March 28, 2004

TECHSHOW Highlights

It's been a busy couple of days at TECHSHOW. There have been many exceptional presentations, and I've met some very interesting people along with catching up with friends and colleagues. While it was impossible to attend all concurrent sessions, here are some highlights from this year's show that I attended:

First off, electronic discovery is a hot, hot, hot topic (no surprise, really, given how much electronic data we keep pumping out). Mike Arkfeld and the Hon. James Francis IV gave a very informative session analyzing and summarizing the various Zubulake decisions. It was particularly useful in that they color-coded all of the various cost-shifting factors to compare against other decisions. Likewise, they provided savvy strategies that litigators could take away and use from these decisions.

The Thursday keynote featured Lou Andreozzi from Lexis and Mike Wilens from Thomson/West. These leaders gave their visions of the future for legal technology. Things like instant messaging and blogging are definitely on the radar screen. I found it particularly telling when more than half the of grand ballroom (standing room-only) crowd raised their hand when Mike asked who was reading blogs. The response was so large and emphatic that several of us bloggers were quite pleasantly surprised. As Mike mentioned, these new modalities of communication are revolutionizing how we work. It's also a great example of how the internet can used by savvy people to not only level the playing field, but to take it a step further in providing guerrilla marketing and client service.

Afterward, I had an opportunity to discuss with them the potential of RSS feeds for the delivery of news and case alerts, etc. Suffice it to say that things are looking promising in this area.

Likewise, wireless has arrived in a big way. Many attendees were toting wireless laptops. Given the relative insecurity of wireless networking, there were many sessions discussing the risks, benefits, and they best ways to harden your systems against intrusion. A live interactive session featuring Jeff Flax and Joe Kashi made it abundantly clear there were a number of attendees running wireless notebooks that were open and unprotected. If you're going wireless, don't even think about it unless you're practicing safe hex and implementing wireless networking best practices.

Another great session was "Performance Metrics and ROI Strategies", presented by John Alber, David Bilinsky, and Michael Kraft. They gave us a number of practical strategies for measuring both the hard and soft issues of technology projects. This is most definitely an area in which many law firms are weak. For instance, how many of you are performing meaningful "debriefings" once a technology project has been completed? If you don't identify what worked and what didn't, then how can you avoid making similar mistakes (or repeating successes) all over again?

New this year was the TECHSHOW Training Institute, where leading vendors showcased their products in a very how-to manner. We got to see, step-by-step, how you can effectively use such programs as CaseMap/TimeMap, Time Matters/Billing Matters, Summation, Amicus Attorney, and a session on Demystifying Electronic Discovery by Applied Discovery.

Perhaps the brightest highlight of the show was Craig Ball's PowerPoint on, naturally, PowerPoint. If you've never seen him present, you are definitely missing out. Craig is one of the true masters of Powerpoint, putting many of us humble presenters to shame. Craig entertainingly shared some of his most effective tips, and more importantly, showed us how to do it, step by step.

This year the TECHSHOW board is working very hard to collect the final version of all the PowerPoint presentations to post on the web site. This is in addition to the CD materials, so watch the site as materials are being added.

Lastly, TECHSHOW is just not complete without going to the fun dinners. The Technologists dinner just keeps getting better every year. It was likewise a blast to meet with fellow blawgers -- this is truly a group of creative and forward-thinking professionals on the cutting edge.

Overall, it's been a great conference, with many exhibitors to boot. The attendance was also definitely up this year. I've already gotten so much more out of it than I put into it (and speaking as a presenter, I believe that's saying something). In speaking with many attendees, it's clear that a significant portion of the legal profession understands the role and impact that the proper application of technology can have on one's practice. And that's very encouraging indeed.

Topic(s):   Legal Technology
Posted by Jeff Beard
Comments

One nice and easy way to implement Wi-Fi security is using a service called HotSpotVPN, which you can find at www.hotspotvpn.com. For about $8/month you have a solution that creates a VPN on your computer, with no need to install software. The service even work with PDAs that have Wi-Fi cards. I use it and it is fairly 'idiot proof' --at least once it has been set up.

Posted by: Ernie at March 29, 2004 03:37 PM