Micro-Symposium on ABA TECHSHOW 2017

The article below was originally published in SmallLaw, a free email newsletter for lawyers and others who work in small law firms. Get the complete SmallLaw experience — sign up for your free subscription now.

Scenes from ABA TECHSHOW — TimeSolv CEO Raza Hasan gives a demo, How to Manage a Small Law Firm VP Marketing Chelsey Lambert poses with one of the company’s famed puppies, MailControl makes its legal market debut.
Scenes from ABA TECHSHOW — How to Manage a Small Law Firm President Chris Anderson leads a session while TrustBooks, CourtBuddy, and Ruby Receptionists court lawyers in the exhibit hall.

ABA TECHSHOW 2017 took place from March 15–18. To bring the show to your inbox, this issue of SmallLaw features what we call a “micro-symposium” — a panel comprised of ABA TECHSHOW Chair Adriana Linares and 18 exhibitors. Specifically, we asked them to respond to the following question:

What notable trends, tips, insights, highlights, knowledge, interesting products (other than yours), etc. did you learn about or observe at ABA TECHSHOW 2017 that you’d like to share with small law firms?

Read the bios just as carefully as the articles as you’ll find many interesting new products there too.

Adriana Linares, A Few Words From the Chair

Whether you were an attendee, a speaker, a vendor or a partner, the 31st ABA TECHSHOW was a great success and continues to be the best conference for bringing lawyers and technology together.

On top of perennial favorites like education sessions and networking opportunities, this year we added exciting events such as the first TECHSHOW legal start-up competition, a hackathon geared toward veteran’s issues, and welcomed the Academy by partnering with several progressive law schools to develop an academic track geared to law school faculty and staff looking to teach practice management skills.

We hosted a plenary session that featured the CEO’s of Avvo, LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer speaking together for the first time.

You won’t want to miss ABA TECHSHOW 2018 — March 7–10, 2018. It’s going to be a banner year as we move to the Chicago Hyatt Regency Chicago. Hope to see you there!

Adriana Linares, the Chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2017, is a law practice consultant and legal technology trainer with her company, LawTech Partners.

Lindsey Cassell, First Look at DocuBot AI and Vijilent

TECHSHOW was full of useful tools for large and small law firms alike. Several trends stood out, but we really enjoy the prevalence of Artificial Intelligence tools.

One of our favorites, 1Law’s DocuBot AI, allows clients to quickly and conveniently get help with legal questions, without filling up attorneys’ calendars with appointments. Small firms can use this technology to automate legal form generation, while increasing access to justice for clients.

We also like Vijilent, which uses AI to help scrape the Internet for data to help gain real-time insight into individuals. Small firms benefit by saving time as they evaluate potential clients and jurors.

Lindsey Cassell is a marketing professional at CASEpeer, the comprehensive case management solution for personal injury attorneys.

Tom Boyle, First Look at Ping, UniCourt, and Court Buddy

The trend to help small law firms run more efficient practices and build their client base highlighted the ABA TECHSHOW.

On the efficiency side, you had innovative companies like Ping automate timekeeping and UniCourt make court records more accessible.

The other push was helping small law firms expand their marketing reach and connect with potential clients. Court Buddy does this by giving prospective clients better access to attorneys. It’s exciting to see the impact these companies will have on improving the access to justice.

Tom Boyle is a co-founder of TrustBooks, the leaders in trust accounting software.

Bahar Ansari, First Look at ClariLegal

One of the most interesting and recent startups that I have come across is ClariLegal. ClariLegal is a vendor management platform and marketplace that simplifies the buying of services needed for legal work, like ediscovery, that corporations and law firms require. Law firms benefit from reduced costs, time saved, better quality, enhanced communication and improved transparency.

Bahar Ansari, Attorney, and co-founder of Case.one, an all-in-one solution for your legal practice.

Scott Clasen, Integrating Cloud Apps With Microsoft Office

Integrations, integrations, integrations. Allowing multiple cloud-based software products to talk to one another is definitely a growing trend, to no one’s surprise. Integrations allow firms to pick the best software for their needs and tie them together. However, there is still the need to create integrations with desktop applications.

I heard from many, included Lori Gonzalez, who’s associated with Evolve Law, that while software integrations with Office 365 is great, for example, the reality is many firms use Word, Outlook, Excel as desktop installed products. What the industry could use are direct plug-ins or extensions for these products to allow firms to associate their files to a matter and client right from within the application as it saves to whatever doc storage is used.

