My second year at the ABA TECHSHOW was magical. I was no longer a deer in the headlights, unable to absorb the massive amounts of content and activities. I made a pact with myself to indulge in every aspect of the event. This is my countdown of what I learned, thought, and got.
I attended 12 presentations in a range of tracks. I perused a smattering in the iPad track to try and get the skinny, even though I am an Android phone and PC lady thus far. Why not Mac and PC? I went to one, Cleaning Up a Data Leak — which I had interpreted as either advanced or for-your-IT-person-only — and actually found it understandable and fascinating.
11 Business Cards
I networked my tail off, collecting 11 business cards from new contacts. Now comes the follow-through. My networking rule of thumb is three events in a month, three business cards exchanged at each event, and at least three follow-ups afterward. I consider myself successful if I make it through half my stack after an event like this. At this year’s TECHSHOW, I also suggested people call me, so it is less labor-intensive.
10 Minutes with Stephanie Kimbro
At a meet-the-author session, I spent 10 minutes listening to the brilliant Stephanie Kimbro, and her research into online client engagement. People who want legal services don’t use search terms like “law” or “legal” or “my rights.” Instead, they most commonly type “help” and they are more likely feeling shame than righteous indignation. Kimbro discussed the Proteus Effect (which I oversimplified into “people like avatars and online make-believe”) and hypothesized that law firms could better engage clients online with gamification.
9 Times I Name-Dropped “Gamification”
I spent the next two days using gamification in random contexts 9 times, to sound smarter. I cannot eradicate this idea from my mind. Every time I spot gamification being used on me, from TurboTax (widget central) to Expedia (3 tickets left at this price!), I am duly overwhelmed.
8 Factors in Choosing Office Software
In Keeping Your Sanity: Why Practice Management Software Matters More than Ever, the faculty identified 8 key considerations when choosing software for your firm. They include scalability (for growth), practice areas, level of knowledge and tolerance on staff, new staff cross-firm skills acquisition (what the new hires use and can teach), sync capabilities with current systems, mobility and remote access needs, knowledge management vs. matter management preferences, and sales and marketing needs. (The only thing I would add is what feels and looks good, because that matters to me and folks spend a lot of time looking at their practice management software.)
7 Promising Products
Found 7 products* on the vendor floor that I would like to take home. They are, in no particular order, Office 365 (sleek and synchy), LawPay (protects the Lawyer Trust Account), Ruby Receptionist (CEOs of Happiness), Chrometa (spyware that reports the user, to capture more time), Citrix ShareFile (sending secure large files easily), Wordrake (trims the fat in your writing), and Worldox (the new interface is more intuitive). Clio and MyCase went head-to-head across the aisle.
6 Cool Swag Items
My favorite was the headshots at the MyCase booth. If this is offered at a conference you attend, get it. Lawyers need good headshots for their websites and social media. I wanted a caricature from Thompson Reuters, but I was too late. Also cool were the tiny office supply kits, Westlaw’s tiny adapter including car and computer ports, SECURITY t-shirts, and Clio’s phone cleaning pad that sticks to the back of your phone.
A 5-part Equation for Success
TECHSHOW speakers typically do not recommend specific products and systems unless they are called upon to do so in a “60 in 60” or a select product talk (e.g., Google Voice, Microsoft track). One of the speakers in the iLitigate on the iPad panel was bold enough to set out his 5-part equation for success: 1) Get a VPN, 2) learn one trick a day, 3) get a cloud service with help from an expert, 4) participate in social media, and 5) use a Mac, Office 365, and an iPad for court. I could see new litigators using it as a plan to implement improvements in the office or just get started.
4 Poor Ways to Choose Software
Also in “Keeping Your Sanity,” Nancy Duhon and Jeff Krause identified 4 poor ways to choose software. They were “my buddy has it,” “my IT guy/bookkeeper told me to get it,” “it was the cheapest,” and “the geekiest lawyer in our firm picked it out for us.” In my experience, this is what I see too. Do your research, test the products before buying, and invest substantially in training. The more you customize and know it, the more you’ll use and like it.
The 3-Part Adoption of Processes
In the Process Management in a Shifting Legal Landscape presentation — my favorite of the conference — Peggy Gruenke and Debbie Foster pulled out the trusty Venn diagram to explain that the Adoption of Processes is made up of interacting factors. Three parts make it up: people, process, and technology. But all of these make up the office culture — a powerful force that can make adoption difficult and must be considered when planning and implementing process changes.
2 Favorite Quotes
The first was from Debbie Foster, who said, “Just because you’ve been doing it that way forever doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid,” adding the postscript that “stupid” is a bad word in her household and that it is not said lightly. The message she was getting across with it, though, is that if you have innovative staff who look for new and improved processes, you have a gold mine you should appreciate and reward.
My second favorite quote came from keynote speaker Casey Flaherty, who said, “Lawyers are miserable people because they spend their day at a machine they don’t know how to use.” We underestimate the value of the tools we have at our fingertips, and we overestimate our ability to use those tools proficiently. I challenge you to pick up YouTube and Microsoft mini-trainings and start learning how what you use can be used better in small, incremental lessons that you implement regularly (start with 15 minutes a week).
1 Great Book
I bought many books for my organization, but I bought only one for myself, How to Do More in Less Time by Allison Shields and Daniel Siegel. These two lawyers must have spotless offices. They get my struggles with clutter, interruptions, and technology. I love this book and am now reading it from cover to cover before I delve into the (electronic) reams of TECHSHOW materials.
*Mentioning specific products is not an endorsement. There is no guarantee of a particular result. Every lawyer has her own obligation to perform due diligence in product research and read the user agreements. Try out the products for yourself and do your own research. Don’t forget to ask the provider questions like:
• How does your product work with these other products I use?
• What is your encryption and how do you ensure my documents are kept safe?
• Where do you keep the information you store?
• Who has access to that information besides me?
• When and how do you announce breaches?
• In what format do I get my information if and when I cancel my contract with you?
This post originally appeared on Law Technology Today.