ABA TECHSHOW 2014: The View from the Expo Floor

ABA TECHSHOW is the legal technology show for Goldilocks; not too big, not too small, and with a good mix of vendors and attendees.  This year, I spent my time exclusively on the Expo floor, talking with vendors and their guests and getting hands-on experience with the latest legal technology.  It was somehow both exhausting and invigorating!

With over 100 vendors and two full days to peruse their booths, I had more than enough time to see them all.  As in past years, there was definitely an emphasis on the needs of practitioners in smaller firms, covering everything from practice management (MyCase, Clio, Smokeball, to name just a few) to legal research (Fastcase, Casemaker) to online marketing (Yodle).  Given their wide audience, I was told by multiple vendors in this space that they didn’t actually expect to directly reach many customers through the Expo; rather, they hoped to get some time with thought leaders in attendance like Ernie the Attorney, iPhone J.D., and The Mac Lawyer, who would in turn spread the good word about their products.

The conference was also heavy on litigation, with vendors showcasing tools for depositions (AgileLaw, eDepoze), trial presentation (TrialPad), service and document delivery (File & ServeXpress), and, of course, ediscovery (Concordance, Discovery Cloud, Lexbe, Logikcull, etc.).  Transactional attorneys weren’t left completely empty-handed, though, with the exciting launch of Lawpal for real-time dealmaking.

Overall, though, Legal ConferenceI was struck by the sheer variety represented on the Expo floor.  Scrappy startups, sleepy from weeks of frantic last-minute coding, peddled their wares alongside polished (if staid) industry heavyweights.  Focused, fast-moving niche players gave killer demos that left their less sophisticated competitors in the dust.  Overstaffed and under-visited booths sat idle next to vendors completely overwhelmed by their unexpected popularity.  If nothing else, it left me optimistic that the diversity in our legal technology ecosystem will help it thrive; adaptable providers with the most useful technologies will rise to the top.

Next week, I’ll tell you about some of my favorites, the tools I discovered at ABA TECHSHOW 2014 that I expect to see succeed in this year and beyond!