ABA TECHSHOW 2020 is right around the corner! Digital Edge hosts Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson talk with the conference’s co-chairs, Heidi Alexander and Catherine Sanders Reach, about what attendees have to look forward to at the upcoming TECHSHOW. They delve into the variety of topics the conference will focus on: new takes on well-being, practice management, academia-focused content, and more! They also share info on the special events at this year’s conference and highlight their exciting keynote speaker, Mary O’Carroll of Google.
Special thanks to our sponsors, Clio, Nexa, Scorpion, and ServeNow.
The Digital Edge
A Preview of ABA TECHSHOW 2020
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 144th 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 2020.
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 Heidi Alexander and Catherine Sanders Reach. Heidi Alexander is the Deputy Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, where she helps manage organizational operations and leads the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP).
LOMAP provides free and confidential practice management assistance, guidance in implementing new law office technologies and methods to attain healthy and sustainable practices. She is the author of the book ‘Evernote as a Law Practice Tool’, Co-Chair of the ABA’s TECHSHOW Planning Board and founded the ABA’s Women of Legal Technology Initiative.
Catherine Sanders Reach is Director for the Center for Practice Management at the North Carolina Bar Association. Formerly she was Director Law Practice Management and Technology for the Chicago Bar and the Director of the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center.
Catherine has more other accomplishments that it would take too long to note, so we will just note she is also Co-Chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2020.
Thanks for joining us today Heidi and Catherine.
Catherine Sanders Reach: Well, thank you for having us Jim and Sharon.
Heidi Alexander: Thanks.
Catherine Sanders Reach: Happy to be here.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well Catherine, why don’t you give us your 15 second elevator pitch about ABA TECHSHOW, what it is and why people should be so enthused to attend?
Catherine Sanders Reach: Well, Heidi and I are incredibly enthusiastic about everyone attending and the reason why is because this year TECHSHOW 2020 is really going to focus on leveling up your skills, whether you are a law student or on faculty or in private practice or just part of the support team in a law firm and whether you are starting at the beginning of your tech journey or well into it, looking for pointers about getting better or just more efficient or you are really interested in the next best thing, whether it’s blockchain or AI, we are pretty much going to have you covered.
Plus, this year the show is a lot more than just technology, it’s about meeting your peers, learning from each other, kind of learning how to re-center yourself, reduce stress, but we are also going to have a lot of fun.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, we are all counting on that.
Jim Calloway: We certainly are. And as you two know, Sharon and I are both past ABA TECHSHOW Chairs so we are not exactly objective observers on this topic.
Sharon D. Nelson: Once you have captained that ship, it’s your ship.
Jim Calloway: That’s right. But why don’t you tell us about the individuals that are on the Planning Board now, what perspectives they bring and how they are involved in this year’s show?
Heidi Alexander: Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, we are excited to have a very diverse group of Planning Board members. It’s pretty well rounded in terms of their experience and they are really the brains of the operation I guess with Catherine and I at the helm here. They bring a lot of experience, different perspectives and different ideas and they help us determine what’s going to be most relevant and what’s most important to bring to the conference attendees. And so they are involved with all aspects of the planning.
And it begins a year in advance, as you both well know. We sit down, we have a meeting at TECHSHOW and that continues for a year until we put on the next TECHSHOW.
So Catherine is going to tell you about our two Vice Chairs who are extremely important.
Catherine Sanders Reach: And I would note that if the Board is the brains, Heidi and I are the brawn, we are reinforcers. So our very capable Vice Chairs this year are Roberta Tepper, and Roberta is with the Lawyer Assistance Program at the State Bar of Arizona. She is also super involved in the ABA and brings a lot of experience in practice management and attorney wellbeing.
And then Allan MacKenzie has 30 years of experience focused on the business and technical side of the practice of law and he is a sought after consultant in design and implementation by top legal tech companies around the world. So those are our very capable Vice Chairs.
Heidi Alexander: So we also have five practicing lawyers on the Board and they all come with different types of experience.
So we have Richard Ferguson and he is a business and commercial law attorney in Canada and he is very active with the Canadian Bar Association. He has leadership roles in law practice management and technology and he is a TECHSHOW veteran. So we love having him on the Board.
Chris Fortier is an attorney-adviser for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearing Operations and he really represents our young lawyer contingent. He has been involved with numerous local and national Young Lawyers’ Committees. Last year he brought Facebook Live experience to TECHSHOW, which was excellent.
