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Reflections On ABA Techshow 2015

Nicole BlackABA Techshow 2015 has come and gone. It was a whirlwind of activity from start to finish and it’s only now that I finally have a chance to take a breath and look back on it. Here are my thoughts.

As is the case every year, ABA Techshow 2015 turned out to be a great place to connect with like-minded people with an interest in the intersection of law and technology. So if that sounds like you and you’ve never been, mark your calendars now for next year’s show (March 17-19). You really shouldn’t miss it.

I’ve found that each year, the conversations I have with my colleagues tend to center around timely legal technology issues that are at the forefront of people’s minds. So even if the conference sessions don’t change tremendously from year to year—but instead shift focus gradually—the focus of attendees often changes dramatically from year to year.

For example in 2009 and 2010, the impact of social media was discussed often since the effect of social networking was still up in the air. Many still considered it to be a fad that would have little impact on the legal profession. But now that social media is regularly being mined for evidence and used to defend and prosecute cases, the effects of social media on the practice of law are indisputable. That lawyers need to understand it and use it effectively is a given.

Then, from 2011 through 2013, cloud computing took center stage. There was much dispute as to whether lawyers could or should use cloud computing in their practices. Many remained unconvinced that it would be a tool regularly used by lawyers. Today, legal cloud computing software is much more commonplace and the discussion has turned to how lawyers should use it and what issues to consider when doing so.

Starting in 2013 and continuing through to this year, mobile has been a hot topic. Many legal technology companies rolled out apps for their platforms in 2013 and 2014 and a few others are finally getting around to releasing apps this year. It’s clear that mobile computing is the future of all business computing, and the legal field is not immune from that trend. The good news is that because the benefits of managing your practice on the go are so clear—mobility, flexibility, convenience ,and 24/7 access to law firm files—lawyers are taking to mobile like a fish takes to water and are rapidly adopting these tools into their practices.

This year, the next stage of mobile was discussed often: wearables. Not surprising, since the conference occurred just weeks after the release of Apple Watch—something that I believe will be the tipping point for lawyers when it comes to wearables

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But it wasn’t just wearables that were on people’s minds; many were also thinking about the need for lawyers to use document and process automation in order to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded legal marketplace. This year my days at the conference were spent in meeting after meeting with people from all corners of the legal technology space. Whether I was talking with other legal vendors, legal journalists, technology consultants, or attorneys, the concept of using technology to automate the practice of law came up repeatedly. Many referred to the recent decision in Washington to allow limited license legal technicians to advise clients on certain areas of the law as proof that lawyers who don’t pivot and use technology to streamline their practices so that they can deliver legal services more efficiently and cost-effectively will be left in the dust. Only time will tell if that prediction comes to fruition.

Of course, Techshow isn’t just about technology. It’s about the people, as many who’ve already written about the conference have said. In fact, I’d say that the people are my favorite part of this conference. This year I met so many new people and connected with old friends, too. 

I had dinner with my good friend Lisa Solomon on Tuesday night, and then spent the night before the conference, Wednesday, dining and/or having drinks with a great bunch of people who you may recognize from their writings, both online and off: Jeena Cho, Brian Tannebaum, Kelly Phillips Erb, Keith Lee, Huma Rashid, and Jason Wilson. Then the conference began and I spent much of my time with the MyCase crew in attendance and also truly enjoyed running into and spending time with friends old and new: Scott Malouf, Gillian Fattal, Tim Baran, Steven Chung, Gyi Tsakalakis, Mark Betters, Jason Kohlmeyer, Tom Hagen and Chris Rosengren, just to name a few.

So that’s what ABA Techshow was all about for me this (and every year): the technology, the discussions, and the people. If you didn’t make it this year, I hope to see you next year! I’m sure you’ll find it to be every bit as enjoyable as I always do!

Nicole Black is the Legal technology Evangelist at MyCase, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is an attorney in Rochester, New York, and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
 

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