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LTRC Roundtable Discussion: TECHSHOW

Lance G Johnson, Jim Calloway, John Simek, Brett Burney, Darla Jackson, Emily Amara Gordon, Julie Bays, Reid F Trautz, JoAnn Hathaway, and Allison C Johs


  • ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center board members answer questions about the ABA’s upcoming 2023 TECHSHOW.
LTRC Roundtable Discussion: TECHSHOW Maricic

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Our Panelists:

Lance Johnson (LJ), Jim Calloway (JC), John Simek (JS)), Brett Burney (BB), Darla Jackson (DJ), Emily Amara Gordon (EAG), Julie Bays  (JB), Reid Trautz (RT), Joann L. Hathaway (JLH), Allison Johs (AJ) 

1. What are you most looking forward to about TECHSHOW 2023?

LJ: Being able to go.

JC: Automation is becoming critical for lawyers, so I’ll be attending sessions on automation, bots, and AI. But since my job is helping lawyers with technology, I’ll be attending some sessions on Microsoft Word, PDF tips and improving the client experience. But I am mainly looking forward to seeing friends I often only see in person once a year.

BB: The educational sessions at ABA TECHSHOW are always top-quality and I will always learn something from every session I attend, but I most look forward to connecting with a long list of friends that I’ve gotten to know over all the years of TECHSHOW. It’s fun to re-connect with everyone, but also exciting to make new friends and find incredible resources.

DJ: As always, I look forward to attending the Start-up Pitch Competition. As the TECHSHOW Board Member responsible for the Core Concepts Track, I must admit that I am partial to the session in that track. I am really looking forward to attending the panel discussion on Technology Competence and the Empower with AI: How AI Could (And Perhaps Already Is) Charging Your Practice session. But I think all the sessions in the Core Concepts and other tracks will offer attendees some great information.

EAG: I am most looking forward to attending some of my favorite speakers’ sessions and feeling energized for the year ahead by their enthusiasm, innovation, and ideas.

JB: I always look forward to the Start-Up Pitch Competition. It is very entertaining but also informative. I enjoy talking with these start-ups in the Expo Hall during the conference and learning about their products.

RT: Seeing old friends, meeting new people, and finding out what’s new in the exhibit hall.

JLH:  Its unparalleled benefits.

AJ: The thing I’m looking forward to the most about TECHSHOW 2023 is actually being in person! The last TECHSHOW I attended was in February 2020, right before the world shut down. It’s hard to believe that it has been three years, but I know that will make this year’s event that much more special. I am also looking forward to meeting and greeting TECHSHOW attendees at the LTRC booth in the Expo Hall, located in the LP Bookstore area. Members of the LTRC board and the Practice Management Advisors from around the country will be available to answer your tech questions, help you figure out how to navigate the Expo Hall, and showcase all of the LTRC’s resources that are available for lawyers around the country.

2. What are the 3 most important things you hope to learn from TECHSHOW 2023?

LJ: Updates to Office 365, new products for security, and what’s new for AI-assisted legal research.

JC: A) What cutting edge law firms are doing today with online marketing, particularly using bots and videos. B) What is new and exciting with Justice Tech? Everyone in our profession needs to appreciate that there are many shortcomings in our legal current system, and we need to support access to justice reforms. C) And for me, it’s not TECHSHOW without hearing Barron K. Henley’s Word automation tips.

BB: The 3 most important things I hope to learn from TECHSHOW 2023 are:
1) What are the main concerns of law firms these days? Working remotely or hybrid? Questions on managing documents or concentrating on security?
2) What legal technology vendors will attend and share their recent announcements and product releases?
3) What new connections will I make at the conference that I can add to my growing list of friend and resources?

DJ: I really am concentrating on two objectives for TECHSHOW 2023. I want to learn about new developments in practice management. Similarly, I hope to learn how attorneys are using traditional and newly developed tools to innovate and market their practices. That is why I am excited to attend the Empower with AI: How AI Could (And Perhaps Already Is) Charging Your Practice session.


  1. New and improved ways to automate my practice.
  2. Introductions to new software that will help my practice be more efficient.
  3. How to develop a more streamlined lead gathering and client onboarding process.

