Thoughts on ABA TECHSHOW 2013

Beautiful (but chilly) weather for TECHSHOW 2013

Beautiful (but chilly) weather for TECHSHOW 2013

Where can you meet famous writers, podcasters, and listen to an Emmy winner sing “I’m on Twitter” (to the tune of “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story) in the same hotel where Harrison Ford interrupted a physician’s speech in The Fugitive? If you were at the ABA’s TechShow 2013 in Chicago this past week, you know the answer. This was the first time I attended TechShow, and as I travel back home on the South Shore Railroad Friday evening my mind is still trying to process everything.

TechShow is broken into two main parts. The first are presentations from some of the real thought leaders in using technology in your law practice. The second is a sizable expo of vendors large, medium and small in size. There are also other components, but I really didn’t get a chance to partake of those. Had I done so, I think my mind would be even more boggled than it is now.

The networking opportunities are abundant, and I did not even scratch the surface. Part of it is that I can be a bit introverted in large gatherings. The other part is that I’m not really good at introducing myself to people in person when I really have not developed some kind of online connection with them. I felt OK saying hello to Ernie Svenson and Jeff Richardson from iPhone JD, but the only reason I introduced myself to David Sparks is because he all but insisted on his web site. I met a few other people that I will want to keep in touch with online (including Randy Juip, a guy who may be the coolest insurance defense attorney, despite his being a Univ. of Michigan fan). Next year I will hopefully feel a little more comfortable going up to people and socializing a bit more. I won’t call it a wasted opportunity, but I am sure many other first timers did better at the networking.

The expo is a great place to have your mind blown. I saw a lot of things that large firms would be likely to use, but not a huge number of things I would see our firm using. Perhaps we should, but I just don’t see it. I found some fascinating new ways to deal with depositions–specifically depositions. It was also cool to meet the great people behind TrialPad and TranscriptPad. Still, it’s good to see some of the types of things that are going on out there that are likely to be more mainstream in just a few years. The fact I was able to win a bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon was a real treat. (My wife and I drank it on Saturday evening. It was terrific.) There were plenty of other giveaways of iPad minis, other tablets, and accessories.

The presentations were, overall, very good to excellent. As one who is pretty tech savvy, some of the offerings were a bit basic for me, but others were quite useful and offered ideas to work on implementing. I think next year it would be wise for me to stay in Chicago so I can hit the last offerings of the day without worrying about catching my train to get back to South Bend at a reasonable hour. Doing so would also let me socialize a bit more with other attendees.

The keynote address was perhaps the best event. New York Times columnist David Pogue talked about how technology is disrupting our world. He did so in a very entertaining presentation with lots of humor. If you’ve ever seen one of his presentations on YouTube, you know what I am saying. The best part, though, wasn’t the humor or the musical portion. It was being shown the absolutely mind-blowing things that are being done with apps on our phones. Enhanced reality (like being able to point your iPhone’s camera at Spanish words and see the English translation–ON the same surface, in the same font, and with the same background, all in real time, was stunning. Another stunner was the app that let’s you point the camera at a building and see who inside the building is on Twitter *at that very moment.* (Employers are already looking this app up so they can see who is violating the company’s usage policies.)

Overall, I am glad I went, but wish I could have done more. The throngs of people behind TechShow are not to blame for that. I need a chance to get my sea legs before I can really take full advantage of the offerings. Assuming things work out for next year, you’ll see me there. (And if you remember me from this year, please say hello if you see me next year.)


The ABA’s annual TECHSHOW conference is kicking off in Chicago this week. I wish I could be there. But, as always, there are a few things that get in the way: the cost, the travel (which is really not a big deal for me since I’m only 90 minutes away), and the timing. For some reason, March is always a busy month.

As a tech enthusiast, TECHSHOW is probably worth the annual pilgrimage. Thousands of lawyers attend, but there are many more who can’t attend for one reason or another.

That’s why I wish the ABA would open up this conference a bit further and allow “attendance” remotely. For example, the ABA could offer streaming video of the presentations. Alternatively, the ABA could offer the presentations on YouTube after the event is over.

There are a bunch of “objections” to this idea: the cost, CLE credit, and so on. I say hogwash. A group of lawyers ought to be able to figure out solutions to any hurdles. For example, there could be a variety of video options:

  • Video streaming with CLE for a certain registration cost
  • Video streaming without CLE for a lower registration cost
  • Delayed video (YouTube) at no cost
  • Presentations on DVD for a set cost

Another huge annual conference, TED, offers streaming video for 20% of the cost to attend the event in person. TED begins to upload videos to its web site and elsewhere shortly after the conference ends, usually one a day—at no cost to anyone.

Of course, nothing can beat attending any conference in person. If the ABA had more options for people who can’t attend to enjoy at least some of the benefits of the show, it would be doing all lawyers a great service. So who do we start to pester to make this happen?