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Last Friday, we shared our favorite five impressions of ABA TECHSHOW, the ABA Law Practice Management Section’s annual legal technology conference and expo, which was held last week in Chicago. Today, we asked a few friends who attended ABA TECHSHOW to share their impressions. Just like the show, they’re chock full of tips, tricks, perspective and challenges.
The time flies during ABA TECHSHOW, and we are always on information overload afterward. The constant? The continuing interest and need for e-discovery education for lawyers.
Sharon D. Nelson is President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., a computer forensics, legal technology and information security firm based in Fairfax, VA, and a Past Chair of ABA TECHSHOW. She blogs on electronic evidence at the award-winning Ride the Lightning.
Everywhere I went during ABA TECHSHOW, “the cloud” seemed to dominate the conversations. Whether talking to solo and small firm attorneys and administrators about their wish lists and priorities, or to exhibitors and conference luminaries, discussions around how and why to use the cloud were prevalent. It was interesting to see that some lawyers use the cloud through applications like Gmail and Westlaw, yet think more about the applications than the infrastructure.
Both faculty and vendors worked hard to educate attendees about what the cloud is and why it is important today, and the educational track on cloud computing was well-attended and comprehensive. Key issues such as security, privacy and data ownership were openly discussed, vendors and users are working together to address concerns and ethics guidelines. Clio, with its added collaboration features, and RealPractice, with its iPhone and iPad client development and practice management app, are just a couple of examples of cloud-based vendors adding capabilities to help users work even more effectively. Even long-time legal technology vendors such as World Software are getting in the game with software-as-a-service add-ons to their application, enabling easier, anytime access to their system.
While on Monday the cloudy Chicago skies provided the appropriate backdrop for such discussions, the clouds parted on Tuesday to bring a beautiful spring day and the energy and excitement that the cloud is here to stay—a critical component of how lawyers will manage their practices going forward.
Carey Ransom is an experienced Internet marketer and software entrepreneur and executive, and is currently CEO of RealPractice, a leading cloud-based client development and practice management software platform. He is a frequent speaker, legal technology expert and an active blogger. Follow him @ransomthoughts.
Not all conferences such as ABA TECHSHOW have the same level of camaraderie and sense of purpose. Presenters and other legal tech luminaries were frequently available for spontaneous conversation, and there was a general sense of participation among the attendees themselves. In other words, good feelings abounded!
Which has made me wonder how many of us stopped to consider the implications of Larry Lessig’s keynote address: “Code is Law: Does Anyone Get This Yet?” Lessig is Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He has been tracking the relationship between law and the Internet for many years, coming to the fairly radical conclusion that in order to win real net neutrality, we must cut off the dependence of politicians on campaign contributions. Whoa! Let’s back up the recording and hear that again!
In one hour, Lessig took us through a fascinating analysis of the evolution of the Internet and its regulation through law, norms, architecture and the marketplace. Asking the question, what is the mix of modalities that works best to positively influence digital creativity and development, Lessig also pointed out that “law affects things that regulate”, i.e., norms, the market and code. As a result, it has been presumed that the best path is to enable law to regulate architecture (or code) directly, and the copyright office is left to decipher whether such things as “mashups” are original works of art. This, Lessig says, is a mistake.
Changing direction, however, is not an easy task. Such matters are in the hands of our political institutions, whom Lessig says he now realizes concern themselves less with the good of “the people,” and instead act based on the desires of their “funders,” the top 10 percent campaign contributors. If we don’t fix this, he says, “We will fix nothing about our society.”
Lessig closed with a quote from Henry David Thoreau: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is hacking at the root.” In view of that, Lessig has created Rootstrikers, a network to fight against corruption in government. I’m not sure this is the task conference attendees anticipated being charged with. But there it is nonetheless. Did we get it?
Donna Seyle is founder of Law Practice Strategy, a coaching and training service and resource for lawyers seeking to establish a solo or small firm or wanting to take their existing practices into the 21st Century. She blogs at Law Practice Strategy Blog.
Website marketing seems overrun with wannabe experts. That’s why watching Steve Matthews and Bob Ambrogi in action last week at ABA TECHSHOW was a true pleasure. These guys know this stuff cold. (Disclosure: Steve and Bob are Attorney at Work Advisors, so we’re pretty familiar with their credentials.) The two reinforced the basics of SEO and good web marketing strategy, and here are a few random takeways:
Joan Feldman is an editor and writer specializing in law practice management topics. Her firm, Feldcomm, creates publications, marketing communications and websites, including Attorney at Work.
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