Inside Legalweek 2019: Q&A with Mark Fried, ALM Events President
Legalweek 2019 is less than two weeks away. This will be our 20th year heading to the big apple for a legal tech, legal business, legal operations submersion. This will be Mark Fried's first as President at ALM Events (he's also company CFO), a position he assumed last February. With 11 months to learn the ropes and get a lay of the legal land, what's Mark's vision for not only Legalweek but all ALM events? What's in store for Legalweek 2019? and what are some of the 'must attend' sessions? Let's find out!
IL: Mark, what have been your priorities for ALM Legal Events since taking charge?
Mark Fried, ALM
MF: Firstly thank you for the opportunity to discuss our events and solutions at ALM. My priorities at ALM regarding Events have been to grow registrations on every event. At the core of this growth is the premise that we will offer best in class programming and speaker line ups for every conference while we build in enough time and rigor to adequately launch, market and sell each event. This requires a full 12-18 month outlook on every event with an eye on developing target markets and audience. Integrating and aligning our program development with editorial focus and priorities has been at the heart of commitment to quality and integrity within our conference programs. As a leader in the legal media, I want to ensure our audience knows we are equally a leader in live events.
IL: What overall program updates/changes have you initiated and why?
MF: In 2019, our attendees will continue to benefit from Legalweek as a week in time, where all disciplines of the business of law gather to exchange ideas and address the future of the legal industry. In addition to Legaltech, Legalweek’s largest and most established conference, Legalweek features 4 other conferences focusing on the various areas within the business of law: LegalCIO, LegalMarketing, Business of Law Forum, and Legal Diversity & Talent Management Forum.
We are reinventing the 2019 exhibit hall. The exhibit space has been purposely designed to let exhibitors showcase their products and services for maximum exposure, with new features on every floor ranging from the Emerging Technology Sessions Theater on the Americas Hall I, to CLE Sessions held on Rhinelander to Product Innovation Finalists conducting demonstrations on the Grand Ballroom exhibit floor. Additionally we have added lunch on the exhibit floor for master pass attendees & conference attendees to LegalCIO, Legal Marketing, Legal Diversity & Talent and Business of Law.
IL: What are your expectations for Legalweek 2019?
MF: We will continue to provide an event format where attendees will find relevant communities to make new connections, and glean new and pertinent information and tools that enable them to do their job more efficiently. Our expectation is that Legalweek will continue to build its reputation as THE place where the business of law happens and grows. I am excited to integrate the content offers with the exhibit hall and look forward to further innovations where technology and the business of law meld throughout every attendees entire experience.
IL: Please provide us with the Legalweek highlights from your perspective and what's new in 2019.
MF: The highlights of Legalweek 2019 include a Product Innovation Competition and the Emerging Technology Sessions that will take place right on the exhibit floor. We will also feature new program formats, with a mix of workshops, panels and traditional presentations – all designed to encourage a higher level of attendee engagement. We are introducing Alexa Navigation Pods and attendees will enjoy an updated registration area as well as expanded Keynote seating.
IL: What should a Legalweek 'first timer' not leave NY without?
MF: 32% of Legalweek attendees are “first timers”. With that number in mind, in 2019 we’ve developed a Newcomer Orientation, which will take place on Monday, January 28th. This program will guide new attendees through the best way to navigate the various conferences and not be overwhelmed, tell them what they need to know about visiting the exhibit hall, and explain how to take advantage of everything they will encounter over the course of the coming days. First timers should leave feeling invigorated and motivated with the most current knowledge and best practices regarding legal technology, innovations and the business of law ... including new peers, contacts, vendors and solutions that will positively impact their law practice in 2019 and beyond.
IL: Our InsideLegal audience is primarily legal technology executives and law firm leaders. Can you recommend a Legalweek session or two you view as 'must attend' for this audience?