JB: I am always interested in the new or improved tech products in the EXPO HALL. As a practice management advisor, it’s important for me to stay up to date on the latest technology. I go to sessions that help me improve my service to our lawyers. This year I will focus again on marketing because solo and small firm lawyers need to do more of this. I’m also interested in learning more about the client experience and how to make it better for them and easier for the lawyer to manage.

RT: What new automation tools are emerging, how fast existing legal technology is evolving, and where our profession may be heading based on what I learn in the sessions and exhibit hall.

AJ: No matter how much you think you know about technology, there is always something new to learn. I hope to learn about new features available in the software programs lawyers use to run their practices so that I can communicate those features to my clients and those who read my blog or newsletter. Second, I hope to learn more about how lawyers can (or are) using new and emerging technologies in their practices, and third, I hope to pick up an unexpected tip along the way.

3. What is your best advice for first-time TECHSHOW attendees?

LJ: Read the schedule in advance and plan your meetings.

JC: The most important thing is to plan in advance which sessions you will attend. TECHSHOW moves quickly and there are many options between the simultaneous educational presentations and things to do and see in the EXPO hall. So, determine the sessions you most want to attend. It is OK to change your mind. I do it every year. But if you are in a conversation and realize the sessions started five minutes ago, it is better to have a pre-determined pick than to try and quickly read all session descriptions for that hour.

JS: Keep calm and savor the moment. There is so much going on at TECHSHOW over several days that there is great opportunity to suffer FOMO. Relax and list what sessions and activities you want to participate in. Understand that you won’t be able to do everything. Prioritize which sessions you want to attend and have a couple of alternate sessions identified for the same time slot. You can always go back and review the written materials for those sessions you could not attend. Make sure you build in some networking and Expo Hall time too. The speakers and vendors are very accessible. TECHSHOW is a great opportunity to get your hands on various technologies and spend some one-on-one time with some of the best legal technology experts in the industry.

BB: Don’t be upset that you can’t attend every session because the conference is packed full of good information. And don’t hesitate to stay an extra minute in the hall talking with someone you just met instead of rushing to the next session. Lastly, carry a water bottle and several business cards (yes phone contacts are great but physical business cards are useful for remembering folks).

DJ: Come to TECHSHOW rested and ready to engage.  Don’t be intimidated by the surroundings. There are plenty of people who love sharing their knowledge and experience. Just ask.

EAG: Arrive in Chicago on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning so you are rested, organized and focused for Tech Show. (You don’t want to miss a minute!)

JB: My advice for first-time TECHSHOW attendees is try not to be overwhelmed. There are great people everywhere willing to help. I found that the EXPO HALL could be intimidating to new attendees. This year there will be help in the ABA Bookstore in the Expo Hall. Experts such as practice management advisors will be on site to answer their questions.

RT: Don’t try to go to a session every hour. Pace yourself.

JLH: There’s nothing like coming back to real life with what I call TECHSHOW afterglow. You return to work full of new ideas, creativity, and the spark to significantly change your law practice. If you go to TECHSHOW alone, it’s difficult to pass on everything you’ve learned to others in your firm, which is why I always recommend attending with at least one other person from your firm.

AJ: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re lost and aren’t sure where to begin or how to decide what to do or where to go, visit the LTRC and Practice Management Advisors who will be on hand in the Expo Hall at the LP Bookstore to answer any of your questions. There will also be other volunteers, including TECHSHOW board members, who will be happy to answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to talk to the vendors in the Expo hall or to strike up a conversation with another attendee whether at lunch, before or after an educational session, wandering through the Expo hall or at one of the social events. And finally, don’t be afraid to talk to the speakers. In my experience, speakers love to talk about their areas of expertise, and most don’t have nearly enough time to cover their topic in a one-hour session.

4. What are your best tips for getting the most out of TECHSHOW?

LJ: See no. 3 above.

JC: Engage. Talk to other attendees. Visit the Expo Hall. Most TECHSHOW speakers are approachable and happy to answer a question after their program. Also take plenty of business cards. Sure, they are “old school,” but they have many uses at TECHSHOW. Maybe you will make some new contacts or win a prize from a vendor drawing.

JS: Some of the best tips are captured in my response for first-time TECHSHOW attendees. In my opinion, one of the best tips is to create personal relationships. Get the contact information for the various people you will meet and spend some time together. Be it a fellow attendee, vendor representative, or speaker, establishing personal relationships will help you in the future. It’s always great to be able to reach out to someone for specific advice to help your practice.

