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January 2008 Issue | Volume 34 Number 1| Page 16

People & Places


From new tracks to nightlife options, Tom Mighell gives a behind-the-scenes preview of the profession’s premier annual technology conference.


WHAT: The world’s premier legal technology conference and expo
WHEN: March13-15, 2008
WHERE: Hilton Chicago, Chicago, IL
HOW MUCH: LPM Section members pay $695, or save and pay $595 for the full conference by registering before February 1. That’s $300 off the standard registration fee of $895. One-day passes are available for $425, or $325 if registering before February 1. Law students register for free.

For complete details and to register, visit the TECHSHOW website.

Now in its 22nd year, ABA TECHSHOW® continues to be the world’s premier legal technology conference and expo. Filled with nonstop educational opportunities over a three-day schedule, it features topflight speakers, a vendor expo and an unbelievable slate of programs. Law Practice asked ABA TECHSHOW Chair Tom Mighell to give us the inside news on what excitements await this year’s attendees.

Q. We hear ABA TECHSHOW is on the move.

You’re right—the biggest change for ABA TECHSHOW 2008 is its location. This year the conference takes place at the Hilton Chicago, located on Michigan Avenue right across from fabulous Grant Park, with easy access to Chicago’s attractions. A big advantage of holding the conference at the Hilton is that we will be able to host our educational sessions and Expo Hall on the same floor, so attendees can travel easily between the two areas. It is truly a grand old hotel, and we think attendees will love the change of pace.

Q. Speaking of educational sessions, tell us about the content.

There is a bounty of programs from which to choose—more than 50 educational sessions, spread out over 16 different topical tracks. We’re bringing back some perennially popular tracks, including E-Discovery, Litigation, Records Management, Microsoft Office, Advanced IT/Security, Internet, Mobile Technology and Show Me. Plus, there are new tracks for 2008 that reflect the changing face of legal technology.

A hot topic for lawyers these days is The Paperless Office, so we’re obliging them with a full track in that area. The new Large Firm/Corporate Counsel track is geared toward lawyers, corporate counsel and IT professionals, and the Client Relationships track will show not only how to attract clients with technology, but also how to keep them. In addition, we’ll be featuring environmentally friendly content in a Going Green track, highlighting firms that have accepted the challenge and are making it work. Finally, our Mac Track recognizes that not every lawyer uses a PC.

Last but not least, the conference includes the return of the always entertaining 60 Sites in 60 Minutes!

We’re also providing some special programming for solo and small firm lawyers on Friday, March 14, by offering two Solo and Small Firm tracks, with a total of eight sessions. For those attending ABA TECHSHOW for the first time, or who are unable to attend the rest of the conference, this special day of programming is a terrific opportunity to get an idea of what the conference is all about.

We’ve structured the entire conference so that attendees can choose the themes that best fit their interests. For example, our Advanced IT/Security attendees on Thursday may be interested in continuing on with the Large Firm/Corporate Counsel sessions on Friday. Those who want to learn more about electronically stored information will want to attend the Records Management track on Thursday and follow that up with E-Discovery on Friday. Regardless of their particular technology interests, everyone will find selections to suit their needs.

Q. What about roundtables—is anything different this year?

Yes—this year the topics for our roundtable sessions were selected by conference attendees! We asked them to choose the topics they most wanted to discuss with our legal technology experts, and they responded with some excellent choices. There will be interactive sessions on:

  • VoIP
  • Moving to Microsoft Office 2007
  • Practical E-Discovery Issues
  • Outlook Tips and Tricks
  • Setting Up a Law Office Document Management System
  • Paperless Office Q&A
  • More Technology Must-Haves for the Law Office
  • Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan

Q. What’s going on in the Expo Hall this year?

Once again, the Expo Hall will feature more than 100 vendors of legal technology products and services. With the Expo Hall directly across from the educational sessions this year, we hope attendees will spend a lot of time there between sessions. They can learn about new technologies, get demonstrations of the actual products, and even receive some fun giveaways. The conference’s Vendor Track (which runs at the same time as the educational programming) will also take place in the Expo Hall. Vendors in these sessions will present educational content as well as some product demonstrations.

Q. Is there time for any fun with all of this learning going on?

Absolutely. On Thursday night, we’re presenting ABA TECHSHOW After Dark, an evening of food, music and maybe even some door prizes. It will take place in the Hilton’s Grand Ballroom. Some of our vendors will be in attendance to show their wares, and we’ll have a live band that might encourage folks to get out on the dance floor.

On Friday, we’re pleased to host a seated luncheon for attendees, as we present the first annual James I. Keane Memorial Award, named for a legal technology legend. The award will be given to a law office that demonstrates innovative delivery of legal services through e-lawyering, particularly toward moderate-income individuals and the broad middle class.

And we’re bringing back the wildly popular Taste of ABA TECHSHOW dinners on Friday night. These Dutch-treat dinners are hosted by our speakers and experts on specific topics of interest, at great restaurants in the downtown Chicago area. The dinners are wonderful opportunities to make new friends with similar interests in technology, so attendees should consider them “don’t miss” events.

Q. Who should attend ABA TECHSHOW 2008?

I really believe that this year’s conference has something for legal professionals of every stripe. ABA TECHSHOW regularly attracts more than 2,000 attendees from around the world, ranging from legal tech novices to uber-geeks, but they all have one thing in common: a genuine interest in learning more about legal technology and how to use technology to become more efficient in the practice of law. Even better, lawyers can earn CLE credit in the process. ABA TECHSHOW prides itself on being the only major legal technology conference that is independent of vendor control, so when you attend the educational sessions, you won’t get a sales pitch. There’s no other legal technology conference like it.

About the Author

Tom Mighell is President of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., a management, marketing and strategy consultancy.