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Episode Notes

ABA TECHSHOW 2018 is just around the corner and, for those of you who can barely contain your excitement, here’s a sneak preview of what this year’s conference will look like. In this episode of The Digital Edge, hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway talk to ABA TECHSHOW 2018 co-chairs Debbie Foster and Tom Mighell about this year’s conference. They discuss what’s new at TECHSHOW, advice for new attendees, and some of the most beloved extracurricular activities, like Taste of TECHSHOW and morning yoga sessions.

Tom Mighell has been at the front lines of technology development since joining Cowles & Thompson, P.C. in 1990. He is also the co-chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2018.

Debbie Foster is the managing partner of Affinity Consulting Group’s Tampa Bay office. She is also the co-chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2018.

Special thanks to our sponsors, ServeNow, Scorpion, Answer1, and Clio.


The Digital Edge

Preview of ABA TECHSHOW 2018



Announcer: Hello listeners, the episode you are about to hear experienced technical difficulties during the recording process. Despite best efforts from our hardworking audio engineers, we were not able to completely remove the anomalies, and for that we apologize. But fear not, this episode still features special guest Debbie Foster and Tom Mighell talking about ABA TECHSHOW 2018, and now on to the show.

Intro: Welcome to The Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway, your hosts, both legal technologists, authors and lecturers, invite industry professionals to discuss a new topic related to lawyers and technology. You are listening to Legal Talk Network.


Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome to the 121st edition of The Digital Edge Lawyers and Technology. We are glad to have you with us. I am Sharon Nelson, President of Sensei Enterprises, an information technology, cybersecurity and digital forensics firm in Fairfax, Virginia.

Jim Calloway: And I am Jim Calloway, Director of The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program. Today our topic is A Preview of ABA TECHSHOW 2018.

Sharon D. Nelson: Before we get started we would like to thank our sponsors.

Thanks to our sponsor Clio. Clio’s cloud-based practice management software makes it easy to manage your law firm from intake to invoice. Try it for free at  HYPERLINK “”

Thank you to Answer1, a leading virtual receptionist and answering services provider for lawyers. You can find out more by giving them a call at 800 Answer 1 or online at  HYPERLINK “”

Jim Calloway: Thanks to our sponsor, Scorpion. Scorpion sets the standard for law firm online marketing with proven campaign strategies to get attorneys better cases from the Internet. Partner with Scorpion to get an award-winning website, ROI positive marketing programs today. Visit  HYPERLINK “”

And also thanks to ServeNow, a nationwide network of trusted prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, embrace technology and understand the litigation process. Visit  HYPERLINK “” to learn more.

We are very pleased to have as our guests our good friends Tom Mighell and Debbie Foster, the co-chairs of ABA TECHSHOW 2018. Tom is Vice President of Service Delivery at Contoural, Inc., where he helps organizations develop information governance, litigation readiness and privacy programs. Tom is the co-host of The Kennedy-Mighell Report and the co-author of the upcoming ‘Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools Second Edition’. Tom served as Chair of ABA’s Law Practice Division in 2011 to 2012.

Debbie Foster is a nationally recognized thought leader on efficiency and innovation in professional legal organizations. Her 20 plus years of experience combined with a mix of strategic management and strong leadership skills has enabled Debbie to develop a unique ability to work with law firms and legal departments to help them navigate the ever-changing legal services delivery landscape.

Thanks for joining us today Tom and Debbie.

Tom Mighell: Hey Jim, thanks for having me. Jim and Sharon, it is a pleasure to be here with you today.

Debbie Foster: Same for me, a pleasure, glad to be joining you all on your like world-renowned award-winning podcast.

Sharon D. Nelson: Very kind of you to say Debbie. And Debbie and Tom, guys, this is not your first time at the TECHSHOW rodeo. We both know how much work is involved as a TECHSHOW Chair, since Jim and I have done it too. What made the two of you decide to come back for a second time?

Debbie Foster: Well, that’s a really good question Sharon and sometimes, especially recently I have been asking myself that same question, but the reality is, and you and Jim know this just as well as Tom and I do, we love TECHSHOW and it has played such a big role in my professional life and everything from friends and connections in the legal industry and we just love the show.

