ABA TECHSHOW 2011 Thoughts…

♫ I need perspective, heard the trumpet call… ♫

Music and lyrics by Peter Gabriel “Perspective”.

Blackberry PlayBook

Blackberry PlayBook

Having returned from speaking at ABA TECHSHOW 2011 in Chicago last week, I thought I would write about the changes and themes that I felt underscored this year’s conference. To be sure there were many exciting sessions, speakers and technologies. There was an energy at this year’s conference that seemed to be somewhat subdued in the last iteration, perhaps due to the economic uncertainty of the last while. But this year, the theme seemed to be innovation – and lots of it.

I think the primary cause of this was the explosion in the tablet world combined with the movement to cloud computing. Both of these freed lawyers from the traditional tethers of wires and such that largely kept us tied to a desk. The birth of this movement was, I believe, in the rapid expansion of smart phones such as the Blackberry, iPhone and Android phones. But the form factor in a smart phone is really too small to do any serious work away from the office. While laptops are wonderful for working out of the office, they are still heavy and fall into the ‘luggable’ category. But the iPad changed all that. Suddenly now there is a light, portable and highly useful device that can be used for serious work out of the office. Tablets also work nicely with Cloud-based applications, delivering a knockout one-two punch. Certainly in looking about during the sessions at ABA TECHSHOW, the number of attendees who were taking notes on their tablets seemed to outnumber the number of those using laptops in the rooms. And tweeting. And blogging – live.

A telling example of this was the “60 Apps in 60 Mins” presentation by Jeff Richardson,Reid Trautz (ABA TECHSHOW 2012’s Chair) and Josh Barrett. In 60 minutes, these three presenters gave a wonderful overview of the vast array of apps that are available for lawyers to use on their iPad. Of course, ABA TECHSHOW also happened to offer a sneak preview of the BlackBerry PlayBook, the latest tablet to hit the market.

Of all the technologies presented at the last few ABA TECHSHOWs, I think the tablet+cloud revolution is certainly the biggest one to hit the legal industry. Lawyers like applications that are inexpensive, easy to use and offer great productivity. The iPad, Android tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy and the BlackBerry PlayBook are game changers, in my humble opinion. So much so that I now have an iPad2 wrapped in a leather case that contains a bluetooth keyboard. This combo offers a computing environment that is light, easy to use and easy to read. I wonder how long it will be before a lawyer hands his tablet up to a Judge in court – allowing the judge to read the case that they just pulled down from the web in response to their opponent’s argument? I think I just heard Gabriel’s trumpet call…announcing the end of computing as we know it..

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