MF: Starting off the State of the Industry and Opening Keynote featuring both Alberto Gonzales and Loretta Lynch is definitely a must see event. Other top 2019 picks to check out include:
• Why Lawyers Are Adopting AI Faster Than You: Law Firm Leaders Share Technology Strategies
• Leveraging Data Analytics: Getting More Done, without Doing More
• Innovation, Client Collaboration, and Business Development Through Document Automation
• The International Legal Cloud 2019: Discovery, Security, and Business Considerations
• Innovative Law Departments: New Roles Highlight the Importance of Innovation in Law Departments
Click here for a list of all Legaltech conference sessions; here for the LegalCIO agenda; here for LegalMarketing sessions; here for the Business of Law Forum agenda; and here for Legal Diversity & Talent Management content details.
Law Firm Innovation: Many Roads to Take, Many Rivers to Cross
Happy 2019. I don't know about you but I was so ready to usher in the winter holiday and kick-off the new year that I missed some good legal content/news/gossip that's probably still sitting in my feeds and Inbox. With that said, I wanted to share a feature I wrote on the behest of fellow Legal-ite and really good guy Rob Ameerun for his Legal IT Today magazine published in December.
The topic is on law firm innovation, a subject matter that was red hot in 2018. If you are interested in what firms like Greenberg Traurig and Chapman Cutler are doing and how this latest firm tech development and commercialization trend actually dates back a few decades, please read on.
So, what’s ahead for law firm funded and fueled technology innovation and entrepreneurship? Will the many flavors of innovation continue to expand, or will we see a consolidation of efforts across specific firms, application areas and incubators? Only law firm client demand and competition for superior client delivery will tell.
You can also download the entire December issue here.
Legal IT Today - December 2018 Issue
Legal Influencers Weigh In On Legal Document Management
The hype and buzz surrounding artificial intelligence, lawyer robots, machine learning and predictive analytics in Legal is often times unbearable. Especially, when compared to the legal reality that this type of early adopter, nouveau tech is still in its infancy. Contrast this to document management systems (DMS), one of the most traditional, standard, yet mission critical applications within any law firm.
In this edition of "Legal Influencers Weigh In" we go under the hood with DMS. Specifically, we will drill down and deep on a recently completed DMS implementation survey and share commentary from some of legal's sharpest DMS minds. Also, anyone reading our corresponding feature ["Making Your DMS Migration (Relatively) Painless"] in the July/August issue of Legal Management will hopefully be able to connect the dots when it comes to DMS success and failure.
On premise, client-server DM systems have been around legal for 30 years and even native cloud-based solutions date back to 1999. Yet, still, after all this time one of the biggest challenges law firms as well as their legal technology business partners face is successfully navigating the DMS implementation, be it a new purchase, swap out or existing system upgrade.
Problems arise and DMS implementation survival is at stake, whether implemented internally by the firm; in collaboration with a business partner; fully outsourced to a DMS implementation partner or left up to the DMS vendor and their full service (from sale to implementation, training and firm ‘go live’) delivery. Why is that? What forces are in play that makes the DMS upgrade/DMS implementation the perpetual pain in legal IT’s, and especially firm users’, you know what?
Who better to ask then the experts? For the purposes of this post and my Legal Management DMS feature, I reached out to the leading minds (and hands) when it comes to legal DMS implementations, migrations, upgrades and the like. Our panel consisted of 21 experts, with a total of 2,848 law firm DMS projects under their belts, representing 16 of the leading DMS implementation, support, training, design, configuration and software solution providers. We asked the panel to complete a short survey focused on DMS deployment types; DMS implementation provider selection; tips for successfully navigating a DMS upgrade; and top reasons why DMS implementations (still) fail.
Looking toward the cloud
In order to provide an adequate technology baseline, we asked our experts, who collectively serve a broad range of small, medium, large, mega and global firms, to state the type of DMS projects they had been involved with over the past 12 months. 95% had worked on cloud-based DMS implementations followed by 71% involved with on-premise DMS to cloud DMS upgrades versus 57% busy with on-premise implementations. The bottom-line ... law firms of all shapes and sizes are embracing the cloud, especially when it comes to DMS.
