ABA TECHSHOW is right around the corner! In this episode of The Digital Edge, hosts Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway give a preview of ABA TECHSHOW 2019 with guests Lincoln Mead and John Simek, co-chairs of the conference board. They share how the conference stays current on tech for lawyers and give tips on how to best prepare for attending the show. There will be some new elements for attendees this year, including a new app for the conference, greater cooperation with educators for the academic track, and more focus on involving young lawyers and law students.
Lincoln Mead is the project manager for Canon Discovery Services and co-chair of the 2019 ABA TECHSHOW board.
John Simek is the Vice President of Sensei Enterprises and co-chair of the 2019 ABA TECHSHOW board.
Special thanks to our sponsors, ServeNow, Scorpion, Answer1, and Clio.
The Digital Edge
A Preview of ABA TECHSHOW 2019
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 132nd 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 2019.
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 clio.com. That’s clio.com.
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We are very pleased to have as our guest today our good friends, well, actually one of them is Sharon’s husband, John Simek and Lincoln Mead, the Co-Chairs of ABA TECHSHOW 2019.
Lincoln Mead is the Project Manager for Canon Discovery Services and is an excessive long-term monitor for the Chicago Cubs Baseball team. He is currently working on the design and development of new discovery tools and services for law firms and inside counsel from around the country and is proud to serve alongside John Simek as a Co-Chair of the 2019 ABA TECHSHOW Board.
John Simek is the Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, an information technology, cybersecurity and digital forensics firm in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the co-author of 17 books and hundreds of articles on those subjects and lectures around the country on them. John has a long list of technical certifications and is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
He is thrilled to be serving with his friend Lincoln Mead as Co-Chair of 2019 ABA TECHSHOW Board. So thanks for joining us today Lincoln and John.
Lincoln Mead: Well, thank you guys for having me on the program. I am excited to be here.
John Simek: Same here. And I don’t know Jim, the way you introed me, maybe I am not a good friend then.
Jim Calloway: Always a good friend and a spouse of a good friend. Let’s talk about TECHSHOW.
Sharon D. Nelson: Okay. Well, both of you have been on previous TECHSHOW Planning Boards. So how is this year as a Co-Chair different and why don’t we start with you Lincoln, and then move over to John?
Lincoln Mead: Being Co-Chair is a little different. Obviously you are exposed to a number of additional decisions that need to be made. You get a lot more phone calls and a lot more invites to discuss things. You are definitely getting a lot of guidance and suggestions that have to be incorporated into the program.
In terms of the board makeup itself, I am really excited with the board we have. They have been great to work with. It’s been a very smooth and painless process, which I have been very happy about.
But the specific change is just kind of the drift in focus from being a board member to being a Vice Chair and then going to Co-Chair. It’s been very much an evolutionary process for me and I have enjoyed it.
John Simek: Yeah, I would have to echo what Lincoln said as well and especially about the composition of the Planning Board itself and it’s really been a pleasure to work with them.
And I guess what’s different for me as a Co-Chair rather than just the normal Planning Board member is you are at the helm trying to steer that ship. So making sure that we stay on track, we stay on task and that the dates and times and all those things are working well and that we are meeting our scheduled deliverables. So that’s been kind of a challenge, because it is a lot of work. I mean both of you folks, Jim, Sharon, you are both past TECHSHOW Chairs, so you know what it’s all about.
Jim Calloway: Well, we are both past Chairs and last year, I think for the first time, Debbie Foster and Tom Mighell were Co-Chairs. This year John, it’s you and Lincoln, and next year it’s Catherine Reach and Heidi Alexander as Co-Chairs. So is the trend to continue to have Co-Chairs for ABA TECHSHOW on into the future?
John Simek: Well, Jim, I don’t know if that’s going to be the overall trend, obviously it’s the leadership, the Law Practice Division leadership that determines that as to whether or not they move forward. I mean it’s certainly my recommendation that we have Co-Chairs. I mean the show has grown each year, which is a good thing, and I think it’s grown to the point, my personal opinion, I think it’s grown to the point where it’s a little too much for one person to do. And we are all volunteers, so it helps having a Co-Chair.
I know there’s times that that Lincoln can step in if I am not available or I will step in if he is not available and we can split the tasks accordingly and take advantage of each of our skills.
So I think that if I had my crystal ball I would say yes, I think going forward we are probably going to see a lot of years coming down the road of Co-Chairs for TECHSHOW.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, last year the really big buzz was about the new location at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago. I thought it was absolutely fabulous. Lincoln, what feedback did the vendors have about our new space?
