My ABA TechShow 2018 Story

Long time readers know of my annual trek to Chicago to attend the ABA’s TechShow and the huge amount of time and effort I would put forth each year to get as many of you as possible to attend with me on a LegalTypist SuperPass.  See here, here, here, here and here

Through the years, the LT SuperPass is responsible for just around 140 attendees.  I am proud to know that the LT Superpass brought the first law school educators, peeps from as far away as Europe, and several LT SuperPassers would go on to be tapped to BOD positions.

It’s been mentioned that after I spoke at the event in 2013, I stopped attending and while I would still do LT SuperPass, my heart was just not in it.  Not many of you know why I kept only a virtual presence after finally reaching what was, for me, quite a personal achievement of being tapped to speak at ABA TechShow in 2013.

In a nutshell, after accomplishing what I thought would never happen and while riding the wave of my personal success and triumph over public speaking – I was shoved down a rabbit hole from which it took years to recover.  I share not the details of what happened, nor the “official” follow up, as they truly do not matter.  What I have finally come to realize is that I gave weak men with no honour far more credit (and power) than they deserve.

Those who know the details of my journey applaud my return in spite of past circumstances.  Me? I’m sorry it took me so long.  I truly missed being around all my legal geeky peeps and seeing the latest and greatest.  Not to mention learning that one little thing that makes my keyboarding and use of Microsoft products that much less painful!

So here it is, my ABA TechShow 2018 Journey:

Getting There

As I had in years past, I planned a meet up for the night before, but Mother Nature had other plans and was adamant that I miss the eve of TechShow.  When you have a fear of flying and the forces of nature ground ALL planes on your day of travel – you simply accept, grab the next possible flight and contact all you were hoping to meet that night to make arrangements for another time.

That’s one thing about TechShow: while you are in a constrained physical location with all those you are connected to on line – if you don’t PLAN to meet, chances are you just might not and you think on the plane home: Dang it! I never got to meet so and so (ahem @inspiredcat)

Sadly, not only did I have to cancel my own meet up, but the weather glitch meant I was unable to attend the other functions on Wednesday, including the Legal XX Symposium – where I would have had opportunity to cross paths with many of the women in legal tech. To learn more about this event, click here.

As for getting me to Chicago after the storm … fortunately, I was able to catch a noon flight out of LGA and so was in Chicago in time for dinner. The weather, while cold, it was quite sunny on Thursday.

Cab ride from Midway. #almostthere

The New To Me Venue

 

Chicago Hyatt Regency Lobby (bottom) and Big Bar (top)

Chicago Hyatt Regency Lobby Lounge and Big Bar (top)

ABA TechShow 2018 returned to the Chicago Hyatt Regency “on Wacker”. This was a venue it had utilized to host the show before my time. Every TechShow I had attended until now was hosted at the Hilton, across from the Lake and Millennial Park and within easy walking distance to, well, almost everything one wishes to do, see, or taste while in Chicago.  It’s hard NOT to go out when you see all going on around you at the Hilton.  By comparison, the view out my window at the Hyatt looked down on highways/byways and I saw no people at all.

Along with being a far more walk about Chicago friendly location, I also preferred the Hilton for the layout of educational to exhibit – a quick run down the stairs to go ask someone something before your next meeting and that included the ABA’s Concierge or a vendor.  Very easy access to your room too if you needed to drop something off or get a little work done.

Whereas at the Hyatt, just to get to the TS conference space, you had to cross the massive lobby, take 2 escalators down, travel a long hallway and around a corner.  The traveling continued if you had a question for a vendor — for THAT you had to go across the Educational floor and take another, even longer escalator down (so long it had no stairs) and then through the tiny door in the wall of glass at the bottom to enter the exhibit space. (bit confused as to why the glass wall… does it rain in their sub sub sub basement?)

ANYWAY, on the other side of the glass doors was the entrance to the exhibit hall.  Oddly, they had a vendor in the spot I would have used to highlight participants of the Start Up Alley, the Women of LegalTech and/or placed the LPM books <- so people have something to buy and read on the 3 escalator journey to their rooms! ;)~

Getting past the the entrance, the rest of the Exhibit Hall was really quite lovely. The flow and booth size made the space feel not at all as cramped as the entrance.    About the only suggestion for improvement would be to group the techs a bit better. Otherwise, I thought the expo space was absolutely fabulous and much nicer than in year’s past.

