#ABATechshow Survival Guide 2017

29 01 2017

OK, here is my attempt at shedding some light on ABA Techshow for this year. I did a similar rundown in 2015 but I thought I would update as best I can with a few personal photos this time around for my own amusement. I’m not sure I’m going this year but a few people found this useful last time I sent out one of these so here goes:

First, you can skip this entire post and just read the ABAs official First Time Experience Guide. You should also read Victor Li’s article about this year’s even HERE.

Planning on Chicago for the first time? Do some research before you go so you don’t arrive home after the conference and find out you missed something like the Art Institute of Chicago.

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It is just down the street from the Hilton and you have to plan a little time there to see paintings you have only seen in books. They currently have a Japanese photography exhibit (and other amazing things too!)

Second, you must get out of the hotel!

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Stop and say hi to Rufus. He has been there for years and knows what you need before you need it. Ask him for a local tip, where to grab a late night meal, where to see the hidden sights, or what’s currently a hot location in Chicago. Be nice, and tip well.

Don’t be shy. You came to ABATECHSHOW to learn sometime, or possibly just to get your state required learning for the year, either way, live a little. You should/must talk to people you don’t know. Chat up people on the elevators, at lunch, before sessions start and after sessions are finished. If you go to ABATECHSHOW and leave without meeting new people you have lost out on some of your investment and some great opportunities! I can’t state this enough. This is your opportunity to chat with the luminaries of the legal profession. Want to speak to Kevin O’Keefe from Lexblog for some personal tips? He’s probably there. Maybe you want a tip on podcasting from this guy:

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OK, so he doesn’t always look like that but Adam Camras, the CEO of Legal Talk Network is a speaker and no doubt they will be cranking out high quality podcasts from the exhibitor’s floor during the conference and asking questions that weren’t asked of speakers when they were part of a panel.

Social Media – If you don’t know what social media is, well, that’s OK too, but a lot of info is zooming around during the conference on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Periscope too. Periscope is doing some cool things in 360 right now. I’m interested to see if there is anything in “surround” at Techshow this year. Find out what a hashtag is (this # is a hashtag,) and follow what people are saying about techshow and where the parties/gatherings are right now (in plain language, get a Twitter account and follow the #ABATECHSHOW feed.) Last time around I was tagging people during sessions they were speaking at and watching them look at their Apple watches and then reply (I”m looking at you Adriana!

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Speaking of Adriana Linares, find her. There’s no prize or anything (at least not that I know of,) but she will be everywhere and is this year’s Chair. If there is something going on at Techshow, she will know about it. She will know where the hot spots are for going out, where the new restaurants are, which sessions are “must attend” and she can tell you if you’re missing anything! If you find Adriana you have found the conference grail.

Vendors – Wander around the vendor floor/area more than once. Sure some of them will want your soul (or at least your business card so they pester you into the afterlife). . .but you can see lots of cool things and some of them might be right for your office, (or you will find out which ones you want to avoid in the future.) The other thing is you can’t necessarily figure out what the product is from the banners or signage as you walk past a booth so talk to someone, make eye contact and find out what it is they do! Some of the vendors give away great gifts in a draw which takes place at the end of the show. . .you can’t win it if you’re not in it (as they say.) Want to know the differences between Clio, Rocket Matter, MyCase and Firm Manager? Well this is your chance to find out! Talk to all of them, get a demo, find out about the nitty gritty costs and have them explain the Terms of Usage agreements. Ask them if they will modify them. Ask them where their cloud servers are located. Ask them what the heck the cloud is!?

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Ever wonder how Clio gets such great employees? (Full disclosure: I am friends with Rian (L) and Jack (R) and first met them just before attending techshow for the first time. They go with my next tip:

The Canadians – Find us. . .we are friendly, we know a bit about tech, and most of us will give you the shirts off our back. If we don’t know how to get someplace we will probably stay with you until you complete your journey. We will talk your ear off. We know a lot about beer (some of us,) and there is a special contingent who know a lot about scotch and sometimes arrange a scotch tasting at a nearby purveyor of spirits…seek them out if you’re interested. We are usually ridiculously polite (annoyingly so for some people.) Some of the Canadians (not me) are ABATECHSHOW insiders and know everything. Find a Canadian and hold tight…possibly more important this year than other years if any of us make it across the border.

Taste of Techshow I have been to one of these and I would recommend going at least once. It’s hard to pick one ahead of time so I would say forget about who the hosts are and decide which restaurant you want to go to and sign up. You pay for these ones yourself so watch your budget, oh, and you’re away from home so live a little. I have added the link for the 2016 Taste but stay tuned and you will eventually see some online signon I think.