Lincoln Mead: The vendors were very happy about everything. The best phrase that I had from one of the vendors was that it was far less bunkeresque than the previous location, but they enjoyed it. They could hear the whole floor. They could hear things happening. They had a better feel for how many people were on the floor, how the attendance looked. They felt that they had much better traffic and much better flow in terms of that traffic. So overall they were happy.
I guess kind of the proof of the pudding was how quickly this year’s signups for vendors has exceeded the previous year. People came around, took a look, saw it, and decided they really liked it, made sure that they got their finger on their spot earlier this year than they did the previous year.
So overall we are really happy with the space that we were able to carve out for the vendors.
Jim Calloway: Well, one aspect of the vendor floor that seems very popular the last couple of years is something they call Startup Alley, where you give a chance to smaller, new companies that might not afford a full TECHSHOW exposure and we saw some interesting companies there in the last few years.
So is there going to be another Startup Alley this year, and if so, how does that process work of setting up Startup Alley?
John Simek: Well, the short answer Jim is yes, there is going to be another Startup Alley again this year. Bob Ambrogi is heading up Startup Alley and the whole Startup Alley, the pitch competition.
How it’s going to work is very similar as it did last year. So the startup folks are going to — on his website, on Bob’s website, as well as at Above the Law you can — there is a form that he has developed, an application form to fill out, and that deadline is November 23.
Once those come in, then the top 25 are going to be selected by myself and by Lincoln and Heidi and Catherine, so the Co Vice-Chairs, so the four of us will make a decision on the 25 finalists.
After that’s done and those 25 are going to get posted on Bob’s website and the Above the Law and then people are just going to vote on them. And I am sure Bob will advertise all that. And then once they vote on that, the top 15 then are going to be the ones selected to actually participate as the winners of Startup Alley for TECHSHOW 2019.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, it sounds like quite a beauty pageant. I am looking forward to it.
Jim Calloway: I hope we get a little bit bigger room this year though. The announcement was in one of the most crowded rooms I have ever been at TECHSHOW.
John Simek: Well, there is a change Jim to that and I am glad you brought that up, because as you know, the Planning Board listens to these things. We are actually going to have the pitch competition down in the main Vendor Hall and shuffle folks down the escalator down there, so I think it’s going to be much, much better.
Jim Calloway: Okay, 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 2019 and our guests are the conference Co-Chairs, Lincoln Mead and John Simek.
Lincoln, there are so many relevant technology topics for practicing attorneys today, how does the TECHSHOW Planning Board decide what sessions to put on the grid when there are so many possibilities?
Lincoln Mead: There is a variety of things that the board goes through. As John mentioned, we really strive to listen to the attendees and we are really dependent upon attendees providing us with survey feedback. That’s a huge thing for the board to look at, to get a feel for what worked, what didn’t work as well.
Also look at how the speakers presented themselves and what their reception was, those two elements are really driven by attendee feedback.
The other mechanism we have is that call for speakers, where we basically open the doors and allow people from the legal community to submit topic ideas, submit speakers. We had a record number of those this year that we were able to comb through and found a great variety, both in terms of speaker and content suggestions.
And then the third thing is looking at what topics are going to be even more relevant the following year. This whole process starts off the day after our TECHSHOW ends, the day the TECHSHOW ends and goes through the entire year. And part of the programming is not looking so much at where you are right now, but where you think things are going to be next year and what information you want to get into the hands of the attendees next year.
So there is some filtering that takes place there. And once you kind of have that — and it’s a rough pile, the board sits down and starts going back and forth, weighing the merits of feedback, weighing the merits of the suggestions, looking at current trends that weren’t seen in our publication and kind of making that determination of what we think is going to be the best fit for the program.
It’s really one of the bigger challenges that we have, making sure that we are relevant and providing relevant content months before the actual event hits.
Jim Calloway: Well, John, 2018 had to have set a record for conferences on legal technology, law practice management, the future of law. Some conferences focused on specific areas such as e-discovery. So are there any particular areas or topics or subject matter that are really the focus of ABA TECHSHOW 2019?
John Simek: Well, there is no overarching theme like e-discovery, Jim, but we are going to bring back some of the tracks that were very popular. Certainly you have got to have an advanced IT track there every year, cybersecurity is still hot, so we are going to have something on that. We will certainly have sessions talking about artificial intelligence because that is a growing area as well.