DMS selection survival
Selecting the right DMS service provider is nothing to scoff at. Its critical firms do their due diligence and ask the important, sometimes uncomfortable questions before it’s too late. According to our expert panel, the top five attributes and qualities to look for in a DMS implementation partner included: reputation (86%); peer feedback/what are other firms saying (76%); track record (71%): overall value (67%) and cloud experience (57%). In addition, several respondents cited the importance of finding a technology and business partner that is knowledgeable in the areas of Information Governance; change management; system design; user experience; cloud-based security, and possess the technology certifications and credentials to back this all up.
DMS implementation success
When asked to provide vital tips for navigating a successful DMS implementation, some of our experts focused on the importance of project planning, overall communication between firm and business partner teams, and achieving executive project buy-in. Kraft Kennedy’s Brian Podolsky, it's NY office Practice Leader, takes the notion of buy-in a step further: “Be sure to involve your attorneys and staff in some of the user interface and workspace designs, to ensure their workflows are considered and their ideas are heard.”
Others stressed the importance of user adoption, DMS usability and designing DM systems with adoption at the forefront. “With cloud services, the focus is now on designing for adoption and getting full value from the platform,” stated Joshua Fireman, Fireman & Company’s founder/president, and a recognized thought leader in areas such as knowledge management, change management and system design. “System design should involve IT and KM and include input directly from lawyers.”
Related to user adoption is user training. Most survey responses mentioned the need for training, pre, go live, and post, and the necessity to increasingly plan and budget for additional training to support the firm’s DMS ‘go live’.
Jason Scott, Senior Business Consultant with Tikit, and a track record of 200+ DMS firm implementations across the globe says it best: “Plan it, design it, build it, test it, communicate to the business what 'it' is, learn it and then roll it out.” He also emphasis the importance of having clear objectives going into any migration project ... "there should be a structured process in place to manage the implementation with clear objectives. and at the end, ensuring these objectives have been met. This might sound trite but you’d be surprised how often objectives don’t match up."
Matthew Marcinek, DMS Team Manager & Solutions Architect at All Covered, feels strongly about leveraging data found in existing systems and analyzing the data at hand in order to make informed decisions. “Above all, perform a pilot migration with the firm's data. This will allow the firm to see the results of their design and the migration process to confirm it is what they expect.” Marcinek agrees with Fireman regarding the importance of design: "The most important step in any DMS Implementation is the Design."
Mike Sanders, Senior Solutions Expert with NetDocuments, has 200+ DMS implementations under his belt. His advice ... "become familiar with best practices of the new system and how that may change some of your current processes." Beyond that, test, test, test before going Live." According to Sanders’ colleague JB Trexler, NetDocuments' Senior Director of Professional Services, DMS implementation success is typically based on … “1. Project support and communication from the top-down; 2.Know your data and clean it up/plan accordingly; and 3. Spend the correct amount of time on workflow and security.”
Failure to communicate
As evidenced by our expert conversations and survey feedback, communication breakdowns are more times than not the source of DMS projects gone badly. According to Jeff Alluri, Principal, VP Consulting with Element Technologies, DMS needs and the overall business case are not always clearly spelled out. “The message as to "why" we are choosing a DMS needs to be clearly understood by everyone within the law firm. With that being said, communication both internally at the law firm and externally with the selected DMS vendor is vital, and many times one or both of these are dropped or there is simply not enough of it.”
Jennifer McComb, a consultant with Software Analysis Corporation, also doubles down on the importance of communication. “Lack of communication is reason #1, #2 and #3 why DMS implementations often fail. Remember, your implementation person can't work in a vacuum. Make sure the people who will be actually using the product have a say in its setup. And, remember, implementation doesn't end at go-live. Be available for follow up.”
Another “why DMS implementations fail’ argument made by several of the surveyed DMS experts focused on the lack of change management and the overall perception that “we are dealing with a technology not a business issue.”