As for your room – East Tower at the Hyatt was not so bad as it was just an additional elevator ride after crossing the massive lobby when you emerged from the conference space.  However, if you were in the West Tower — keep walking! My TechShow partner in crime Ed C. was in the West Tower and we noted he walked over 3.5 miles in 1 day <-all without going outside!

Me and Edward F. Cunningham, Esq.

In fact, the only time I left the hotel was to get in an Uber with the gang to go out to dinner.  Virtual waves and many thanks to the hosts of Thursday’s dinner: Nerino and Bryan (Stalker) S, along with fellow diners Andrea G, Ivan H, Alan F, and Julie T <-aka @ThinkPinkLaw

 

The Content

I have been advocating a people centric approach to everything, including trade shows and educational events, for as long as I have been a Virtual Assistant. See, It’s Not All About the Tech – People Are Part of the Process and Virtual Bar Association

This year’s TechShow, from an educational perspective, remained solid, sprinkled with a few duds. The mixing of experts with co-presenters from sponsored companies did not appear to be a problem, although the two dud presentations I attended, needed an actual expert.

That TechShow teaches tech, not just talks about it, is the reason I recommend it to those in the practice of law. You will pick up at least one new way of doing something to make your life easier.

Who did I enjoy? Of course, any of the Affinity speakers is already so comfortable with their topic, it’s usually a very interactive and fun session to attend. I personally enjoyed Paul U’s session on Time Management and I heard numerous kudos for Barron‘s sessions as well. From the more geeky peeps, props go out to Sharon N and John S; Lincoln M, Brett B  and Tom M.

From the 60 Tips, I was elated to see a slide that said Virtual Assistant by Debbie F, but disappointed in the recommendation of freelance crowdsourcing sites for those in the room to search for a VA.  Oh well, there’s always next year <-a phrase I have been telling myself since the first 60 sites session I attended over a decade ago! 😉

One item I wanted to mention was the Lunch n Learn hosted by The Form Tool and presented by Bob C. First off, I was blown away by the new product he announced: Aurora. If you know The Form Tool – you understand how it takes data and fills it in the right spot. Now picture this, instead of you entering specific data – the data is collected from a webpage. So your form is hosted and the data can be provided from anywhere. *mind blown*

I really expect to see great things from Bob and this company as the concept and use of Aurora spreads!

Along with learning of pioneering technology such as Aurora, I also enjoy catching up with the new and exciting and a few of the solid players in legal technology on the exhibit hall floor.   Here’s a few shots I took during one of my walkabouts:

Finally … the People

Everyone knows I go to TechShow for the people and this year was no different! I was so happy to connect in real life and for real hugs with Christy B, Alan F, Andrea G, Ed C, Mark H, Chris H and the rest of the VBA’s MeetnGeekers.

While touring the exhibit hall, it was great to see Ian from LitSoftware, Diana from CallRuby (she even brought a box of chocolates “in case” I showed up xoxo), Kim from RocketMatter, Sam G from Lawyerist, Christopher A, Nancy D. and Natalie K. along with Ivey of PerfectIt and Lecia of GetFactBox.

Jim C and I crossed paths at the escalators; Jared C, Brett B, Britt L Catherine R and Heidi A outside the sessions and I even caught Marc U on his way to the airport.

I also enjoyed meeting many of the VBA’s #LadiesofLegaltech — their stories are so different, yet so strangely the same.  Keep an eye out for future posts highlighting these wonderful women and their determined spirits!

So, after a 5 year hiatus, my return to ABA TechShow was, as imagined, quite a trip! From reconnecting in real life with those I had done my best to be a known, liked and respected professional, to meeting up with the new and fabulous including all the #LadiesofLegaltech — definitely the PEOPLE are still the best part of TechShow!

Oh. And Ed. My shadow. We text almost every day, have met for lunch and plan to continue to do so … but he said he won’t be back for another 3 years. We’ll see about that Ed! <g>

***

Christy Burke’s guest article for Legal IT Insider: http://ow.ly/jXWu30j1E0T

Confusions of a Legal Trade Show

I’ve been attending “Legaltech New York” for a very long time.  See,  herehere  and here for glimpses of my experiences traveling into the Big Apple to walk the walk and meet up with others who talk the talk in legal tech.

