[Ed. Note: Please welcome guest blogger Michael Robak, Director of the Schoenecker Law Library, Associate Dean and Clinical Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas (Minneapolis) School of Law]

I read with great interest Zena Applebaum’s Mandatory Classes a Wish for 2018 post. And, while I can’t say this post will make her wish come true, I do think the creation of an official Academic Track at the ABA TECHSHOW is a step in the right direction, particularly for helping the Academy “get it” when it comes to creating offerings for new competencies.

Getting the Academic Track created and off the ground has been an interesting journey, some of which Greg has generously let me chronicle here and here, so I know there many loyal followers of the Geeks who are aware a number of us have been working to create the Academic Track.

So it is amazing to announce the ABA TECHSHOW 2018 will feature the Academic Track as an official part of the show!! So many thanks are in order but Steve Best, Debbie Foster, Tom Mighell and, particularly Adriana Linares, are the primary people behind making this an official part of the show.

Here is the skinny: the show is March 7- 10, 2018 in Chicago. Change of venue this year as it will be held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago and not the Hilton Towers. Early bird registration ends 1/22/18. Sign up now! Conference Hotel rates are $189 which, for downtown Chicago, is terrific. Also note there is an extraordinary student rate available.

The Academic Track has five sessions over two days (Thursday (3/8) and Friday (3/9)) (Complete Schedule is here and some screen shots from the website)

The sessions are designed to allow plenty of time to attend other Track sessions as well as spend time in the vendor hall. All the sessions will be terrific and I want to particularly point out two of them. The first is the Mentoring Women and People of Color in Legal Tech. This outstanding panel will be led by Irene Mo one of the ABA Center for Innovation’s inaugural fellows! Irene’s panel promises to be an attraction for many outside of the Academy as well.

I should note we think all of the sessions will be of interest to practitioners and the vendors, especially the last session which is the second one I want to highlight.

This session, Planning for the Future, is designed to be an interactive discussion for continued development of a framework for moving teaching Tech forward as well as building on the other initiatives, e.g., the AALS Section on Technology, Law and Legal Education, CALI, the AALL Teaching Legal Technology Caucus. And we need to hear from practitioners who can give us the best insight on what they are seeing as day to day needs for practice today…and for 2020.

I can say, with some certainty, the Academy is still very much in a state of “fits and starts” when it comes to deciding the what and how of teaching Tech. So let’s move beyond fits and starts and come to TECHSHOW and help further the discussion, create direction and gather momentum.
A final note, this programming applies not just to law schools and we hope to see fellow educators from Paralegal and other affiliated legal training programs.