But some of the some of the newer ones, and this gets to build off a little bit of what Lincoln was just talking about and how the board decides what we put on the grid, there is a how-to track, so practical sessions on how to actually accomplish something, how to actually do something, trending; a whole track on trending technologies and what’s going to go in there. Some of the solo, small as well is going to be; we will have sessions there.
This year we are bringing back the Mac track. Last year I know we didn’t have one and maybe for the last couple of years, if my memory is right, so that’s coming back, and again, because people have been asking for it, so we listen to what the attendees are saying.
Things about the future; future proofing your practice as well. Wellness is a big topic now, so just a bunch of sessions really about beyond the technology, things that are just not strictly tech related, but things that are to help lawyers deal with the whole wellness initiatives that I know a lot of State Bars, a lot of states are focusing on these days.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, Lincoln, how about talking to us a little bit about the Vendor Exhibit Hall and maybe tell attendees how they can best leverage their experience there, because that seems to be — it is an overwhelming place and attendees often look a little, just sort of where do I go now, what do I do, they really don’t get the etiquette of how to get through that hall and learn all that they can because it’s so huge.
Lincoln Mead: When I talk to new attendees about the best way to approach the conference I have always said get your conference materials either through the application or through the schedule and mark out which events you want to attend, which programs.
Then I say okay, look at those programs and say are there or can there be vendors that take care of these programs that I am interested in, and maybe set that as your first pass through the Exhibit Hall, look for vendors that will feed into the things you are interested in, in terms of the CLE content.
The other thing is I generally do this in a couple of different passes. The first thing through is I have very specific things in my mind that I want to see or very specific products or services that I need to explore. So I generally go and get that out of my ways as quickly and efficiently as I can. And then I make sure I give myself a little time to just drift around the hall, not really looking for anything specific, but just to see what’s there, to look for services or products that I don’t recognize, names that I don’t recognize, go over and introduce myself and see what they do. There is always this really interesting mix in TECHSHOW that I have always appreciated.
Now, having gone to Legal Tech, you have this thing in the back of your head that you are going to see the usual suspects, and in ABA TECHSHOW I generally find a lot more in terms of new companies, new products and services that I am interested in.
So like I said, I always talk to attendees and say make a plan for your first pass that reflects your interests in terms of the programs you are going to attend, but then give yourself some time to just be willing to wander and drift around. Everybody is very friendly, it’s very easy to kind of walk through and see everything that’s there, and take your time and enjoy it.
And if there are things that are missing or if there are vendors or services you feel should be there, that’s good feedback for us as well and we will pass that on to the event planners and see what we can do to kind of build those types of gaps.
Jim Calloway: Well, one of the most important things about ABA TECHSHOW is that we would like for all of our listeners to attend. So what are the dates for ABA TECHSHOW 2019 and what is the cost and how do people register?
John Simek: Visit the TECHSHOW website, techshow.com. The pricing is up on the website for 2019. The show is a little bit earlier this year than it has been in past. It’s from February 27th through March 2nd of 2019. I know that a bit early in the year, especially for Lincoln, who was wishing that the Cubs would be playing, but too soon for that.
But as far as cost goes, there is an early bird price and then there is the standard price. The early bird is through January 14th and if you are an LP Division member, that’s $650. If your Bar happens to participate as an event promoter you can get a code, a discount code from your Bar, which would make the cost $700. Regular ABA member $750, and there is a whole string of other scaled pricing that’s there; law student pricing, there is paralegal pricing, if you are a government or legal aide, those kinds of things.
Sharon D. Nelson: John, are you guaranteeing personally that it will be a warm, late February meeting?
John Simek: No, that was, as I said earlier, Lincoln and I — having Co-Chairs, that allows you the flexibility to assign tasks and that task has been assigned to Lincoln.
Sharon D. Nelson: We’re holding you to that guarantee, Lincoln.
Lincoln Mead: I’m all over. We had the Speakers Conference this morning, and one of the big discussions was who’s going to join me in swimming in the lake, in between session. So we had a lot of people that stepped forward to do that. So, we’re kind of thinking we have the willpower to make sure everything is nice and warm for us when we get that.
John Simek: Did I just hear that we’re going to have a new social event at TECHSHOW, Lincoln?
Lincoln Mead: Yeah, we are going to do it like, yes, we should have a polar bear on, why not.
Sharon D. Nelson: I can only imagine. Jim, you better stop them now.
Jim Calloway: Okay, Digital Edge listeners, TECHSHOW starts in February, bring a jacket, stay out of the lake.
