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ABA Techshow takes big step backward in marketing help for lawyers

The ABA Techshow is a wonderful program put on by some great people. However, it is taking a huge step backward in systematically ignoring the marketing needs of solo and small firms, the lawyers who have the most to gain from the latest in marketing technology.

If memory serves me correct, the ABA Techshow I attended in 1998 had a track on the use of technology in marketing. Over the years, that track has been eliminated. Now only 2 of over 50 sessions appear primarily dedicated to helping lawyers grow their business.

When I practiced in a small firm, the thing that kept me awake at night was how I was going to pay my employees and feed my family, not how I was going to improve my word processing on Word Perfect or stop my employees from browsing the net. The ABA Techshow has programs on such items.

Not only do I see the ABA Techshow slighting lawyers when it comes to marketing help, but they are ignoring people who offer to present info on the latest technology.

Over the years, I have asked about presenting at ABA Techshow. I did this not because of some great ego I have but because I thought I had something to offer after practicing for 17 years in small firms, successfully marketing a 2 person firm on the net and then leaving the practice to dedicate myself to helping lawyers market via the Internet. I also enjoy teaching folks and have some fun doing so.

I was blown off for various reasons for a couple years. This year I was told that some of my ideas for presentations may be good but that the program directors wanted to limit presenters to practicing lawyers. They did not want presenters who were consultants or who were from a company with a product or service like myself. My guess is that this has happened to others as well.

Then I look at the agenda for this years ABA Techshow and see lots of consultants, principals of companies selling to lawyers and other non practicing lawyers doing presentations. Guess no matter how idealistic I am in what I tell my kids, it still comes down to who you know and playing politics with organizations, something I have no time for.

There are a lots of talented people out there who could share the latest in marketing technology in solos and small firm lawyers. I could gather a group in a New York minute and we’d be there for this April’s Techshow. Topics could include the following and more:

  • Search engine optimized Web sites
  • CSS/Web Standards Web design which are accessible to disabled people, cost less to build & cost less to maintain than Web sites now used
  • How to select Web site and other technology providers for marketing
  • How blogs & RSS enhance the reputation of solo lawyers beyond anything previously available
  • Email marketing problems with spam filters, corporate firewalls and email being view as obtrusive
  • Cyber-publicity via the Internet
  • Very low cost buys for sponsored links at Google & Overture
  • Very simple tips on how to index a Web site for the search engines
  • Advantages & disadvantages of directories such as FindLaw & Lawyers.com

Sure the presenters on such topics will be principals of companies providing the service or product. Who the heck really cares? The alternative is less informational presentations by people who do not know as much. That just leaves attendees doing their own research so they can contact the leading providers to find out how things really work, what the benefits etc.

I am sure Techshow attendees will walk away with somethings they can use and other stuff that’s cool & never used but they are not going to walk away with the information to help them sleep at night. That’s a shame and need not happen.

I apologize if I offended any of my good friends and very giving lawyers who put together this year’s Techshow. I just think you, as program directors, need to look at the direction you are going so as to not to make yourself less relevant to the needs of small firm lawyers.

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