And then we have got Ian Hu, who is actually another attorney representing our Canadian contingent and he was the first racially diverse Chair of the Sole, Small Firm and General Practice Section of the Ontario Bar Association and he speaks all around practice management and technology.
And then we have got Erin Gerstenzang, who is a trial attorney in Atlanta and she has been involved in too many initiatives to account really that advance women lawyers and help lawyers use technology. She speaks at CLE events, she puts on her own conference, and so she brings a great perspective.
And then we have got Brooke Moore, who is the Founder of MyVirtual.Lawyer and this is a flat fee subscription-based virtual law practice and through that she also founded a licensing business where she provides other attorneys with their virtual law service components and she is involved with so many different activities, access to justice initiatives. She speaks around the country on limited scope representation, virtual lawyering and alternative fees as well as legal technology. So she brings a great perspective.
Catherine Sanders Reach: So we also have the perspective of an attorney who turned into an entrepreneur and that’s Gyi Tsakalakis, and Gyi is the Owner and Co-Founder of AttorneySync, which is a law firm marketing company. But Gyi practiced in personal injury before that and then followed his passion for helping lawyers market their practices.
Heidi Alexander: And then finally we have got a man who defines categorization, who is Lincoln Mead, formerly with the Utah State Bar Association and now he is the Senior Project Manager and Client Engagement for Canon Discovery Services and he is an obsessive mourner for Cubs in baseball.
So that’s everyone.
Sharon D. Nelson: That sounds like quite a cast of characters and I imagine you have quite a diversity of viewpoints and favorites and things like that. Every year the Board delves into so many topics, trying to select what’s hot, what lawyers need out there. What are some of the substantive areas that this year’s show will focus on?
Catherine Sanders Reach: So again, with this really wonderful Board who comes at this with so many different perspectives, the hardest part was picking what to do. We draw it all on big Post-It notes and stick on the wall and then we start having to scratch out. So it’s a big negotiation.
But this year, in addition to covering kind of core tech competency, like practice management applications and what apps are out there and business processes, we are going to do some deep dives into data analytics and artificial intelligence.
We are going to look at the mind-body connection and wellbeing in a slightly different way than we looked at it before, certainly at TECHSHOW, and then looking at things like recession proofing techniques to create a practice that’s not as subject to the whims of the economy.
And also including things like people skills and management and firms; we have got a whole track on automation, and then looking at how to focus on improving your client attraction and the client experience. So a lot of focus on interacting with the client or really putting the client first.
And then of course we have got litigation, tech and cybersecurity, couldn’t leave that out. And then we have got a lot of interactivity going on. So we have a whole track, which we will explain a little bit more, called the UnTrack for Doers, which is probably the most creative name of track in TECHSHOW history. And then we have Saturday Workshops.
Jim Calloway: Well, that’s all very interesting. I recall a few years ago that TECHSHOW added an academic track and we have seen a lot more academics at TECHSHOW since then. How has that track evolved and who really is it slated to or targeted to attract?
Heidi Alexander: Yeah. So you are actually right, we did add this academic track a few years ago and we really believe that now that legal technology has been adopted into practice and in some jurisdictions it’s actually required as we know as part of your competency, you can’t really have a conference that focuses on legal technology without taking into account how to educate future lawyers in legal technology.
And so when we first started this, we recognize that some of the most forward-thinking and innovative people in legal technology are really the law school law librarians and so we started to work with a core group of academics, which is led by Michael Robak, who is the Library Director at the University of St. Thomas Law School. And so he helped to integrate legal education into our conference and so that’s how this academic track was born.
And our academic track throughout the years, it attracted vast numbers of academics across the country as well as law students. And so now we have a number of students that are at — number of schools that are actually sponsoring law students to attend TECHSHOW and last year and also this year Thomson Reuters has committed to sponsoring law students to attend TECHSHOW. So it’s pretty important to them and to law schools.
This year we actually have two days of the academic track, so we have got eight full sessions of academic content and are calling this track The Next 20. And in this track attendees are going to learn from forward-thinking educators about how to address some of today’s most pressing challenges in the legal field, such as the lack of diversity, how to prepare for the future of law practice, think virtual reality and blockchain, and then to find out how legal education has and continues to adapt to modern practice and how it can inform the future of the profession.
So we are really excited about this, this year and its continuation in the future.
Jim Calloway: Great Heidi. 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 2020 and our guests are the conference Co-Chairs Heidi Alexander and Catherine Sanders Reach.
Heidi, you recently released some information about your keynote speaker and I was very excited about her. Can you tell us a little bit about her?