Scott Clasen is director of marketing for TimeSolv corporation, the #1 online billing and timekeeping solution for law firms.

Chad Gilles, Recap of Cybersecurity Panels

My company, Mailcontrol.net, had the good fortune of sponsoring the cybersecurity education track at this year’s ABA TECHSHOW. This gave me an opportunity to sit in on the talks given by: Andrew Tanenbaum of IBM, Roy Zur of Cybint, Sherri Davidoff of LMG Security, Nicole Schippers of ARAG, and Amanda Sexton of On The Lookout Investigations.

All speakers were excellent and offered great insights that kept attendees engaged throughout.I would say the most intriguing parts were Roy Zur’s demonstrations and real world examples of the amount and types of information that can be gleaned be even someone with little or no technical ability using free and publicly available tools. I think it served as a great reminder that privacy and cybersecurity is not some hopeless battle against super sophisticated “hackers,” but instead is mostly about educating ourselves and taking simple precautions to not be the easy target.

Chad Gilles works for MailControl.net, a cybersecurity company that stops the information leaks caused by spymail.

Ed Walters, Real AI v. Fake AI

Shamla Naidoo of IBM Watson, Andrew Arruda of ROSS Intelligence, and I did a fun panel debunking the idea of “robot lawyers,” most of which are expert systems or just software. AI has great potential for law, but too many people are claiming to use AI or machine learning when they’re not. People overestimate the power of AI in the next 2 years, and underestimate its power in the next 10.

Ed Walters is the CEO of Fastcase and an adjunct professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches The Law of Robots.

David Bitton, “Industrial Processing” Coming to Law Practice

There was much talk about AI being used to help automate law firms so they can be more efficient and get more done in less time. The most memorable moment was when we interviewed Ed Walters, CEO of FastCase.com, asking him about the future of legal tech. Ed sees an “era of industrial processes for law where we can do more, at lower prices, to serve more people, in order to create better and more fulfilling jobs for lawyers.”

David Bitton is the co-founder and CEO of PracticePanther, a secure and easy case management software used by thousands of lawyers in over 35 countries.

James Jones Jr., Alternative Legal Providers as Partners, Not Enemies

My biggest takeaway from the ABA TECHSHOW 2017 is that solo and small law firms should view emerging alternative legal service providers as partners that can drive new business to their firms, rather than as a threat to their firm’s existence. The legal industry can collectively better serve the public when the focus is more on collaboration than on competition.

James Jones Jr., Esq. is the CEO and co-founder of Court Buddy, an award-winning legal tech platform that instantly matches people with vetted solo attorneys based on the client’s budget. Court Buddy was a finalist in this year’s Startup Alley.

Chelsey Lambert, Time to Get Serious About Law Firm Management

The 2017 ABA TECHSHOW floor was buzzing with newcomers this year, giving fresh faces a chance to exhibit in the first Start-up Alley alongside household case management providers. On the educational side two tracks dedicated to using technology to actually execute case work show strong signs that the community is acknowledging that running a law firm can no longer be done as if it were a hobby. It’s time to get serious about financials, using technology to be more efficient, exploring alternative fee arrangements and improving the avenues of client communication.

Chelsey Lambert, VP of Marketing for How to Manage a Small Law Firm the leading provider of fractional Managing Partner, COO and CFO services for single-shareholder law firms.

Tara Cheever, Law Practice Beyond the Desk (and Desktop)

Flexibility was a big theme in TECHSHOW with a focus on multi-platform technology, mobile technology, and other technologies (like remote receptionist services) — all designed to let the small and solo law firms practice in places other than their desks.

I was in the LIT SOFTWARE booth for a lot of the show and noticed a pretty obvious uptick in law schools coming to TECHSHOW, ostensibly to get their students trained in real-world applications and options before they graduate. Apple’s new iPad (replacing the Air 2) is squarely aimed at education, and law schools with 1-to-1 iPad programs are definitely a growing trend nationwide. With a growing focus on multi-platform and mobile technologies, small and solo firms looking to hire might want to cast their eyes in the direction of pre-trained iPad knowledgeable grads!

Tara Cheever is the Products Manager of LIT SOFTWARE, developer of award-winning iPad apps for litigation.

Allison Josephy Key, ABA TECHSHOW Delivered on All Fronts

ABA TECHSHOW was buzzing with technologies and opportunities! The puppies are of course always a hit! Adriana Linares has an infectiously great attitude about law practice, people and life! Her #1 tool? Be happy! Tom Bolt was another fun filled participant that kept people engaging and smiling. Clio of course brought all the swanky swag and maintained a solid floor presence. From case management software to quick pay options and mobile receptionists, ABA TECHSHOW 2017 delivered on all fronts!

