Everything I Learned in Legal Tech, I Learned at lex|PORT 2013 Tech Expo

Well, not really. But you remember those old “Everything I Know I Learned in Kindergarten” posters that featured catchy, but true, phrases about life. That’s kind of how I feel when I attend really good tech conferences. Certainly, given my background and exposure, I’m not a lightweight when talking legal tech. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t have a few things to learn along the way.

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5 Things I Learned at lex|PORT 2013 Tech Expo

Microsoft Word is one great product

Ben Schorr pontificated for awhile on a number of great topics, but the most profound discussion came from the power and simplicity of Microsoft Word. Ben quite literally wrote the book on Word for lawyers (or two of them).

Of course, I can perform basic functions in Word, and perhaps even some more complex word processing, but Ben showcased styles and my reemerging love affair with Word begins again.

Most lawyers abandon styles, not knowing how much they can assist in document creation. Ben showed the audience how styles can help maintain order in documents, make for quick changes, and make your life significantly less complicated. It’s time to go home and reacquaint myself with this loveable feature.

Here’s a great video that can give you a relatively quick overview of how to use styles in your document creation.

 

You already knew all about that though.

Don’t forget, styles are available in Google Drive documents, too.

Lawyers are stupid (or lazy) when it comes to tech security

Most attorneys say they’re concerned about security, but when it actually comes down to really talking about security, most lawyers get lazy. Or stupid.

Example one: after a number of lectures and discussions on the importance of passwords and device security, I observed a number of different attorneys walking (or sitting mostly) around the conference whose phones, tablets and computers didn’t have passwords.

Of course, maybe some of these were already unlocked before I passed — I doubt that.

The troubling fact is that a lawyer has an obligation to secure protected client information. Please, if you do nothing else after reading this post, protect your desktop, laptop and mobile devices with a strong password.

Example two: I spent some time after the conference chatting with Ben Schorr and Paul Unger. Ben told a story when one of their techs walked into a law firm, wandered around in the office for 20 minutes, and even played Solitaire on a secretary’s unlocked computer for another 15 minutes. Finally, someone from the office confronted him.

When was the last time that your firm tested its security measures. Personally, I can think about a half-dozen ways my firm’s vulnerable. Some include when our cleaning crew enters the office, and who’s on the crew, and even where and how we store documents and other personal information. That doesn’t even include the law firm’s obligations under HIPAA  (here, too).

Take time to talk to the presenters and other attendees

After Friday’s set of meetings, I joined up for dinner and drinks with Paul and Ben. This was a surreal experience for me, given the fact that Ben and Paul are legal technology gods, and two individuals I’ve followed almost as long as Futurelawyer. In my embarrassingly giddy excitement, I might have even mentioned to Ben that I’d bought his Outlook book. Starstruck.

The truth is, as I’m slowly learning, travelling to many different CLE events means that I spend a lot of time eating alone or sitting in a hotel room. Sometimes, that can be boring.

Given that fact, I’m very excited to sit and discuss tech, Android, or even my 18 months as a “body snatcher.”

These conferences give you the chance to discuss ideas, get solutions, and build relationships with some of the best “experts” in the field. Don’t miss out on that opportunity.

Also, take a chance to mingle with the other attendees. Even though I was a presenter at ABA Techshow, I was still reluctant to mingle with other attendees. I broke this shyness, and I was very grateful for the interactions. I spent dinner at Techshow with five wonderful lawyers, including Judge Terry Ruckriegle. For younger attorneys, this is a great opportunity to rub shoulders with great legal minds. For older lawyers, you’re building relationships with lawyers who’ve grown up in the digital age and probably can’t remember rotary dial phones.

I regularly see a lot of attendees tucked into small corners of the conference halls on their mobile devices or laptops. We’re missing out on opportunities to make connections when we isolate ourselves. Certainly, I understand the need to work and be productive, so I won’t fault you for that. But don’t let apps or sites like Facebook be the reason you’re not interacting with your colleagues.

Acrobat is amazing

Paul Unger gave his presentation on Acrobat for lawyers where he showcased some of the fantastic features. Now, I’ve used Adobe Acrobat for years, and consider myself an advanced user, but even I ended up gleaning some important information. In particular, I’d forgotten that instead of using CTRL+I to insert pages into a document, you can drag and drop onto the page view screen. This is especially handy when you’re arranging discovery and sorting information. Bingo, and thank you.

The full (Pro) version of Acrobat can handle a number of different tasks, including adding signature stamps, Bates numbers, and redaction. If you’re not using Acrobat Pro in your law practice, you’re missing out on opportunities to improve your productivity.

 Even if you’re tech savvy, you don’t know what you don’t know

Unfortunately, most “tech savvy” attorneys don’t know what they don’t know about legal tech, until they’ve attended conferences like ABA Techshow and lex|PORT Tech Expo. And those who do know, can still learn a thing or two about those areas they do know about. That’s certainly the case with me.

Regardless of your tech competence, if you’re not attending tech conferences like lex|PORT or ABA Techshow, you’re missing out on experiences. Sure, costs are a major factor when considering to attend, but at $99 for lex|PORT or $499 for a Techshow Superpass, you’re hard pressed to find a better deal on the two legal tech conferences. Other bar associations have similar deals.

One conference isn’t going to make you into a tech guru, but it’s the small elements you get from individual sessions or speakers. You don’t know what you don’t know until you’re in a session being taught by experts like Paul or Ben and the “wow” lightbulb clicks.

For instance, I’d all but given up on Windows 8, still loving my Windows 7 operating system, until I saw Ben’s demonstration and we discussed some features afterward. I’m intrigued with the ability to take my desktop anywhere on a USB device and some of the beefed-up security features. Ben also let me play with his Lenovo laptop, which makes me think I want to purchase a Lenovo Yoga.

“I Learned It From Watching You”

In the grand scheme of learning, we all gain by our associations with others. And that’s where these simple, small tech conferences become extremely important. They’re fun, too. So, unlike that conference with the boring presenter on “The Social Aspects of Dominant Relationships,” you can get practical advice on using your tablet or smartphone in your law practice, the best apps, and even programs for your desktop and practice management.

So, I hope you’ll consider Techshow 2014, lex|PORT 2014, or one of the other legal technology conferences. And then, maybe you’ll hit me up to share a magnificent steak.

2 Responses to Everything I Learned in Legal Tech, I Learned at lex|PORT 2013 Tech Expo

  1. Thanks for the review, Jeff. The positive thoughts on Windows 8 will benefit a buddy who is looking for guidance on a new pc. Sam Glover’s comments about uninstalling it had me concerned for my friend. I need to investigate the styles for Word. I use WordPerfect because of the reveal codes which make formatting easier. I might be unnecessarily flummoxed if styles are easy to learn and utilize.

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.