Reflections on the ABA 2009 Techshow

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I’ve spent the last several days attending and participating in the American Bar Association’s 2009 “Techshow” in Chicago. I thought I would record a few of my observations for readers who were unable to attend.

1. Tech Minded Attorneys Really Should Attend.

This was my first time at the ABA Techshow. I’ve attended other attorney technology trade shows but none of them were this good. This show bills itself as “for lawyers, by lawyers” and the name is appropriate. The sessions were not about giving vendors a chance to shill their products but all about giving legal professionals useful information. I didn’t attend a single session I didn’t learn something useful in (including my own).

2. There Are a Lot of Mac Lawyers

I was always under the impression there are more iPods in at the Gates residence than there are attorneys practicing law on Macs. Turns out I was wrong. Granted only the highest order law geeks would attend something called the ABA Techshow but there were a lot of attorneys driving Macs. That being said, many of them really aren’t using their Macs to their full potential. There certainly is an opportunity here to teach. I’m already thinking about the best ways to do that.

3. The Future is Online Applications

For the last year I’ve speculated that operating systems are becoming increasingly irrelevant. With software now being sold as an online service, the web browser (not your operating system) becomes the gateway to your software. Frankly, I always thought the legal industry would be the very last to adopt this. Nevertheless, a stroll through the exhibit hall demonstrated that online software applications for lawyers are already entrenched. Of particular note are the law practice manaement applications. I was most impressed by Rocket Matter which looks perfect for a small or solo firm. I still have questions regarding security and ethics but I have no doubt online applications are the future, even for attorneys.

4. Legal Professionals Are Still Great People

While I still bump into the occaisional knucklehead, the vast majority of attorneys and legal professionals I meet are fascinating, creative people. I made several new friends at this year’s Techshow and look forward to continuing these relationships in the future. This alone was worth the four-hour flight. One of my highlights was hosting a dinner with another Mac blogger, Ben Stevens of where we shared some great food and better company with a group of Mac attorneys and prospective Mac attorneys at Chicago’s Rosebud Steakhouse.
I had a fantastic time and look forward to attending again in the future. I highly recommend it for all legal professional who want to get more out of their technology.

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LegalTech iPhone Session – Call for Apps

One of the sessions I’ll be helping lead at this year’s American Bar Assosciation Tech Show is a roundtable discussion of practicing law with an iPhone. In addition to discussing network and security issues, I also want to highlight some of my favorite business related applications. At some point I will post a listing of the top applications here but in the meantime, I’d like to hear from the readers about what apps you find helpful for getting through the work day. OmniFocus and Evernote are the easy ones. Surprise me with something I’ve never heard of. Sound off in the comments or drop me an email.

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MacSparky at ABA TechShow 2009

Every year the American Bar Association sponsors its premier technology conference and exposition in Chicago called the TechShow. Recognizing the increasing use of Macs in the practice of law, this year they have added a Mac track where lawyers can learn the advantages of using a Macintosh in their practice along with some particular software and hardware skills.

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be teaching part of it. My fellow “Mac track” instructors are Ben Stevens from TheMacLawyer, Reid Trautz, the director of the Practice & Professionalism Center for American Immigration Lawyers Association and a frequent lecturer on law practice management, and Brett Burney from BurneyConsultants.

The legal industry has always been slow to adopt new technology. I was dragging my projector to the courthouse long before the term “PowerPoint” became a verb (i.e. “He PowerPointed me to death!”) I also have been using a Mac at the courthouse long enough to witness my use of Apple hardware go from freakish curiosity to accepted alternative. I’m eager to go to Chicago April 2-4 and speak with more like minded, tech friendly attorneys and professionals. Of course, I’ll be using Keynote ’09.

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