Heidi Alexander: Yeah, absolutely, we are also very excited about her. So we have Mary Shen O’Carroll, who is the Director of Legal Operations, Technology and Strategy Team at Google. And so she oversees key aspects of financial performance management, outside counsel management, systems and tools and internal operations. So she is up there at Google. She is a passionate leader for pushing forward disruptive technology and processes designed to change the future of the legal industry.
She is the President of CLOC, which is the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium, and CLOC helps legal operations professionals and other core corporate legal industry professionals, like tech providers, law firms, law schools, helps them to optimize legal service delivery models needed to support the needs of small, medium and large legal departments. So she brings just lots of knowledge. She has a fantastic reputation and we are very excited to hear her speak.
Jim Calloway: I noticed one difference this year at TECHSHOW registration. You are also offering the opportunity to register for the Women of Legal Tech Summit that Wednesday. That sounds interesting. What’s that all about?
Heidi Alexander: Yes, it is very interesting, very exciting. This is a one day Summit that recognizes women in legal technology and it’s on the Wednesday prior to the kickoff of TECHSHOW and it includes some fast-paced ignite style sessions from a number of women leaders and innovators in legal technology. There is going to be a one hour CLE and an interactive workshop, and this is all at Chicago-Kent.
ABA TECHSHOW attendees will actually receive a discount to attend the Women of Legal Tech Summit and many of the TECHSHOW speakers this year and past year have since been recognized as Women of Legal Tech and they will be participating in the Summit.
So it’s a fantastic opportunity. If you are coming in early for TECHSHOW, I would highly recommend checking that out.
Sharon D. Nelson: Well, I was very happy to see that Startup Alley is back, facilitated of course by our friend Bob Ambrogi, who managed to squeeze a lot of blog posts out of that. Can you explain what Startup Alley is and who is involved and its objective?
Catherine Sanders Reach: Sure. So Startup Alley, which is spearheaded by the inevitable Bob Ambrogi, I had to look up inevitable, it’s unsurpassed and completely unique. Startup Alley is designed to highlight the up-and-coming legal tech startups who are often, as we have seen, because I have been able to kind of glance at who has been submitting to Startup Alley pitch competition, these are companies that are breaking barriers and reinventing ways to help lawyers improve their practice, but also with a social justice focus and helping clients get legal help.
So these companies basically submit a pitch and then the Chairs and Vice Chairs kind of go through and we whittle down to about 25 companies that are our top picks. And then we put that out for public voting and then it’s winnowed down to a field of 15 final companies. And those 15 final companies are invited to come to TECHSHOW to do a live pitch to the TECHSHOW attendees and those are judged by — the pitches are judged by the TECHSHOW attendees and then you pick the most innovative one.
All of the 15 finalists will have a space in the Expo Hall during TECHSHOW at Startup Alley and this year’s slate is just as impressive as the ones in the past. I am very excited about seeing their pitches.
Jim Calloway: Well, one of our goals of course is to convince everyone that hasn’t been to TECHSHOW that they should give it a try. Can you tell us some of the new and fun stuff that’s on the docket this year?
Catherine Sanders Reach: Sure Jim. And I did say fun, and we are dedicated to making this an educational and useful experience, but I don’t think that precludes also having a good time.
So one of the things that we are going to bring in this year is something we are calling the Rebel Riot Lunch. And the Rebel Riot Lunch is going to be on Thursday at noon, and in addition to eating, we are going to also have the attendees start discussing solutions to challenges that are facing the legal profession, but those challenges are going to be basically submitted by the honorees of the ABA Journal Legal Rebels and the ABA LTRC Women in Legal Tech. So they are going to be the ones providing the challenges to the tables to discuss over lunch, how do we solve some of these problems and just focusing on thinking differently.
So I think that’s going to be — it’s an interactive lunch event honoring the ABA Journal Legal Rebels and the ABA LTRC Women in Legal Tech.
And then Thursday night, we are going to have a reception, but this is not your mother’s reception, we are going to have a silent disco.
Sharon D. Nelson: A silent disco?
Catherine Sanders Reach: You will just have to come to find out what it is.
Sharon D. Nelson: Ah, I am intrigued. I can’t dance, but I am intrigued.
Jim Calloway: Well, now we have a silent disco added to the legal technology jargon.
Heidi Alexander: So let me add a couple of additional things that we are doing. We also have the EXPO Hall Lounge and the EXPO Hall Lounge is going to be in the EXPO Hall, and it’s really a place for people to meet, to talk to legal technologists and entrepreneurs and other attendees and sort of like just sit down, hang out, soak up the TECHSHOW vibe, and Catherine has a couple of other things here to tell you about.
