The two tech trade shows to attend

Having attended way too many legal-technology trade shows over the course of my career, I can state with certainty that there are only two each year you really should attend if you care about keeping current with the field — LegalTech New York in January and ABA TechShow in April. Sure, there are probably hundreds of technology trade shows put on by local, state and national bars and private companies. But companies that know anything about the legal market save their most important announcements of new product launches and major upgrades for these shows.

I just returned from LegalTech, and, true to form, it was a major legal technology event, brimming with exhibitors and attendees. While all the usual suspects were there, this show was significant for having attracted several non-legal vendors for the first time, signaling their enhanced recognition of the legal market’s importance. These included Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Dell Computer, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM.

But for all the activity, this year’s LegalTech lacked any buzz factor. In the wake of Enron and Anderson, electronic discovery has clearly come into its own, as was attested to by the number of companies displaying their expertise in this area. But … we knew that. As between the big two usual suspects, West and Lexis, the former drew the greater attention for its booth just inside the entrance door where eager attendees stood in Disney-like lines waiting to don virtual-reality goggles and make spectacles of themselves. Beyond the booth, West’s West KM drew interest and praise for its extension of KeyCite and Westlaw technology to knowledge management. Overall, however, little jumped out as new or different or innovative, especially among the Web-based offerings. But more on that later.