I just returned from the Missouri Bar?s annual Solo and Small Firm Conference, which is widely-known as the premier event of its kind in the country. The 2004 conference was a complete sellout, registration was closed two weeks before the date, and roughly 700 lawyers attended (out of slightly more than 800 lawyers who are members of the Solo and Small Firm Committee). Linda Oligschlaeger, her colleagues at the Missouri Bar, David Ransin, and the planning committee once again outdid themselves.
It?s difficult to imagine a conference that is more fun and people-oriented. I met lots of great people, many of whom I?d only known of by email, and got the chance to learn lots of new things.
I also continued my streak of having really great co-presenters. I, perhaps foolishly, agreed to give six presentations at the conference, but only two were solo. I got my first chance to co-present with Bruce Dorner, one of the top legal tech consultants for small firms and solos in the country and a terrific speaker. We presented on Troubleshooting Computers (which collected many of our best tips and was well-received) and on Wireless Networking (a topic in which there was a lot of interest). Those were fun and Bruce is a joy to work with.
I also got to do a computer forensics and e-discovery presentation with John Mallery. I was really pleased with the approach that we took to this subject and the response we got. John is not only very knowledgeable, but his history includes 15 years of working as a standup comedian. I?ll work with him again any time. We had fun and got a number of comments about how well we worked together. Better yet, I had someone who I didn?t know tell me that our computer forensics presentation was the best one they saw at the conference. I admit that it?s only one vote out of 700, but it?s still nice to hear.
Finally, I finished the conference with Bruce Dorner, Natalie Thornwell (one of my fellow TECHSHOW Board members) and Reid Trautz ? all prominent ABA Law Practice Management Section members and national speakers ? doing a 60 Tech Tips in 60 Minutes presentation that was very fun. It?s great to be on stage with a group of excellent speakers, all of whom are comfortable and easy to work with, with a great give-and-take. Reid is such an inventive presenter ? his last two slides had the audience breaking out into cheers, at 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon!
I always find that I learn new lessons every time I speak. Two key lessons from this conference were: when the projector is hanging from the ceiling, you cannot turn it on without a tech person, and never download and install an update to a program you plan to demo in a session without testing it beforehand (my apologies to those I promised the full Adobe Acrobat 6.0 demo, but hope that I made a reasonable recovery).
I also got to have some extended conversations with my good friend Bob Wiss of CaseSoft and Matt ?the [non]billable hour? Homann, and get in a short vacation with my family. Not too bad at all. Now I turn to catching back up on everything else.