ABA TECHSHOW 2014 Run Down


Once you’ve been to ABA TECHSHOW you know that there is no other conference quite like it. It is a 2.5 day blitz of CLE presentations, dinners, and technology products all documented in real time through every conceivable social media channel. The goal for most of us is just to keep up, and absorb as much as we can, chatting until we are hoarse and tired enough to sleep for a week. So without further ado, let’s recap!


Lexthink.1, kicked off ABA TECHSHOW 2014 with a lighting round of 10 speakers delivering their message in 6 minutes through 20 image centric slides. This year we saw a delightful mix of new speakers including three women: Leila Kanani of Intermix Legal Group presented “MomLaw and the 50% Solution,”; Yael Citro of LawPal delivered “Stop Working Like It’s 1983.” ; and Gwynne Monahan of the ABA LTRC had us asking “what does a strawberry pop tart and your law firm have in common?” from her session “The Data Life Raft: From Walmart to your Law Firm.”

The evening closed with a word from Matt Homann declaring that this would be the last year of Lexthink.1. We’ll all be waiting to see how Mr. Homman re-creates this fun event.

Dominating Digital Documents

Advanced manipulation of the digital word is here. Document assembly, OCR, dictation and editing tools made their presence known on the ABA TECHSHOW Expo floor this year. New and existing tools you may not have heard of are changing the way attorneys prepare and perfect their work.

Document assembly allows you to automate a form or template by taking pieces of variable information and turning them into form fields. Filling in these fields then generates a new and unique document, without tedious copying and pasting. Examples of this could be an establishing an LLC, or creating a living will, contract, or an agreement. What makes this year so exciting is that we are not only seeing integrations with case management solutions like Clio, Rocket Matter, My Case & Smokeball, but we are also seeing stand alone solutions that any attorney can use to save time, increase efficiency and reduce error. A newcomer to the document assembly party is a tool called Doxserá (from the makers of The Form Tool) which uses previously written clauses to complete forms and agreements for the attorney by answering a series of questions.

On the editing front, Wordrake, can edit and proofread your documents with intelligence from leading legal writing coach Gary Kinder. Beyond correcting spelling and punctuation, this tool suggests word choice and reduction of superflous language. Dictation tools continue to engrain themselves into software and automation platforms, the most notable this year being Big Hand’s acquisition of Esquire Innovations. The dictation giant aims to combine the power of dictation with automated legal documents and forms offered by Esquire.

Finally pen to digital paper is now more refined than ever. The Sony Digital Paper device was a big hit at the Worldox booth, with tablet form and elegant function translating your handwriting into ready to review documents.

The Cloud Also Rises

Cloud vendors have often debuted at ABA TECHSHOW. In 2008 we saw the entrance of Rocket Matter and Clio. Next came My Case.  Now enter round 3 of cloud apps and services. Newcomers to the SaaS practice management space include Lexis Nexis – Firm Manager and Thomson Reuters – Firm Central.  Others include CaseTrek, JuraLaw ,CosmoLex and Time59.   Hybrid cloud services, which  marry the offline capability of desktop tools with the backup and data sync features of SaaS products such as Smokeball, Viivo, Tabs 3 (Tabs 3 Connect) and Amicus (Amicus Cloud) also had a big presence.

Off the Floor… App of the Week.

If you didn’t attend a Taste of TECHSHOW dinner you missed out! Reid Trautz wowed us all by letting his iPhone do the talking… and walking. At dinner Reid set his iPhone down in the middle of our circular dinner table and let the dance begin. We watched as iPhone app Cycloramic kicked into gear! The iPhone started buzzing away, sequentially turning to face every person, cycling a full 360 degrees to compile a single group photo of everyone at our table. In one word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Hipsters, photo-bombers and selfie lovers unite!

Take Aways

Lessons from ABA TECHSHOW sessions and the Keynote Speech by Rick Klau.

The customer is not always right. If you went to get your car repaired, would you tell the mechanic how to change the parts, which ones to order, and how long it should take? No, because if you could, you would do it yourself. The same is true for your clients. While it is important to hear them out and listen to what they think they should pay don’t let that deter you from pricing by what you know to be fair and reasonable.

Your services and time are valuable. Everyone knows that. What the average client often doesn’t factor in is the residual effect that hiring a knowledgeable attorney has. Will working with you help them avoid tearing their family apart during the custody process? Can you help them avoid penalties or taxes by using certain estate planning strategies? Are you able to advocate for an employee’s labor issue without it ruining their daily life at work? It’s about preservation and peace of mind.