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 2019, and our guests are the Conference Co-Chairs, Lincoln Mead and John Simek.
As past Chairs, Jim and I know that the Planning Board is always experimenting and trying something new. It’s a little like Professor Snape at Hogwarts, he was the original Potions Master and you used to see him all the time, stirring up all these strange ingredients together. So, what are you two brewing up this year, Lincoln, that’s new?
Lincoln Mead: We’ve got a few things that we are pretty excited about. This is going to be our first year with a new applications developer. So, I think the first immediate impact in terms of new experiences for the attendees will be that application interface. We spend a lot of time vetting vendors, looking at products, looking at services, trying to decide what we could work with in terms of getting the best experience to our attendees.
So, that’s going to be number one looking at that. The other things that we’re doing, I say we’re doing a little bit of a tighter integration or Startup Alley and the event in general and the exhibit hall in specific. One of the pieces of feedback that we got from attendees was kind of the separation between the two. So we worked really hard on tightening that up.
The other thing that we’re kind of excited about is we’ve strengthened our relationship and our integration with the academic track. We’re bringing that in as a little formal part of the event, the educators, the schools that we’ve worked with have been very excited to participate. They’ve worked really hard to develop their own brand or their style of content. It’s a really nice complement for the overall program, and I do want to encourage people to take advantage of that.
We’re also looking to see how we can better reach the younger attorneys, the new attorneys or the law students. Part of that is that we’re looking at bringing in law students from local law schools to help us out, serving as like docents, to help get people where they need to go, to help them get surveys filled out, and whatnot, but more often to just expose them to the networking opportunities that the event provides. We’re hoping that that really catches and takes hold for us. We really do want to see the young attorneys or the attorneys that are going out and hanging their shingles for the first time. They take advantage of this program. There’s just so much really rich content they could take an advantage of, but it requires some level of exposure. So, we’re hoping to be able to achieve that with these changes to the program.
Jim Calloway: Well, that’s very interesting. There’s always a ton of great educational content at ABA TECHSHOW. I am thrilled every time and I’ve spoken a few times but thrilled every time I’m invited to speak like I was this year, but attendees can’t be at every single session. So, John, what’s your advice to maximize the ABA TECHSHOW experience?
John Simek: We’re kind of working on that cloning hologram thing, Jim, it’s not working well; but, no, seriously, I think Lincoln covered some of the bases earlier about the materials if you can’t make it to all the sessions, and obviously you can’t. There’s just so much going on. The materials for all of the sessions are available to the attendees, so you can actually go back afterwards, if you will, and get those. We also put up the slides, the PowerPoint slides are available for the attendees as well not just the written materials, CLE materials.
But, on the TECHSHOW website, there’s a good, first time experience guide; so even if it’s not your first time, it kind of walks through and gives us some suggestions as to how to maximize your time while you are TECHSHOW and some of the pointers that Lincoln has already mentioned.
But specifically for TECHSHOW 2019, I would suggest attending the Saturday plenary. We’re only going to have one on Saturday morning, it’s an hour-and-a-half but the difference this year, and this gets into one of those, what’s new and experimental thing, is we’re asking our speakers to submit maybe two or three takeaways from the sessions that they are going to present and then we’re going to assemble all of those things and then have basically a recap, a TECHSHOW recap of the best of all, if you will, the best of TECHSHOW from all of the sessions into that final session. So, at least you’ll get a flavor for a little taste of what other sessions might have been talking about.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, it certainly sounds like it’s going to be a wonderful tech-show and I can’t tell you how much we have enjoyed having both of you as guests today where the four of us are longtime friends, and certainly, Lincoln and John are two of the nerdiest guys I know. They are the ultimate in geeks. One of them I love like a husband and one of them I just love.
Lincoln Mead: I am so glad I got out of bed this morning.
Sharon D. Nelson: You didn’t know you are going to get into the soup here, did you?
Well, Jim and I have both been captains of this ship in the past, and so, we’re really glad that the ship is in good hands, and I know it’s going to be just a fantastic tech-show. So, thank you both very much for joining us today.
John Simek: Oh, thank you, thank you again for letting us come on.
Lincoln Mead: Yeah, thanks. It was a lot of fun.
Sharon D. Nelson: And that does it for this edition of The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology.
And remember, you can subscribe to all of the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on Apple Podcasts. And, if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us in Apple Podcasts.
Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us. Goodbye Ms. Sharon.
Sharon D. Nelson: Happy trails, cowboy.
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