ILTACON 2022: Something Old, Something New, Something Blue
ILTACON 2022 is now over a week in the rearview, yet many of us attending still have ILTACON on the brain. After all, it’s hard to simply move on from 3,000 legal tech professionals, in one place, in the flesh, networking and socializing like the good old days. We won't go into all the Covid+ cases post conference. Here's a collection of what stood out to me:
Fresh blood …new vendors, US entrants, new energy
While we ran into the usual suspects of vendors and members, the 160+ exhibitor list included a fair share of first-timers. We talked to Early Stephens, CEO at Actionstep, a cloud practice management solution with roots in New Zealand, about first impressions: "I anticipated seeing deep experience and knowledge given the caliber of ILTACON attendees and exhibitors. But what really caught my attention was the dedication, even passion, at using technology to make life better for their firms and clients. That bodes well for the future of all of us in the legaltech space." Well said Early, it's that dedication to the 'craft' and passion for all things legal tech that had me returning for a 23rd time.
Another ILTACON newbie, who I spent considerable time with throughout the week was Cork, Ireland based Bundledocs offering cloud-based document bundling/binding and PDF editing. A mere startup four years ago, but already a market leader back home and throughout the UK and EMEA, their ILTACON team was led by CEO Brian Kenneally, marketing director Lisa Walsh, business development exec Aisling Murphy, and legal tech veteran Peter Zver, responsible for exposure and growth in North America. In fact, I was beyond thrilled when Peter reached out to me several months back to tell me he was starting a new chapter, after much success with Tikit (later Advanced), to get back to his 'start-up' and entrepreneurial roots and assume the role of vp of operations with a focus on growing the Bundledocs brand and product in North America. When they were not meeting attendees, networking with partners, and making introductions with the media assembled onsite, the Bundledocs team premiered Ireland's original superhero Cú Chulainn as part of Monday night's exhibit hall opening reception.
It was also great to catch-up with Simon Hill, appointed as Bundledocs' non-executive director back in March, and currently the CEO and co-founder of Xperate, a UK based software development company. Simon was just what the doctor ordered, who along with Peter, helped Brian and the team navigate the unchartered US legal tech seas and the many quirks of ILTACON. Watch this space for what Simon, Mark Garnish and the Xperate team will be creating and innovating in the months and year to come.
Feeding Super heroes: While business partners tried to up the ante with an ode to superheroes during the exhibit hall reception, Affinity Consulting dropped the mic, honoring their volunteer fire fighter colleague and his fire fighting brethren.
When he’s not working with Affinity Consulting clients, Dan Arntsen volunteers as a firefighter and first responder, something he’s been dedicated to for 15 years, serving his Madison, Wisconsin community.
With a hat tip to their real life superhero, the Affinity Consulting crew added a fundraiser to their ILTACON booth presence and by the time Thursday rolled around, reached their goal of buying lunch for 500 firefighters.
Rise and Run: Ari’s fun run has become a legal tech conference tradition. Organized by industry juggernaut Ari Kaplan, conference goers interested in an early morning jog have joined Ari since his first ‘rise and run’ at Relativity Fest in 2018. The 7th edition went down on Wednesday morning of ILTACON22 around National Harbor. Not only did Ari provide some cardio, he also made a donation in memory of #AlexHanan to the Lung Cancer Foundation of America on behalf of all of the attendees. Donations can be made here.
Joy’s got muscle. ILTA CEO Joy Heath-Rush really could not have a more perfect first name ... every time I see her, and it's been a while, makes me happy and in a hugging mood. This year was no exception. In order to make sure she wouldn't over extend and pace herself throughout conference week, Joy's BFF Nancy and close friend since high school insisted to tag along and protect Joy from the ILTACON Paparazzi and to be honest mostly herself. As Joy shared, "Nancy doesn't play, she'll slap your hand with a ruler if need be."
Legal tech themes that won't go away
So after several days of popping into sessions, chatting up lots of conference goers, bugging Beth Anne Stuebe and the ILTA TV crew, and talking with exhibitors, here are my recurring themes:
- Chasing data: Jeff Kosek with Element Technologies really summed it up best when I asked what stood out to him by conference week-end. "An overwhelming number of people I spoke with have so much data and applications, but NO idea how to compile that data, interpret it and predict better ways to run the law firm." So either vendors selling data analytics, business intelligence, data metrics/KPI tools and data integrations are doing a miserable job communicating their value prop or law firms are having a hard time defining what they want to measure, track and present and what questions to ask of their vendors. I am sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle but I don't see this pain going away for the foreseeable future.
