ABA TECHSHOW Down-Low: Upgrades Unleashed at 2016 Conference
If you’re a nerdy lawyer, ABA TECHSHOW is where you go to geek out. (Wait, did I say that out loud? And isn’t that redundant, “nerdy lawyer”? Wait, did I say that out loud?) For several days before it gets truly warm enough to enjoy the lakeshore (and just in time for the heart of March Madness — for real, who schedules this thing?!), lawyers craving the latest in legal technology advancements descend upon the second city for a first-rate festival.
TECHSHOW is where industry players go to announce their next moves and, in that game of chess, attorneys are presumably pleased to become checkmated.
I was stuck in the middle of all this recently: a simple man with a flip phone and a desire to be loved. This year, I attended TECHSHOW on a press pass, acquired through this esteemed website. As part of that devil’s bargain, I am now required to write about some of the major announcements delivered at or around the conference. Woody’s roundup it is not; Jared’s roundup it definitely is.
The Top 10
Here’s my rundown of the most important updates from TECHSHOW:
Rocket Matter’s reboot. The most significant development at TECHSHOW was the teardown-rebuild that Rocket Matter accomplished across its user interface. I took a long demo of the revised system with CEO Larry Port, at Rocket Matter’s hospitality suite. I came for the cheese, but I stayed for the fresher version of Rocket Matter, which is very striking, especially compared to the old UI. I would go so far as to say that the revived Rocket Matter looks like an entirely new product. The reboot project was code-named Atlas, but you won’t shrug when you see it. Fortunately, Bob Ambrogi screenshotted this thing for you, because that’s what he does. You can read what Rocket Matter’s chief designer Ed Case (that is not a made-up name) has to say about what he did at Rocket Matter’s blog.
VineSign. Filevine, a case management/internal communications platform, announced its text-based e-signature tool. Filevine has always been into texting (in that way, they’re very much like my mom), and this latest foray is an extension on that mild obsession. It does make sense from a client acquisition standpoint, since people respond to text messages more readily than anything else. A “sign with a selfie” feature is included, which allows signatories to attach a selfie to the transaction, thereby engaging a further authentication protocol. This is either amazing or another sign of the apocalypse.
Smokeball AI. Easy there, conspiracy theorists. It stands for “Activity Intelligence,” NOT artificial intelligence. Smokeball AI is self-described as a “unified activity reporting tool.” It is, essentially, a graphical representation of your primary work (tasks, documents, emails, etc.) on specific client files, and represents another illustration of the reporting prowess accessible through case management systems that are updated effectively. More information is available at Smokeball’s feature page, as well as a demo.
MyCase Payments. MyCase already offers free eCheck/ACH servicing, but at TECHSHOW the company announced MyCase Payments, a credit card processing application built into MyCase. This represents a change in the traditional operating posture for most case management systems, which will more often opt to integrate with an existing payment processing tool, like LawPay. Note to self and others: MyCase payments will not be available until later this year.
Evolve(ing) Law Jobs. Evolve Law is a membership organization/clearinghouse encouraging collaboration and designing events meant to push the envelope (ever so slightly) on technology adoption within the legal field. Evolve Law’s latest production is a jobs board. Now, this is the jobs board that lawyers have been waiting for. After all, do you know any lawyers who actually want to practice law? Evolve Law’s job search platform focuses mainly on opportunities within the legal technology and practice management sphere.
Circle back. CosmoLex case management broke the news of its new email integration. CosmoLex describes its aggregation of affiliated items to client matters as “Matter Circles,” and takes great pains to delineate that from a “Matter Circus” — which, I can only imagine, would have many more elephants. CosmoLex’s new feature works for all of the major email systems, auto-forwarding copies of the email (and attachments) for archive within the CosmoLex system.
Ruby slippers for Clio. Surrounding TECHSHOW, Clio and Ruby Receptionists pulled the covers up over themselves, and Vonage joined in. Clio, already featuring a not insubstantial number of integration partners, has extended its relationship with Ruby. Though details remain scanty, the deeper partnership brings with it the implied promise that more Ruby data makes it into Clio, where it can be leveraged against other data retained for clients.
Avvo Legal Services. Alright, I’m cheating a little bit here. This is not a new announcement, but if offering a primer on a previously announced service can be considered an announcement for purposes of this post, then I think we can all move forward. Avvo’s latest gambit is to connect clients to lawyers across flat-fee arrangements; a “marketing fee” is paid by lawyers to Avvo, which at least one commentator has asserted may represent an impermissible fee split. Avvo Legal Services is currently available in 18 states, with more to come.
Legal Cloud Computing Association Guidelines. And now for something completely different: regulations not directly imposed on lawyers, but strictures instead tied to vendors engaging lawyers. Ah, refreshing. The Legal Cloud Computing Association, a conglomeration of certain name cloud vendors, issued its peer-reviewed set of security standards on Saint Patrick’s Day at TECHSHOW. How do you know these guidelines were drafted by software designers and not lawyers? They’re short and accessible. The standards are ultimately a work in progress, but this working draft attempts to address the essential question for lawyers engaging cloud-based service providers, which every ethics opinion on the subject aims directly at: What is reasonable care — at least on the part of vendors? If nothing else, these guidelines will give lawyers some settled questions to ask their cloud providers.
Gyi’s gastronomical gifts. Somebody should have done this a long time ago, but it took a man of iron stomach and iron will to pull it off. Chicago resident (and Attorney at Work columnist) Gyi Tsakalakis put together an interactive map of his TECHSHOW recommendations, including for food and drink. (And isn’t a core purpose of being at TECHSHOW to eat and drink one’s face off?) Announcing his presence as an unfulfilled Yelp reviewer, Gyi wins TECHSHOW.
That’s It, and That’s All
Notice how many of these updates derive from case management software companies? As addressed previously in this space, there are a lot of those and the vendor floor reflected the fact — but, who’s counting? (Well, I guess he is.)
Jared Correia is CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, which offers subscription-based law firm business management consulting and technology services for solo and small law firms. Red Cave also works with legal institutions and legal-facing corporations to develop programming and content. A former practicing attorney, Jared is a popular presenter and regular contributor to legal publications (including his "Managing" column for Attorney at Work). He is the author of the ABA book "Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers," hosts the Legal Toolkit podcast, and teaches for Concord Law School, Suffolk University Law School and Solo Practice University. He loves James Taylor, but respects Ron Swanson.
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