Allison Josephy Key is the Team Director for Legal at Zipwhip — a texting software company that turns on texting to your existing landline and/or toll-free phone number as another way of reaching clients.

Larry Port, Yoga, Not Toga!

I loved the wellness angle of the show this year! Not all of us like to booze it up at night, so having the yoga and the 5K were great. As always, it was great to see good friends and be in an environment where talking animatedly about legal tech doesn’t get you strange stares.

Larry Port is the CEO of Rocket Matter, the first cloud legal practice management software.

Ann Finlay, Technology, Networking, and Puppies

When touring the exhibit hall, a consistent theme became quickly apparent — there are an incredible number of innovators out there using technology in unique ways to improve productivity and enhance customer service. And while learning about new technology solutions is helpful, one of the most significant benefits TECHSHOW offers is the time to connect with peers. Time to commiserate, share lessons learned or ask for guidance on a particular challenge. This time together reminds us that we are all facing difficulties and successes each day, and during these shows, we are given the opportunity to build our support systems to learn, grow and celebrate together.

Now, as far as this year’s most entertaining highlights, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the extremely cute puppies up for adoption at the How to Manage a Small Law Firm booth; great swag giveaways like ABA Journal’s custom luggage tags (I can always use another one); and of course Ruby Receptionists and Rocket Matter’s First Annual ABA TECHSHOW 5K. Several dozen brave souls joined us early Friday morning to share a run past Soldier Field, Grant Park, and Shedd Aquarium.

Ann Finlay is the Public Relations Manager at Ruby Receptionists, a leading provider of remote receptionist services dedicated to helping small businesses grow.

Lynn Luong, Passive Timekeeping Apps Makes a Splash

At this year’s ABA TECHSHOW 2017, we noticed a new trend for passive timekeeping software, such as Chrometa, Ping, and now Smokeball’s AutoTime. Small law firms were eager with new technology advances tracking their time more efficiently. For small firms, this is a huge benefit! They no longer have to jot down their time on post-it notes or try to remember everything they did last week. Hopefully small firms will see the benefit in technology solutions that are available to solve this administrative problem and will start having their software work for them instead of against.

Lynn Luong is the Marketing Manager for Smokeball.

Rob Joyner, Consultants Seeking More Robust Cloud Practice Management Apps

The consultant community was out in full force at TECHSHOW looking for cloud-based replacements for their clients who are still using legacy practice management products but have robust billing and customization requirements for the next system.

Rob Joyner is the head of Sales and Marketing at Centerbase, a configuarable cloud-based practice management application.

Nicole Black, Mobility a Major Theme

This year at ABA TECHSHOW, one of the prevailing themes was mobility. These days lawyers increasingly rely on the flexibility and convenience provided by mobile tools. Using cloud computing and their mobile devices, lawyers can work from anywhere and securely communicate with their clients via the client portals built into law practice management software. This increased flexibility allows lawyers to be more responsive than ever and provide the best client service possible. That’s why mobile apps were so prevalent at TECHSHOW, including MyCase’s preview of its enhanced mobile app.

Nicole Black, Legal Technology Evangelist for MyCase, which provides powerful, intuitive practice management software for solo and small law firms.

Clara Murray, AI Transitions From Theoretical to Practical

The Luminance team really enjoyed our time at the ABA TECHSHOW: a stylish venue, adorable puppies, St. Patrick’s Day bagpipes, and a beautiful view of Lake Michigan. The really welcoming trend we are seeing not just in America but the world over is that lawyers don’t just see Artificial Intelligence as mere theory anymore. It is a practical tool that augments human teams, it doesn’t replace them. We spoke to people from California to Connecticut, from China to Brazil. We can really recommend ABA TECHSHOW for any lawyer who wants to experience first-hand the future of the legal industry.

Clara Murray is head of marketing at Luminance, an artificial intelligence company that is transforming how lawyers worldwide do due diligence.

Cash Butler, Case Management + Ediscovery = Efficiency

Technology can help you gain and manage more business more efficiently. Cloud technologies for case management (case.one, Clio, MyCase, etc.), electronic discovery (ClariLegal) level the playing field and can be game changing.

Cash Butler is a seasoned electronic discovery expert and founder of ClariLegal, an ediscovery vendor management platform that matches corporations and law firms with the right vendors who have the right service offering at the right price.