Adds Michael Georgopoulos, eSentio’s Director of Document and Information Management Systems: "IT-led projects focus only on the technical conversion issues” making the point that a myopic, IT only view might make it more difficult to affect broader change. Viewing it only as a technology project fails to see the larger picture of how the system impacts business for the entire firm. It can also make another critical factor for success that much more difficult — leadership and staff buy-in.
Finally, lack of planning, regardless of where it starts, can bring down even the savviest and brightest technologists and product experts, and, most cutting-edge technology.
The future is now
As I wrote in Legal Management, so much of what is wrong with DMS projects is most definitely also what’s right. Don't cut corners, plan accordingly, create a 'buy-in' culture, test until the cows come home, (over) communicate, and when you think everyone's 'up to speed' on the DMS, offer up more user training. and more hands-on DMS KM transfer.
Hey Legal, What's the State of our Industry? ALM Intelligence Speaks
‘Pre’ Legalweek New York began today with various premium boot camp-style intensives but Tuesday’s ‘State of the Industry’ general session at 9AM (Grand Ballroom West) marks the official kick-off for Legalweek 2018. I had a chance to touch base with Steve Kovalan and Nicholas Bruch, both senior analysts with ALM Intelligence and tomorrow’s ‘state of the union’ session leaders.
Senior Analyst, ALM Intelligence
Senior Analyst, ALM Intelligence
Check out this insightful Q&A before you head into the session tomorrow and you might be one of the smartest (but definitely most informed) folks in the room. I attended the 2017 session, really a useful, perhaps sobering way to kick-off the conference, and was constantly reminded that law firms are (still) lousy listeners when it comes to acting on as Kovalan and Bruch put it, the ‘changing field of play’, especially in terms of new competitors and evolving client demands. So as we head into this year’s session, the elephant in the room if you will is whether law firms have made any strides in terms of recognizing change and taking proactive measures to address increasing client as well as market demands?
IL: Before we dive into some of your findings, can you tell us a bit more about your research scope and focus for this project?
ALM: When we prepare for this presentation each year we try to do two things. Firstly, we reflect on what we are hearing from law firm leaders, law department leaders, and other leaders in the legal industry. We spend a lot of time talking to people in leading roles in the industry. It is important to us that this presentation reflects on those conversations and connects to the trends they are seeing in their own businesses and the narratives that we see forming out in the legal market which try to help explain why things are moving in the way they are. The second thing we do is take a deep dive into the data to help explain some of the trends and, when needed, debunk some commonly held beliefs that aren’t supported by the data.
IL: Last year, your state of the industry session was focused on three central themes: disruption, innovation, and revolution. How does 2018 compare in terms of focus areas? SK & NB: This year’s presentation certainly touches on the themes we discussed last year. Disruption is still a major conversation in the legal industry and you will see that trend continued in this year’s presentation. Our focus this year, however, is slightly different. We want to show people what the data says about the future of the legal market and provide a coherent view of where the legal market is heading over the next decade. IL: What are the top 3 significant data points, perhaps even ‘wow moments’ you will be sharing during your session?
ALM: Different parts of the audience will find different data points more compelling so we try to put something in the presentation for everyone. We suspect individuals from law departments and ASPs will find some of the insourcing data particularly compelling; the law firm audience will find the data on billing rates and GDP growth of interest and our analysis on the future of the legal market should be compelling and thought-provoking to all.
IL: You mention that based on your data analysis, the legal industry is undergoing a significant, if subtle, shift. What are you seeing?