BB: Similar to my advice for first-timers – just relax and enjoy the conference. Don’t hesitate to speak up, or ask questions, or introduce yourself to someone sitting next to you because you just never know where those conversations will take you! And remember to connect with all those new friends on LinkedIn.

DJ: DO some planning before you come. Your plan should include time for attending sessions, spending time in the Expo Hall, and networking with TECHSHOW Faculty and other attendees. As you plan the sessions you want to attend, consider your level of familiarity with a topic. If you need some basic instruction, consider attending Core Competence Track sessions, which normally address both basic and intermediate skills issues. If you desire to engage at other levels, consider workshops that will allow you to share and network with others at deeper levels.

EAG: Enjoy the experience and people, but also have a plan on how to navigate the sessions you want to attend and the vendors you want to speak to.

JB: Lawyers need to plan before attending the TECHSHOW! There are too many sessions, and it can be a whirlwind of activity. Lawyers should make a list of the sessions they want to attend in advance. They should determine which sessions they will learn the most for their specific needs.

RT: Find opportunities to meet and share your experiences with speakers, TECHSHOW board members, vendors, and other attendees. There is a wealth of information to be learned from just about everyone there.

JLH: The TECHSHOW expo hall features legal services and products presented by vendors ranging from start-ups to longtime trusted brands.

AJ: Plan ahead! There’s a lot going on at TECHSHOW and it’s impossible to see everything. Take a look at the conference schedule and determine in advance which sessions you would like to attend. Pick a backup for each timeslot as well, just in case you change your mind or the session doesn’t turn out to be what you were expecting. Feel free to switch in the middle of a session. Give some thought to what your tech needs are or what tech particularly interests you and then see which vendors will be attending TECHSHOW and make a plan for your time in the Expo hall as well. Remember that the Expo hall starts closing down mid-afternoon on Friday, so you’ll want to make the Expo Hall a priority on Thursday and early Friday. Make sure you leave time for networking and socializing, too.

5. What is your favorite memory from TECHSHOW in the past?

LJ: The wealth of information from talking with others at the social events.

JC: Since I have attended 24 TECHSHOWs, I have lots of great memories. For a program 60 Gadgets and Gizmos in 60 Minutes, some well-known gadgeteers assembled a potato gun and loudly shot a potato into the ballroom ceiling. Luckily no convention center staff were present to witness. Bob Ambrogi and I still laugh about the time we were doing a live 60 Sites in 60 Minutes program and the internet slowed to a crawl. We had a lot of time to improvise. But truly my best memories are getting to know some of the smartest tech savvy lawyers, vendors and law office personnel in the county, people whose posts and articles I had been reading for years. Sometimes the sessions informally held in the bar in the evening were more cutting edge than the programming.

JS: There are so many great memories. It is hard to pick just one or even a select few. I won’t talk about the year of the potato gun, or should I say cannon? It was a great honor and privilege to co-chair TECHSHOW with Lincoln Mead, which I will never forget. Another memorable TECHSHOW highlight was listening to the keynote speaker, Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. As Cindy predicted, data security and privacy are certainly in the forefront of our lives.

BB: Usually my favorite memories all happen at the dinners with friends and fellow attendees at the end of the day – it’s just so much fun to talk, interact, share, and learn. Several years ago when drones were the new rage, I remember one of the speakers flew one around the room and freaked everyone out. And lastly, I fondly remember the “60 Apps in 60 Minutes” sessions we had when the iPhone & iPad were new where it was standing room only and so much fun! So many good memories from ABA TECHSHOW.

DJ: There are so many. Attending the Start-up Pitch Competition, speaking at TECHSHOW for the first time, and learning from Practice Management Advisors about the vendors in the Expo and the best swag available are some of my favorite memories.

EAG: Going out to dinner and spending time with fellow legal techies and getting to meet and speak with some of my legal tech heroes like Jack Newton from Clio.

RT: This will be my 21st TECHSHOW since 1997 so I have many great memories, but my favorite memories are of the friends I’ve made over the years.

AJ: I have so many great memories from TECHSHOW that it’s hard to choose a favorite. One of my favorite experiences as a speaker was having my session illustrated live and seeing the storyboard after the session. It’s a pretty neat experience to see your words come to life in an illustration! As an attendee, my favorite memories are all about spending time with old and new friends at TECHSHOW.