ABA TECHSHOW Celebrates 30 Years

Since 1986, lawyers and legal technology enthusiasts have been coming to ABA TECHSHOW to learn how technology helps them work smarter, practice better, and deliver higher-quality legal services to clients. Isn’t it incredible to think that some forward-thinking lawyers in 1986 (30 years ago), had the forethought to believe that there would be a convergence of law and technology?

Putting this amazing futurism in perspective, in 1986, at the inaugural ABA TECHSHOW, Microsoft first went public at $21 per share, MS-DOS 3.2 had just been released, and Apple introduced a revolutionary personal computer called the Mac Plus—that included one single megabyte of RAM! Now, 30 years later, most lawyers can’t conceive of a law practice, legal department, or public law service operating without technology.

Back in 1986, busy attorneys would leave a trail of telephone numbers so our offices could attempt to contact us, we asked for directions over the phone, and began to use a new technology called the fax machine that printed out words on thermal paper rolls transmitted over analog telephone lines. Now, our mobile phones—to which most of us are tethered day and night—have more computing power than tens of thousands of the first Mac Plus computers, and many of us don’t even have a fax machine in our offices anymore. We are constantly in contact with our offices and clients through voice, text, email and social media. To say things have changed would be a monumental understatement. For 30 years, TECHSHOW has been connecting lawyers and technology. This is why ABA TECHSHOW is a very special conference.


I love technology and I am a lawyer. Sixteen years ago, I attended my very first ABA TECHSHOW and loved every minute of it. I’ve not missed one since! Back in 2000, I learned so much about how technology was going to make my life as an attorney easier and streamline so many manual processes with automation. Back then, I learned why I should upgrade to Windows 98 (which I’d done already), what this new thing called “Case Management” was and why I should consider it, and I heard about how e-mail (brand new to many in attendance that year) would overtake the way lawyers communicate by 2002. Back then I was in awe, and you know what? I still am. I still love TECHSHOW with a passion.

Why Should You Come?

This year, the 10 planning board members (including yours truly) have created 16 exceptionally relevant program tracks to take place over the course of two and a half amazing days (March 17-19, 2016). They include important and timely topics, such as security and encryption, social media (both for communication and discovery purposes), e-discovery, law firm management and marketing, finance, workflows, dashboards, and overall best legal tech practices. We’ve assembled an incredibly distinguished faculty from across the world who will share their deep knowledge in these areas with you and your fellow attendees. Honestly, the wealth of knowledge assembled at this conference is astounding.

Expo Hall and Concierge Booth

TECHSHOW’s Expo Hall is filled with hundreds of vendors, specialists in their field, ready to share how they can help you fill needs, and solve common or complex problems. The TECHSHOW Expo Hall is an amazing place to see the latest and greatest technology available to our profession. Personally, I love to wander through the expo hall, talk to the vendors, and learn about the latest and greatest trends available to help lawyers practice law more efficiently and productively. Most, if not all, vendors will happily take as much time as you need to understand your goals and help you make appropriate decisions.

TECHSHOW’s Concierge Booth is located right outside the Expo Hall and is staffed by TECHSHOW’s faculty during the entire conference. It’s a great place to meet up with our distinguished faculty, ask questions, voice concerns, and get some one-on-one time with them. Everyone is willing to listen, help, suggest, guide, and get to know you.

Bonus Presentations

This year, the planning board and ABA staff are proud to have invited Cindy Cohn, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as our keynote speaker. Cindy is the executive director of this very important nonprofit organization dedicated to defending civil rights and liberties in this new, digital world. The EFF champions privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, policy analysis, grassroots activism, and the development of new technologies. Cindy is known to be quite a dynamic speaker, who will make us all think about how to navigate the intersection of privacy rights and digital availability.

In keeping with the theme of digital privacy, this year TECHSHOW is offering a very special plenary session on Friday, March 18, at 5 p.m. It will feature four very special panelists, including Ben Wizner, the ACLU lawyer currently representing Edward Snowden, and will be moderated by David Lat of Above the Law. Ben, David, and the exceptional panel they’ve assembled will present a fascinating and highly-relevant session, “Can They Hear Me Now? Practicing Law in an Age of Mass Surveillance.”

30 Years of Law and Technology

Lastly, who wouldn’t want to do a little celebrating on this 30th anniversary? On Thursday, March 17, all full conference attendees are invited to join the ABA TECHSHOW anniversary celebration in the Hilton Chicago Hotel’s Continental Ballroom. This fun evening will include an introduction of 30 years of past TECHSHOW chairs toasting and roasting the past three decades of TECHSHOW, legal technology and our profession!


And Best of All…

You’ll have the opportunity to meet and befriend hundreds of attorneys, technology consultants, technology innovators, and the exceptional faculty at ABA TECHSHOW. I’ve made some great friends that I look forward to seeing every year at ABA TECHSHOW, and I’m sure you will too. No matter if you love, loathe, or are indifferent toward technology, everyone agrees that technology’s impact on the practice of law is here to stay. So, come, enjoy, absorb, and dive into the wonderful world of legal technology (and get some great CLE hours to boot) at ABA TECHSHOW 2016.

Remember, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, TECHSHOW is all about learning how technology will help you work smarter, practice better, and deliver higher quality legal services to clients. Don’t delay; registration is open at www.TECHSHOW.com. I look forward to seeing YOU at the 30th anniversary of ABA TECHSHOW, March 16-19, 2016, at the Hilton Chicago.

About the Author

Steven J. Best is the chairperson of the 2016 ABA TECHSHOW planning board and managing partner of the Atlanta office of the Affinity Consulting Group. Steve is an attorney as well as a certified law office software consultant. He can be reached at sbest@affinityconsulting.com.

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