ILTA 2014: Big Law begins to ride the technology wave

September 11, 2014

This is one of a set of posts about the content and the discussion at ILTA 2014 in Nashville. Originally intended as a single post, the result was too long for that and I decided to split them up. See also ILTA 2014 – the context and the logistics.

It has been fashionable in recent years to predict the end of the very large firms colloquially and collectively known as BigLaw. Whilst I have accepted the premises of this – that resistance to change, and particularly technology change, would pose serious challenges to BigLaw which not all its members would meet – I have not joined the general prediction that the end is nigh for these firms. There are a lot of lazy assumptions behind the conclusion that these firms are all alike just because they have common clients, size and areas of expertise.

The subject is one which matters (or should matter) to those who offer eDiscovery software and services, because BigLaw has traditionally been their primary market – the “low hanging fruit” in that hackneyed phrase which is so beloved of sales people and which has blinded so many of them to the potential importance of smaller players.  Big firms, along with many of their clients, have seemed like “a large, knotty, sprawling ball of legal, logistical and organisational complexity that hindered both supplier and buyer.”

This splendid phrase comes from a really interesting article by Bill Henderson on the Legal Whiteboard site called Ahead of the Curve: Three Big Innovators in BigLaw. The article covers in some detail the application of technology to the practices of the three finalists for the ILTA Most Innovative Law Firm Award – Bryan Cave, Seyfarth Shaw and Littler Mendelson. Read the rest of this entry »


ILTA brings Insight to legal technology in London on 14 November

October 29, 2013

I am an unabashed enthusiast for the International Legal Technology Association, ILTA, whose big US conference every year is one of the high points of my (over-full) conference calendar.

It has three key elements which are critical to lawyers everywhere – the high quality of its sessions, the peer-to-peer principles of shared understanding and knowledge which are fundamental to its foundation, and the opportunity to supplement the formal exchange of shared knowledge with informal networking. It is a catalyst for ideas – which is why my post in advance of the main show in Las Vegas was called Catalyst for ideas at the ILTA annual conference in Las Vegas.

ILTA InsightAll that comes to London (shorn of some of the side-attractions which Las Vegas offers) on 14 November with a one-day event, ILTA Insight 2013, at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel which offers a packed programme and the other things mentioned above in exchange for a registration fee of – zero.

The Agenda is here. The discovery-related sessions include one called the Ins and Outs of information governance, one called Budgeting and eDisclosure, and my own one called Non-traditional sources of electronic evidence.

Other subjects include artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and mobile working, document collaboration, the ever-developing subject of BYOD (Bring your own device) and the use of social business tools in legal practice.

In addition, there is a keynote by futurist Rohit Talwar in which he shares the findings from ILTA’s Legal Technology Future Horizons Project, a discussion about how businesses have adapted to change where others have not, and discussions about the route to the future from now.

The Co-Chairs are Janet Day, IT Director at Berwin Leighton Paisner, and Gareth Ash, CIO at Allen & Overy. The majority of the speakers are people who get their hands dirty daily within law firms and who are willing to share their experiences.

My own primary aim in going, apart from the sessions in which I am participating, is the opportunity to talk and listen to the people who have the problems and those with the experiences of solving them.

Registration, as I say, it’s free. It is, of course, necessary to register your intention to attend – you can do that here. I hope to see you there.

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ILTA and Rohit Talwar – a project to analyse technology disruption and change

August 14, 2013

ILTA is running a project on the impact of technology on legal practice, with the futurist Rohit Talwar. The results will be delivered at ILTA Insight 2013 in London in November.

After the ILTA / ALM technology conference in Hong Kong, I wrote a long article reporting on a speech made by futurist Rohit Talwar. I called it The Ghost of Legal Services Yet to Come – a Futurist tells of things that may be in which I pulled out of the speech those things which had the most obvious relevance to the foreseeable future for law firms and barristers.

That speech was my introduction to a project being run by ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) whose purpose is to analyse the effect of the potential disruption of technology and practice of law. The original press release about the project explains the ambitions for the project. The key areas for study are:

  • Key driving forces shaping business and the legal profession.
  • A timeline of future IT developments.
  • How to leverage IT advances that help enable and enhance tomorrow’s legal organizations.
  • Possible scenarios for the role and management of IT in tomorrow’s legal organizations.
  • IT imperatives specific to law firms, legal departments, and legal technology providers.

Monica Bay now brings us up to date about this in an article on the Law Technology News site called ILTA Charges Into the Future.

Many lawyers will dismiss such studies as having no relevance to their daily practice; they have letters to write, documents to draft, full InBoxes and next quarter’s rent to pay, and you won’t catch me underestimating the effect of all this on forward planning because I have much the same cluttering up my life.  There are, however, rival views as to whether law firms in their present form are doomed; every other industry makes its plans on the basis of the world as it will be next year and in three and five years time and there is no obvious reason why lawyers should approach their businesses differently.

The results of ILTA’s project will be delivered not in the US but at ILTA Insight 2013 in London on 14 November 2013. There is to be a strong eDisclosure / eDiscovery track at that event in which I am participating. Rohit Talwar’s keynote speech will be another reason for attending ILTA Insight (which, incidentally, has no registration fees).