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Music – Its Chicago, go find some live music on one of the nights. . .seriously, just do it. The above snap is Shawn Lacy from Nashville. If you get a chance to see him, see him! Bub City is part of the Lettuce Entertain You group and have a series of restaurants all over the country and lots of variety in Chicago. If you don’t want to venture too far, the Hilton is next door to Buddy Guy’s Legends and there is always something going on there!

Food – I’m not going to give any real tips here except to say if you sit in your room and eat room service alone you might as well have stayed home. Tag along with some of the people you just met and go someplace fun and eat something you might not have a chance to eat again. OK, I will make a few suggestions even though I said I wouldn’t. . .eat one of the “Chicago hot dogs” just for the fun of it. They put fluorescent green relish and sport peppers on it. . .its strange…but just go with it. Find a deli and have some brisket or smoked meat or pastrami or even a place that brews their own root beer. There are places. . .use the Google! If you want to know what is supposedly hot right now in Chicago, check here

THERE’S A LAKE. . .its big…walk down to the lake…take a long walk…you will feel better…dress warmly. It is a six minute walk (East I think) to the Lakefront Trail and Lake Michigan. . .take a camera.

Alcohol – OK so be responsible but there is a lot of alcohol in Chicago…something about the post-Prohibition recovery!? Check out the nice guys at Warehouse Liquors about a block from the Hilton. These guys really know their booze and are patient if you have a lot of questions. It’s also next door to a chicken place but as I recall, when I asked, they said they eat someplace else…just sayin’.

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The conference concierge desk/genius bar-like oblong shaped holding pen of speakers – This is a resource that is hidden in the open. You might stop just to ask the person behind the counter how to get to a particular conference room and then move on. . .that would be a mistake! Engage the people behind the counter, they are the synapses firing behind the scenes that really make techshow do it’s thing. Talk to Lincoln Mead, or Ben Schorr or Adriana Linares and find out something about the conference that you would never discover otherwise. They can tell you where the best Wifi spot is in the hotel. They can fix your wifi if you can’t connect in the hotel. They can tell you where to eat. Want to know what’s going on with the Cubs, ask them (OK, so really just ask Lincoln! Want to know where someone bought a cool bit of tech, ask them. Curious about Ben’s last triathalon, ask him. They can tell you which vendors have the best swag. Its like having access to a supercomputer.

Pick the sessions you want to go to in advance, and then pick an alternate session at the same time. I have been to a few sessions that looked great on paper and then the presenter just didn’t “bring it.” It could be they didn’t have enough coffee, or had too much coffee, or they didn’t prepare, or they over prepared, or there is some technical glitch. . .but just in case have another choice up your sleeve and be prepared to get to another session if your first choice is a dud.

Don’t be afraid to have a “spare.” In other words, you don’t have to go to every session. Take some time to absorb some of what’s going on, maybe sit down and chat with someone and do a little quiet networking. It’s also a slower time (during sessions) for vendors and now you can get close to the vendor you wanted to corner.

Usually there is a “Beer for Bloggers” session in the hotel with Kevin O’Keefe and it’s worth checking out if you blog, vlog, send out a newsletter, or can spell Tweet. Also a great place to meet other drinkers….oops, I mean bloggers. Seriously though, you can usually spot Bob Ambrogi, Ernie the Attorney, Sam Glover and Molly McDonough there.

Talk to the ABATECHSHOW Planning Board members. Tell them what you like, don’t like, or give them some ideas for the next year. Engage people, don’t just be a bystander.

There are lots and lots of parties going on in the background – find one. . .ask someone what’s going on and you can be one of the cool kids (I have never attained that status but I think it’s possible for others.)

Plan ahead. This is a show packed with vendor/exhibitors. Is there some service you always wondered about? Have a look at past exhibitors and find the one you want to know more about.

Last words, bring something warm to wear. . .you will need it on at least one of the days or nights. . .microfleece is light and will keep you warm – ask someone from Minnesota (maybe even this guy) or anyone from Canada.

Go have fun, meet new people, say hi if you run into me. . .I’m easily recognized from my bewildered look. Look for a gaggle of Canadians and I am probably there. At a minimum you will recognize me by the chunk of camera around my neck (look for the D4.)

Oh wait, last word – if you haven’t been to Canada, it is a very quick hop from Chicago. You can fly out of Midway and be in downtown Toronto (4th biggest City in North America,) via Porter Air in less than 2 hours!

Very last word: I don’t think I said anything bad about the ABA app. I don’t know if there is one for this year (it’s not there to download yet,) but it has improved over the years. Biggest tip I can give is reach out and meet new people. I can’t say it enough. One year I met a guy from Canada who won two of these crazy races! You can’t judge an ebook by its ummm…never mind!

These are my own opinions. not the opinions of anyone affiliated with ABATECHSHOW nor are they the opinions of my employer.

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