Top TECHSHOW Takeaways

Top TECHSHOW Takeaways

Every spring in beautiful downtown Chicago, the ABA TECHSHOW® and EXPO provides a national forum for “bringing lawyers and technology together.” Discussing everything from emerging trends and thought leadership in legal technology, to new product releases and demonstrations, this conference offers an abundance of practical tips for implementing technology in the law. Our PLF Practice Management Attorney team attended the 2023 Conference. Here are some of our top takeaways.

Startup Alley

ABA TECHSHOW 2023 raced out of the gate with a competition between legal technology startups, called Startup Alley. Each competitor is given three minutes to make their pitch, and the winner is chosen by the conference attendees. This year’s champion was Universal Migrator.

True to its name, Universal Migrator promises smooth transitions between nearly all practice and/or document management systems, even if they are based on disparate database schemes, application programming interfaces (API), and table structures. Universal Migrator extracts data from over 50 different types of systems into a comprehensive database that can then be pushed into the user’s desired platform. Your valuable firm and client information is no longer locked into one spot or beholden to an expensive extraction. Now, with relative ease, your data can travel with you to whichever technology platform best serves you and your clients today.


Key Themes

Some larger themes surfaced from the more than 70 presentations. Attorneys are looking for ways to better understand and improve their office systems, tips to help them leverage new technologies like artificial intelligence, and more sustainable approaches to generating revenue.

  • Process Mapping – If you have found navigating the last several years dizzying, you are not alone. One strategy to reorientating your practice and tech stack to align with your goals is through Process Mapping, a planning and management tool that visually describes the flow of work in an office. Engaging in this exercise yields a host of benefits. First, the act of mapping identifies holes, redundancies, and chokepoints in workflows. This awareness can inform planning, training, and—most importantly—decisions about which technologies may help to maximize your office processes. Secondly, you can incorporate your completed Process Map into employee training handbooks and procedures manuals, with clear and standardized instructions. Some process mapping tools to explore include Microsoft Visio, Lucidchart, Creately, and EdrawMax.

  • Artificial Intelligence –A hot topic at the conference was artificial intelligence (AI), particularly large language models such as ChatGPT. Demonstrations of these models to potential legal applications were truly astounding. Thoughtful discourse is now seemingly available at the push of a button.  However, presenters were quick to note some significant caveats to the current landscape. For example, AI can invent or “hallucinate” information for the sake of appearing fluent. It also might plagiarize the work of others without attribution. And information inputted into ChatGPT and like systems is not confidential (just ask ChatGPT yourself). So, does AI herald a brave new world in which attorneys are obsolete? Luckily, no, says a majority of panelists. These innovations won’t replace lawyers, but lawyers leveraging this technology will have a significant advantage over competitors who do not. This is a developing area worth keeping an eye on. Please look to inPractice for future blog posts delving deeper into the topic of AI and the law. In the meantime, if you are curious to see an examples of large language model AI applied to legal services, check out LawDroid and Casetext.

  • Subscription Billing – Subscription services are ubiquitous in modern life. More likely than not your office software, entertainment streaming, and telecommunications are all delivered through a subscription plan. While still rare in the law, firms are increasingly exploring this model for the provision of legal services. The benefits are potentially large. A subscription model encourages an ongoing and growing relationship with clients, and subscription billings create regular, predictable monthly income. Moreover, these models enable scalability because revenue is not tethered to finite inputs (i.e., billable hours) but instead to value delivered to clients. This is not to say subscription billing is without challenges: it requires a nearly complete rethink of service delivery and may entail an investment in new technologies. In addition, firms need to consider some real potential ethical pitfalls, including sufficiently defining scope in service agreements, effectively communicating with clients, charging reasonable fees, and ending representation appropriately. Luckily, a growing cadet of technology vendors and consultants is available to assist firms with this transition, such as  FiduLegal.

Specific Tool and Tips

“60 in 60” is the grand finale of TECHSHOW. This fast-paced session presents 60 tech tools and tips in 60 minutes. Here are a few of the items that caught our eye this year:

  • Descript is a simple-to-use video editing product that incorporates AI to amazing effect. With Descript you can seamlessly edit out unwanted words from videos (e.g., “like,” “um,” “you know”) or add in words simply by typing them into the automatically created transcription. The speed with which this program can learn and recreate speaker voices is jaw-dropping.

  • Streamyard is a stream and recording software that can multi-stream, meaning it can simultaneously push your streams to many platforms at once, including YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook.

  • Windows Master Control Panel, aka “God Mode,” creates a shortcut to nearly the entirety of control settings in Windows. Here are the steps to launching your own Master Control Panel:

  1. Right-click on your desktop screen and select “new” and then “folder.”

  2. Name the folder “{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}.”

  3. Press enter and a blue icon should appear.

  4. Open this icon for a comprehensive view of Windows controls, all in one place.

  • Aero Snap Keys in Windows is an easy way to organize the display of multiple open windows, which is particularly useful if you have multiple monitors at your workstation. Simply select the screen you wish to organize and press both the Windows Logo Key and relevant Directional Arrow Key to choose which area of your screen you would like that window to “snap” to.

  • Scan documents on your iPhone with ease (and at no additional cost) using the built-in Notes app. Simply open the Notes app on your phone, push the camera button, and select “Scan Documents.” It is basically like taking a picture, giving you a portable scanner wherever you go.

What the ABA TECHSHOW and EXPO makes clear is that thoughtful examination of your office and client needs remains the bedrock to using technology effectively in law. Arbitrary implementation of new tools, programs, and systems can have disruptive, expensive, or even disastrous consequences. We at the Practice Management Assistance Program (PMAP) take pains to keep abreast of the latest in legal technology and are here to support you and your goals. To discuss these takeaways, or any other technology questions, please contact us at 503.639.6911 or submit an inquiry through our website.

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