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Reflections on ClioCon 2023: A Legal Tech Adventure in Music City

Reflections on ClioCon 2023: A Legal Tech Adventure in Music City

This year, I had the pleasure of attending my first ClioCon, and it was an incredible experience. The event took place at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, and the venue felt a bit like a stay in Disneyland, with its picturesque waterfalls and winding garden paths beneath a vast greenhouse dome. There was even a boat ride, which I'm eager to try next year at ILTACON.

I arrived the night before the conference for the Legal Technology Innovation Awards. I had heard that the hotel could be somewhat of a labyrinth, so I made a point of booking a room near the Magnolia Tower, where the Legal Technology Innovation Awards ceremony was scheduled. After checking in, I hurried to my room, got dressed, and made my way to the awards ceremony, arriving just in time for a late dinner. I was met with a playful, "You're late," from one of the waiters. The awards ceremony turned out to be an intimate affair where I had the opportunity to connect with a community of law firms and legal tech companies that were new to me. A standout moment was Carolyn Elefant receiving the 'Lifetime Achievement Award.' I'd been following her content for a year, and it was a real delight to see her get the recognition she deserved. I even filmed her acceptance speech, which she later shared widely. That was advice I had taken from her – capturing your colleagues' public speaking moments is essential because there won't always be a dedicated camera person around.

After the awards ceremony, I hit the sack at what felt like 9 pm PST but was actually close to midnight in Nashville. Naturally, I had all my outfits planned, including my attire for morning yoga. Registering for ClioCon the next morning was a breeze, and as I stood in line, I chatted with some fellow attendees. I left them with my card, realizing that in a crowd of around 3,500 people, we might never cross paths again.

Yoga at ClioCon was a delightful experience, much gentler than what I had experienced at the ABA Tech Show. Maybe it was because I was in better shape, but I distinctly remembered huffing and puffing and breaking into a sweat at the Tech Show's yoga session. In contrast, the ClioCon yoga session was calming and soothing. It provided a good stretch, just enough to ease the kinks from all the traveling. What made this session truly unique was the constant background music, a reflection of Nashville's deep connection to music. Throughout the hotel, akin to a Disney park, you could always hear music playing from nearby speakers. While pleasant, it didn't always make it easy to find a quiet place for meetings or conversations.

One song that repeatedly came to mind was "It's a Small World":

"It's a world of laughter, a world of tears.
It's a world of hope and a world of fears.
There's so much that we share, and it's time we're aware.
It's a small world after all."

The conference coincided with the recent Hamas attack on Israel. Over the summer while at Disneyland, this song had prompted me to reflect on Ukraine.

This year's ClioCon theme centered on leveraging AI to address the 'Access to Justice' gap. The sense of community often described as a "cult" at ClioCon felt more like a collective commitment to effect positive changes in the legal domain. Jack Newton's two-hour keynote address was packed with exciting product releases, each greeted with cheers from the crowd. The most remarkable revelation was Clio Duo, the new Clio AI Assistant designed to automate various tasks within Clio and help lawyers prepare more effectively for meetings.

During the conference, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing several speakers. One of them requested a keyboard with shortcuts for Clio Grow and Clio Manage, aiming to transition away from using Microsoft Word and work primarily within these two Clio apps. I found that fascinating. Another attorney expressed her frustration with Word's bullet point feature defaulting to the 'Calibri' font, size 11. That had annoyed me in the past as well. If you're listening, Microsoft, please address this issue! Additionally, there was a strong desire for formatted text for citations and hints at the return of some 'old school' technology, which I'll keep a secret for now.

As a vendor/attendee without a booth, my favorite part of the event was the networking sessions. I had the opportunity to take the mic and deliver my elevator pitch at one of them, meeting fellow innovators and lawyers interested in discovering new legal tech. These events sometimes featured drinks, food, and even ice cream carts.

Clio is known for its devoted and vibrant community as well as its legendary parties, and this year was no exception. The first night's 'Grand Ole Opry House' event was a memorable experience, with outdoor food stations and people donning cowboy hats. I even stumbled upon a shrimp truck in a dimly lit corner and enthusiastically led others to it. Unfortunately, spicy breaded chicken was not an option for me due to a gluten intolerance. Weeks later, people were still asking me if I'd tried it, which I thought was pretty funny. An awards ceremony and concert were held in the theater, and I found some friendly folks to walk back to the hotel with.

Tuesday began with another fantastic yoga session, followed by an inspiring keynote by Brian Banks and more enjoyable networking activities. I ran into old friends and legal tech journalists, and I was particularly moved by the final keynote delivered by Mel Robbins. The second party night, 'Tuesday After Dark,' was hosted at Luke's 32 Bridge, a downtown Nashville bar. It was my first time in Nashville, and let me tell you, the locals know how to throw a party. The bar even had a mechanical bull, which I couldn't resist riding. I lasted a solid 30 seconds on the bull and have the video to prove it, though I won't be sharing it publicly. I was wearing a short skirt. The CEO of a paralegal services company pointed to me, “You're amazing! And you’re the inventor of the Legal Keyboard!” I later spotted one woman riding the bull multiple times with ease, clad in jeans and cowboy boots. I could tell she’d done this before. The dance floor grew rowdy, and I had my moment to shine. I even danced on the stage and received enthusiastic cheers from the crowd when I jumped off the stage and did a little kick in the air. By the end of the night, the floor was a mix of slipperiness and stickiness from spilled drinks. At one point, I felt a splash on my leg as I noticed a man dancing with a drink in hand, unknowingly causing a liquid mess. It was around this time that I decided it was time to head home. While I considered going bar hopping, I don't drink alcohol, so it didn't seem like a wise choice. Instead, I hopped on the bus and engaged in lively conversations on the ride back.

In conclusion, ClioCon was an incredible experience with numerous takeaways. If you're planning to attend a conference at the Gaylord Opryland, call ahead to secure a room close to your event. If you have food allergies or sensitivities, it's wise to pack a box of healthy snacks. Otherwise, Clio does an excellent job accommodating various dietary restrictions. Don't forget to bring your yoga attire. If you intend to schedule meetings before the conference, be aware that it can be challenging to locate people at ClioCon due to its sheer size. Calendar invites with specific instructions are a must. Impromptu meetings are almost more convenient. If you're considering attendance, purchase your tickets well in advance to take advantage of substantial savings. I hope these suggestions are helpful, and if you have anything else to add, please feel free to share your comments.

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