Here’s a good question that illustrates why, even when blogging, you need to use active listening skills to determine what people are really asking rather than simply answering the literal question.
Consider the literal question. OK, I’m on the TECHSHOW Board, so would you truly expect me to give an answer other than “YES!”?
But, that’s not what people are really asking me with this question. It’s more in the nature of “Why should I go to the ABA TECHSHOW?”
However, consider the many nuances of even that form of the question. “What reasons can you give me to help me convince a decision-maker to pay for me to go to the ABA TECHSHOW?” “Will I miss anything important if I don’t go to the ABA TECHSHOW?” “Is a trip to the ABA TECHSHOW this year worth the investment in money and time I will need to make?”
The question also takes on certain nuances whether I really want to go or whether I am trying to justify my reason for not going.
Sometimes people ask me this question because they want me to convince them to go.
I learned long ago that I really cannot convince you – you can only convince yourself. I can’t argue you into doing much of anything. On rare occasions, I might be able to steer information your way so that you reach your own conclusion that happens to be the one that I’d like to see, but I’m never going to convince you to do anything that you can’t convince yourself to do.
What could I say that will convince anyway? Suppose I say that you need to go to the ABA TECHSHOW this year because your cushy, stable big law firm job might disappear when your firm becomes a target in the recent big law firm merger mania and you need to know enough about technology to land on your feet and start something new. Suppose I say that you need to learn about what technologies your clients will be wanting from you or else they will leave you. Suppose I say that you need to prove that you work at a firm that will support your efforts to improve your skills and keep pace with technological change. Suppose that I say that you go to all kinds of boring continuing legal education seminars every year and you deserve to go to one that you know will be fun.
I don’t think any of those reasons will convince you. Why? Because they come from me, not you.
The answer to the question, as with so many other things, comes directly from your honest answer to two key questions well-known to Babylon 5 fans. They are: Who are you? and What do you want?
The better your answer to those questions, the more easily you can answer questions like “should I go to the ABA TECHSHOW this year?”
You know that I am right, but I know that you still expect me to give a few reasons to help you convince yourself and the relevant decision-maker that you should be going to the ABA TECHSHOW. I won’t disappoint you, but I don’t expect to convince you either. Here you go:
1. You might actually have fun, learn cool stuff and meet great people interested in the things that you are interested in – for a change. Take the chance!
2. TECHSHOW has great education sessions that are geared to practicing lawyers. You can learn stuff that actually helps you and applies to you and your practice.
3. TECHSHOW speakers are extraordinarily accessible and generous. The new roundtable sessions we are trying this year will make it even easier to talk to some of the leading legal technology experts.
4. You can show people that you are willing to make the effort to prepare for your own future and not just wait around for other people to tell you what you can and can’t do.
5. You can learn in one place in a few days the technology options that are available to you. Most lawyers and law firms are concerned about making mistakes in selecting new technologies. The biggest concern: they do not know what their options are and worry that they may miss a better or cheaper alternative because they don’t know about it. Spend some time on the exhibit floor and I guarantee that you become aware of options you didn’t know existed.
6. Learn that you are not alone in your interests in and concerns about technology and the practice of law as it exists today.
7. Meet more legal bloggers in one place than have ever gathered together before.
But, as I said, I can’t convince you. That’s your job. Oh, yeah, the online registration form is here. I hope to see you there, but that’s your decision to make.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]