ABA Techshow – Survival Guide 2015

1 04 2015

I have attended ABATECHSHOW six times in seven years and I would say I always miss out on something happening but I think I am getting the hang of it now.

I thought I would jot down a few thoughts in case people attending for the first time were feeling a little timid. The first thing I would suggest is unleash your party animal. You’re out of town (if you don’t live in Chicago,) you’re on a business trip, you want to learn, and you want to network (or create synergies if you like to use buzzwords from the last few years!?) Here are a few suggestions for the first timers:

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!

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 this year probably Meerkat and Periscope too. 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.)

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!?

Taste of Techshow – I have been to one of these and I would recommend going at least once. Its 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.

ABATECHSHOW app ** – You can probably do without it if you know how to use a smartphone, pen and paper, follow a schedule or can read a sticky note but there is an app and you’re welcome to download it. I have downloaded it a few times and probably will again this year but I have found it of limited use. It does prove that there IS an App for that though. . .

This is too late to add as a tip but I will say it anyway. If you missed out on booking the Hilton this year because they were sold out you should book if for next year. It is always a great experience to be on location for this event so you don’t miss anything. I will add this cryptic note. . .the view from the roof late in the evening is spectacular.

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.

Check out the Garmin store at 663 N. Michigan Ave. I believe its the only store in USA where you can go and touch every Garmin device made, even those swimmy watch stroke measuring things!

Music – Its Chicago, go find some live music on one of the nights. . .seriously, just do it.

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.

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. 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. Its 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.

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. There’s even a floor plan so you can find people and I know there is probably one on that App thingy I dismissed earlier but hey, I’m not great with maps when I’m below the Earth’s surface.

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….ummm….painting.

Oh wait, last word – if you haven’t been to Canada, it is a very quick hop from Chicago.

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

** Just a quick update on the app since I wrote this – I have now downloaded and subscribed to the new app and it looks like in 2015 they may have made some major improvements – there are icons for everything in the front page to follow the official and unofficial Twitter feeds, marking your schedule, noting your sessions by topic or by speaker, a Taste of Techshow interface and even a QR Reader. I would say give it a try this year – I’ve already updated my profile to see if you truly can “Find People.”



ABA TECHSHOW – Shortcomings of technology? #ABATECHSHOW

3 04 2014

ABA TECHSHOW - Shortcomings of technology? #ABATECHSHOW

This guy was at ABA TEACHSHOW in Chicago last week and needed a charge on his device – I didn’t look closely but he’s probably using the battery vampire otherwise known as iOS 7. The charging station was a great idea but like a lot of things at Techshow it came up just a little short for me.

The good:

There were standout speakers and some great presentations about some unexpected things. I liked Ernie Svenson’s (Ernie the Attorney) meet the author session and Pul unger’s as well. These guys somehow made their sessions interesting.

Another standout for me was Randy Juip on making your trial presentation interesting! It was the best presentation about presentations I have seen and I would love to get this guy to talk to every person who has ever made me sit through a PowerPoint. I think he should have to learn Prezi though 😉

Another cool thing was watching Ian O’Flaherty (Lit Software) tweaking someone’s TrialPad software (Melissa Fuller Brown’s in fact,) at 2 AM in the Conrad Hilton Suite! That was service and that’s one of the things about Techshow, its hard to find people who won’t go the extra mile (kilometre,) and they do it with a smile.

The Clio boys (and girls) were awesome as always (full disclosure, they are good friends) and they made an announcement about their recent funding that probably caused some shudders in their cloud platform competitors. They still act like a tech startup but they are smart like foxes and the effortless part in the front is driven by a lot of work behind the curtain.

I chatted with the PKware people about Viivo which encrypts files on your email, DropBox, Box, GoogleDrive, and SkyDrive. It’s pretty much drag and drop and so far (I have it on my phone,) I like it.

Also a quick shout out to fellow Canadian Stephen Starkman from Primafact. They do paperless solutions for medium/larger firms. It’s not something that I have a need for (my employer is paperless and I am a paperless photographer,) but Stephen’s photography is amazing!

Most important thing at Techshow for me was to go and talk to other lawyers and vendors. Find out about the tech they like. What are they using in their offices? What is happening in their Bar? Are there trends? Are there threats? Are there risks? Take your head outta the sand and see what’s going on in the world.

The less than good:

The WiFi at Techshow. . .

I went to a few sessions that were duds. There was no flow to the presentations and I left one after 45 minutes that probably never got to the point, didn’t have a lot to do with tech, nor did it really hit the title or summary of the presentation that was described in the agenda.

The wrap:

John Dean was the featured speaker on the last day. Former White House Counsel who made that trip to the big house after testifying against certain parties as part of a plea bargain. Not a cool position. No lawyer wants to be a witness, and I assume most don’t want to end up in the showers in prison (jail) either, even if you end up with a speaking/book circuit later. This was the second Nixon-related speaker at ABATECHSHOW in 3 years. Dean was preceeded by Ben Stein. Will G. Gordon Liddy be next?

Overall a fun year. A few people I missed seeing this year but I’ll catch them on Twitter or in the future. Toronto isn’t a bad place to visit and a quick hop from Chicago if anyone is so inclined. . .


ABA The Roundup

3 04 2012

This years Techshow was impressive. I have attended 3 times in 4 years and this year was one of the most informative. I have an appreciation for the planning that goes into a conference like this after planning a similar conference in Toronto for a few years. Reid Trautz and his planning committee/board did a great job this year.

