Reflecting on my First ABA TECHSHOW

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My first ABA TECHSHOW attendance was a whirlwind of activity. Overall, I consider it a fabulous return on my monetary investment and will attend the conference again next year.

But to back up, let me explain why my experience may not be similar to yours. My full-time work is as an assistant professor in journalism. I have many degrees: a PhD in Technology and Gerontology, an MBA in marketing, and a BA in graphic design. Right now I teach mainly graphic design to undergraduate students who are not graphic design majors.

My research interest, though, is on the intersection of the law and technology. So I’m slowly working my way towards a JD.

Therefore it is with that framework that I viewed the ABA TECHSHOW. Honestly, I knew very little about the show and initially thought it was mainly going to be about how cutting edge technology is changing the law. Well, now I know that was not the correct interpretation of this conference.

After attending the conference and going to many speaking sessions as well as frequently visiting the exhibit hall, I understood this year’s TECHSHOW to be advantageous because:

  1. The TECHSHOW helps IT personnel protect legal documentation and communications and
  2. The TECHSHOW helps established lawyers better learn what new technology is out there and how to use it to streamline their practice.

Of course, I acknowledge that I may be missing other takeaways, but these are what I gathered from my perspective as a technology-focused academic interested in the law. And many of the sessions I attended did not directly pertain to my unique position and interests.

Well then, why do I consider it worthwhile for me to attend next year? Because of the people I met at the show. Because of talking to the presenters after they presented, or talking to other attendees at lunch or in the halls between sessions, or talking to some of the exhibitors manning the booths in the exhibit hall. In short, I feel the ABA TECHSHOW was most beneficial for me because of the face-to-face networking opportunities. I love technology. But I strongly feel that networking with another person when they are physically standing next to you cannot be duplicated.

At the ABA TECHSHOW, I met legal tech superstars. I met people like Julie Tolek, whose web page (http://thinkpinklaw.com/) I had bookmarked as an example of excellent design and user-friendly content. I met Jonathan Lomurro, who showed that he has a bit of a love affair going with technology and design when it comes to trial graphics (although I do not share his same affinity with PowerPoint). I met Kevin O’Keefe, whose social media posts I read every day on Twitter. I couldn’t find Dan Lear of AVVO because he was too busy buzzing around the event, but knowing he was there showed me that this conference was spot on at bringing together those who have interests similar to mine.

One thing I would have liked to have seen, which is common at many academic conferences, is an expanded timeframe to hold workshops. Normally these are on the weekend and run anywhere from 3 to 6 hours each. They are in smaller lab-type settings with about 20 attendees. An instructor walks everyone through step-by-step tutorials on a specific technological topic. For example, I could teach attendees how to use Adobe Photoshop. I asked a TECHSHOW organizer why these workshops weren’t available, and was told that they had been in the past, or that many state bar annual meetings have them. However, judging by the TECHSHOW selfie-stick documentation by Randy Juip showing the large attendance to presentations such as the 60-sites-in-60-minutes, it appears that many attendees might be interested in more hands-on presentations.

Maybe next year. And I’ll volunteer to teach Photoshop.

 

sarakubikSara Kubik holds a PhD in Technology and Gerontology, a MBA in Marketing and Management, a BA in Graphic Design, and is expecting to complete her JD in 2017.

She has a mastery of design software and production techniques. Her latest creative endeavor involves 3d printing models for use as demonstrative evidence in trials.

She can be reached at sara@sarakubikphd.com or followed on twitter @sarakubik.

Her website is www.sarakubikphd.com