ALM: People tend to see things in extremes – either everything is changing or nothing is. That tendency is as true in the legal market as it is anywhere and you see it all the time. We're constantly hearing predictions about the “death of the hourly rate” or the “death of Big Law”. Our analysis suggests there is a shift happening in the legal market, but it’s not quite that dramatic. If we look at the legal market 20 years ago it was fairly straightforward – law departments managed the work and law firms did the work. This is obviously a generalization, but it is also broadly true. Law department’s primary task was deciding which law firms got what work and on what terms, while law firms did the vast majority of high and medium value work (and a fair amount of low value work). Today’s market is a bit more complex. Law departments still play the role of manager but law firms now share their market with in-house teams, alternative service providers, and increasingly, with the legal arms of The Big 4. The looming question for the future of the legal market is how all of this new competition is going to impact the space that law firms once owned. Many people seem to believe that the answer to that question is fairly straightforward – that law firms will lose market share at the expense of these new competitors. We believe the data suggests a slightly more nuanced outcome is more likely. We think some law firms will be highly successful. But we also believe that many will, indeed, loose share to new rivals. We think success in the future legal market will be based on a firm’s ability to provide a unique value proposition. Some firms will success because they have the scale to deliver services more cheaply. Others will succeed because they are profitable enough to buy the best talent. Regardless of the specific value proposition we strongly believe the market is moving to a world in which firms – whether they be law firms or ASPs – must be highly focused.
IL: Based on your analysis and insights, what major trends will be impacting the legal industry this year and further down the road?
ALM: 1. The Big 4: The Big 4 are coming for the legal market. The legal arms of the Big 4 are still largely underappreciated. We strongly believe that there is growing evidence that the Big 4 are targeting a position in the legal market which threatens law firms and traditional ASPs.
2. Consolidation: The consolidation we have seen in the legal market over the past several years is likely to continue and, probably, accelerate. We will see more law firm mergers and more ASP mergers. We believe it is highly likely that the Big 4 will go on a buying spree in the ASP market for example.
3. Divergence: The data clearly shows that there is an ever-widening gulf growing in the law firm market. Law firms are growing more and more different from each other – in terms of profitability, size and operational models. We think we will see this trend continue and probably accelerate. In 10 years full-service law firms will look dramatically different from bet the company firms.
4. Litigation Finance: The litigation finance trend has just begun and it is arguably one of the biggest and most exciting trends in the legal industry right now. It has the power to be a major force for change in the legal industry. It could, for example, spur new demand for litigation services (via an uptick in lawsuits). It could also spur changes in the way litigation is priced and managed.
5. Law Firm Failures: We have seen quite a few law firm failures in the past years. Dramatic failures – with law firms going into bankruptcy – and less dramatic ones – with failing law firms “merging” into “white knight” firms. The data suggests this trend will continue and potentially accelerate. There is significant volatility in law firm financials. Many firms can withstand a single bad year – but few are in a position to withstand two or three bad years.
6. CLOC Movement: We think the CLOC Movement – a term that we use to describe the changes going on in-house – will continue to evolve. Currently, it appears to be focused on in-sourcing. We suspect that will change in the coming years to a greater focus on vendor management and more sophisticated sourcing strategies.
IL: In 2017, you commented on the ‘changing field of play’ with various graphs and visuals. What are you seeing this year?
ALM: The trends we have seen on the client side – that we highlighted in the ‘changing field of play’ slide last year – have continued. Clients continue to report that they are in-sourcing more and that they are using ASPs more. We provide new data, particularly on the in-sourcing trend, in this year’s presentation. We're very optimistic about the future of the ASP market. In the short term, we think they have a lot of scope to grow in areas like litigation support, contracts, and due diligence. In the longer term, we think there are even more opportunities. We are less convinced about the future of the in-sourcing trend. The largest law departments may be able to effectively manage large portions of their legal work themselves. But we're not certain most departments will have the scale to compete with ASPs and law firms. We think in-sourcing is a transitionary step. As stronger alternatives grow, we suspect law departments will follow the direction of other support functions in large corporations. Most marketing departments, IT departments, and finance departments outsource large portions of their work. It is tempting to think law departments are an outlier – but we suspect they are not.
IL: Lastly, for anyone on the fence about attending your ‘state of the industry’ session on Tuesday at 9Am, what’s the one compelling reason you can give them to make this a ‘must see’?