And when the ABA called and said, hey, what would you think about chairing ABA TECHSHOW again, my first thought was if I could do it with Tom, I might actually be willing to do that. And they asked Tom and Tom and I talked about it and we just decided that we love TECHSHOW, we love working together and it would be a good opportunity for us to do that.


Tom Mighell: Well, but what Debbie is not saying is that when they asked me my first thought was, well, if I could do it with Debbie, then I would do that. So I think it worked out well all the way around.

Debbie Foster: Feeling is mutual.

Jim Calloway: Well, guys, it’s been 10 years since Tom chaired TECHSHOW, and eight years since Debbie was chair. What has changed the most about TECHSHOW since then?

Tom Mighell: You know, after having been in this position now for what has it been seven, eight, nine months, however long it’s been, I think that the thing that’s changed the most is really the field of legal technology. Back when I did this in 2008, it felt, when I compared it to what it is now, it felt easier to figure out what we wanted to talk about, what we wanted to show attendees, what the main and hot topics were.

Now, there are so many topics in legal technology, it is really hard to figure out what’s the right content, how do we please all the people, we are not going to please all the people, so how do we get to the right level of content that makes for a successful show, but you try to cover it all in a very compressed, consolidated two-and-a-half days. To me, that’s been the biggest change. It’s, I am amazed at how much of the landscape has exploded in the past ten years.

Debbie Foster: And if I can just add one quick thing to that, because I think Tom, that’s a really good point, and one thing that makes it even more complicated is that we still have lawyers coming in who literally know nothing about technology. And so all of these new topics have come in and we are still faced with the challenge of so many lawyers who still need to learn the basics, that the field of play is so much larger.

Sharon D. Nelson: Well, one of the things that’s really new about TECHSHOW 2018 is the location. After 10 years we are moving to a new location. So what can you tell us about the new venue, Tom?

Tom Mighell: So I was actually 10 years ago the chair who moved to the Hilton, when we moved to that location from the Sheraton and I think that’s — at the back of my mind, I think that’s one of the reasons that people decided to ask me to be part of this. We are moving this year to the Chicago Hyatt. We are very excited about the Hyatt. Really the best part of the new hotel is the way that the conference areas are laid out, the way that we have — the classrooms are all in one location, all very close together, close to other breakout rooms and other places, they are all within a very manageable walking distance, where before it took a while to get there.

And then you are literally just right down the escalator into the vendor hall. It doesn’t feel quite like the dungeon that we had over at the Hilton. The vendors are going to be extremely happy about the Vendor Hall, it’s a huge space, it’s almost largely sold out at this point, it’s going to be great for some of the events that we are planning to have there, but what we really like is just the ability for attendees to go back and forth between the educational area and the vendor area without having to do a lot of — a lot of walking, a lot of navigating. It’s going to be a lot friendlier hotel I think in general than in past years.

Jim Calloway: It seems like every year TECHSHOW does something new and different, what can attendees expect new at this year’s show?

Debbie Foster: So I will take that question. So I think that what Tom just talked about is the biggest newest thing at TECHSHOW and I think our attendees are just going to be thrilled with how we are going to transform that space.

But in addition to that, we have a little bit of a new twist on some of the same things. Taste of TECHSHOW Dinners are back and we are really going to make a big push to get people involved with the Taste of TECHSHOW. That has been one of the most highly rated events of the show. People come back with new friends and connections that they wouldn’t have previously made.

And then one of the other big things that we have coming is we are this year trying out a new track called Beyond the Tech, where we are going to talk about some of the other things that lawyers need to know to run a successful practice. So touching a little bit on the management and leadership and marketing and financial topics in a little bit more detail in that Beyond the Tech track. We are really excited about what that’s going to bring to the show.

Jim Calloway: Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.

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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to The Digital Edge on the Legal Talk Network. Today, our subject is “A Preview of ABA TECHSHOW 2018,” and our guests are the conference co-chairs Tom Mighell and Debbie Foster.

Debbie, Legal Technology is such a huge topic these days and as Tom mentioned, it’s really evolved overtime. How do you in the TECHSHOW Board figure out what topics are best and how do you put the schedule together?