Last year, the host of LegalTech NY, ALM, made some drastic changes to the event, format and some adjustments to pricing that left most long-time attendees scratching their heads.

I’m going to start with my assumption (and control yourselves all you ass you me people… I’m not privy to the inner workings of the corporate giant) – so assuming that ALM’s objectives are to:

  1. gain the most positive exposure for the event (in order to attract next year’s attendees/ vendors/etc); and
  2. reap the largest profit this year by having the most people be physically at the event.

Let’s face it, ALM spends a TON of money just on the venue alone and I should know. A few years back, I made inquiry to host a much, much, much smaller event at the same location and received a quote so high that it still makes one eye twitch! <g>

OK. So what did ALM change in order to advance the objectives outlined above?

Confusion No. 1 – How Many Days in a Week?  

ALM told us that the event was going from a 3 day show to a week long “experience”.

Count with me here … the show begins, technically, on Tuesday and runs through Thursday. The Expo Hall runs Tuesday – Thursday.  So Tuesday + Wednesday + Thursday = 3 days.

What ALM did was add 3 educational “boot camps” (no Expo floor) on the Monday before the show. So, for paid attendees, stuff is happening Monday through Thursday.

That’s still only 4 days and call me Louis Black — but 4 days does not equal a week!  

Leading to…

Confusion No. 2: Let’s Change the Name! Yeah…. that’s a good idea.

It really blew my mind last year when ALM changed the name of the event.

Now I get it that linking from year to year and the whole SEO of things is as totally lost on large corporations who run events as it is on most law firms.  H/T VBA Literati Mark Homer.

But, I imagined that ALM would know a wee bit about branding.

There is not a legal geek (world-wide) who did not recognize the words “Legal Tech New York” to mean THEIR event which has been bringing people to New York, in the dead of winter, for all things legal and tech for over a decade.

Branding 101 – Q1: Does your url/name conjure up an image of you/your brand/event in the mind of your target audience? A. Yes.

Then don’t mess with it!

ALM decided it was a good idea to toss out the baby with the bath water with regard to branding to the words “legal+tech+new+york” by changing the name of the event to “LegalWeek –the Experience”.

But they didn’t make it a week long event, nor did they really make it an “experience”.

Confused yet?

If I worked at ALM, I already know I’d be the only voice in the room stating the obvious negatives of changing the name above the webby stuff and confusion … like ALIENATING OUR ENTIRE BASE  … but then I’d probably be the only girl too so everyone would look at me, smile and nod (like they had ANY clue about what I was saying) and then go right back to dismissing me as “being on the rag” or whatever it is they tell themselves in their heads.

Now, I read somewhere their thinking re the name change was to be able to appeal to a wider audience.

I get it. Numbers have been falling and they needed to do something. So to open up the show to a wider audience seems logical … until you think on it a bit.

As the “largest legal technology trade show” that attracted 10,000+ legal professionals in its day, LegalTech NY already had the largest possible audience.

You can’t cast a wider net than “legal” and “tech”.  But here’s the kicker – now 2 years later, can you tell me what their larger audience is and how they are attracting them?

With the word “week”?!

So we have confusion about the duration and total flub on the name change, IMO … let’s move along to:

Confusion No. 3 – Hashtag is what?

After changing the name, ALM also tried to force the shifting of the hashtag associated with the event from #LTNY to #LegalWeek.

Obviously, ALM does not understand that you can’t force anyone to anything on twitter and that “LegalWeek” is just too long for us old time tweeters more accustomed to the 140 character rule.

That ALM encourages the vendors to basically spam the event hashtag = strike 2 on the webby stuff! <g>

I, personally, believe the hashtag should match the new name of the show and started using “LWNY” last year.  To see how well that went, see above re: you can’t force anyone to anything on twitter ;)~

Finally, we have …

Confusion No.4 – Why do I have to buy a ticket to an Expo Hall?

The last drastic change put in place by ALM to create an event of broader audience appeal was the bright idea to charge an entry fee for the Expo Hall.

Yep. Make people pay to be in front of people selling to them — that’ll make it more appealing!

