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I have now returned from the ABA TechShow in Chicago, have waded through the avalanche of papers that were distributed at the show (well, mostly waded through, anyway), and have reviewed my notes from the sessions I personally attended.  Now I need to deliver what I think were the highlights of the show, along with what I thought were the most interesting papers.

My partner Dana Riel and I both attended this year’s show. As is our typical behavior, I attended most of the sessions that involved standing on the bleeding edge with my eyes closed poised to jump, while Dana covered my back, parachute and bungee cord at the ready,  attending the sessions that dealt with safeguards from the perils and pitfalls of technology, or that emphasized security, confidentiality, and the ethics of using technology in today’s law practice.

As you might expect of a “TechShow” hosted in 2014, the bulk of the sessions dealt in some way or other with the use of the Cloud, or with mobile devices, along with all of the opportunities and cautions that seem to permeate these topics in law practice discussions today. On Thursday there were entire session “tracks” devoted to use of the iPad in law practice, along with a track on Social Media. Friday’s dominant tech tracks were Mobile and the Paperless Office.

Thursday’s keynote address focused on the results of the ABA’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey. Conducted with some 2,000 law firms of varying sizes and practice areas, the report highlights some interesting findings from a technology perspective:

  • In 2013 almost 90% of respondents reporting using a mobile device of some sort to check email
  • Almost 50% of responding attorneys claimed to use a tablet at work for some task during 2013, 90% of whom reported using an iPad
  • About 34% reported using a tablet in the courtroom in 2013, up from only 10% in 2012, a very significant increase in the adoption rate for these handy devices
  • Possibly related to these two trends, reported use of laptop computers declined, down from 60% in 2012 to 44% in 2013.

You can read and/or download a full copy of the report from the TechShow by clicking here.

And I learned yet another new techie acronym while attending the show: C.O.P.E., which stands for “Company Owned Personally Enabled”, the apparent successor to B.Y.O.D. (“Bring Your Own Device”).

Of the 50+ whitepapers that were circulated at the show, I have selected three to attach to this post, and invite you to download any of these that interest you by clicking on the titles below.

Document Storage vs. Document Management – This extremely interesting session discussed the key characteristics of a document management system, and highlighted the essential ingredients of document storage vs.  document sharing vs.  document management systems. This session also seemed to implicitly endorse the notion of document management as a legitimate use of Cloud technology, noting that 11 state bars have now weighed in affirmatively on the ethics of the Cloud as a document storage service (Florida being the most recent).

Office 365 vs. Google Apps – This entertaining session highlighted the key distinguishing characteristics of these two major players in the “Cloud-o-sphere”, and asked the audience, via text message balloting, to vote for a winner in each of the discussed categories. Office 365 won most of the votes, but Google Apps had a devoted following in attendance.

Legal Practice Management Software – From Agony to Ecstasy – This session presented a comprehensive overview of the key components of a true practice management system, discussed the relative merits of on-premises vs. Cloud-based systems, and highlighted why true practice management software is not the same as a “Personal Information System” (PIM) such as Outlook.

On a personal note, it was a fascinating experience to attend a conference largely organized by, staffed with, and presented to technology consumers, as opposed to technology creators.  As one who has attended far too many technology conferences, it was instructive to see how actual consumers of technology react to the “latest and greatest”, and try to assimilate it into their day-to-day practices.

 Have a technology question or concern? Reach out to us at info@easternlegalsystems.com, or give us a call at 877-357-0555 to find out how we can help you with your technology issues.