The flaw. WiFi connectivity in the Chicago Hilton. It sucks every year. I understand it was somewhat rescued by Lincoln Mead from Utah – its great using our own IT guy. I know the hotel continues to “work” on the issues but…it was marginally better than other years and there was a proliferation of iPads this year.

The good: pretty much everything. The windup with no hit was probably the session before LexThink. It was disjointed, didn’t seem to have a focus, and fizzled faster than a spent sparkler. The LexThink sessions were strong although maybe with one weak and static and one kinda, hmmm, directionless. Hey, cramming your message into 6 minutes is hard…and unforgiving. Maybe we should stop letting emailers pick the topic.

Cloud was huge this year, tracks, topics, subtropics and at least 30 of the vendors were in the cloud. Lots of iOS stuff going on and one Blackberry session had 26 – 28 people in it. contrast that to 2 years ago when almost everyone had BBs and there were few iPhones, and everyone was worried about iPhone security. Now people were talking DropBox security and ignoring (pretty much) iPhone security.

So where did it all end up? Maybe I’ll add more tomorrow with the odd photo.



31 03 2012


Ben Stein was kind enough to pause before dashing –

So yesterday was Day 2 at Techshow in Chicago. It was fun and the highlight had to be Ben Stein’s inspiring speech about access to law and the general state of economics in the USA. There were many other messages and lots of shout outs to Canadians in general but I wanted to comment about another message that wasn’t necessarily meant to be there but seeped through to me anyway – if you’re a litigator, learn to be a dynamic public speaker.

He was engaging, told a few jokes, was self-deprecating and knew his audience. He had everyone leaning forward in their seats and it made me think how could go much smoother if you had a Judge and jury leaning toward you in spite of your message. He had notes but he was smooth – he read them over before he spoke, made the odd annotation, and sipped a Starbucks tea while he spoke, occasionally saying “Oh, this is very good” but it was hard to tell if he was speaking to us, or reminding himself that it was going very well, or possibly that it was just really great tea.

Ben had the audience (mostly lawyers/attorneys from Canada and the US) in the palm of his hand. I was reminded of listening to my Dad because of the easy delivery and someone familiar way in which he spoke. It was poetry.

After his talk he was very gracious, stopped for photos with people, made a point of asking people where they were from, and was infinitely patient with people as he was lined up for another photo…for many minutes. He seemed genuinely interested in each person who spoke to him and was a pleasure to speak with one on one.

He stopped for a moment before he made his getaway, made sure I had the shots I wanted and then just before he stepped into a waiting limo asked the driver his name. . .civility is alive and well in Chicago and his stopping along the way to speak with some tech-savvy lawyers was a highlight for me and reminded me its time to pay more attention to detail when addressing an audience and to engage the group as a whole….win them one by one.


ABA Techshow Day 1

30 03 2012

ABA Techshow Day 1

Matt Homann watches a LexThink speaker

So here we are on Day One and it was a good day of reconnecting with friends, meeting new ones and a good solid day of content. The sessions with Tom Mighell, Sharon Nelson, Ernie Svenson and Antigone Peyton were great. There were lots of tips about making a decent impact with a website and lots of tips about the dangers of public wifi, from physical dangers to lurking data snatchers who are spoofing other identities.

I would say the chatter has been basic to mid-level tech so far and I’m looking forward to sessions tomorrow on Staying Safe in the Cloud with Natalie Kelly and Dan Siegel, and session on Anatomy of a Law Firm Breach with David Ries and John Simek.

There are many iPads here this year and lots of tweeting during sessions. There is some confusion about how to access the wifi as there seems to be different access points this year for Apples and Windows machines…also the usual spotty or less than robust connections in the corners of the concrete bunkers they call sessions rooms.

Looking forward to tomorrow and my live blog something if I get inspired.


28 03 2012

Its that time of year again. The pilgrimage to Chicago and the Hilton to sit at the feet of some lawyer/technology users and find out what I’m doing right, or wrong. I haven’t studied the grid too closely just yet but I have looked around and it looks bigger than ever. I am psyched to meet Ben Stein if at all possible – he’s giving one of the keynotes, and generally mixing with some people I haven’t seen in a few years.

So far I have run into two people from Chicago, one from Vancouver, and spoken to someone from LI (a misplaced Canadian.) The conference doesn’t start until tomorrow but I am here to soak up to preliminary sessions, one organized by Matt Homann (LexThink) and the other is an interactive panel discussion with RocketMatters.

Stay tuned and I will blog about what I learn today, or tomorrow. In years past the WiFi at the Hilton has been sketchy (especially in the rooms where they have the sessions on “cloud computing” which is more than a little ironic.

Off I go to find the first event…the LexThink session are 6 minutes and 20 slides in duration so if someone has something to say…they better be efficient. . .


For The Defence

10 08 2011

For The Defence, originally uploaded by psuba98.

Volume 32 Issue 5

Yes, its that time again, latest issue of “For The Defence”, magazine of the Criminal Lawyers Association has hit the mail and the over-riding theme is Lawyer Ethics. Published by the Carswell/Thomson Reuters, this issue is packed with great articles about Lawyers in Possession of Real Evidence, Guilty Pleas and Ethical Quandries, Informer Privilege, Criminal Responsibility, Use of Crown Disclosure, Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, Keeping Secrets From your Clients, National Security Litigation, and the Ethical Issues in Preparing Your Client to Testify. There is even an article about the Law Society and how they might help with Ethical Questions.