An Attendee’s Guide to ABA TECHSHOW 2012

ABA TECHSHOW runs from Thursday to Saturday this week. It’s my favorite legal technology conference, although I might be a bit biased because I was on the TECHSHOW Board for a few years.

Unfortunately, as some readers already know, I’m not going to be able to attend this year because I’m in the process of recovering from a blood clot in my leg. I’m feeling better, but not enough. That’s very disappointing to me because I was scheduled to speak at two sessions, the book Allison Shields and I wrote, LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, will debut at TECHSHOW, and I’ll miss see all of my friends in the legal technology world.

As I thought about this development, I decided that I’d write a blog post that was a little bit about what I’d do if I were at TECHSHOW and a little bit about what I’d recommend others do while at TECHSHOW.

My first recommendation would be to read Peter Bregman’s great Harvard Business Review article about attending conferences called “How to Attend a Conference as Yourself.”

The secret to attending TECHSHOW is to realize that it’s a great gathering of lawyers who want to use technology in their practices. In many firms, these lawyers can’t find other lawyers with the same interests and passion about technology. At TECHSHOW, lawyers often say that they didn’t realize that there were so many lawyers like them.

The best thing you can do is to introduce yourself to and talk to others at TECHSHOW – attendees, speaker, vendors. Especially speakers. TECHSHOW speakers enjoy talking to attendees about technology. See the speaker ribbon on an ID badge as an inviting to say hello, not as a barrier.

Pre-conference.

There’s a smartphone app for TECHSHOW. Download and install it in preparation. I’d also go over the agenda and identify the sessions you want to attend. TECHSHOW has always focused on education. It’s a conference where it makes sense to attend as many educational sessions as you can. The speakers always have a practical focus. Arrive at TECHSHOW with your list of the sessions you want to attend. Also, it’s OK to slip out of a session if it’s not what you want and move over to another session. The sessions are close to each other in location.

Wednesday Afternoon.

If you arrive on Wednesday, get yourself registered and get your name badge right away on Wednesday afternoon. Wear the badge so others know that you are attending TECHSHOW and introduce yourself to other attendees.

Wednesday Evening.

I’d recommend trying to get into the LexThink .1 event. It’ll be a fast, thought-provoking and fun session of twelve 6-minute presentations. Matt Homann and JoAnna Forshee know how to put on a great show. And it’s free. Make it your mission to talk to as many new people as you can.

There’s also an opening reception. I wouldn’t miss it.

Then take advantage of any opportunity to hang out with other attendees after the event in the hotel. A key point: you can’t really network from your hotel room.

Thursday.

Especially if you are a first-time attendee, but everyone should see TECHSHOW chair Reid Trautz’s intro address first thing in the morning. Reid is a great speaker and he’ll help you map our the highlights of TECHSHOW.

Then, make it your goal to wear yourself out by attending as many sessions as you can, visiting the exhibit floor and meeting as many people as you can. People are very welcoming at TECHSHOW. Find an empty seat at a table at lunch and invite yourself.

Also, take advantage of the Conference Concierge booth, Adrian Linares’s great contribution to the TECHSHOW. The Conference Concierge booth sits at the entrance to TECHSHOW is staffed by speakers and TECHSHOW Board members with the goal of answering all your questions. From directions to sessions and restrooms to signing up for Taste of TECHSHOW dinners to answering tech questions, this booth is the place for information. You’ll often find the speakers you want to meet at the booth helping out. It’s a great place to talk to speakers you’d like to meet. I always found the booth so much fun that I worked it even at times I hadn’t volunteered for.

If you’ve done your pre-work, you will have identified the sessions you want to attend and vendors you want to visit. I’ll recommend especially the two sessions I’ll be missing in action as a speaker. First, Allison Shields at 10:30 in the Meet the Authors session for our new book, LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers. Allison is so knowledgeable on LinkedIn and she’s planning to answer questions about how lawyers can best use LinkedIn. Then, at 2:00, check out the session called Coffee Shop Office: The Ethics of Mobile Computing, where Sharon Nelson and Tom Mighell will be speaking on the vital topic of mobile security. I’ve seen the slides and the session should be excellent.

End up your first full day with the traditional opening reception.

Did I really say end your day? Not at all. One of the great thing at TECHSHOW is the Taste of TECHSHOW dinners. Arranged by topic, these dinners allow about ten people to sign up for dinners at nearby restaurants hosted by topic experts. Some are already sold out, so check out what’s available online. You can also sign up at the Conference Concierge desk. Here’s a little-known tip: there are usually some last-minute cancellations, so check at the Concierge booth to see if a spot will open up for you. Also, watch for places other attendees are hanging out in the hotel in the evening and join in.

Friday.

Get up early and dive right in. Repeat the overloaded schedule from Thursday (get your money’s worth). I’ll recommend what would have been my other session at 3:30 called Running Your Practice Entirely in the Cloud: From Start Up to a Large Virtual Firm, with Chad Burton and Catherine Sanders Reach. Again, I know what will be presented and it should be a great session.

Make sure you spend time on Friday visiting all the vendors whose products you want to learn more about.

End the day with the Beer and Bloggers event, another Taste of TECHSHOW dinner or have dinner with new friends you’ve met. My motto: If there’s an event on the schedule, try to attend it.

Extend your evening by finding where people are hanging out at the hotel. You can learn a lot in these evening conversations.

Saturday.

It’s the good kind of tired, believe me. The Saturday sessions are usually excellent. I especially recommend Jim Calloway’s plenary session on the future of law practice. TECHSHOW closes with the traditional 60 Sites in 60 Minutes session.

Follow-up.

Whether you use LinkedIn, email or phone, make sure you stay in contact with the new friends you made. Most importantly, if you are not already a member of the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section, give very serious thought to joining the Section.

As I like to say, technology is more about people than it is about technology. Nothing proves my point more than TECHSHOW. I’m so disappointed I won’t be able to attend, but I hope this guide helps you get the greatest benefit from your experience.

[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

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The new book Allison Shields and I have written called “LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers” is now available. Also, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together, by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Dennis. I’m sorry to hear about your health matter. I know you’re a cycler (we both own Orbeas) so you’ll heal quickly. I enjoyed have lunch and wandering around with you, Aileen, Tom & Jim in Provence town last fall. Tell Aileen hello. Last years tech show was my first. I am so glad that I came. It has helped me tremendously in managing my solo practice. Now I am on the verge, the steep ledge, of two different things: 1) I am transitioning out of my social security disability practice (of 25 yrs) and into veterans compensation & pension – vet cases take an average of 4 yrs to adjudicate so I will probably sell my building and go virtual to make it economically in the Interim, 2) I am a partner in http://www.visasnap.com, a start-up downloadable application assistance guide for immigration applications. The success of visasnap will depend on my partners and my efforts in optimizing our google presence through social media. So I am very interested in your linked in topic and also in twitter and Facebook use. As well as law office virtualization. I appreciate your guidance and generosity in sharing your skills. I bought your Casemapbook and it was very useful. Thanks and best to you.