ABA TECHSHOW Helps Lawyers Navigate Bad Economy, New Legal Environment
For the more than 1,200 lawyers, paralegals, firm administrators, IT managers and law librarians who attended ABA TECHSHOW 2010 March 25-27 in Chicago, the message was clear: Technology has transformed the legal profession and those who cannot navigate in this new environment risk becoming another casualty of the struggling economy.
Futurist Ari Kaplan emphasized that point in his keynote, encouraging lawyers to build their businesses by taking advantage of such available technologies as social networks and blogs. By using these tools, lawyers can distinguish themselves and raise their profile in an increasingly fragmented world, he said.
ABA TECHSHOW organizers focused much of their programming on teaching lawyers to use today’s technology for leverage in this down economy, said TECHSHOW Chair Debbie Foster, who emphasized the critical need for lawyers to focus on the bottom line. “Technology is the key to doing more with less.”
Held up as a shining example of success in the new Internet age of law practice was Lee Rosen, a North Carolina family law practitioner who was awarded the James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in e-Lawyering by the Section of Law Practice Management, which hosted the three-day event.
Rosen was recognized for his exceptional use of the Internet to deliver legal services to people of moderate means. Rosen’s free Web site educates an online audience of more than 500,000 on legal topics. Podcasts, YouTube videos, interactive webinars and live online call-in programs are standard marketing tools for Rosen, who advises other lawyers on using today’s technology. “The only people that shouldn’t do the kinds of things we’re doing are the people that are old enough or wealthy enough that they only have a few years left to practice,” he said.
Rosen and others shared their expertise at a record number of educational sessions during the 24th annual event. From “cloud” computing and social networking, to operating iPhones and “Crackberries,” and to developing a paperless practice, these programs were designed to help legal professionals increase their efficiency and productivity.
Ironically, while ABA TECHSHOW 2010 provided special focus on the technology impacting law practice today, attendees said the greatest value came from face-to-face networking and contact with experts. “There’s Twitter and there’s e-mail and there’s all that, but you really can’t build a connection with someone unless you meet them,” said J.P. Ren from Philadelphia.