Dispatches from ABA Techshow 2012

by rocketmatter-admin April 2, 2012

Saturday closed out the most electric ABA Techshow I’ve been to, and this was my fifth consecutive trip to the Hilton Chicago for this seminal legal technology event. If I was Will Ferrell’s Mugatu in Zoolander, I might say, “Techshow is so hot right now!”

LexThink.1

The first event of Techshow was LexThink.1, the event formerly known as IgniteLaw, led by creative genius Matt Homann who is kind of the legal technology equivalent of Francis Ford Coppola (I know these kind of things – I was a film major 😉 ).

LexThink.1 featured 10 speakers who gave 6-minute presentations on a bleeding-edge topic of their choice. Techshow, since it’s been holding these Boulder/Silicon-Valley-ish style event three years running, gets instant street cred, in my opinion.

Now, the event was hampered by some infomercial-style talks but moreover by my absence (not that I’m bitter, but I just happen to rock the house with these kind of things). I proposed a talk where I would make fun of an attorney invoice I received and explained why I fired my lawyer for it, but alas, I didn’t receive sufficient votes to get selected. Thanks a lot, America!

The event overcame some of the infomercial speakers with some interesting ideas, one of which was a “flash mob attorney” who showed numerous pictures of one of those pants-less flash mobs, including a closeup of what appeared to be her own rhinestone-emblazoned derrière.

Another speaker showed some nude renaissance art, so Homann did a good job of responding to last years resounding criticism of “needs more skin” from the comment cards.

Crazy Energy on the Floor

The show floor was on fire, like Katniss in The Hunger Games. We at the Rocket Matter booth were never so slammed with interest as we were this year. We gave out a copy of our book, The Law Firm of Tomorrow, but that wasn’t the reason for the traffic: our booth was constantly full with people genuinely interested in our cloud legal software.

This show was all cloud, cloud, cloud, and mobility, mobility, mobility. Even one of our old brick and mortar, old-school competitors, Amicus Attorney, announced a cloud application. Congrats, engineers who worked on that project – it’s a big deal.

After Rocket Matter and Clio pioneered this space for the past four years, competitors new and old have stepped out onto the trail we blazed. Apparently they took a look to see if we had any arrows sticking out of our backs, and seeing that we were not only on our feet but thriving, decided to head out west as well.

Chrometa (the automatic time-tracking tool which now integrates with Rocket Matter) was in attendance, with the least decorated booth in ABA Techshow history. We spent some time with Brett Owens, the founder, and demonstrated to some journalists/thought leaders how Chrometa line items can be instantly exported to Rocket Matter.

We also spent time persuading people that in spite of their booth, or more likely because of it, Chrometa actually is an amazing product, and we took Brett under our wing, gave him copies of our book to give out, fed him a meal of cold gruel, and gave him a cardboard box to sleep in.

Legal Cloud Computing API and Platform Madness

Two weeks ago we announced our API, which is a fancy way of saying that Rocket Matter is a platform that other companies can build on or talk to. We were shortly followed by two other real announcements from legal cloud vendors and one mysterious vaporware announcement, but we’re not naming any names.

So why did all of these vendors announce platforms at the same time? Is it corporate espionage?

Most likely, it’s because, as mentioned before, we veterans have been doing this thing for four years now, and most feature functionality has been built out. Now the time has come to integrate cloud legal software with other things that lawyers need, creating a more whole-product experience for small firm attorneys.

The bigger thing to infer from this is that legal cloud computing is not only here to stay but well-developed.

API’s and platforms are a sign of maturity for a software company, because they infer: 1) the product has enough of a customer base that other companies would want to dive in to the pool and 2) the software is sufficiently stable and full of features that satisfy most of the needs of its users.

So hats off to all of us for building the platforms that will power the next generation of legal software!

Modern Curriculum

Let me start by saying that I’m the last person who should comment on the curriculum, since the floor was so busy and there were so many meetings that it was impossible to break free to check in.

But what I do know is that there were entire tracks on cloud computing, Mac, and mobile, so the Techshow chairs had their pulse on what’s truly going on out there.

To those who take for granted that the Techshow chairs had the right content, don’t. So many conferences overpromise and underdeliver. It’s hard to really stay on top of what’s going on our there. So hats of to Reid Trautz and Britt Lorish for knocking this one out of the park.

Missing Finis Price

Personally, I was kind of dreading this event because of Finis Price’s absence. He was a good friend and part of my extended tradeshow family. When you’re on the circuit speaking and exhibiting, you become quite close to some of your colleagues. You’re away from your family and they become a kind of surrogate you depend on.

So Ben Stevens, aka The Mac Lawyer, got this idea to print up “I am TechnoEsq” buttons, with a picture of Finis on them. We got them printed, and along with Ben, Randy Juip, and Victor Medina, sold them for $20. The proceeds go directly to his wife, Heather. It was nice to have Finis present with people walking around with his likeness on their lapels, and awesome to spend time with our MILO friends who carry Finis’ spirit with them.

We sold $1000 worth of buttons on the first night alone. If you’re interested in purchasing an “I am TechnoEsq” button, you can comment on this thread and I will put you in touch with Ben, who has additional buttons not sold at the show.

If you missed this one, don’t worry, come next year. We booked our booth and we’ll be there.

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