Presenting the case for law students to attend ABA TECHSHOW

For the past two years, we have seen the academic community grow at the ABA TECHSHOW. This year was a continuation of that growth with the University of Oklahoma Law Center for Technology and Innovation in Practice sponsoring six law students to attend the ABA TECHSHOW.

Instead of me talking about how great TECHSHOW is for law students to attend, below are their own short summaries of their experiences. We look forward to expanding the possibilities for students next year in our never-ceasing effort to develop the next great generation of attorneys.

During our first day at the ABA TECHSHOW, I got to be in a magic show. Seriously. A man in a bright orange blazer made things disappear and reappear, made forks magically bend, and always seemed to find my chosen card even though I thought I had hid it masterfully. And while that was real magic, some of the things I learned at TECHSHOW seemed just as magical, but in a slightly more law-related way. For example, I’ve never been one to wear a Fitbit, but I think I might have to invest in one after my time in Chicago. During a panel discussing the admissibility of “internet of things” evidence, I learned that investigators have actually used heartrate and location data from a Fitbit to exclude someone from a list of murder suspects. For lawyers to be able to use information gathered from objects that we all use every day to clear peoples’ names and make sure justice is served makes for a thrilling advancement in our field — and one that I’m delighted to keep tabs on. –Eleanor Burg, 3L

I think the biggest thing I took away from TECHSHOW is that it’s extremely important to keep up with today’s rapidly evolving technology to comply with our ethics obligations. What is deemed “reasonable” competency will change with the times, and we will be continuously held to a higher standard as expectations of technologic competency change. Also, I learned that AI tech is being sensationalized as “the end of the human lawyer,” when in reality, it’s being built to ensure that more solo and small firms can keep up with the big firms. Overall, the rapid evolution of legal technology is not something that we, as future attorneys should be afraid of — instead, we should embrace it, ensure that we’re keeping up with it, and enjoy all that it has to offer.

One person I met at TECHSHOW who was AWESOME was Bob Ambrogi. I’m a huge podcast listener, so it was incredible to get to meet one of the hosts of Lawyer2Lawyer. I also met Carole Levitt, the author of Internet Legal Research on a Budget and multiple other titles. It was incredible that the person who I was getting breakfast to next in line (I made a comment on the dyed cauliflower and she laughed) was this nationally recognized author and speaker on internet legal research. The opportunity to meet Bob Ambrogi and Carole Levitt, just by attending the conference, is one that I’ll never forget. –Emilee Crowther, 3L

The best thing I experienced at the TECHSHOW was that there are so many people working to make work more efficient so the lawyer’s focus can shift on doing the best and most personalized work for their clients. I came away from the show feeling more prepared to enter practice in a position where I can be a bigger benefit to the firm, as well as being more marketable. The role of the young associate is changing; the days of an associate sitting in a room doing document review and other similar tasks are coming to an end. Law schools and students need to understand and anticipate this shift, and I feel attending OU Law and ABA TECHSHOW have helped me understand and adapt to these changes in my future practice of law. –Zach Williams (pictured at the TrialPad demo station), 2L

Attending the 2018 ABA TECHSHOW with OU Law was a unique opportunity to experience the workings of the legal industry as a 1L. While the variety of seminars and informational sessions provided an incredible look at some of the coolest emerging legal technologies to-date, I believe it was the chance to rub shoulders and discuss complicated aspects of legal innovation with CEOs and founders that really made the TECHSHOW one of the most valuable experiences a law student can have.

From blockchain to virtual reality, no one hesitated to converse with us (mere law students) about the finer points of their ideas, and in fact were eager to get our thoughts and feedback about where we see the legal industry headed by the time we graduate. We were also welcomed at special events, dinners, and after-parties where attendees constantly expressed how pleased they were by the University of Oklahoma College of Law’s efforts to include students at these types of conferences.

I learned not only how to talk to lawyers, but even more importantly, how to listen to them, especially regarding their opinions about the future. I believe that attending the ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago adds value to both my endeavors as a student, as well as my career as an attorney. Additionally, the TECHSHOW gave me the occasion to cultivate business contacts and lasting friendships for years to come. I humbly hope that I can attend again next year!

The tool I saw at TECHSHOW that really sticks out in my mind is Jennifer Wondracek’s VR project, where upon capturing 360-degree footage of any school, state, or federal courtroom, a user would be able to practice making arguments and litigating in any potential forum from the comfort of their home or hotel room. As a law student getting ready for moot court, this tool would be extremely valuable, and the fact that it will be usable with only my smartphone and a cardboard VR headset makes it an enticing option for students like me who can’t afford Vive or Oculus Rift gear yet.

I’m biased, but the coolest person I met was definitely David Fisher of Integra Ledger and the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium. I really enjoyed how during his session, Mr. Fisher helped everyone in the (extremely crowded) room understand the daunting concept of distributed ledger technology and its endless applications, instead of simply plugging his own business. Watching the eyes of experienced attorneys widen as they first realized the potential of blockchain in the legal industry was very inspiring. –Brandon Landt, 1L

I learned so much at TECHSHOW about the tools available to help me become a more efficient lawyer. I particularly liked how the discussion of artificial intelligence was not focused on fear but on how it is a tool that will allow lawyers to focus on the more human, relational tasks. Hopefully, I will be able to put that to use and develop new tools to help other lawyers. –J.D. Weidman, 3L

I was incredibly impressed with the ABA TECHSHOW. Being a student, I was unsure how we would be treated, but I was amazed at how I was welcomed in and how experienced attorneys and vendors valued my opinion. I left with not only dozens of new contacts from significant players in our industry but open invitations to reach out and connect with them as I continue my education. That by itself was worth the trip, but the content of the presentations was tremendous as well, and I left highly educated about what issues our generation of attorneys will face in practice very soon.

My major takeaway was that right now is the time to start thinking bigger. I left feeling as if the future was wide open both professionally and in legal tech. That there is no need to wait until we’re out of law school to make an impact. We can contribute to the industry right now, and we can determine how we choose to practice by leveraging technology in ways that the industry has never even dreamed of. At the end of the conference, I left with multiple ideas for my own legal tech startups and connections to help me get started right away. I am genuinely excited about the future, and I would highly recommend attending next year. –Ryan Dobbs, 1L

Read the entire article at ABA for Law Students “Before the Bar” Blog!