Dear Vendors: Why LegalTech is the Worst Place to Demo Your Products

‘Chaos,’ workshop of George Frederic Watts, circa 1875

Weather reports say a blizzard is coming my way, but I’m already being snowed under. With LegalTech New York just a week away, I am being deluged with emails from vendors asking to arrange demos at the show.

I appreciate hearing from you. Honestly I do. I welcome opportunities to learn about the new products you’re introducing and enhancements to your existing products. I review products not only here, but also for the ABA Journal, Law Practice magazine, and other outlets.

But here’s the thing: LegalTech may be the worst-possible time and place for you to give me a demo.

LegalTech is just three days. It is a hectic, sometimes chaotic, activity-packed three days. There are programs to attend, people to meet with, the exhibit hall to explore, meals to be eaten, and all sorts of side events.

Over the course of the three days, there are only so many hours and only so many vendor meetings I can squeeze in. And, frankly, by the end of the three days, the details of the meetings I do manage to schedule begin to blur. Which product was it that had that fancy whatchamajigger? Which exec was it who talked about disruptive innovation?

Not to mention, so many of these demos take place in the exhibit hall, where the decibel level is ear-splitting and the interruptions and distractions are constant. I’m trying to listen to you, watch your screen, take notes, and acknowledge the person tapping me on the shoulder to say hi, all while trying to filter out the commotion around us.

Do you want my undivided focus on your product demo? There are a whole year’s worth of days that are better than the three of LegalTech. Invite me to a web demo. I’ll be calm. I’ll be able to pay attention. Neither of us will be distracted by LegalTech’s inescapable commotion. I’ll take better notes and better absorb what you say.

Look, I understand that vendors feel they have to do something at LegalTech. And you feel the same way at ABA Techshow, AALL and ILTA. So let me suggest something. Let’s forget the demos. Let’s use the opportunity of being in the same place at the same time to say hello and connect our names and faces. We could chat for a moment, maybe have coffee or a drink, and then move on. Then we’d have a basis on which to speak again at another time.

LegalTech is a great show for networking. But honestly, if you want a thoughtful and considered review of your product, LegalTech probably isn’t the best place to get it. I’m starting to think many vendors go into hibernation the rest of the year. The way this winter’s shaping up, I can understand that. But if you have a new product you want to tout, I’m around all year.

Posted in:
  • Kudos, Bob. That’s an excellent public service announcement. You’re the real deal.

    Here’s to hoping you survive the snow; of all kinds.

  • Great post. Could I schedule you to see a demo of our new release. It is really cool. Stop by our booth Tuesday at 3:30 for an exclusive look.

    • I don’t know about the demo, but I’ll be at your party.

  • Well said, as usual, Bob! Thank you for articulating this much needed lesson for vendors everywhere. I consider myself lucky that you and I sat down and chatted at LTNY last year in the manner prescribed. Looking forward to seeing you again this year. Safe travels!

  • Gayle O’Connor

    Wow, Bob,
    incredibly refreshing to pick up my tablet and stumble upon this blog opened my eyes and gave me a fresh outlook on how to approach LegalTech this year.It made me realize that LegalTech is about everything you said. I won’t allow myself to feel guilty this year for doing exactly what you talked about. Thank you for the permission to do what we should all be doing. See you in New York.
    All the best,

  • H M

    Great article. Also had a laugh at commenter two because I couldn’t tell who was joking.

  • shg

    As a fellow traveler enduring the indignities of mass solicitations for demos (me? I’m no Ambrogi. Can they possibly be that clueless?), let me offer the corollary to your post:

    Swag. It’s all about the swag. Forget your demos, and give me good swag. I’m only there for the swag.

    That is all.

  • Always interesting and insightful, Bob. Howeer, unfortunately, while it points out something that vendors in booths may not realize,
    with all due respect, you are a top, top journalist. Here’s what I think would be great: A how-to article about what’s working; what clients want to see; how they respond; what are the trends; what do clients want and when they want it: 10 Steps to Get Clients to Respond Positively. In fact, how about a workshop on the very topic from a seasoned pro? I think that someone neutral giving the workshop would be a sell-out. Readers?

  • Thanks Bob – I shared this with my sales team. So if anyone from cicayda bugs you (no pun intended), just say “you know why I’m here”.