At $15 to $35 I want to say ALM is not trying to make another, albeit teeny, profit stream off their paid vendors.  So then what’s with the charge?

My guess would be ALM is purposely trying to limit the Expo Hall for paid attendees of the conference.

My problem with that is that each company that exhibits pays ALM a hefty fee to do so.  In a market as large as New York City, limiting vendor exposure by charging an Expo Hall entry fee doesn’t make sense to those showing and makes the event less exciting to those attending.

Is it a quality over quantity debate?  In some respects less is better. I am a bit of a germ-a-phobe and I do not like strangers touching me so there’s that.  A few of the booth reps told me it makes the event less “hectic” for them.  So less people = less hectic but also less connections and isn’t that what paying for company reps to be in front of people is all about?

I see so many ways to structure this event as a win win win for all – attendees, vendors and the legal geeks looking to see what is out there by visiting the Expo Hall — even for ALM and the Hilton …

Anyway, it is obvious ALM is going to have to do something because most of the peeps I spoke with were disappointed (again) and a few (more) have vowed not to be back.

As for my Expo Hall experience – with the exception of the Micro Focus game show (where I won a few Starbucks gift cards) and the awesome magician at the @doeLegal booth, I didn’t see much in the way of fun stuff, or entertainment, for those attending.

 

Here’s a compilation of images from the Expo Hall, a few of the hallways and a few from the Legal Meet n Geek™ I hosted as Director of the Virtual Bar Association:

 

and cuz while I was touring the Expo Floor with @fernsummer and @cschlein the comment about shrinkage inspired my contribution to AttnyAtWork, now that I’ve ruminated a bit, I think I can better sum up our #LTNY18 “experience” with this oldie but goodie:

til next time…

-A

___

If you are a member of the Virtual Bar Association, look for Part 2 of my #LTNY18 experience, including photos of the people, food and reports from the social events in the February issue of the VBA Newsletter.

What was that?  You haven’t joined the Virtual Bar Association yet? Do you work AT a law firm?  If so, go here and join!  Even free members get valuable stuff! 😉

My 3 words for 2018

Long time readers know I recommend and follow @chrisbrogan for his no nonsense style of communication and use of social media.  A long time ago, Chris started using 3 words as his alternative to a New Year’s resolution and with the exception in 2017, I have declared my 3 words each year as well. Here are my 3 words for 2018:

Patience – I have a lot of signs in my home and office.  One says: “Be Patient – God’s timing is always perfect“.  Whenever I feel myself being anxious about something or wishing something would hurry up, that sign pops into my head and I take a deep breath and remember who’s really in control.  Things will happen when they happen.

Power – I’ve had some rough stuff to deal with over the past 6-8 months. One day I may talk about what I’m starting to call my business depression – but I’m not ready to yet. Suffice to say, I’ve had to take my own advice from 2016 to just hunker down and power through more than one tough situation.  But I actually chose Power for another reason.

When mulling over my words for 2018, I realized that I have to not only recognize the power I needed to summon to keep going but also to recognize the power of all the ladies of legal tech who share the same difficult road to success — a road fraught with #metoo moments and rooms full of men who not only think less of you because you are a woman, but, in my case, because I don’t have a JD.  FWIW, those in legal tech with a JD get ridiculed for obviously failing as an attorney before turning to their Plan B for a career.  It’s a tough audience for sure!

What I want to say is that I am a powerful woman, not just in legal and tech, but in life. I stand toe to toe with those trained to find the loophole and take advantage of every angle … and that’s not just my clients but my kids too!

So whether it is summoning mom power, girl power or lady of legal tech power, 2018 is the year of power, leading to …

Profit – It has so many meanings… I first took a good look at this word as the name to call those who teach at the Virtual Bar Association, but then I found and fell in love with the word “Literati“.

Fast forward a year and the tv show ‘The Profit’ comes out and again I fall in love … with Marcus.

Or, more accurately, his highlight-ing of process and people … the two things I am constantly reminding those who wish to get things done (efficiently) in an office need to care about. Let’s just say if I had a brother from another mother – it would be Marcus; and yes, I’d drop you all like a hot potato to go work for that man! 😉

Ultimately, however, I picked the word profit because I wish to … from every interaction and connection I make in 2018 and the only way I know I can do that, is to help others profit from their connection to me.

