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Law Technology Today


LTRC Roundtable Discussion: Holidays

Dennis M Kennedy, Allison C Johs, John Loughnane, Rodney Scott Dowell, Reid F Trautz, Michael D Goler, Lance G Johnson, and Julie Bays


  • ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center board members answer questions about the holidays, and what the best gift for a lawyer could be.
LTRC Roundtable Discussion: Holidays

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This month, we asked our panel to tell us about the upcoming holidays.

Our Panelists

Dennis Kennedy (DK), Allison Shields Johs (ASJ), John Loughnane (JL), Rodney Dowell (RD), Reid Trautz (RT), Michael Goler (MG), Lance Johnson (LJ), and Julie Bays (JB)

1. What was the best holiday technology gift you've received as a lawyer?

RD: My first iPad opened up the world of mobile lawyering to me. I have never looked back.

RT: One year I received two Amazon Echo Dots from different people. I already had an Echo, so I placed them around the house and in my office. That led me to voice-activate lights and smart technology in every room. I now have five.

DK: I want to say Mastercard prepaid cards, but let me move to technology. I think it’s difficult to give tech gifts to techies because we have very specific wants. I’ve enjoyed gifts like power cords and adapters. You never can have too many of them.

MG: High energy power pack.

LJ: In a time long, long ago, I received a PalmPilot as a gift. It was a life-changing gift at the time because it could actually sync with my desktop so my contacts and calendar were the same.

JL: The best holiday technology gift in my mind is likely also the most pedestrian—extra battery power. My Mophie PowerStation is a constant companion.

AS: I haven't actually practiced law for over 10 years, so my best tech gift doesn't have anything to do with the law, but I think lawyers can definitely benefit from it because it helps focus more on health and wellness. It's my Oura ring—it's a fitness tracker in a ring. I've never been a fan of the watch-type fitness trackers or smartwatches. The ring has sensors on the inside and it monitors my activity, but also gives me feedback on the quality of my sleep, how much REM and deep sleep I get, and tracks my temperature and heart rate.

JB: This was a few years ago but I will never forget receiving the Fujitsu xI1500 Scansnap desktop scanner. It changed the way I looked at documents and transformed my workflow. It made it so easy to go completely paperless. It integrates easily with other platforms to allow you to insert your documents into files in various locations. The newer Fujitsu xI1600 integrates with practice management software such as Clio, too. If I knew an attorney trying to go paperless, this is the first gift I would give them!

2. Do you have a favorite type of gift you like to give to clients for the holidays? To office staff?

RD: For office staff, I believe gift cards are the most appreciated because it allows the staff to use the gift as needed. But for office staff with whom I am closest, I prefer individual gifts that reflect the individual.

RT: For staff, I usually give a small token gift with a more substantial gift card to a store or restaurant I know they like.

DK: People love getting Amazon gift cards. Let them choose what they want! Apple AirTags would be an interesting gift this year, as would a RocketBook.

MG: I take my good clients to lunch around the holidays. Cash always is more appreciated than anything else.

LJ: For my clients, products made by other clients. For my staff, $$$.

JL: More creative people than me surely have better ideas but my default is gift cards which empower the recipient to explore their own purchasing desires.

JB: For staff, keyboards are always a great gift because this is one item that people tend to neglect. They get filthy and outdated. There are so many choices nowadays too. Some people like the feel of a mechanical keyboard and others may need an ergonomic type to help alleviate stress to their wrists. It is a gift that typists always appreciate.

3. Are you planning an office holiday party this year? If so, will it be in-person or virtual? What fun ideas do you have for a virtual firm holiday party?

RD: We will do a virtual office party, but the fun ideas will come from our holiday party committee.

RT: We're staying virtual for this year. The best holiday event last year was a virtual chocolate tasting where the Miami-based chocolate company sent small boxes of hand-crafted chocolates and small bottles of wine to everyone who participated via Zoom to learn together how chocolate is made how they differ and pair with wine for dessert.

DK: You won’t catch me at any office holiday party this year. I’m intrigued by the spatial audio virtual meeting platforms that let you move around and join conversations. Having pizzas delivered to people at home by PizzaTime is also pretty cool.

MG: Our firm is having an in-person holiday lunch.

LJ: Nope. Solo practice. I may play some holiday songs in the background or put the Hallmark Channel on while I work.

JL: The words "virtual" and "party" do not seem to fit very well together. Celebratory events that seem to work well online usually involve some sort of tasting with at-home shipments provided in advance.

JB: We’re planning an in-person holiday lunch this year. It will be our first in over two years. We will do the usual Secret Santa presents and have a wonderful lunch. We are all looking forward to it.

4. What technology gift would you like to most receive this year for the holiday you celebrate?

RD: I am looking towards a new Microsoft Surface that makes my mobile experience with Office365 seamless.

RT: I am angling for a reMarkable 2 tablet. Yes, it's primarily work-related but I like their system of handwriting notes and transferring to editable documents on my computer.

DK: A small drone with a camera would be awesome. Elgato Stream Deck. A number of utilitarian items: YubiKey; solar charger; UPS battery backup; Anker Charging Dock for Oculus Quest 2; cable organizers; hubs. Not a lot on my wishlist this year because of recent purchases. Happy for you to surprise me!

LJ: I have a gen 1 iPad. It really needs an update.

JL: The gift of banning email seems far-fetched. My iPhone has become seriously outdated, though, and upgrading that essential appendage would bring some joy.

AS: I think this year what I would like most is probably a new tablet. My old, second-generation iPad just isn't cutting it anymore, and I'm tired of reading on my phone—the screen is just too small for reading for any length of time. But I also wouldn't mind getting one of the photosticks that you plug into your computer and/or phone that automatically finds and backs up all of your photos and videos. It's a nice alternative to backing up in the cloud.

JB: I am not sure how much of a technology gift this is, but I plan to travel more next year and would love for someone to get me the Travelmate suitcase! It is a robot that is fully autonomous. It can travel both vertically or horizontally and it has many features such as a GPS chip, USP port, and a built-in scale. It only costs $1099.00!

5. Last question, what is your favorite holiday indulgence you can't wait for each year?

RD: That's easy, Eggnog.

RT: Getting together with family this year. After not getting together last year, gathering the family for the holidays seems like an indulgence!

DK: Taking some downtime.

MG: Traveling to German Christmas markets.

LJ: We strictly limit the existence of eggnog in the house to the two-week period before Christmas.

JL: The holidays are a great time to open some eggnog and relax with family and friends—like most people, I think eggnog is strictly a holiday indulgence.

AS: I love Thanksgiving and all of the foods that we usually only have for Thanksgiving. I'm not sure I can choose just one, so I'll name a few: stuffing, pumpkin bread, and my Mom's pecan pie.

JB: I can’t decide if my favorite holiday indulgence is eggnog or movie watching. I love eggnog and look forward to it every year. It goes well with a little bit of Cognac and a wood fire in the fireplace! I also love to watch all of the classic Christmas movies and argue on social media whether or not Die Hard is actually a Christmas movie. I can’t wait to start that again this year.