. Just navigate to developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/ insights and enter your website URL. The results will give you a comparative speed score and suggestions for improvement. Your website developer can use this data to speed up loading pages and improve your Google rankings. It worked like a charm for our new website—on computers and phones.
John Simek (Co-Chair, TECHSHOW 2019) is the vice president of Sensei Enterprises, Inc. and a nationally recognized digital forensics technologist and expert witness.
Why Aren't You Using UCaaS?
Phone service is not a very sexy subject. Everything is moving to the cloud, including communication services. VoIP phones are taking over the world. Enter UCaaS (unified communications as a service). UCaaS offerings provide robust features to VoIP phones without being married to a physical phone system. With UCaaS, you can use an app on your smartphone to emulate the phone on your desk. You can be working from home with the phone software running on your computer acting just like your desk phone too. Inbound calls ring on your computer phone app, smartphone app or physical desk phone. When you call out, the recipient has no idea you are calling from your smartphone at the grocery store. UCaaS provides communication services with just a network connection. You can speak to your clients from anywhere at any time – assuming you want to.
Reid Trautz (Chair, TECHSHOW 2012) is the senior director of the Practice and Professionalism Center of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. He co-chairs the Law Practice Division’s Futures Initiative.
Four Simple Rules of Time Management
- Reduce distractions. In today’s busy world, the key to getting work done is to eliminate interruptions that can invade your focus time. Turn off email and smartphone notifications, avoid “drive-by” meetings from colleagues, close your office door when needed, don’t answer the phone unless necessary and so on. Enjoy the recaptured productivity.
- Set priorities. Each day before you check your email, determine your top three task priorities for the day and place them on your calendar to accomplish before you finish your workday.
- Schedule work blocks. Each week, schedule blocks of time on your calendar for completing larger work projects.
- Have the personal integrity to honor the work priorities you schedule for yourself. If you don’t cheat yourself out of these important commitments, you will feel more successful at the end of each day.
Debbie Foster (Co-Chair, TECHSHOW 2018; Chair, TECHSHOW 2010) is the managing partner of the Affinity Consulting Group where she divides her time between strategic planning and management consulting with clients and making Affinity a premier consulting service and workplace. Debbie serves on the Law Practice Division Council.
Optimize Your Time
Motion is a unique tool that combines a one-click view of your calendar right from within your browser with a really powerful scheduling tool. It also can mark time as preferred for scheduling purpose, and that has allowed me to better stick to the time-blocking principles I have adopted and has made suggesting dates/times for meeting exponentially simpler. Motion also has a browser tab manager that allows you to close tabs in bulk, and to build workspaces where you can save commonly used sites and open them with one click. Finally, there is a distraction blocker that has worked for me, allowing me to set up times I want it to remind me that I don’t want to be distracted. It does a really great job summarizing how much time is wasted on things like checking social media sites, news sites and other time-wasters.
Paul Unger (Chair, TECHSHOW 2011) is a partner at the Affinity Consulting Group. Paul is a lawyer, author and national speaker who coaches lawyers on time management. When he’s not doing that, he is performing technology assessments for lawyers throughout the country. Know Where You Left Off – Time Management: Back to the Basics.
One of the most common things that I discover when doing time management coaching for lawyers is that they have no idea where they left off with a case or project. If you have practice management software, the status can easily be entered into the Status or Next Steps fields.
If you do not have practice management software, simply create a document in every case or project. Call it something like “[your initials] [case/project name] Status Notes.” Save it with your case documents in a dedicated location that is easy to find. For instance, in NetDocuments, save it in the Overview Tab. Whenever you have a conversation, a meeting or random neural firing, just open it up and note the thought and your next steps. You will always know exactly where you left off!
Allan Mackenzie (Co-Chair, TECHSHOW 2021) is the founding partner of Efficient Legal, a 30-year veteran of the business and technology side of legal practice and a national speaker.
Expand Knowledge and Connections
ABA TECHSHOW has been one of the most influential resources in my 35 years of legal technology shenanigans. Like most other things in life, the human connections are the most surprising and magical. Four years on TECHSHOW board notwithstanding, my favorite anecdote happened years ago when TECHSHOW was at the Hilton. I was speaking as well as attending when the senior partner at the firm I was managing at the time sent an email during the show that, in essence, required a new, expanded version of a discovery review package we were using— and the upgrade had to happen overnight in an era when disks were still delivered in the mail. I walked straight down to the vendor hall and spoke with the president of the software company, and eight hours later had the custom installation disk in hand and within eight more hours had two law firms collaborating on a co-defendant litigation matter.
You will not find a better way to expand both your knowledge and your connections than at TECHSHOW.
Roberta Tepper (Co-Chair, TECHSHOW 2021)
(Yes, I asked myself for a tip.)TECHSHOW is the place where you can meet people who care as much as you do about legal technology, practice management and the future of the practice of law in all its complexity. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself to people you don’t know. Because so many people go to TECHSHOW year after year, it may seem to you that every- one knows everyone, except you. If you are in any way introverted, or not an extreme extrovert, it can be daunting to walk into a room, or stroll through the lobby, and start to talk to a stranger.
I get it. But I have found that almost universally people there are not only willing, but happy to talk to new folks. It’s not just the presenters whom you will learn from, it’s each other. So, take a deep breath and insert yourself (politely, of course) into a conversation that seems to be interesting to you. Take advantage of any of the social networking opportunities that may present themselves. Even if you came with people you know, be each other’s wing-people. Meet new people. Then, when you come back next time, you’ll be the “old hand” and you can pay it forward by welcoming someone new.