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Catalyst for ideas at the ILTA Annual Conference in Las Vegas

August 6, 2013

ILTA_The_CatalystILTA is the International Legal Technology Association. Its 36th Annual Educational Conference “The Catalyst” takes place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas between 18 and 22 August. Its website, comprehensive as always, covers everything you could need to know.

[A note for the purists, of whom I am generally one. It sticks in the throat to write "Caesars Palace" without an apostrophe, but that is what the place is called and accuracy trumps purity. Las Vegas is a great conference venue, but it is not a seat of learning - except when ILTA is in town.]

Caesars

ILTA is one of the few events which I attend whether I am speaking or not – indeed, much of the pleasure and value comes from going, as I am this year, with an entirely open agenda. I have formal meetings arranged, of course, with those who sponsor the eDisclosure Information Project or who might do so, and I will see many other people there, including many I don’t know or don’t expect to see. That, to me, is the biggest single benefit to be gained from mixing for several days with a very broad cross-section of the eDiscovery world.

If a lot of what I know comes from hours of reading, from sitting in sessions, and from proper meetings with agendas and stuff, a lot more comes from casual conversation in bars and restaurants. Who is recruiting and who is laying off? What really works and what is all fur and no knickers? Is it really true that…? Did you hear that…? I’m drinking one to every three going down everyone else, soaking up the market vibes, sniffing the breeze and mentally evaluating what I am hearing and why I am being told it, sifting news from gossip from special pleading from wishful thinking. The market gossip is interesting, but what really matters are the portents of big shifts – the recurring subjects, what the clients are asking for, what they are turning their back on. I don’t process it in a formal, statistical way as an analyst would do, but just soak it up and add it to what I know already. Read the rest of this entry »


ILTA 2012 Part 5 – Future ILTA events

October 1, 2012

This is the last of my series of articles about the ILTA conference in Washington in August. What else is ILTA doing around the world?

ILTA has recently partnered with ALM, the owners of LegalTech. Apart from LegalTech itself, the next of these events is LegalTech Asia 2013 on March 4-5 at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong. I intend to be there.

ILTA also runs an event in London each year. Called ILTA Insight, this was a deliberately modest one-day event until this year when, again in partnership with ALM, ILTA put on a two-day event – the only one in the UK which attempts to bring eDiscovery / eDisclosure and the other components of legal technology together under one roof. We do not yet have a date for ILTA Insight 2013, but preliminary discussions suggest that it will be an attractive show for exhibitors and delegates alike, and across the whole legal IT field including eDisclosure / eDiscovery.

You do not need to wait until then. Regional Vice President Gareth Ash of Allen & Overy is keen to expand the membership of ILTA in the UK and Europe. As I suggested in an earlier article, if membership has benefits for Allen & Overy, Wragges and Bond Pearce then it has potential benefits for you, whatever the size of your firm. Why not drop Gareth Ash a line?

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ILTA 2012 Part 4 – The end of the show: the ILTA awards dinner

September 17, 2012

This is the fourth of five articles about ILTA 2012. Whatever may happen at other awards dinners, this one celebrates the people who lead by an example in an industry which needs them.

ILTA ends with a big dinner, with a comedian and awards. Between you and me, those elements usually add up to an event which I would cross the Atlantic to avoid. For the ILTA Peer Awards dinner, however, I am always prepared to stay an extra night when I could be asleep on an aeroplane heading home.

The draw is not generally the food or the comedian, though both were good. I go to support the principle that ILTA is a peer-driven organisation which encourages those who have the expertise to share it with others, and I am prepared to sit through the sonorous intonations of the announcer on the grandiloquent linking videos to see individuals, firms and companies singled out for taking a lead. The UK was up there – Bond Pearce was shortlisted for a couple of awards and Vince Neicho of Allen & Overy was in the top three for Litigation and Practice Support Champion, an award which went to Paige Hunt Wojcik of Perkins Cole. Read the rest of this entry »


ILTA 2012 Part 2 – My own ILTA Conference

September 11, 2012

This is the second of five posts about ILTA 2012. In other posts I talk generally about the benefits of going to ILTA’s big conference, about some of the themes which emerged and about the ILTA Peer awards. This one is largely about my own time there.

I arrived on Saturday, partly because the air fares are lower then and partly to play myself in gently. I like watching conferences come to life, venues gradually filling up and empty spaces turning into a stage set with a big cast. The putative UK ILTA virgin to whom this post is directed would similarly appreciate a gentle start to an event which, once under way, proceeds at an unrelenting pace.

I went to only two sessions. One involved eDiscovery/eDisclosure experts from the US, the UK (Vince Neicho from Allen & Overy), Australia and Canada, which set out succinctly the developments in each jurisdiction. I hope to write about this separately.

The other was billed as The ESI debate is on! and was a free-form discussion whose participants were described as “passionate and cantankerous”. That sounded about right, for I was one of them. The others were George Socha and Patrick Oot, moderated by Browning Marean of DLA Piper US. You catch the flavour of it from the fact that the first question was framed as a debating motion, that “US discovery is much better than UK eDisclosure”.  I felt it necessary to preface my opposition to this motion by making it clear that, notwithstanding anything I was about to say, I was in favour of most things American except its eDiscovery and its coffee. Read the rest of this entry »


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