Where are the Open Source Sessions at Legal Conferences?

June 8, 2010

I was looking at the schedule for ABA TechShow 2009, and at the top it says “What won’t you learn?”

The answer now seems obvious: you won’t learn anything about open source applications.

And not just at TechShow, but at most legal conferences, and I’d wager at most legal gatherings: MILOFest, State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting, Inside Counsel Superconference…the list goes on. Granted, open source applications may not apply, but if the conferences/gatherings can discuss social media, alternative billing and topics that signal a shift in legal practice, why do they ignore open source? Especially as the legal profession continues to struggle on the labor front. Lawyers are still being laid off, and there are solo and small firm practices popping up with smaller budgets that can benefit from open source. They can benefit, if they know about it.

Open source is gaining traction in the legal professional, sure, which is another reason it strikes me as odd that open source is being ignored by legal conferences and gatherings. Not all, to be sure. Some local bar associations have had speakers come in and talk about open source, and when I’ve written about open source for lawyers, I get emails happy to see someone else talking about it. There are signs of life, but it remains a minority, more so than Macs in Law Offices, I’d wager.

So what is it about open source that prevents legal conferences from having any session related to it? Lack of presenters? Or perhaps no one has suggested the topic? No one has submitted a presentation on open source? Fear of lack of interest? Perceived lack of value?

I’m interested in your thoughts on this, especially people who run these conferences. I think open source sessions are needed. What do you think?


Taste of TechShow Thursday & Inaugural Blog Photo

March 26, 2010

There are many great things about TechShow, and one of them is called Taste of TechShow. Various dinners are set up around topics of interest, like social networking, eDiscovery, iPhone apps…you get the idea.

Last night, I attended Electronic Discovery and Privacy with hosts Paul Unger and Judge James Rosenbaum. We went to Opera, and I had the Kamakazi Burger:

It was awesome. One of the best burgers. Ever.

And what better photo to use for the inaugural photo on this blog!

Aside from the food, there was excellent conversation. I met some interesting people who have varied backgrounds. A few of them also work, or worked, for the military, something I found rather interesting. Never occurred to me members of the military would attend TechShow, but then again, it makes sense. I did see a couple of people from the Air Force walking around the Expo yesterday, talking to vendors. The military has a strong interest in technology. The government has a strong interest in technology. Why not come to TechShow?

Surprise. Surprise. I was the only non-lawyer at the dinner, but they were all intrigued by journalists learning to cover issues of national security, and agreed there is a pressing need for better coverage. Improved coverage, maybe. Something is lacking, and they’re interested in how it is going to be addressed, which surprised me. Past experience taught me people don’t like talking to the media, especially about prickly issues like national security.

I shouldn’t be surprised, though. At TechShow, people are incredibly friendly and open to discussion. I discovered that last year, and was encouraged and heartened by that. I made some awesome contacts last year, and now I’m going to go make some more.