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ABA TechShowEvery year when ABA TECHSHOW rolls around it feels like summer camp–seeing old friends and making new ones. The Windy City may be frosty outside in March but it’s warm and sunny inside: one of the best “relationship” conferences for solos, small firm lawyers, and legal techies.

Let’s get right to some of the top takeaways from this awesome conference.

1. The robot lawyers are coming – Multiple panels broke down chat bots, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the like, for the rest of us. The gist was that these advances in technology improved access to justice and weren’t about to take lawyers’ jobs. Yet.

2. Speaker diversity ruled – A frustratingly common refrain at tech conferences is the lack of diverse speakers. The organizers did a superb job this year to make sure that didn’t happen. Major kudos to the planning board.

3. Managing your practice – Law Practice Management software was out in force with fantastic new upgrades and integrations to make solos and small firm lawyers more productive. Clio, Rocket Matter, MyCase, LEAP, CosmoLex, Zola Suites, and Practice Panther were among the crowded field. 

I shared a ride from the airport with a solo attorney who relayed the story of how she used software to identify bottlenecks at her firm (her biggest client of many years was the culprit), got rid of them, and now has a flourishing, less stressful practice. Bottom line: Use one of these tools in your practice.

4. Whiskey and Donuts – As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, Techshow is a relationship conference and there are ample opportunities to get out, engage, and form lasting bonds. 

Kevin O’Keefe/ABA’s long-standing Beer for Bloggers, Taste of Techshow dinners, mellow one-on-one coffee and lunch meetings, and rocking vendor parties were all part of the super fun, relationship-building activities.

5. Marketing tips – Hey, we’re a legal marketing blog so no list is complete without a marketing shoutout. My presentation on DIY digital marketing for solos and small firms, (Attorney at Work published a prequel: Crafting a Low-Stress Digital Marketing Strategy for Your Small Firm), included a tribute to veteran legal marketer who passed away recently.

I also chatted with scores of folks – from solo attorneys to large vendors and other marketers – about marketing and business development. Great conversations.

6. Media coverage for your firm – Representatives from legal media giants Above the Law, Lawyerist, and the ABA Journal provided valuable insights into how to get recognized and get your content in front of the media. Hey, we’er believers.

7. Get with “The Twitter” – Yes, someone actually referred unironically to “The Twitter” during a conversation at the conference.

The Twitter is a great way to connect prior to the conference, engage during the conference, and gain new followers after the party’s over. And, you don’t have to send scores of live tweets at each session overwhelming your current followers. I sent less than 10 and gained a bunch of new followers, or, as I call them, my online community of legal industry movers and shakers.

Bonus: I get to supplement my post with tweets that gives you a better sense of what was happening that I ever could in a blog post.

8. Lots of startup energy – Techshow added a row of a dozen legal startups. The startup competition kicked of the conference. They had their own hashtag! #StartUpAlley. I interviewed a few of them and these innovators are full of great energy and ideas. Here’s an overview of the participants.

9. Podcast heavenLegal Talk Network (LTN) was everywhere: interviewing attendees, presenters, exhibitors, even writers and editors at Beers for Bloggers. The popularity of podcasts have exploded and LTN has kept pace.

10. Get healthy – There was also activities for the health conscious – like a 5K run and yoga. I mostly avoided these but hear they were fun, and um, wholesome.

Honorable mention goes to the mobile app which was intuitive and useful. 

Until next year, Techshow!