It’s about selling value. The commoditization of the legal industry isn’t happening, it’s already here. And in the words of Mark Britton, Founder of Avvo you need to ask yourself: “What is your cheeseburger?”.  Think of an entry level product that your clients know they need and want at a fixed price. Then when selling it to them explain why a Happy Meal might be a better option. The Happy Meal is your full service offering, or combination of services that delivers a higher level of certainty or peace of mind. A client may know she needs filings for an LLC, but had no idea that a strong business foundation also includes an operating agreement, maybe an employee contract, and various other documents. The same can be said for estate planning. A simple power of attorney is the doorway into a larger conversation about living wills and asset protection.

“Just Say No” Nancy Reagan may have coined the famous phrase in relation to drug use but it rings true in business today. As business owners you may feel pressure to take on work outside of what you are comfortable with in order to pay the bills. However, taking on a difficult client or questionalbe case means that you neglec twork that leads to growth and success.  Spending an hour on the phone with a troublesome client you knew you shouldn’t have taken on now means you can’t get to your marketing to do list. Neglecting marketing and networking may  mean you might have a lull in new business while churning your wheels with a client you don’t even like. Still skeptical? Read this.

Irrelevance applies to those who are not willing to change. So lastly… Think Big.

In many ways what used to work in the business of law isn’t working any more, so lawyers need to imagine what tomorrow will look like and how to get there. Use data to drive decisions, fuel new business models and leverage the combined power of your peers to show the world how things have changed.

Hope to see you next year. Until then I look forward to pushing forward into the future inch by inch, and hope you are too.

Five ways to have a better morning.

Morning StretchFor those of us who struggle with mornings, hit quadruple snooze until our iPhone alarms lap each other, and despise the early morning meeting; Here are five ways to get your day in gear, and on the road with time to spare.

1. Get a real alarm clock and place it across the room.

It’s been said that a trip to the gym is easier once you put your gym shoes on. The same is true for getting out of bed. Once you’re actually up, and have walked across the room, you have to make a conscious decision to crawl back under the covers and go to sleep. Snoozing your phone alarm on the night stand, or silencing an alarm right next to you is offers little resistance to oversleeping.

2. Pre-make your breakfast.

Having something delicious to look forward to in the morning is a great motivator. Here are a few easy to make morning meals that are both healthy and commute friendly.

i. Granola Parfaits – Three Ways

ii. Easy Muffin Tin Mini-Omelets

iii. Freezer Friendly Breakfast Sandwiches

iv. Overnight Slow Cooker Oatmeal

3. Drink a glass of water.

One tall glass of water first thing in the morning will do much more for your energy level than any amount of espresso. Drinking water jump starts your metabolism, digestive system and increases brain function.

4. Lay out your clothes and effects the night before.

Scrambling around the house looking for a sock, your keys, or standing in front of your closet wondering what you should wear eats up precious time, creates stress and in turn… makes you frantic and late. Regain those minutes and start your day calm and on time.

5. Research your destination before bed.

There’s nothing worse than driving around a courthouse or client location you’ve never been too, already running late due to traffic. Taking 5 minutes to run through your route, and find local parking ahead of time works wonders. You’ll not only know when you need to leave, but where to park when you arrive. Extra credit: Save time & money finding Chicago parking with SpotHero.com, it’s like the Hotels.com of parking garages.

Time Out for Health – A Chicago Traveler’s Guide

Tips for a Healthier Chicago ExperienceChicago Travelers Guide to Healthy Choices

You will find few people as passionate about sharing our great city as me. In previous years I’ve written guides on where to eat, shop and talk. This year I’d like to share something different.

Living a healthy lifestyle means making it a part of everyday, even when you’re traveling. So here are a few ways to stay active and balance out those heavy… but delicious Chicago dinners.


Eat well: Lighter daytime meals keep you energized and guilt free at dinner.

Healthy, fast and easy choices all nearby. 

Eat Fit: 1151 S State St. | 312-566-9220 | Menu

Salads, wraps, smoothies & quinoa galore. Inside the FFC health club.

Yolk: 1120 S Michigan Ave. | 312-789-YOLK | Menu

Don’t let the name fool you, this Michigan Ave favorite serves up some of the best fit-breakfast in the whole city.

Pret A Manger: 108 S Michigan Ave | 312-873-0416 | Menu

Gluten free, vegan friendly, quick & convenient. Small portions and great soup allow you to mix & match your way to health.

Native Foods Café: 218 S Clark St.| 312-332-6332 | Menu

The über delicious local café for Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free choices.

