Saturday, February 22, 2020

I’m headed to Chicago next week for the ABA TechShow. I’ll be in Chicago Wednesday through Saturday morning.

TechShow is as much about the people and companies as it is about the conference itself. The organizers should be proud of what they have accomplished here.

TechShow appears to have made a concerted effort to bring tech, in addition to lawyers using tech in more advanced ways, to those lawyers who may proudly call themselves luddites. The result is a lot of sessions which tend to be pretty basic. This is probably okay, but I am not sure that folks leave as inspired to innovate as they may be by attending other tech conferences. Change and innovation is needed now if we’re going to bring access to legal services via lawyers, versus ongoing discussion, something the ABA has a history of.

Maybe I am biased, but I also see tech and innovation conferences to be a little better when not offering CLE.

If I’m a lawyer looking to bring innovation and technology to my practice in a way to really save time and get a substantial leg up on the competition, I’ll pay to to go to a conference, CLE or not. Presenters and the conference then need not worry about whether a session was such that it met CLE requirements.

The conference that changed my life as a trial lawyer was on Internet marketing and advertising in Monterey in 1997 and not put on by lawyers. That conference, which obviously did not offer CLE, did more to inspire me to bring access to legal services in innovative ways via the Internet than anything else at the time.

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As an adjunct to TechShow, the ABA Women Rainmakers Committee is holding 2020 Women of Legal Tech Summit down at the ITT Chicago-Kent College of Law all day on Wednesday.

I go to conferences to spend time with people and to get inspired. The annual Women in Legal Tech fits the inspiration bill in spades – especially the morning’s brief presentations by women leaders in tech and innovation. I find it really enjoyable to sit back with a cup of coffee and listen to these morning talks and hear what can be done with a dream, passion and perseverance.

We should be calling out women leaders in the law. For all too long, and sadly still today, women have been treated as second class citizens.

“Can you get the coffee, honey,” is still voiced by lawyers to a fellow female lawyer who has already arrived in a conference room for depositions. Women get funded at substantially lower rates than men in their legal tech startup endeavors. And forget about large law, where men have prevented the vast majority of women lawyers from obtaining equity partner, let alone managing partner.

The ABA and Kent are providing a forum to showcase and advance the tech and innovation in the law brought to us by women. Those of you who believe in women led initiatives in legal tech should stop by. Saying “I wish I could have, I didn’t arrive in time,” really doesn’t cut it anymore.

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I’ll be meeting with bar associations and other publishers about our Syndication Portal product. Hey, I get that I talk about PortalS a lot, but I am pretty pumped. It’s not every day you do 10% penetration of a market (state bar associations) without bringing a product to market in a big way.

I love bringing a product to market via an open discussion – online and offline – with the legal community and potential customers. You develop a feel for how to present the product – what words to use, what analogies to use and how the product hits a sweet spot for customers. You also discover new uses for the product.

I’m finding now more than ever that SaaS solutions are key for publishers. Developing websites on your own or developers is really cost invective and often results in a far inferior product in the short term and more so a couple or three years down thee road.

Most publishers are not in the publishing software development business. And those that are tend not be in the managed WordPress platform business. WordPress, soon to be ubiquitous in web publishing, offered as a SaaS solution tailored for legal publishers is hitting that sweet spot.

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Friday evening is the annual TechShow Beer for Bloggers hosted by the ABA Journal and LexBlog. What began as a small gathering over beers in a pub is now in its thirteenth year and a show staple.

Stop by the Emerald Loop Pub from 5:30 to 7:00. Everyone is a guest. Go out the front door of the Hyatt and head left for block or two.

See you there, at Women of Legal Tech and around the TechShow this week.

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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