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Clouds, Collaboration and Casetext: A Virtual Review of the 2016 ABA TECHSHOW

The ABA TECHSHOW began 30 years ago. As the then Editor/Publisher of Legal Information Alert, I frequently covered this event for the Alert and other sources.

After a hiatus, I was pleased that I was able to secure a press pass for this year’s event which was held here in Chicago, March 16­-19 at the Hilton Chicago.

You’ve heard and read this a thousand times: the only thing that is constant in legal technology is change. And how the legal technology landscape has changed in just a few years! Instead of fax machines and databases, the buzz is all about cloud computing, security and collaboration to name just a few key topics. The schedule is still online. Go see the vast array of programs and click on the titles for more information.

Donna M. Tuke
Donna M. Tuke

Using the schedule, I started to make a list of the programs that I wanted to hear, and the ones that I thought you would want to read about. But life intervened. The amount of time that I could spend with “boots on the ground” started shrinking.

But….no worries… After all, this is the ABA TECHSHOW which utilized every form of technology and social media during the proceedings. I could experience and learn much even if not at the show all day each day.


ABA used the following social media tools to publicize events and updates:

  • There is a blog with posts dated from March 2016 all the way back to February 2012. If you really want to read about technology changes, start here. Many of the 2016 posts pertained to reflections from past ABA TECHSHOW chairs.
  • Facebook Posts stopped on March 16th [I wonder why?]
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter: @ABATECHSHOW. For conference news and updates. Only confirmed followers can see the tweets. But if you are one of them, take a look at this tweet from February 12: “Ashley Madison and the Deep (Sometimes Dark) Web”. The link takes you to the original post in ABA Law Practice Today.
  • YouTube: ABATECHSHOW This is the link to the ABA channel, but as of the date of this writing there were 375 videos under “2016 ABA TECHSHOW” submitted by vendors, ABA Divisions, and various state bar organizations. Videos featured interviews and recaps of programs.
  • The ABA TECHSHOW APP available from the Apple Store or Google Play. This is limited to just the event schedule.
  • Thumb Drive: This was given to each attendee. Contains the PDF versions of many of the presentations. What it did not contain, to my great disappointment, was the ever popular annual “60 Tips, Tricks, Gizmos, Gadgets and Sites in 60 Minutes.”

All the Conference materials and Powerpoints are available to the registrants only.


The Legal Talk Network  was at the show live streaming from the floor of the exhibit area. I love these podcasts and subscribe to many of them. LTN also has many Youtube videos featuring interviews and recaps of the sessions. Subscribe to the “Special Reports” from iTunes and listen to all the event’s podcasts.

I asked if the company had ever considered doing a law librarian channel as there is a paralegal channel. They would consider this. Volunteers anyone?


Let’s not get lost in the dizzying array of social media tools. Some of the real time presentations deserve a note or two. The Keynote Speaker was Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I missed her live presentation but caught her interview on Legal Talk Network.

Another session that I did attend was the “Lunch N Learn” session on Casetext. This is a research tool using crowdsourcing.  We are all familiar with other crowdsource tools like Wikipedia and Yelp, so it is no surprise that the idea is ripe for the legal community. So exciting to see it demonstrated! Will this tool, which calls upon scholars and legal thought leaders to comment on cases, erode the influence of law school reviews? It is certainly a faster way to get critical thinking about a case in print than the law review publication process.


Legal research topics and products took a back seat at this event. Main legal research companies like LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters barely mentioned legal research in their exhibitors company descriptions, but instead focused on either e­discovery and/or productivity products.

The only legal research companies there as exhibitors were Fastcase, Casemaker and Casetext.

There were a few projects sessions on little research. There were no law librarians either on the planning committee or as faculty members. Notably missing from the lineup was the husband and wife team of Carole Levitt and Mark Rosch. They have written the “go to” books on using the Internet as research tools for lawyers.


A list of all the 2016 exhibitors is found here. Unfortunately, there are no links here to the companies’ websites.

My favorite exhibitor booth was the Rocket Lawyer exhibit which included live puppies for attendees to pick up and pet, presumably to make them relax and be happy! Must have worked as everyone I saw at the booth was indeed happy!

So, fellow law librarians, is the ABA TECHSHOW worth your time? Yes! There is so much more that I could write, but I hope this overview and the links will inspire you to discover what’s new and exciting for your work environment.

Donna M. Tuke is an independent law librarian, lawyer and IRS Enrolled Agent. She just finished the tax season working as Manager for the Evanston VITA of the Center for Economic Progress. Open to new and/or freelance opportunities.