Catherine Sanders Reach: Well, I kind of teased these out before, but the UnTrack for Doers, this is a very unique track for TECHSHOW, because each session is going to be focused on — including those people who don’t want to just sit there and listen to someone else talk, they really want to be part of the conversation, so we are giving that space to them. They are going to be focused on discussion and interaction with facilitated kind of microlearning exercises, so each one of the sessions is going to have a different kind of facilitated discussion approach.
And then on Saturday morning we are going to do workshops and the workshops are going to focus on taking what the attendees have learned in the sessions and then getting hands-on with them, so that they can get a head start on putting kind of their newfound knowledge into action. And the workshop thing is going to be focused on teaching, not just preaching.
Heidi Alexander: And we are also continuing to do our wellness activities, so we are going to have yoga and meditation. We are also going to add a few additional 12 Step meetings and a 5K run, so lots of things to keep you healthy and sane over the course of the few days.
Jim Calloway: So 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 2020, and our guests are the conference’s Co-Chairs, Catherine Sanders Reach and Heidi Alexander.
So tell me Heidi, I know that you are already proud and excited, because I have heard the pride and excitement in your voice, but what are you most proud or excited about for ABA TECHSHOW 2020?
Heidi Alexander: Well, I am glad you asked. So you are right, I am proud and excited about a lot of what’s going to happen this year at TECHSHOW 2020.
One thing that we have been working on for the past few years since I have been on the Planning Board is increasing the diversity of our faculty. And I think this is really important and we really made some concerted efforts to make sure that we were increasing the diversity of our speakers this year, and we did so. We added a lot of people of color, a lot of LGBT folks and some folks with disabilities and we are really excited to bring those diverse perspectives to TECHSHOW this year.
So that is what I am probably most proud and excited about this year.
Catherine Sanders Reach: I totally agree with Heidi. I think if you look at our speakers, which are up on the website now, you will see that we have a great range of talent and it’s just really gratifying to work with a lot of new speakers, and a lot of people that have not had their voices heard yet and we are excited for them to be able to share.
So the other thing is that we are really incorporating programming that’s focusing on the whole lawyer and the whole law practice and where technology may intersect with that, but sometimes it just doesn’t, and some of these topics really need to be out there and being given consideration. And so we didn’t limit ourselves, if we came up with a topic we really felt like needed to be on the grid and it wasn’t a 100% technology, we put it on there anyway. So that was breaking a few of our past rules, but that’s okay.
Jim Calloway: All right. Well, let’s get to very critical information for our listeners. What are the dates of ABA TECHSHOW 2020, the cost, and how can one register?
Catherine Sanders Reach: I am more than happy to relay that information. ABA TECHSHOW 2020 is February 26 through the 29. It is in Chicago. So mark your calendars and pack your mittens.
You can register at www.techshow.com. The Early Bird Pricing ends on January 13, so don’t delay, because you get advantageous pricing if you register before the end of the Early Bird.
If you aren’t a member of the ABA Law Practice Division, which you should be, since if you are an ABA member, the Division now is included in your dues, you just have to check a box, but if you are not a member and that’s where you get the best pricing, then check with your state or local Bar Association to see if they are offering an Event Promoter discount.
You can also look on the TECHSHOW website under Event Promoters and scroll down the page to see if your Bar Association is participating.
And then we also have special rates for academics, professional affiliates, like lawyers, librarians and IT staff, government lawyers, legal aid and nonprofit attorneys and of course law students.
So it just depends on who you are is what kind of price you get, but if you act now, it will be more affordable than if you wait.
Sharon D. Nelson: That’s terrific. Thank you very much Catherine for all that information. There is a lot of stuff on the website and more to come, so just keep your eye on it and register soon. Everybody would like to see you there.
And Jim and I being former Chairs, I know the Black Ribbon Club as we are members of as former Chairs, we are always kind of worried about the leadership of ABA TECHSHOW each year, and this year I am not worried at all, and I know Jim isn’t either, because it’s in the hands of two of the most excellent technologists and legal thinkers I can imagine, and I know you have put together a great show and I am sure you have inspired a lot of people to take a look at the schedule and look at the site and hopefully sign up very soon.
So we would sure like to thank you both for being with us today, it was a pleasure.
Heidi Alexander: Well, thanks for having us.
Catherine Sanders Reach: Thanks a lot Sharon. That means a lot coming from you, so we appreciate it, and thank you for having us on.
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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