We spent last Thursday and Friday at the Lousiana State Bar Association's 4th Annual Solo & Small Firm Conference networking with old tech friends and taking in several of the sessions all focused on the bare essentials of helping solos and small firms setup and run their practices - in some cases more efficiently; in other cases run at all. Metadata sessions, email encryption conversations, tech budgets for small law firms, client satisfaction and how to best share calendars with firm staff were common themes making the rounds.
The 4th Annual Solo & Small Firm Conference featured 35 educational sessions enlisting the expertise and talents of 39 speakers including legal technology veterans (dare we say superstars) Jim Calloway, Tom O'Connor and New Orleans' own Ernie Svenson. The presentation topics ranged from hands-on use of Adobe Acrobat, the perils of metadata, paperless lawyering, social networking for lawyers, and billing strategies. Jim Calloway delivered both morning keynotes focused on the 'future of solo practice' and 'secrets of client satisfaction'. Other legal thought leaders such as Michael Adams, Craig Bayer, Jack Newton and Catherine Sanders Reach joined the speakers list.
The conference ended with one of the more popular legal technology conference sessions around (borrowed from ABA TECHSHOWs of the past) '60 Tips in 60 Minutes' featuring 60 websites any solo or small firm practitioner should find useful. While we appreciated the balance of the program - many non technical sessions were hands-on and practical in nature focused on taxes, ethics, trust accounting and Louisiana divorce basics and updates, we did realize that these local bar conferences are where the 'rubber meets the road' when it comes to basic technology training and tech know-how required to run your practice. While organizations like ILTA are focused on continually elevating the legal technology bar when it comes to expertise and application, events such as the LSBA annual small firm conference appeal to the fundamental needs of all attorneys, regardless of tech knowledge.
The event had a small exhibit hall that housed its 16 sponsor companies - Gilsbar, LexisNexis, Clio, Fastcase, Fujitsu Computer Products, Gould & Lamb, Interactive E-Solutions, Law Library of Louisiana, Law Office Technology, Law Pay, Pine Grove Behavioral Health Hospital, LawTech Partners, West. By far, LawTech Parner's 'lemonade stand' booth advertising technology help for a nickel was the coolest and the attendees took advantage. They received all types of questions over the course of the 2 days.
No event in the Big Easy is complete without its social events. Thursday night saw 2 receptions - one hosted by the Young Lawyers Section of the Lousiana State Bar Association and one hosted by Clio. We weren't able to make it to the Young Lawyers Section reception although we heard it was very well attended. We did make it to the Clio Meet Up hosted by the gracious Jack Newton before heading out to dinner at Dante's Kitchen (thanks to Ernie Svenson!) with LawTech Partner's Adriana Linares and Mike Adams. All in all, it was a great conference and we enjoyed catching up with everyone.