So if you see a way for me to help you, or a way for us to help each other, contact me. Call me at 1-800-411-8921 and let’s connect and see if we can’t profit from the experience of connecting in real time!

Of course, you can always email me at andrea @legaltypist.com – just remember keyboarding is one way communication and thereby half as effective as the dialogue of conversation 😉

***

Republished with Permission.  ©LegalTypist, Inc. This article first appeared in the January 2018 issue of the Virtual Bar News (nee The Legal Connection Newsletter)

Join the Virtual Bar Association as a Free Member and gain instant access to all of my articles, a few books and many of the webinars I have produced as @LegalTypist:

http://www.virtualbarassociation.com

 

 

 

 

Wonderful Kick Off to #LTNY18

Here’s a few pix of my trip into NYC on the eve of #LTNY18 to attend a dinner hosted by Christy Burke of Christy Burke PR:

The canyons of 8th Ave:

 

Port Authority:

 

This one’s for @bschorr :

The restaurant:

 

Of course I had to have cheesecake …. its NYC!!

 

Many thanks to Christy for the wonderful food and great company, including:

@jaredcorreia of Red Cave Legal and Advisor to the Virtual Bar Association

@bobambrogi who needs no introduction!

@nehalm CEO of Alt Legal an IP docketing service

“uncle” @arikaplan author of Professional Services Reinvented

@ibridgesmith Practicing attorney, law professor and CEO of Legalalignment.com

… and the rest of the gang!

 

Happy Boxing Day!

Today is one of my favorite days of the year – not only because I’m Canadian but because it is the day after all the rush, the celebrating, the greetings and good byes; the day after the hub bub. It’s a day to absorb and reflect.

Long-time readers know my absolute favorite season is the Fall; but what I’ve never really shared before is my second favorite time of year is literally “the New Year” <-which, in my world, is the week after Christmas into the first week of the next year.

This is the time when everyone is still in the holiday spirit but without the frenzied rush. In most law offices, the rare emergency here or there happens, but it’s much more likely for the courts to be closed and lots of people to be on vacation.

Those left in the office feel it – a hush happens as the people and conversations are not going on all around you and the constant ringing of phones stops. It’s the time that instead of frantically darting from one thing to the next, you can focus on the task at hand for more than 5 minutes and take the time to reflect on what is working and what is not.

This is what makes it the perfect time to literally clean out your office – cull and close the files that need closing, throw out the stuff that needs to be tossed and put in place the things you need to stay at the top of your game for the new year ahead.

Hence, why it is a favorite time of year for me! Not only do I get to organize, the auto-pilot type tasks coupled with the almost mindless physical most of it, leaves my brain to ponder – do I want to be doing this again this way NEXT year?! And so I get to ruminate and explore options and improvements as I go… doubling my productivity. OK. I listen to really loud music too (if no one is around) 😉

As of right now, this week, I am physically setting up my version of Bullet Journal, making sure my 2017 financial binder is ready for the CPA, and tossing out anything I haven’t used, touched, or needed in the past year <- given my office is literally 7’ x 8’ anything not actually used – goes.

As I clear out the old and think about all that has transpired in the past year, reflect and absorb on all that I have been up to – from redesigning the function of purpose of the LT website (to make it easy to sign up for a service vs. educate the world about working virtually) and then creating the place where I can educate all who work in legal about all things virtual, I am ending the year on a really positive note.

Even better, looking ahead, I see a bright 2018 – not only as LT is again growing, but I am growing personally with the leadership and communication skills of ToastMasters and Napoleon Hill being put to work and tested in my new role as Director of the Virtual Bar Association.

It is in this role that I hope to help as many people as I can understand how to positively connect and find value and appreciation for such connections vs. just being blindly connected all the time. To do so, I’m hosting and moderating a ton of events (in person and virtual) – some educational, some just fun and yes, some involve food!

So if you work at a law firm and are not already a member of the Virtual Bar Association – I invite you to join and if you select “Regular Member” and use promo code VIP17 you’ll see what knowing me (or at least reading this far) will do to the price. But you have to act this week as any special pricing ends as we ring in the New Year!

Happy Boxing Day!