ALM: The legal industry has gotten so large and complex over the past several years that it is easy to miss the forest for the trees. Many people live in their own bubble within the legal industry. Law firm partners are surrounded by other law firm partners. They might be highly aware of the trends within the law firm market and they probably know quite a bit about the law department trends as well. But, we suspect, most partners know very little about the happenings in the ASP world or the LegalTech world. The same can be said about individuals who work in ASPs, law departments, or LegalTech. This presentation is a chance to see the forest and the trees at once. To be able to see how the corner of the legal industry fits into the broader picture. We think that is incredibly valuable for most people, particularly business leaders. We are focused on what the data can tell us. We base our findings on imperial evidence, on analysis of large longitudinal data sets. Presentations like this one are meant to bring together some of our best research from the past year to provide business leaders with a set of facts to help them better understand the marketplace.
Get your Legal Week Tuesday started right by attending this state of the legal industry session at 9AM in Grand Ballroom West.
6 Tips for Legalweek NY Attendee Survival
If you are looking for basic tradeshow tips such as "wear comfortable shoes", "plot out who you want to meet ahead of time" and "bring business cards", etc. this isn't the post for you. This is a post based on 18 years of attending Legaltech New York (LTNY) and most all other legal events and conferences. Legaltech's timing is unique in that it allows you to kick off the new year with a bang, however it can also make for a brutal week. With the morphing of Legaltech into Legalweek, this is still the case. Here are my tips for how to look back at Legaltech/Legalweek in a positive light...
1. There is no ‘cone of silence’!: You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve heard in the common areas of the Hilton over our 18 years attending LTNY. Realize that the property is a ‘hot’ spot and that you never know who is at the table beside you in the restaurant or is sharing the elevator with you, so be discreet! Update: I'm going to extend this tip out two blocks in all directions. If you are at the Warwick or the Starbucks or the corner pub, it can still be full of Legalweek attendees or your competitors!
2. Multi-task: There is a lot to take advantage of at Legalweek, so often plans for the event begin and end with working your booth. To maximize your investment, take advantage of all the opportunities available to network and/or promote your brand including connecting with partners, media, bloggers but also take time to meet with the other legal associations on-site such as ILTA & ARMA.
3. "Social" networking: The first word in social networking is SOCIAL. In an industry with the staying power of legal - no one ever leaves, they just change companies/firms - it is just as valuable to make social connections with peers and contacts. During social events, stay social! Don’t start listing the bullet points for your product or bust out a laptop/tablet for a ‘quick demo’. Seriously… it happens all the time! Also bring your manners to the Twitter-verse and don't hog the hashtag. There are many people that participate in the Legalweek NY social media world so be respectful and don't hog the hashtag! If you are including the #Legalweek18 hashtag (which you should), don't send tweets from multiple company/employee accounts multiple times in a row. There are always a few people/companies that decide that social media success is based on the number of tweets they post. In fact, often those people are ridiculed and avoided, so don't be one of them!
4. Meeting space hell: Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges at Legalweek NY is finding a space to meet on-site, so prepare accordingly. Book a separate meeting space, locate a few off-site meeting options beforehand or direct all meeting traffic to your booth to collectively find appropriate space. We have managed to find a few choice places to meet, but then again, you don't expect us to publish those, do you? :-) However, we've found a couple of creative ideas from the suspended glass box meeting room below to the "portable chair" (try at your own risk!). Next year, someone should give them away in the exhibit hall!
5. Beware of the 'convenience' of the coat check. In the past, recovering from hypothermia because I walked to the Hilton without my coat was less annoying than standing in the coat check line. Seriously. (OK, obviously the photo is an exaggeration but you get the idea!)
6. Who's Who?: Legaltech has always attracted attendees from all walks and that is even more the case with the new Legalweek concept. For vendors, it provides an incredible opportunity to speak with prospects that you may not normally get in front of, but that also means that the ability to scan and pull in the right people from the crowd is all the more important. Although this is by no means a perfect technique, knowing who is walking by your booth is a start and you can use Legalweek's color-coded badges to help you with that. Just pray you are not color blind! Below is a guide to the badge colors for Legalweek 18. Remember though: Treat everyone with respect. Even if they are with a 2 person firm now, they may be hired by your largest client in a couple of years!
A variation from a post originally published January 20, 2015