With the total detox of ABA TECHSHOW withdrawal complete, I can now add some comments about the entire event.
For starters, if you haven’t checked out the liveblog, do that now. I even liveblogged my 60 Android Apps in 60 Minutes session on Saturday morning. Difficult to say the least. And don’t forget, I share all of my presentations, although they probably won’t make sense.
A lot of glitz, but little glamour
This is my 4th ABA TECHSHOW, and so I think I’m starting to become a little less enthusiastic about the entire event. That’s not to demean any of the functions, it’s simply an observation of the status as a whole.
First, I was very encouraged by the greater emphasis on mobile technology, and actually spent a lot of time listening to the mobile technology presentations, including iPad. Unfortunately, I think these presentations fell short of the expectations, including the “how to” component of using iPads (tablets) for presentations. I think, aside from the ability to use iPad for trial presentations, the Apple folks are finding little use for a tablet beyond and e-reader, portable briefcase, and a way to respond to email messages. I didn’t see any novel ideas or suggestions for using an iPad, as opposed to an Android tablet, for document creation/editing, e-book consumption, and document transportation. Once again, the “iPad is the most useful law office tool” argument fell short. In truth, Android tablets could perform every function I saw in the iPad how to segments, and probably better.
I should also note that my presentation on Android 101 for Lawyers could have gone a lot better — I have a “leave nothing on the table” presentation mentality. We tried using Chromecast to give our presentation, but between a bad Verizon connection, flimsy device, and pure bad luck, I was able to show once again why lawyers aren’t clamoring to use tablets for presentations. With about 15 minutes left, I finally resurrected the Chromecast and device mirroring to function correctly. Honestly, I haven’t had this issue before, or since, but the tech-gods exercised their wrath.
In general, I think my poor selection of speaker topics to listen to really burst my bubble. I didn’t gleam any huge nuggets, and I wouldn’t say that this TECHSHOW was the best ever. That’s not to say others didn’t enjoy this event more:
— Paul F. Wright (@PFWRIGHT) April 19, 2015
Obviously, I’m an outlier. I think more careful planning with who I listened to during my speaker sessions would have improved my current outlook.
The vendor EXPO hall
I spent a lot of time during this ABA TECHSHOW perusing the vendor expo hall. This is a massive location filled with companies hocking their wares, vying for the mighty powerful legal technology dollar. At times, I felt I was walking down game row at the carnival, while each “barker” tried to get me to play their game. (And I’m not too far off, because on day 1, the evening reception was actually carnival themed with corn dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and a few interspersed carnival-type games.) https://youtu.be/GbEG4-ImHyI This year, the vendor theme seemed to be legal case management. Case management vendors filled practically every aisle, and MyCase and Clio even got to share competing space on either side of the main aisle.
If I had to pick one case management vendor whose product really impressed me, that award would go to MerusCase. https://youtu.be/OfG8HI7X40g MerusCase didn’t make a place in my case management comparison, but I’d had an opportunity to test the product. At test time, the product “flopped” — one of the consequences of a “I’ll learn what I can attitude.” I felt MerusCase was too complicated, and was already leaning toward MyCase or Clio, so I didn’t perform a full throttle test like I should have. Fast forward to TECHSHOW where I developed a new love for this product. It’s intuitive, easy-to-use out of the box, and fully encompassed. Right now, the only limitation seems to be the narrowly focused, pre-formatted practice areas — MerusCase was originally developed for personal injury. The company is trying to rectify that by adding practice areas at a surprisingly fast speed. My favorite aspect of MerusCase is the document assembly function.
I also took the chance to speak with newcomer, Intake123. This startup seeks to bring client intake forms to the cloud. https://youtu.be/rLX1sD2SfE4 The process is very simple, the program is intuitive, and assuming your client can use a tablet, quick and efficient. Intake123 features 4 pricing tiers, starting at $9 per month. I suspect that the $9 plan would work for many low volume offices, but you’re likely going to need the Gold Plan for most normal offices. My only negative observation is that many offices could perform the same functions with fillable PDF documents, and $25 is a lot of money to pay for a form. I’m diminishing the value of the program somewhat with these observations, but they’re genuine concerns for some users.
Finally, if you’re looking for a real, viable solution to mobile dictation, it’s time to check out BigHand. This is a genuine digital solution with speech-to-text functionality. https://youtu.be/bxgocGsChwo The company provides an Android app that works well and enables you to create digital recordings and deliver them to an assistant or yourself for further use. The product is insanely cheap — roughly $250/per user/per year — which is a very manageable cost for small and solo firms. The killer feature for me was the amazingly accurate speech recognition engine that gives you the ability to copy and paste text directly where you need. I imagine a number of solo lawyers using BigHand on the road to dictate different messages, and then copying those message into the document back at the office. A quick adjustment of formatting, and you’re ready to send away. Of course, you can also use traditional methods for transcription. Note: if you want another full recap of the vendor hall, check out this post from San Antonio attorney, Mark Unger. MyCase also has a compilation of posts. Overall, the vendor hall was great, but I wasn’t “blown away” by any one product or future. Perhaps I had too high of expectations for the products in the vendor hall to actually appreciate their contributions. I saw many of the same tech, but even fewer revamps. I was also disappointed in the relatively sparse vendor schwag. Sure, I scored a t-shirt, but I left with more pens and phone holders than I care to keep.
Put procrastination aside to attend
Take a gander at #ABATECHSHOW on Twitter and you’ll see the value of this conference. Some criticize TECHSHOW for its diversity problem, which I think is reflective of the tech sector as a whole, while others soak up the entire experience. But whatever your motivation, ABA TECHSHOW is an event you shouldn’t miss. ABA TECHSHOW 2016 is March 17-19. I hope to see you there!