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By Maximillian (Max) H. Matthies posted 02-24-2020 10:19


Winter is long in Michigan, and despite February’s having the fewest days, it feels like the longest month. A family friend rates each day in February in terms of whether she won or February won. What gets me through February is anticipating the ABA TECHSHOW, held every year in Chicago toward the end of winter. This year’s TECHSHOW is February 26 to 29. The first TECHSHOW launched in 1986. For some context, in 1986, the Compaq Deskpro 386 launched, 300,000 fax machines sold, and there were 3.9 million private email subscribers. TECHSHOW is in its 34th year, and it will be my 5th (or 6th) year attending. It gets bigger each year, and there is always a lot to do and see.

This year, the ABA has added Lawyer Well-Being and Human Skills tracks in addition to other CLE/substantive tracks. Extracurriculars include the Taste of ABA TECHSHOW dinners, Beer for Bloggers, and after-hours parties hosted by some of the bigger sponsors that allow for plenty of networking and mingling. You can also run a 5K, do morning yoga, attend 12-step meetings, or join a meetup. Check out the at-a-glance schedule or the full brochure for the full array of offerings.

For me, the TECHSHOW is not just about where legal tech is today. I also get a glimpse of where it is going. In its 4th year, the Startup Pitch Competition pits 15 novel legal tech start-ups against each other in front of attendees who vote and select the most innovative start-up application. (Last year’s pitch competition was won by JurisBytes.) Keynote speakers provide a view of legal (and other tech) from 10,000 feet up. This year Mary Shen O’Carroll, the Director of Legal Operations, Technology, and Strategy at Google, is the keynote. Last year Betty Zeigler from 1871 came in to talk about innovation. She also gave us a list of technologies to pay attention to, including gesture recognition, weaponized smart homes, authenticity, ambient proximity, and hidden bias, among others.