Freshii: 17 E Monroe St. (Inside the Palmer House Hilton)|312-419-1777 | Menu

Fresh, Fast, Delicious. Quinoa bowls, breakfast burritos, kale chips and smoothies galore.

Meli Café: 500 S Dearborn |312-834-0500| Menu

Greek for honey, Meli never falls short on flavor. A full service juice bar, Almond Milk Hot Chocolate and more salad choices than you’ll know what to do with. Morning till night.

Karyn’s on Green: 130 S. Green St. | 312-226-6155 | Menu

You love the earth, you really really love the earth, and you want everything you touch, taste and consume to contribute to a greater goal of good. Karyn’s is your home away from home. The first all vegetarian option in Chicago offers a culinary treat of specialties. Not to be missed!

Kramer’s Health Foods: 230 S Wabash | 312-922-0077 | Menu

Forget your vitamins? Juicing and need a beet & wheatgrass fix? Kramer’s got you covered. Two stories of nutritional goodness & full service juice / lunch bar.

Trader Joes – 1147 S Wabash | 312-588-0489

Always pressed for time? Stocking your mini-fridge with premade salads & healthy choices make eating easy. Grab a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and throw your own BYOB party back at the hotel.


Stay active: A 1 hour workout is only 4% of your day.

Each of the following clubs offers a free guest pass, all you have to do is show up.

FFC – 1151 S State St. | 312-360-1151| Class Schedule

Early morning Spin Class, craving kettle bells? No need to fall out of your routine, FFC is one of Chicago’s premier clubs, with fantastic group fitness instructors.

Chicago South Loop Runners Club: Morning Run Meet-up Details

Always run in the morning, but don’t know the area? No worries! An avid group of runners is ready to take you along for the ride! Join this group of locals on their near daily run through the south loop & lakeshore.

X Sport Fitness819 S State St. | 312-294-0500 | Class Schedule

Nike Training Club, Dance Fitness, Aqua Fit, and Zumba classes all live under the X Sport roof. Squeeze in a 30 or 45min class and head to dinner ready to take on that 22oz steak with confidence.

Core Power Yoga: 555 W Roosevelt Rd (Rooftop of Best Buy) |312-829-9642 |Class Schedule

Beginner and advanced Yogi’s welcome! Calm yourself and senses with heated & non-heated yoga classes, set against a near 300 degree view of the city skyline. Breathtaking… in more ways than one.

UFC Gym South Loop8 E 9th Street | 312-922-8269 | Class Schedule

TECHSHOW Roommate getting on your nerves? Knock out the stress, not your comrade with these high energy but beginner friendly boxing classes.

The Foundry – Cross Fit:  730 S Clark St. | 312-566-7201| Class Schedule

Cross Fitters… you know those crazy people you see throwing tires and climbing ropes. If you haven’t tried it, make sure you’re free the next morning. Because you won’t be able to move. That said, if we have any Cross Fit die-hards in the room… we’ve got you covered.

JUST ART WALK! | Grant Park Sculpture Collection Guide & Maps

Even 20 minutes around the hotel or park will help keep you focused and energized, especially after a heavy TECHSHOW meal. Lucky for us, Grant Park is across the street and filled with an impressive collection of sculptures to refresh even the most weary smartphone attached eyes.

New and Free! How To… Sessions

Ever wish you could just get the straight forward lowdown on a product or service? Want to be more productive but can’t find the time to read the 100′s of articles telling you how?

Meet our How To… Session Series

Chicago Bar members have unlimited FREE access to our How To… Session Series. Filled with concise, specific video courses on products, services, technology and efficiency tips aimed to help you and your law practice. 

Register to attend a live course with me for FREE.  Up next: 

How To… Easily Prepare Documents with Draftonce 

How To… Manage a Growing Real Estate Practice – Led by Jane Oxley, President of Smokeball 

How To… Use Cloud Computing in a Law Office – Led by Larry Port, CEO of Rocket Matter

We add between 2-4 new sessions per month, so please check back often. I hope to see you in class! 

HT Live registration

How To… Live registration


How to… Create LinkedIn Company Pages

Did you miss the live “How to… Create LinkedIn Company Pages”? No problem! Watch the short video tutorial below and see the accompanying How to… Create LinkedIn Company Pages slide deck.

The Social Media Ecosystem

See my recent post to the SLAW.ca blog “The Social Media Ecosystem“:

Social Media – networking and sharing of breaking news, gossip, pictures, videos, music, and just about everything else – has become a part of daily life for many people. Social media sites house this information about you, your firm, your clients and their businesses. Even if you don’t actively participate in social media, the information can be vital in fact gathering and monitoring. Let’s look at some of the available tools to make that happen.