Since the very first Startup Alley in 2017, the legal tech pitch competition has helped catapult the success of a long list of startups and become a seminal event of the American Bar Association’s annual TECHSHOW.

Now the competition is returning for its eighth year, and applications officially open today for legal tech startups to enter to compete for a spot at TECHSHOW 2024, which takes place in Chicago Feb. 14-17, 2024.

Out of all the entries received, 15 startups will be selected to participate in a live pitch competition that will be the opening event of this year’s TECHSHOW. In addition to the pitch competition, the 15 finalists will be highlighted as exhibitors in a special Startup Alley section of the conference exhibit hall.

Application form for 2024 ABA TECHSHOW Startup Alley.

Again this year, I will be coordinating the competition, in collaboration with the TECHSHOW board. Read on for full details.

How Will the Startups Be Selected? 

The competition starts today. Startups interested in participating must complete this application formApplications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023 Monday, Nov. 13, 2023.

From all applications received, a panel of five judges will select 25 finalists.

On Dec. 4, 2023, descriptions of each of the 25 finalists will be posted on the ABA TECHSHOW blog, on this blog, and on Above the Law, and readers will be invited to vote for their favorites. The 15 startups that receive the most votes will be selected for Startup Alley. Winners will be announced on Jan. 8, 2024.

What Are the Criteria for Applying?

The competition is limited to startups that meet the following criteria:

  • Your product or service is targeted to lawyers or legal professionals, not to consumers.
  • Your company has never before exhibited at a national legal technology conference. (This is no longer a requirement.)
  • Your company has achieved some demonstrable traction, either in users or financing.
  • You were not one of the prior years’ winners selected to present at Startup Alley in 2017-2022.

In addition, your company should be innovative, meaning that it addresses a need not met by other products or services currently on the market or that it does so in a way not currently done by others.

What Happens If My Company Is Selected?

The 15 winning finalists will face off in a LIVE pitch competition that is TECHSHOW’s signature opening night event. Each startup will have 2.5 minutes to present its pitch in front of an audience of TECHSHOW attendees. At the conclusion of the pitches, attendees will vote to select the most innovative company as the winner.

In addition, all 15 startups will be provided space at a discounted cost to exhibit their product or service in a special Startup Alley located within TECHSHOW’s exhibit hall.

  • Each startup will be provided space in a uniform, pre-installed booth. You will not need (or be allowed) to bring a booth of your own.
  • Each startup will be responsible for the booth fee of $1,500. This is a significant reduction off the standard booth cost. You are welcome to seek sponsors to underwrite all or part of this cost.
  • Each startup is responsible for its own travel and hotel expenses to Chicago.

What Do Startups Get Out of This? 

ABA TECHSHOW is one of the world’s pre-eminent legal technology conferences. All of the participants gain exposure to a large and diverse audience of legal professionals, including practitioners, academics, consultants and others. In addition, TECHSHOW’s audience includes legal journalists, bloggers, industry analysts and investors.

The winner of the opening night pitch competition will receive:

  • Free 10×10 booth space at the 2025 TECHSHOW.
  • Free 12-month listing on the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s Buyer’s Guide.
  • $5,000 credit to use towards advertising in ABA Law Practice Division media.
  • A profile of the company on my LawSites blog.

Additionally, each of the 15 finalists will receive a free one-year premium listing in the LawNext Legal Technology Directory.

Who Are the Judges?

The judges this year who will select the final 25 contestants are:

  • Sofia Lingos, TECHSHOW 2024 co-chair.
  • Cynthia Thomas, TECHSHOW 2024 co-chair.
  • Julie Bays, TECHSHOW 2024 vice-co-chair.
  • Steve Embry, TECHSHOW 2024 vice-co-chair.
  • Bob Ambrogi, Startup Alley organizer.

Apply Now!

There is no cost to apply and the application form is relatively painless to complete. We look forward to reading your submissions.

Questions? Send them my way.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.