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ABA TECHSHOW 2013 was an exhilarating three days of legal technology education and festivities—60+ sessions (including a knockout keynote from David Pogue), 100+ exhibitors, LexThink and, of course, connecting in person with people who support Attorney at Work in so many ways. What really stood out? We certainly can’t choose! Instead, we asked a few of the faculty to tell us which three things had them talking way past the close of the show.
ABA TECHSHOW 2013 was among the best for practical ideas on how to manage an ethical law practice and improve delivery of legal services to clients. Visiting the Expo floor, I was quite intrigued by the new Transporter, a cloud storage device you own to store and securely access your confidential files without the need for a cloud provider. This allows a small firm to bypass the potential ethical problems that come with cloud storage providers such as Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and others.
Also, I was surprised when I found Zoom on the Expo floor. This company provides HD videoconferencing for up to 25 participants for $10 per month. That is not a typo—it is $10 for unlimited video conferences for up to 25 people in your firm each month. Small firms can easily host informational seminars or client meetings for an affordable price.
As another highlight, an astounding number of lawyers were taking notes in the educational sessions using iPads with keyboards, far outnumbering lawyers with laptops, and rivaling those with pen and paper. (As chair of ABA TECHSHOW 2012, I have watched this number grow very rapidly in the past two years.) Lawyers continue to adopt the iPad for office and courtroom work, and ABA TECHSHOW leads the way with numerous sessions on iPads, iPad apps, and using iPads in the courtroom for trial organization and presentation.
This was my 14th time attending ABA TECHSHOW. It was among the best.
One moment during ABA TECHSHOW we had to love was John’s demonstration of the Pineapple Mark IV, a device that pretends to be networks that your devices know. So, for example, when your device says, “Hilton, are you here?” the Pineapple Mark answers, “Yes, I am.” And bingo, you connect without knowing who you are connected to. In a session with a little over 50 people, 42 of them connected to the bogus network John had set up. The consternation when he and co-presenter Chris Ries revealed the connections live was hilarious. Our friend Courtney Kenneday from South Carolina looked at me and queried with concern, “What is my iPad doing? What is John making it do?” Yup, dangerous out there.
We always enjoy the conference’s final session, the annual “60 Sites in 60 Minutes.” Here’s a site that shows cyberattacks live—watch and be afraid (very afraid): map.honeynet.org. (Hat tip to Britt Lorish for that one.)
Finally, we were riveted by the geolocation presentation by information security experts Dave Ries and his son Chris (the first father-son presenting team in TECHSHOW history). If you had any idea how many folks are tracking your movements—and who are theoretically able to assemble a complete timeline of where you’ve been and when—you would retreat to a mountaintop cabin and abandon the electronic world.
Sharon D. Nelson and John W. Simek are the President and Vice President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a digital forensics, legal technology and information security firm based in Fairfax, VA. Sharon is a Past Chair of ABA TECHSHOW and blogs at Ride the Lightning.
You know the mobile obsession is in full force when you see friends who went to ABA TECHSHOW posting a picture to Facebook to prove who has the biggest phone. In fact, mobile everything dominated the schedule—useful apps, mobile operating systems, security cautions and more. Keynote speaker David Pogue, the New York Times technology columnist, tied it all together by announcing that to liken his iPhone to a computer was not an apt comparison, since his phone did infinitely more! If your law firm website isn’t optimized for mobile you risk losing potential clients.
Speaking of Pogue’s keynote, it was hilarious. I haven’t genuinely laughed out loud that much in a long time. If you lost the message in the hijinks, then let me recap: The next generation of your clients will have no sense of privacy, will expect everything to be streamed real-time online, and will have little tolerance for asynchronous communication such as email or voice mail. Knowing is half the battle.
Another emerging reality is the need for firms to apply legal project management principles. The session speakers pointed out that clients want price certainty, transparency and better communication. Lawyers want return business, client satisfaction, limits on risk, and help with pricing. Legal project management can help achieve these desires for both the lawyer and client. Take a look at some of the firms that are taking the lead in this area—no matter what size firm you are in, there are valuable lessons to be learned.
Most times, reality falls far short of expectations. At ABA TECHSHOW 2013 , reality far exceeded my expectations. For at least the past couple of years, David Pogue has been on the short list of speakers that I really wanted to see. As keynote speaker this year, he did not disappoint. Starting with Steve Best’s incredible introduction, David Pogue’s insight into the world of technology—presented with the right fusion of well-timed biting humor, mixed with a generous splash of Broadway showmanship—made it a keynote presentation that will be hard to top.
The second highlight was “On the Digital Trail of the Craigslist Killer,” a plenary CLE offered by the team of John Simek and Sharon Nelson. It may have been the finest one-hour CLE I have ever witnessed, as John and Sharon portrayed the tale of law enforcement’s use of digital forensics to hunt and capture one of the most notorious murderers of this century. Staged in the style of a criminal trial’s opening statement, digital forensics were masterfully examined and explained in a manner easily understandable to even a technology novice. The session was so superbly presented, so intense, so filled with suspense and drama, that one felt emotionally drained at the end of the hour.
The third highlight was the social interaction seen every year at this event. ABA TECHSHOW has a camaraderie seldom seen in other law-related assemblies. It makes little difference where you are from, or what type of law you practice, all are welcome. The continued growth of “Taste of TECHSHOW,” the Dutch-treat dinners co-hosted by the faculty, enliven the social interaction between members, making ABA TECHSHOW one of the social highlights of the ABA year.
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