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Live from TechShow: Laura Calloway of the Alabama State Bar

March 14, 2008

Day two of the ABA TechShow 2008 is well underway, and our live coverage continues. First on the interview roster today is Laura Calloway, director of the Practice Management Assistance Program at the Alabama State Bar.

Laura, a long-time TechShow attendee who practiced law for more than 15 years in the Montgomery area, gives those who couldn’t make it to Chicago an inside scoop on how the event is going so far.

We spoke with her a few minutes ago; the transcribed interview is after the jump.

1. Rob La Gatta: What compelled you to attend TechShow? Would you be here if you weren’t presenting?

Laura Calloway: Oh, sure. I attended my first TechShow in 1998, when I was a brand new director of the Alabama State Bar’s Practice Management Assistance Program. This was when Windows 95 was just coming into fashion, and I did not know enough about law office technology to be able to advise our lawyers about it. So, I decided I’d better go somewhere and find out something about it.

This is my 11th consecutive TechShow. I’ve found that there is such a wealth of information here that it satisfies my needs to keep current with legal technology.

2. Rob La Gatta: Have you seen any panels so far that you’ve enjoyed?

Laura Calloway:  I didn’t speak yesterday, so I saw several that I enjoyed [then]. And we have a particularly interesting one going on right now: it’s called Electronic Data Discovery Jeopardy, where we’re actually having a Jeopardy game with all sorts of questions and answers about the latest cases and technology for electronic data discovery. That was quite well attended…there was a whole lot laughter, but also a lot of learning going on at the same time.

3. Rob La Gatta: What have you been speaking and presenting on?

Laura Calloway: This morning, Catherine Sanders Reach, Bob Moss and I talked about the pros and cons of using an online backup system for your small law firm’s files and data. Then, after lunch, Dan Pinnington and I will be talking about using spreadsheets in the law office.

4. Rob La Gatta: I see some state bars have established advertising rules that encompass blogs and what can be done with them. Has Alabama given specific instructions as to what can be done with blogs as an advertising tool?

Laura Calloway: I don’t think we have addressed blogs specifically, but we do have rules that differentiate what is advertising and what is not advertising. [Those] rules would apply to anything that would be construed as advertising,whether it’s a print ad, a radio ad, a TV ad, an Internet presence…those types of things.

For example, if you have a website: there is a disclaimer required in all advertising, and that disclaimer must be on every page of a website. Consequently, I would think that if you had a blog, you would need to put the disclaimer on it (a disclaimer that you’re not making a representation that the legal advice you offered is better than the legal advice offered by any other lawyer in the state of Alabama).

5. Rob La Gatta: How do you see technology playing into how the law is practiced in coming years? Do you have any predictions as to where it’s going to go?

Laura Calloway: Well, I wouldn’t make predictions on any specific technology. But I do see that technology is becoming so much a part of the fabric of our lives that a lawyer who is not interested in keeping up with technology is a lawyer who’s going to be left behind.

Thomas Friedman’s “The World is Flat” is beginning to apply to law firms as well as to manufacturing and other areas of business. People are looking on the Internet for the best lawyer at the best price. And if lawyers don’t develop a web presence and a way to let people know about their services, they’re going to be left behind.

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