3.. 2.. 1.. TechShow!

I’ve been in virtual stealth mode since last year’s ABA TechShow, but it’s time to take the wraps off and get jiggy with legal technology again. So I spent yesterday in pre-show meetings with vendors, fellow attendees, speakers, and the short-list of industry insiders I go to for insight; and they didn’t disappoint. Over the next 2 days TechShow 2012 is going to highlight some real strides in areas like

  • affordable e-discovery
  • document management
  • workflow management
  • iOS and Android “apps”
  • SaaS as a new platform

Today I’ll be on the show floor and in presentations so I don’t expect to report back until Friday or the weekend, Until then, here are a few heads-up points to look for in my coverage:

APIs Everywhere: Clio, MyCase, and RocketMatter want to buddy up with your favorite web services to create a one-stop practice destination. So far Clio is leading the pack, having made deals with DirectLaw (virtual law office), Chrometa (automated timekeeping), and Zencash (invoice and receivables management). There is no doubt that this week’s flurry of announcements is merely the tip of the iceberg. Things are going to heat up fast in this competition, so watch this space for updates.

Forecast Cloudy: In 2008 Clio introduced an all-in-one practice management vehicle just as “the Cloud” became a buzzword. The system became a hit, but the truth is it’s still a mere shadow of the desktop applications it sought to replace. Why? Because the Cloud is not an integrated environment like the office network. In reality it’s a jumble of isolated web-based applications that don’t talk to one another or interact in a meaningful way. But that will change this year as common office functions and software products take to the Cloud, continue falling in price, and start fitting together into unified environments. The results should show up directly in your bottom line via lower costs, better time-capture, and better tracking.

More, Better, Cheaper: Small firms and sole practitioners seldom get what they want. But this year could be the tipping point. Where we once had to put up with one SaaS, e-discovery, document management, or legal research vendor, today other companies are coming into existence all the time; and thanks to lower barriers to entry, more funding in the legal technology space, and proven demand, these new competitors often represent the latest technology, are Cloud-based, offer subscription pricing, and employ the all important freemium to reach small firms and solo’s.

Workflow Rules! I reviewed ActionStep in this post. Now the company is poised to shake things up at TechShow It’s flagship SaaS application handles law office management, document creation, calendaring, contacts, billing, etc. But instead of being matter-centric, the system is workflow-centric. That means its puts goals and tasks ahead of  information for its own sake. In light of the sheer volume of data assailing lawyers already, a Get-Things-Done (GTD) approach like that just seems like a no-brainer.

That’s it for now. See you all on the other side of TechShow 2012. And if you’re already there, find me or give me a shout at @practicehacker. I’ll be at the show all day today, culminating with the Clio Meet Up at Sushi Samba in Chicago’s trendy Near North neighborhood.