- No better time to come to TECHSHOW – a meeting of the practitioners who use technology, the experts who teach how to use it and the creators of the technology itself.
My first ABA TECHSHOW was in 2011.
I had recently officially ended my very short time practicing law and founded a digital legal marketing technology company.
I must confess that, before attending, I was a bit skeptical. After all, a technology conference for lawyers? In Chicago? In March? The legal profession isn’t exactly known for “pushing the envelope on tech.” But I lived in Chicago, so I figured, what the heck.
As I reflect over a decade later, three things really stand out: the vastness of technology, the quality of expertise and the community of people.
I am genuinely grateful for the privilege to serve as co-chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2023 and wanted to share a few thoughts about ABA TECHSHOW, technology and the practice of law.
Technology has always been fully integrated into the practice of law. While we may hold different notions as to what counts as legal technology, most of us likely agree that it includes the practical application of knowledge; a manner of accomplishing tasks using technical processes, methods or knowledge; and specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor.
Of course, legal technology includes software and hardware, but doesn’t it also include how we use these shiny objects? Isn’t it also the systems, processes and people who operate the tech? Technology isn’t just code and chips. It’s a mindset. This is where ABA TECHSHOW truly shines. It is a meeting of the practitioners who use technology, the experts who teach how to use it and the creators of the technology itself.
In 2012, the ABA adopted the following comment to Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1:
To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.
Today, an overwhelming majority of states have adopted some form of an ethical duty of technology competence.
And yet, as recently as 2021, when asked whether they have used cloud computing for work-related tasks, 15% of the respondents to the ABA TECHREPORT survey responded “I don’t know.” Perhaps more, or less, astonishing, depending on your viewpoint, 25% responded “no.”
We can debate the quality of the survey question. We can debate the sample size. We can debate the demographics of the respondents. But doesn’t it strike you as at least a little odd that only 60% of the respondents said “yes”? Further, only 21% of respondents stated that receiving training on emerging technology is very important, 44% reported it is somewhat important and 35% did not believe it to be important. And yet, respondents reported that they were forced to use new technology 36% more because of the pandemic.
More new technology, little perceived value in technology competence.
But forget about the TECHREPORT for a moment. Law firms have been dubbed the “soft underbelly” of cybersecurity. In fact, the New York Times has been reporting on the lack of law firm security since at least 2014. But even if you are skeptical of the TECHREPORT and the New York Times, I’m confident you know some lawyers who are remarkably clueless about technology.
Sadly, throughout the pandemic, many who were unable to quickly adopt technologies that enabled them to deliver services remotely were forced to shutter their practices. The hard truth is that whether you care about technology is irrelevant. Your clients do. They care about how you will communicate with them. They care about whether you are protecting their information. They care whether you are delivering your services efficiently and effectively. They care whether you will be able to make their case to the judge and jury.
Technology is increasingly likely to play some role in each of these. And if you are unable to meet their expectations, they will find alternatives.
It’s time to join the ABA TECHSHOW community.
ABA TECHSHOW 2023 will take place in person on March 1-4 in Chicago. The energy, relationships and learning of the ABA TECHSHOW experience simply aren’t the same when delivered virtually. And let’s face it, neither is Chicago!
For those unable to attend in person, the ABA TECHSHOW community, the Legal Technology Resource Center and the Law Practice Division have a variety of resources available to bring lawyers and technology together on-demand, from wherever you are. I encourage you to explore:
For those fortunate enough to make it to ABA TECHSHOW, you will have the opportunity to meet many of the people behind these excellent resources and benefit from conversations that provide answers and insights into your most curious legal technology questions. Creating, nurturing and solidifying these relationships is where the ABA TECHSHOW experience truly excels. In fact, part of our goal for 2023 includes integrating more of the Law Practice Division’s technology resources into ABA TECHSHOW.
When people ask, “Why ABA TECHSHOW?” as distinguished from many other legal technology conferences, I usually say something about it being “technology-and skill set-inclusive.” Put simply, it isn’t a user conference solely for a single platform, device or technology ecosystem. It isn’t limited to a specific technology category (e.g., practice management), either. It also isn’t designed for any particular level of technology interest or experience. Instead, TECHSHOW provides a platform for all technology that can help any aspect of the business of practicing law and delivering legal services.
