My second year at ABA TECHSHOW was magical. I was no longer a deer in the headlights, unable to absorb the massive amounts of content and activities going on around me. I made a pact with myself to indulge in every aspect of the event and suck the marrow, as it were. Here are 12 things I learned, thought, and took away:
I went to 12 presentations in a range of tracks. I perused a smattering of presentations in the iPad track to try and get the skinny, even though I am an Android phone and PC lady thus far. I figure I could expand my horizons. I like both cats and dogs after all, why not Mac and PC? I went to one purple track—”Cleaning Up a Data Leak—Yes it Can Happen to You!”—which I interpreted as probably Advanced or for-your-IT-person, but actually found it understandable and fascinating.
11 Business Cards
I networked my tail off, collecting 11 business cards from new contacts. Now the follow-through with calling these people is the true challenge. My networking rule of thumb is three events in a month, three business cards exchanged at each event, and at least three follow-ups afterwards. I somewhat cruelly prioritize the most important first, and count myself successful if I make it through half my stack after an event like this. At TECHSHOW this year I suggested to many that they may call me, too, so it is less labor intensive.
At a Meet the Author session, I spent 10 minutes trying to follow the brilliant Stephanie Kimbro, and her research into online client engagement. People who want legal services don’t use search terms like “law” or “legal” or “my rights.” Instead, they most commonly type “help,” and they are more likely feeling shame instead of righteous indignation. Kimbro went on to discuss the Proteus Effect, and hypothesized that law firms could engage clients better online with gamification.
9 Times I Used Gamification
I spent the following days using the word “gamification” in random contexts 9 times to sound smarter. I actually cannot eradicate this idea from my mind; I now feel played every time I spot gamification being used on me, from TurboTax (widget central) to Expedia (“3 tickets left!”). I am duly overwhelmed.
8 Key Considerations When Choosing Software for Your Firm
In “Keeping Your Sanity—Why Practice Management Software Matters More than Ever” (read: is essential), we identified 8 key considerations when choosing the software for your firm. They include:
- Scalability (for growth)
- Practice areas
- Level of knowledge and tolerance on staff
- New staff cross-firm skills acquisition (what the new hires use and can teach)
- Sync capabilities with current systems
- Mobility and remote access needs
- Knowledge management vs. matter management preferences
- Sales and marketing needs
The only thing I would add is what feels and looks nice, both because that matters to me and because folks spend a lot of time looking at their practice management software.
7 Products to Take Home
I found 7 products on the vendor floor that I would like to put in my pocket and take home. They are, in no particular order:
- Office 365 (sleek and synchy)
- LawPay (protects the Lawyer Trust Account)
- Ruby Receptionist (CEOs of Happiness)
- Chrometa (spyware that reports the user, to capture more time)
- Citrix ShareFile (sending secure large files easily)
- Wordrake (trims the fat in your writing)
- Worldox (the new interface is more intuitive)
Unrelated sidebar: it was interesting to see Clio and MyCase go head-to-head across the aisle from one another.
6 Cool Swag Items
Saw 6 cool swag items. My favorite were the complimentary head shots offered at the MyCase booth. If this is ever an option at a conference you go to, get one, because lawyers need nice head shots for their websites and social media. I wanted a caricature from Thompson Reuters, but I was too late. Next year. Also cool were Westlaw’s miniature adapters (including car and computer ports), Clio’s phone cleaning pad that sticks to the back of your phone, some tiny office supply kits, and SECURITY t-shirts. (If you know who had the office supply kits or the t-shirts, comment below so we can give credit where it’s due!)
5-Part Equation for Success
Enjoyed the brash action steps offered at the close of the “iLitigate on the iPad—Essential Litigation Workflows from Beginning to End” presentation. TECHSHOW speakers classically do not recommend specific products and systems unless they are called upon to do so in a “60 in 60” session or a select product talk (e.g. Google Voice, Microsoft track). One of the speakers (sorry, I missed his name, shout it out in a comment if you know!) in the iLitigate panel was bold enough to set out his 5-part equation for success:
- Get a VPN
- Learn one trick a day
- Get a cloud service with help from an expert
- Participate in social media
- Use a Mac, Office 365, and an iPad for court
I can see a goodly number of new litigators taking that and using it as a plan to implement improvements in the office or just to get started. It would still be a plan that needed some whittling, because they all do, but it is a good place to start.
4 Poor Ways to Choose Software
In the same practice management software presentation listed in No. 8., Nancy Dunon and Jeff Krause identified the 4 poor ways to choose software. They were:
- My buddy has it
- My IT Guy/Bookkeeper told me to get it
- It was the cheapest
- The geekiest lawyer in our firm picked it out for us
The last reason is because they will be very excited by all the features, but not necessarily have the firm-wide needs in mind. In my experience, this is what I see, too. Do research, test the products before buying, and invest substantially in training even if the product is a plug and play. The more you customize it and know it, the more you use and like it.
3 Parts to Adoption of Processes
In the “Process Management in a Shifting Legal Landscape” presentation—hands down my favorite presentation of the conference—Peggy Gruenke and Debbie Foster pulled out the trusty Venn diagram to explain that the Adoption of Processes is made up of interacting factors.
As you can see, the 3 parts are:
But all of these make up the office culture—a powerful force that can make adoption difficult and must be considered when planning and implementing process changes.
2 Favorite Quotes
I have 2 favorite quotes from TECHSHOW 2015. The first was from Debbie Foster in No. 3’s presentation.
“Just b/c you’ve been doing it that way forever doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid,” Debbie Foster #ABATECHSHOW — reward innovative staff
— Charity Anastasio (@charityanas) April 17, 2015
Bless her heart for adding the postscript that “stupid” is a bad word in her household and that it is not said lightly. The message she was getting across with it, though, is that if you have innovative staff that look for new and improved processes, you have a gold mine that you should appreciate and reward. My second favorite quote was from plenary speaker, Casey Flaherty, who said:
“Lawyers are miserable people b/c they spend their day at a machine they don’t know how to use” Flaherty @ #ABATECHSHOW
— Charity Anastasio (@charityanas) April 18, 2015
Flaherty would know, with his legal technology audit that continues to prove lawyers think themselves worlds better with Microsoft Word than they actually are. We underestimate the value of the tools we have at our fingertips, and we overestimate our ability to use those tools proficiently. So I challenge you to pick up YouTube and Microsoft mini-trainings and start learning how what you use can be used better in small, incremental lessons that you implement regularly (start with fifteen minutes a week).
1 Tie Between Taste of TECHSHOW Dinner and Bookstore Purchase
I had four amazing dinners in Chicago, each one eclipsing the prior. But the last night topped all when I went on the Taste of TECHSHOW with Ernie Svenson and Chad Burton, sponsored by Ruby Receptionist. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Chad is a two for one with his colleague Nicole Bradick being the more interesting of the pair (just kidding—they are really equally matched for wit and brains!). Conversation was delightful, food was incredible (literally the best salmon I have had in my entire life—all hail Catch35), and the walk back was better than the limo there. It was a perfect way to end a magical conference.
I bought many books for my organization, but I bought only 1 for myself: How to Do More in Less Time by Allison Shields and Daniel Siegel is an awesome book. I had a chance to start reading it before I left and knew I wanted it immediately. They get me, these two lawyers who must have spotless offices and perform on a plain above us all. They get my struggles with clutter, with interruptions, and with technology. I love this book and I am now covetously reading my copy from cover to cover, before I delve into the (electronic) reams of TECHSHOW materials.