Debbie Foster: So that’s a little bit of a secret sauce question, right? I think every Board has faced big challenges in doing this and I think that we had an additional really big challenge this year, which is an exciting thing that happened for TECHSHOW. We put together a call for speakers that we really publicized, got some of the top bloggers and podcasters in the legal industry to help us spread the message and got 175-ish responses in our call for speakers, call for presentations.

So we had that, plus every TECHSHOW Board has somewhere between 9 or 10 and 12 Board members. All of the Board members come prepared with ideas and things that they want on the grid and then it just becomes a really, really difficult, challenging process of elimination, and it’s almost like kind of jockeying for position. There is a lot of sessions on the grid, but there’s only 60-65 something like that, and so, when you look at 175 proposals for presentations and then you look at we had 11 Board members, every one of them who had at least two, or three, or four ideas, it is really overwhelming.

And then we just kind of went through and we said, we think what does everyone think is this one going to be popular, some people really fought hard for their session because they thought it was really relevant and they had great speakers for it, but it’s a tough thing to do every year because we really could have a 100-120 sessions of TECHSHOW, but you’ve got to dial it back to that, acceptable 60 or 70 number.

Jim Calloway: Tom, what kind of technology did the TECHSHOW Board members who are spread all across the country used to collaborate with each other?

Tom Mighell: Well, that’s another big change that we’ve had since when I Chaired TECHSHOW back in 2008, which is, we didn’t really use a lot of technologies back then to collaborate online anyway. We mostly just use spreadsheets and documents and exchange them back and forth. The Board at some point in time got invested in using Google Docs and we went ahead and decided to do that. We decided to keep using Google Docs because they are an online set of documents that everybody can access. It’s really fun watching as we have Board meetings online, to have the Board. We can see them as they’re looking at the documents, and we’ll add notes to it to make sure that it’s accurate, and everybody is taking part in editing documents or at least the minutes for our meetings that we have.

We also wanted to make sure, at least encourage more visual participation, and so all of our Board meetings and we actually have been meeting quite regularly. We have a standing meeting every two weeks. I think we’re all getting tired of that and we’re ready to have the show over with, so actually we’re going go to meetings every week for the next couple of weeks when we get to it.

But, we have been using Zoom Video to do that and about half to a little more of the Board regularly gets on video, so it’s good to see everybody’s face every couple of weeks. We really enjoy doing that. The one that’s really interesting, a Board a couple of years ago used it, then they stopped using it. This year we’re using it again. We’re using Slack as a messaging tool and we’ve set up different channels for different parts of the show. We share documents with each other, we communicate. We’re using it more as a messaging tool. I wanted to use it to get us out of email. Some of us like it more than others, some of us use it more than others which creates a problem, but that’s the challenge of finding the right collaboration tools.

Sharon D. Nelson: Well, I know that educational content is the main reason people go to TECHSHOW, but there’s so many social events and other ways to meet people, network, have a good time, et cetera. So, Debbie, what are some of the extracurricular activities at this year’s TECHSHOW?

Debbie Foster: Glad you asked that, Sharon. The social events are some of my favorite parts of TECHSHOW. So, the ever popular taste of TECHSHOW dinners I talked about that already. We are going to have those again on Thursday night and Friday night. We have two EXPO Hall receptions that are just going to be with our new EXPO Hall space, there is going to be so much fun, we are really excited about those.


We are bringing back the TECHSHOW Yoga and the 5K run and we’re working on another special surprise for all of our morning exercises, if you want to be a part of what’s going on in the early mornings at TECHSHOW. And then, there are some Saint Patrick’s Day festivities that are happening outside of the show, the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. So that’s going to be a new exciting thing for our attendees who haven’t gotten to experience, the beginning of the Saint Patrick’s Day week in Chicago.

Jim Calloway: What advice would you give for first-time attendees? We always like to have first-time attendees at ABA TECHSHOW. What can they do to get the most out of TECHSHOW?

Tom Mighell: So, I think there are three or four things that a first-time attendee can do to really get the best experience. The first is, download the app. The app is getting better and better every year. It really contains everything about TECHSHOW. It will talk about the different communities you can join. It obviously has all the sessions and the topics that people can join. You’ll have the materials there. You’ll be able to rate speakers and sessions from within the app. Downloading the app really is just a no-brainer. You need to do that even before you get to TECHSHOW so you can plan out your conference experience.

