TECHSHOW and Legalweek made for a busy but exciting March.
The post There’s More Enthusiasm For Making It Easier To Be A Lawyer Than There’s Been In Years appeared first on Above the Law.

Working from home may make it more pleasant to be a lawyer, but it’s only part of making it easier to do this job. By quirk of scheduling, two of the biggest legal technology conferences of the year happened to fall in March this year, with ABA TECHSHOW opening the month and ALM’s Legalweek affair last week. It’s kept me on the road the better part of the last 3 weeks, but the exhaustion proved worth it. I spend a lot of time around here being pessimistic about this profession, so it’s nice to get a back-to-back dose of optimism about the job.

Everyone calls these legal tech shows, but it’s probably more fair to call them legal efficiency conferences. Both are heavy on the technology, obviously, but as they say “it’s not about selling drills, it’s about selling holes.” And this year, both shows delivered more verve for the legal efficiency game than they have in years.

A few years ago, we were talking about the declining pre-pandemic attendance numbers at ABA TECHSHOW. Last year, the Startup Alley competition barely filled out a breakout room. This year, people packed the main hall to watch the new entrants showcase their innovations for the crowd. Universal Migrator came out on top of that competition with a tool for transferring law firm data between practice management platforms. Decision Vault placed second with a client-intake portal and Fidu got third with a practice management platform for attorneys with subscription-basis pricing (personally, I thought Fidu should’ve edged the others but it was all close).

But even beyond the startup competition, everything about the event felt more lively than it had in years.

Weeks later, Legalweek mirrored this development. I’ve been going to this one for almost a decade and it’s felt like more of a ghost town every year. But this year… people were back! The keynotes filled up! The vendor hall felt more robust! More attendees sat down for sessions (the eDiscovery in the News session had strong attendance) and vendors reported a strong week of client meetings. It’s hard to quantify “vibes” but… good vibes.

What’s behind this renewed excitement? It’s tempting to chalk it up to industry-wide curiosity surrounding artificial intelligence. GPT would intrude on nearly every conversation this month, and the subject downright dominated Legalweek. But that explanation might be too tidy.

Back in August, I thought the watchword of 2023 would be “API” not “GPT.” It seemed as though providers subtly shifted from aiming to be part of a single solution to agreeing to “play nice with others.” That’s a mindset that encourages innovation. It also resonates as “client-first” with lawyers who may not mind being offered a one-size-fits-all solution, but don’t necessarily want to be forced into package deals.

A space that embraces an ethic of “let’s all make the best, most efficient tools for different niches and then be compatible” is going to be exciting. At least to techies. And customers.

Or maybe it’s all the GPT talk. It’s probably still the GPT talk, isn’t it?

Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.