In case you missed it, there has been a historic shift in the expectations of legal services consumers. The last two years alone have changed so much about how we work and communicate. This, in part, has led to massive legal technology proliferation. In my experience, one of the hallmarks of ABA TECHSHOW is the vastness of technology represented. If you have never been, you will likely be astonished by just how many options there are. Fortunately, in the tradition of ABA TECHSHOW, there are a variety of resources available to help you navigate your options.
If you haven’t been for a few years, there is no better time to come back. The growth in investment in legal technology has spurred innovation at a remarkable pace. And while bleeding-edge technology is well-represented, the core focus is on the technology that helps lawyers work more efficiently and effectively, and most importantly, deliver better client experiences across the entire client life cycle.
I am always particularly grateful for the look on an attendee’s face when they have that “eureka moment” while learning about a technology that will dramatically improve their practice and life.
But ABA TECHSHOW tech isn’t solely about the “tech built for lawyers.” It’s also about learning about the latest updates in core technologies from companies like Microsoft and Google and how to unlock new features to use in your law practice. I can confidently promise you that someone at ABA TECHSHOW knows more about word processing and spreadsheets than you do.
Have you ever heard the saying, “All the gear, no idea”? You know, folks who buy all that expensive equipment but have no clue how to use it? Whether you’re the last of the Luddites or a legal tech gearhead, you’ll benefit from the deep expertise of ABA TECHSHOW faculty, exhibitors and other attendees.
We have curated the experience to deliver programming across the business of practicing law pillars: marketing, management, technology and finance. If you’re looking for CLE that actually educates, get here.
ABA TECHSHOW is a well-known meeting place for law practice management advisors (PMAs) from state, local and specialized bar associations across the country. Developing a relationship with your association’s PMA can be a game changer for those needing assistance with software and devices in their practices. Lacking PMA resources in your state? Come learn from those setting the standard in other jurisdictions.
For students just beginning their journey into the legal profession, and the educators who support them, ABA TECHSHOW can serve as a bridge between academia and practitioners. Some of the greatest change agents in the legal profession are in law schools. Come meet the future of the profession and legal education.
But the sessions and CLE are just the tips of the expertise icebergs. Imagine learning about legal technology from the people who guide lawyers in their technology decisions for a living. An online demo or a YouTube explainer simply can’t compete with an in-person conversation with an experienced expert who has lived through the tech horror stories and practice transformations.
Admittedly, I may have buried the lede a bit. Without a doubt, the most valuable aspect of ABA TECHSHOW is the community. Whether it’s the tradition or something they’re putting in the coffee, the people are what make ABA TECHSHOW special.
You can expect to meet new people. You will meet other lawyers and learn about how they’re using technology in their practices. You will meet people who work at law firms and support practitioners. You will meet consultants and product designers eager to hear what keeps you up at night about running your firm.
You can expect to see the latest ingenious ideas in legal technology and the people bringing these ideas to life. From Startup Alley to the EXPO, almost everything at the intersection of law practice and technology will be there.
You can expect to learn. Sure, you might find a new technology that has a transformative effect on your practice. Or you might learn some new things about your favorite technology. Or you might change your firm’s systems processes. Or you might learn a new way to use technology to market your services. Or you might avoid a massive waste of time or money by learning from the mistakes of others. Or you might learn about blind spots that you never realized you have. Or maybe your eyes will be opened to new ways of thinking about the business of law altogether.
You can expect to have a great time. The conversations will continue through the evening at official events, Taste of TECHSHOW dinners and after-parties. You can expect to join a community that you will value well beyond the conference itself.
As you may be aware, last year was the first year back in person, following a completely virtual ABA TECHSHOW year. Watching the community reunite was genuinely touching. It felt more like a family reunion than a technology conference.
I am truly grateful to be a part of this community. I am particularly grateful to my co-chair, Jeannine Abukhater Lambert, as well as the entire 2023 Planning Board.
So, come to ABA TECHSHOW. You will be greeted with gratitude and empathy.