ABA Techshow

Techshow first-timer wins Start-Up Pitch Competition

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David Heller crop

David Heller of Voluble.

Social media insight startup Voluble's first ABA Techshow experience promises to be a memorable one.

ABA Techshow kicked off Wednesday evening from the Hyatt Regency in Chicago with the second annual Start-Up Pitch Competition, pitting legal tech startups against one another in a pitch contest.

First-time attendee Voluble was announced as the “clear-cut winner” by co-host Mary Juetten, founder of Traklight and Evolve Law, alongside co-host Bob Ambrogi, a legal technology blogger. The company, which helps aggregate and analyze social media data for litigation pertaining to consumer perceptions, defeated 13 other startups to win first prize: a one-year membership to Evolve Law, an online community created by co-host Juetten that recently merged with the blog Above the Law; free booth space at next year’s Techshow and a company profile in Above The Law.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” says Brenda Arnott-Wesson, Voluble CEO, after the event. “It was a huge surprise that we won.” This is the company’s first trade show.

“We see a lot of opportunity in social media,” says David Heller, who pitched Voluble. “We think this is a really great opportunity because there is this entire set of data that is being entirely underutilized in legal services.”

For those in attendance, it was standing room only to see the 14 finalists from the U.S. and Canada present a two-and-a-half-minute video or PowerPoint presentation on their company. Initially, there were 15 companies slated to pitch, but Book-It Legal could not attend due to a family emergency.

The competition was technology and practice area agnostic. It included companies providing artificial intelligence document analysis, budget management and billable time tracking among others.

Presentations took various approaches. Some were traditional PowerPoints, while others used animated videos. One team layered a Phil Collins-esque electronic dance music beat over video of their document assembly tool in action.

Members of the audience were allowed one vote for their favorite pitch through the Techshow app, which was not without its technical difficulties. Some struggled to log in, others, including one of the hosts, could not at first find their way to the ballot. The final tally of the vote was not revealed.

This was the first event of ABA Techshow 2018, and ABA president-elect Bob Carlson of Butte, Montana, made an opening statement declaring that the legal profession was at an inflection point regarding the role of technology.

“Everyone here appreciates the need to modernize legal services,” he said. However, he noted that technology is challenging rules of professional responsibility and how traditional legal services are provided.

For the ABA’s part, he noted that ABA Blueprint, a set of process and management services for solo and small firms, is adding third-party content, like blog posts and podcasts, and adding features built on artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. He did not specify how this technology would be incorporated into existing offerings.

The other finalists that were invited to present at the pitch competition included:

Beagle: An automated contract analysis platform that can be trained to read and understand rules and regulations that help inform decision-makers.

Book-It Legal: A platform that helps firms and attorneys hire law students on a short-term basis to help with research, cite checking and other tasks.

Caliber Litigation Services: A web-based litigation management platform that helps attorneys manage their billing, document orders and time.

Digitory Legal: A budget-management prediction tool used by law firms and in-house departments to better predict legal costs and estimate demands of an issue.  

Evichat: A cloud-based, mobile evidence collection and management company.

Gideon Legal: A client intake and messaging app.

Lawyaw: A document assembly tool. 

NextChapter: A web-based tool that helps bankruptcy attorneys prepare, manage and file cases online. 

Qualmet: Provides measurements and reporting of external legal service providers. 

SavvySuit: Creates a pro bono catalogue that helps attorneys find pro bono opportunities.

SimplyAgree: A closing management tool for corporate issues. 

Social Evidence: Collects and manages information from social media for evidence. 

Time Miner: Tracks billable time a person spends on their smartphone. 

Voluble: Insights for Litigation: Aggregates social media data for use in commercial litigation. 

VortexLegal: A marketplace to find legal service providers like reporters, interpreters and investigators. 

Follow along with our full coverage of the 2018 ABA Techshow

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