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ABA Techshow in Review

ABA Techshow 2013 is finished. I’m really wishing that I took advantage of the full conference, even though that would mean cutting out of D.C. early. If I had my mulligan, I might use it.

ABA Techshow Logo

There’s something magical about Techshow, which you can’t glean until you’re there. I’ve always wanted to attend, though actually attending wasn’t a priority. Now, having attended, I’m going to be “in the ballgame.”

Techshow saw a huge contingent of Android supporters, and we even beat out iOS and Windows as the 2013 champion of the Tablet Wars. Though, co-presenter, Tom Mighell says we tied. He also accused the Android supporters of stuffing the ballot box, but I know that’s not true because I only voted 10 times per category.

The 4×4 Challenge, featuring the top apps for every platform went off without a hitch. Personally, and I know others felt the same way, I would have preferred a top apps for each platform breakout discussion, where we could do a more in-depth analysis of the apps. Unfortunately, with four platforms, we could only show a limited number of apps.

The best thing about Techshow was the tremendous amount of ideas you receive on managing your law practice. In my opinion, Debbie Foster showed off one of the coolest practice management ideas, Microsoft Link. Debbie says that their firm, Affinity Consulting, uses Link for everything, including phone. Now, I’ve heard of, and we use, VOIP, but Link takes VOIP to another level. I’m going back to Oklahoma and speaking with our VOIP provider to see if they can match Link’s capabilities (please say, “yes”).

Of course, there were also plenty of legal-specific vendors touting their wares. I got a close up look at AgileLaw and even found a new video conferencing program called ZOOM. Zoom will allow you to connect up to 25 attendees in a “3-in-1 meeting setting.” The app and software run well on any device, allow you to share screens from desktop to mobile (not mobile to desktop, yet), and doesn’t broadcast your meeting like Google+ Hangouts.

The best swag from Techshow came from Clio, who gave attendees a notepad, a quill-style stylus, and my all-time favorite, Clio branded DiGi-Mates screen cleaners. Clio has all the good stuff.

On Friday, I hosted a “Taste of Techshow” dinner with David Bilinsky. We had a good time.

Unfortunately, Techshow wasn’t all glam, as the highly anticipated “60 Tips” presentation fell on its face – too much Outlook/Windows, and not enough of the other stuff. Also, as I mentioned earlier, there’s too much of an emphasis on iOS (I understand the influence of iPhone and iPad), but I heard a number of comments from people asking to see other stuff, including an Android track. Finally, and perhaps the most discouraging, was that the Hilton’s tech was infinitesimally inadequate. Tablet Wars almost didn’t exist because tech resources couldn’t get HDMI to work on the projector. If you’re going to provide the service, you’d better be ready to produce.

I encourage all of my readers to attend this event. Set some money aside for 2014. If cost is a concern, here’s some helpful tips I used or will use in the future:

  •  Take advantage of the Superpass deal from LegalTypist. You end up piggy-backing with other attendees, at a reduced cost, and getting invited to all of the cool events. Plus, you’ll get to hang out with Andrea (which I missed), which isn’t too bad, either.
  • Book a hotel room early. I ended up staying my final two nights at Chicago’s Essex, which is across the street from the Hilton Chicago. I paid a lot less for my room (including some additional days) than the ABA’s “discount” at the Hilton, by using one of the hotel reservation sites. If I hadn’t procrastinated, I could have paid $125/night for a room at the Hilton. I missed that deal, though.
  • Car pool with other attendees. Depending on the cost of airfare, you might save money pooling resources by riding together. Figure $40/day for parking and your fuel costs, you might save some money.
  • Book airfare early. Most airlines will let you book your trip early, so do it. I could have saved another $25 on airfare, just by booking my flight when I committed to going.
  • Take advantage of Southwest’s sale. I missed an awesome price on airfare, but still got a rocking discount by taking advantage of their sale. Plus, there’s no fee to change on Southwest (except the difference in price), so I changed my flight 3 times to take advantage of money-saving deals.
  • Buy food, don’t eat out. You can spend a ton on eating out, so be sure to take advantage of the free continental breakfast served each morning before Techshow, the “Lunch and Learn” series, and the pre-show dinner. I had 2 breakfasts, 1 lunch, and a dinner covered. Plus, there’s a 7-11 and Target store within walking distance (>10 mins) from the Hilton.
  • Skip the Taste of Techshow dinners. These baby’s are costly. It’s fine dining, so unless you want to spend a fine dime, skip the dinner. I hosted one with Dave Bilinsky (fun, fun, fun), but on a budget, I wouldn’t attend again.

Hopefully, I’ll see you at ABA Techshow 2014.

One Response to ABA Techshow in Review

  1. Very nice summary Jeff, I would like to get to this show someday, but this post gives me a good feel for what it is like.

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