Through the Eyes
of a Technologist
An interview with
by Dan Lear
The American Bar Association TECHSHOW, hosted every year in Chicago and organized by the Law
Practice Management Division of the
ABA, is a premier legal technology event.
Both a center of gravity for legal technology vendors and a source for compelling
legal technology and CLE content, ABA
TECHSHOW is not to be missed by lawyers into technology or those aspiring to
greater technological competence.
But what does TECHSHOW look like
from outside legal? Lawyers are frequently derided as being behind other professionals in technological adoption. And
legal technology as an industry or sector
doesn’t have sufficient clout or resources
to bring TECHSHOW to the level of
Google I/O, Tech Crunch Disrupt, or even
CES (the annual Consumer Electronics
Show). But what does TECHSHOW look
like to someone who has been to some of
the fancier legal technology shows or, at
least, is sufficiently steeped in technological development to know what is actually “cutting-edge?” What would those
who are at the forefront of technology say
about lawyers’ perhaps feeble attempts at
coming into the 21st century?
Nischal Pathania is a product manager who works with me at Avvo. Nischal
is the product manager for Avvo’s directory — that’s the website piece that most
lawyers interact with and most consumers use to find a lawyer. Prior to coming
to Avvo, Nischal was the co-founder of a
travel startup (dealscoopr) that focused
on personalized travel recommendations
using social and behavioral data; before
that, he spent eight years at Expedia,
where he last managed the hotel sort
platform for all Expedia-owned brands
worldwide. In short, he’s exactly the kind
of guy who would go to Google I/O or
CES . . . and he went to TECHSHOW this
year. After he got back, I asked him what
competing for lawyers’ attention. Obviously market leaders like Clio, Rocket
Matter, and MyCase are doing a great
job with their UI and design and all three
utilize the cloud effectively. I was also
impressed with Zola, which launched
at TECHSHOW. From what I could see,
they have an intuitive user experience
that could help them differentiate themselves in this crowded market.
What else did you see or like?
Back to the cloud, there are some interesting developments there. For basic
file-sharing, Box, Dropbox, or Google
Drive already do that pretty effectively.
TitanFile makes file-sharing easier by allowing you to organize your communications with contacts into different conversations, which you can then use to share
files. Their interface appeared straightforward and easy to use. I also thought
Mattermojo was interesting. It helps
firms and attorneys better collaborate on
matters and has Office 365 integration.
Slack is an interesting tool as well.
While they weren’t at TECHSHOW,
it’s a cloud-based workplace collaboration tool and it’s all the rage these days.
We’re testing it at Avvo and I like it. It
integrates chat and document sharing
and makes all of that stuff searchable.
Plus, it’s a great deal for solo and small
firms because accounts with up to six
users are free.
There’s lots of talk in technology and
the economy more broadly about “data”
and “big data.” What kinds of opportunities do you see there in legal tech? Or,
at least, what did TECHSHOW have to
offer in that department?
From a data analytics perspective, you
have to look at legal search, analytics,
and visualization platform Ravel. The
nature and relationships between cases
so obviously lends itself to the way Ravel
represents that data that everyone who
sees it says, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
It’s a great technology.
FiscalNote is another interesting
tool. It isn’t a unique offering to law
firms, but it may interest firms that
represent clients who are impacted by
the passage of new government regulations and laws. FiscalNote can help
you track when new regulations are
DAN: This was your first time at TECH-
NISCHAL: Yeah. I had a fun time. Chicago is awesome and it was really great to
meet folks in legal tech face-to-face and
get a sense for what people are doing and
where legal tech is headed.
Cool. So, let’s get down to brass tacks.
What did you think?
It was really interesting. Sure, there are a
lot of places in legal tech where lawyers
are just starting to adopt technologies,
and, really, ideas that are and have been
mainstream in other industries for quite
some time. But in other areas, legal is
running even with other technology and
innovation in enterprise and consumer
Can you give me some examples of
Cloud adoption is racing along in legal,
but it seems it’s been a bit of a long time
coming. Cloud storage and computing
solutions were quickly and broadly adopted in many industries quite a while
ago. I understand that there are some
issues related to legal ethics that have
slowed lawyers’ enthusiasm for the cloud,
but I get the sense that those concerns
are easing — and not a moment too soon.
Further, vendors like Clio, Rocket Matter,
DirectLaw, and others whose services
depend upon the cloud have done a great
job educating both lawyers and bar associations about the safety and benefits of
the cloud. I’m excited for the possibilities
and innovation cloud services can offer
lawyers and clients once lawyers better
understand and really adopt the cloud.
What about where legal tech is keeping
stride with other industries?
The law practice management space is
interesting. There are a lot of vendors