The second thing is to be social. Do those extracurricular activities that Debbie just talked about. Come to the receptions, meet people, go to a Taste of TECHSHOW dinner and meet the speakers, meet your fellow attendees. I guarantee you, they will have issues that you have to. There you will have commonalities because you all come to the show for the same reasons. You’re trying to find better ways to use technology.

The last thing that we are going to try to do this year is actually put together some sort of TECHSHOW Buddy Program. We’re going to match new attendees, first-time attendees with what we’ll call TECHSHOW Ambassadors. It’s really going to depend on how many of our old-timer attendees or veteran, I mean, I should say “veteran”, it’s probably the better word there. Our veteran attendees want to participate in this, but we’ve seen this happen with other legal technology shows and maybe setting them up and helping guide the first-timers around, we think could be a very useful experience for newcomers.

Jim Calloway: Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.


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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to The Digital Edge on the Legal Talk Network. Today our subject is, “A Preview of ABA TECHSHOW 2018,” and our guests are the conference co-chairs Tom Mighell and Debbie Foster.

One of the ideas that gets brought up at TECHSHOW and other legal technology conference is the future of law practice. So, taking out your crystal ball, Debbie, what do you predict will be the game-changing technology for law firms five years from now?

Debbie Foster: So, that’s a great question, Sharon. I’m going to answer that with two parts actually. The first piece is, I think that Artificial Intelligence is going to be one of the big game-changers that we see from a future of the practice of law and how Artificial Intelligence is going to be integrated into how lawyers practice. But, the other thing that I think really is going to be a game-changer in the coming years, is something that has been around for a really long time, and it’s about automation and how lawyers really leverage technology to get their work done, not so much with Artificial Intelligence, but just really understanding the best in most efficient way to get work done and what technology tools are available to help lawyers really leverage technology and provide better service to their clients.

Jim Calloway: Last question, for a person who has never attended ABA TECHSHOW before but is thinking about coming this year, what is the one reason why someone should come to ABA TECHSHOW?

Tom Mighell: I only get one reason, Jim. Okay, I will make happen — I will make it happen with one reason. So, I think that the number one reason for any attendee to come to TECHSHOW is, you may think you know what legal technology is about, but you should come to TECHSHOW to find out what you don’t know about, because we find out usually the people don’t know what they don’t know.


And I think TECHSHOW is about that, it’s about finding out what you don’t know about legal technology, and now that the duty of technology competence is an ethical responsibility in over 28 states, the fact that you should have some idea to know about legal technology I think is more important than it ever was and that should be the most important reason why you come to TECHSHOW, is to learn about what you don’t know about and figure out what you should know about.

Sharon D. Nelson: I want to thank you both for being our guest today, Tom and Debbie. TECHSHOW — we love TECHSHOW like none other, it’s the ship we’ve all captained and in your case captaining again, which is very brave of you. So, thank you for being here and giving us a preview of TECHSHOW 2018, which I know is going to be a really super show, and thanks for your very hard work in making it happen.

Tom Mighell: Well, thanks for having us. We always love talking about TECHSHOW.

Debbie Foster: Thanks guys. It was great to be here with you both.

Sharon D. Nelson: And that does it for this edition of The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology. And remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at  HYPERLINK “” or on Apple podcasts. And if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us on Apple Podcasts.

Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us. Goodbye Ms. Sharon.

Sharon D. Nelson: Happy trails, cowboy.


Outro: Thanks for listening to The Digital Edge, produced by the broadcast professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway for their next podcast covering the latest topic related to Lawyers and Technology. Subscribe to the RSS feed on  HYPERLINK “” or in iTunes.

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders and subsidiaries; none of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.


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Episode Details
Published: January 19, 2018
Podcast: The Digital Edge
Category: Legal Entertainment , Legal News
The Digital Edge
The Digital Edge

The Digital Edge, hosted by Sharon D. Nelson and Jim Calloway, covers the latest technology news, tips, and tools.

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