Techshow vendors relish return to exhibition floor amid ChatGPT buzz
ChatGPT was on the minds of vendors and attendees at the ABA Techshow 2023 on Thursday, as hundreds gathered for the ABA’s first fully in-person legal technology event in three years.
After the all-virtual offering of 2021 and a subdued 2022 hybrid event, where attendance was hampered by a wave of COVID-19 cases, there was a sense of business as usual on this year’s Techshow Expo Hall, where dozens of exhibitors are promoting software.
Tom Martin, a 2022 ABA Journal Legal Rebel and CEO and founder of LawDroid, a company that uses artificial intelligence to automate legal tasks, including legal research and documentation, had a booth on the exhibition floor.
“I think everybody has untapped excitement. It’s great to see everybody back and to see friends that I haven’t seen in a while,” Martin said.
After three difficult years, organizers of this year’s show are promoting “being together.” And some vendors and attendees are relishing a return to the exhibition floor at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. For others, it is their first time at the show.
Pratik Shah, the CEO at EsquireTek, competed in the Startup Alley competition Wednesday pitching his discovery response automation platform. Shah said in the past 12 months, he has been to personal injury conferences and employment law conferences.
This is his first time at Techshow, and he likes being in a place where attendees seem focused on “building an efficient law firm and creating a tech stack that works.”
“I think a lot of the questions are around consolidation of tech options. There are so many tech companies that solve so many different things that the question is: Where can I get a one-stop shop?” Shah said.
Vendors and attendees seem eager to talk about ChatGPT, a chatbot created by OpenAI. The chatbot, which provides humanlike responses to user prompts, has taken the world by storm, with 100 million active users by January. And generative AI is expected to transform the practice of law.
Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the ABA Techshow 2023 here.
Martin incorporated ChatGPT-based technology into his LawDroid Copilot platform. He said he had some tongue-in-cheek conversations with attendees about whether the tech could make lawyers obsolete. He doesn’t think that it will replace them “anytime soon” and said people want to know how the tech can add value to their work.
Attendee Carol Schlein, founder and president at legal tech consultants Law Office Systems Inc., returned to Techshow for the first time since 2019. She said she wants to learn about innovations in the industry, including generative AI such as ChatGPT.
“I’m trying to figure out where does it fit?” Schlein said, noting that the show has already got her thinking about how she can use the chatbot for drafting documents or helping her write newsletters to her clients. “I may play with it now.”
Several legal tech companies on the floor were already integrating ChatGPT-based tech into their products, including Spellbook by Rally, an AI legal assistant, and Jurisage, a legal research platform.
Colin Lachance, founder and CEO at Jurisage and a 2014 Legal Rebel, said attendees who come to the conference are people who think that they have to innovate to thrive.
“I’d say that’s the other common thread. It’s less about specific technologies and more about attorneys forecasting the difference between those who will survive in a tech-powered world and those who are missing the boat because they’re not here,” Lachance said.
Techshow runs until March 4.