This October, I had the opportunity to attend the premier event for Mac lawyer fanatics:  MILOfest.  If you don’t know MILO, you should.  MILO stands for “Macs in the Law Office” and serves as a popular listserv for Mac attorneys to discuss all things Mac-related.  Held in Disney World in Orlando and organized by New Jersey attorney Victor Medina, MILOfest (in its fifth year) is the ultimate gathering of the MILO community.  MILOfest provides Mac attorneys with the opportunity to connect in person, learn from experts, and discuss future innovation with colleagues.

If you’ve never been, arriving in Orlando is an experience in and of itself – not only is the giddy excitement of youngsters planning to visit Disney infectious, but the flight crew, airport employees, and transportation staff all embody the Disney spirit.  But, it wasn’t Disney that excited me (ok, maybe it did just a bit), it was a fest of Mac love that got me going.  Here’s a tip:  If you travel by air and stay at a Disney resort hotel (recommended), you can book Disney’s free Magical Express shuttle service to and from the airport.  Despite the fact that I was not there to visit Disney World, I received the complete “magical” experience from personal hotel greeters to a customized engraved MagicBand which serves as your room key and credit card during your stay.  The MILOfest programming was held in a convention hall next door to Disney’s Yacht Club Hotel, making it quite convenient to travel between the conference and hotel.

MILOfest spans three days with programming from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. along with evening events including an exclusive dinner with the experts (anyone can attend, but must RSVP in advance) and happy hours sponsored by vendors (this year, Clio and Rocket Matter).  The dinner was my first up-close and in-person meeting with well-known individuals in the Mac legal community.  As intimidating as it was, the experts as well as the attendees exuded a casual, fun, and collegial attitude.  This certainly isn’t your typical lawyerly conference.  There is no dull moment.  With an exceptional line-up of speakers who are anything but “talking heads”, attendees learn from live demos and participation is encouraged.  Sessions span no longer than one hour, and Victor holds speakers strictly to those time frames (which is rare, in my experience, for lawyer conferences).  Conference attendees and sponsors this year spanned far and wide – from Vancouver, Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, and of course, Massachusetts (and more) – and from a variety of practices and roles – general counsels, solo practitioners, office administrators, software engineers, and law practice advisors (well, at least, I know there was one).  One Ohio-based firm brought five of its employees!

Conference sponsors/exhibitor with Mac-friendly and Mac-dedicated products included Clio, Rocket Matter, Market Circle (Daylite and Billings), Global Mac IT, Ruby Receptionists, and DocMoto.  If you are Mac user, you must become familiar with these companies and products (if you are not already taking advantage of them).

Day one began with some of the heavy hitters, starting with Chad Burton of Burton Law LLC and Curo Legal who discussed using Macs to design his virtual law practice.  Chad is a fan of cloud storage services like Dropbox and practice management software such as Clio (which he described as “the backbone of his law firm”).  Of course, any cloud service provider should be vetted before using.  Like many mobile attorneys, Chad conducts much of his work on mobile devices like the iPad (actually, the iPad mini) and iPhone.  Next up was Katie Floyd, co-host of Mac Power Users podcast (a great listen for any Mac attorney), who enlightened the audience with tips for using a Mac in an all PC office – a great topic not only for lone Mac users, but also for firms slowly transitioning from PC to Mac.  Katie suggested popular organizational and productivity apps such as OmniFocus and DayOne.  After Katie it was on to marketing, where attendees heard from Mark Merenda of SmartMarketing on what to do versus what not to do when creating a law firm website.  Wrapping up the day was Jack Newton from Clio who provided words of wisdom on how to structure your law firm for growth.  He always hits it out of the park.  If you haven’t yet heard Jack speak, put it on your bucket list.

Day one concluded with a dinner with experts and attendees at one of Disney’s Boardwalk restaurants.  If you attend MILOfest, don’t miss out on this opportunity for unfettered access to speakers and experts.

Day two began with just as much gusto as day one.  Justin Kahn, trial attorney at Kahn Law Firm, LLP and blogger at ipadnotebook.com, opened with a session on Adobe Acrobat for attorneys.  Watching Justin’s live demonstration resulted in audible aha moments from the audience.  Justin recommended Adobe’s own online television station for tutorials and tips.  Following Justin, Katie Floyd gave another stellar presentation, this time on the topic of using Evernote.  Her top ten tips are as follows:  create @Inbox for your default notebook, use folder stacks for organization, opt into two-step authentication, print to Evernote, email into Evernote, use TextExpander to email into Evernote, use Reader View with Safari for saving webpages (or download Chrome’s Evernote Clearly extension), setup Safari bookmarklet for saving webpages in iOS, try Hazel for automatic filing, and read Evernote Essentials.  Next up, software engineer Larry Staton.  With a careful balance between the basic and advanced features, he demoed the ultimate efficiency and organizational tools, Hazel and Keyboard Maestro.  If you are not familiar with these tools, they are worth a look.  Following lunch, managing partner Mitch Adel and chief of technology Bob Kueppers of Cooper, Adel & Associates provided a first-hand account of their firm’s transition from PC to an all-Mac law office.  Some of the software and services they utilize include Messages (formerly iChat), NeoOffice, FileMaker Pro, DocMoto, GoToMeeting, Yammer, Wunderlist, and Keynote.  The third day concluded with a presentation on the importance of good user interfaces for communicating with clients, building trust, and maximizing efficiency by Larry Port of Rocket Matter.

And, finally, the third day of the conference began with a presentation about presentations by trial attorney Randy Juip.  A few tips elucidated include using repetition, simplicity, one bullet point per slide, relevant images, humor, strong fonts and imagery (try colourlovers.com for color schemes), and more.  Attorney Mark Metzger followed with an important presentation on electronic security, which of course would not be complete without a plea to the audience to employ strong non-identical passwords.  1Password, one of my new favorites apps (I was previously a LastPass user), can help you organize and store passwords on multiple devices.  1Password does not have a browser extension for iOS, but rather has its own built in web browser that you can launch by using “op” before the URL (i.e. ophttp://masslomap.org).  Following Mark was Brett Burney of Burney Consultants, presenting (from a remote location) a live demo on using iCloud.  To conclude the day were some thought provoking predictions for the future of legal services by Steve Riley, practice advisor.  Brett explained that we are moving toward a time when online services, such as your law firm website and online marketing will play as significant a role in your firm as your phone does today.  So, you better be paying attention!

If you didn’t already calendar the dates of next year’s MILOfest by the end of this post, take a look at another MILOfest newbie’s perspective here.  And, to get an even better flavor of the conference, check out this post by Brett Burney and this post by Gwynne Monahan on previous MILOfests.  Congrats to Victor Medina for yet another excellent MILOfest.  Next year, October 23 – 25, 2014, at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club – see you there!