- Integrate, integrate, integrate: Back in June, NetDocuments' Jed Cawthorne published an article in ILTA's Peer to Peer magazine entitled "Not All Integrations Are Created Equal" focused on providing a frame of reference when it comes to grading the quality and efficacy of integrations. Cawthorne recommends evaluating a tech partner's API Access (not all APIs are created equal either), UI/UX, integration with other tools, and closely evaluating the ultimate business goals central to said integration. I kept on thinking about this as many floor conversations I had focused on seeking new integrations or trying to resurrect an integration that neglected Jed's advice. As the legal tech cloud rush continues, integrations will surely become a bigger challenge before it is considered handled.
- Email's not going anywhere: This is today's reality as is the fact that some attorneys will continue to blow up their Inbox storage to the dismay of IT. With that being said, thanks to AI, ML, NLP and lots of vendor creativity and innovation, there are numerous ways to minimize related headaches and give users the email management tools they need (ideally, unbeknownst to them) to enhance, not impede productivity. Think Zero, NetDocuments ndMail and so on.
The skies are blue ... stop saying cloud: As far as I can tell, the only really positive thing that came of the Pandemic is the gold rush to the cloud. I have often wondered if other industries still qualify their technology like we do and how long cloud computing will be considered novel and risky by some. Well, the 2022 ILTA Technology Survey Executive Summary released last week reaffirms our new reality ... "the cloud ain't going anywhere"
Download the 2022 ILTA Technology Survey Executive Summary from us here....
ILTACON 2021: Legal Tech's Lollapalooza Back in Full Swing
We are excited to reconnect with our legal tech brethren this week as we head to Vegas for ILTACON 2021. It's hard to believe that my last travel to conference was TECHSHOW in February 2020 when baskets of ABA branded hand sanitizers sat untouched in the exhibit hall.
I know the hype, anticipation as well as apprehension surrounding ILTACON this year is high so not having major expectations might be the best M.O. Regardless, one thing is certain, the conference content, delivered via nearly 90 in-person and virtual sessions, will be high caliber and provide many opportunities to learn, share ideas and trade war stories. A brief look at the session 'areas of focus' provides a preview of what ILTA members are looking for: 8 sessions are focused on Corporate; 7 on Litigation Support; 6 on Security; 6 on KM; 5 on Marketing as well as numerous sessions on AI, O365, Legal Process Improvement, Leadership and Data Science. You can also check out InsideLegal's word cloud from the ILTACON 2021 session grid here.
While there are too many intriguing sessions to list, here's a handful that caught my eye:
Disrupt the DMS - How We Made SharePoint Work, 8/25, 11AM
Who Watches the Watchers? Vetting and Securing Cloud Services, 8/25, 2:30PM (onsite only)
One Size Does Not Fit All: Leveraging Client Feedback to Co-Create Innovative Technology Solutions That Strengthen Relationships, Create Value, and Drive Revenue, 8/25 4:00PM
Looking Beyond the New Normal: Maximizing Productivity in a Permanently Hybrid World, 8/25, 2:30PM
All Together Now: Co-Authoring With or Without Your Document Management System, 8/24, 4:00PM – Michelle S.
I'll be roaming the Mandalay Bay exhibit hall and conference space this week so look forward to seeing many familiar faces. #myILTACON
Thinking Out Cloud: Has Legal Reached the Point of No Cloud Return?
InsideLegal first started asking law firms and legal IT professionals about the cloud and if/when/how their firms would consider cloud computing well over 15 years ago as part of our annual ILTA/InsideLegal Technology Purchasing Surveys. Thanks to new cloud innovations and legal cloud-specific applications, law firms with a well-defined 'cloud first' strategy, and oh yeah, a pandemic that has accelerated remote working and reliance on cloud architecture, and we can finally exhale and confidently say that cloud computing in legal has arrived ... for good.
InsideLegal's Jobst Elster, who originated Legal Management Magazine's "Thinking Out Cloud" recurring column on all things legal cloud, once again has his head in the cloud's with his recent feature in Legal I(nnovation)&T(echnology) Today. Legal I(nnovation)&T(echnology) Today is a must-read publication covering legaltech and legal innovation and is available for free online here. You can also access past issues here.
Thinking Out Cloud-Has Legal Reached the Point of No Cloud Return? takes us on a cloud journey, examines what a ‘why not cloud vs why cloud’ reality looks like and pulls in legal tech luminaries and experts to get their take on the state of the cloud in legal.
Enjoy the read and remember to subscribe to Legal I(nnovation)&T(echnology) Today online.
Replacing Legal Market Trends with Real World Realities
Welcome to the 'new (ab)normal'! When is the last time you were glued to the TV, social ... pick your media to figure out what's next, not only in your own life but with the economy, your own businesses and anything and everything you care about? Oh yeah and there's the working from home 'thing', 24/7, with or without a proper place or space to call your office.
While we are all looking to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and somehow come out stronger on the other side, the reality of what the legal community is going through is as many commentators like to say "fluid", at best. In other words, we have no idea what's next or what we are supposed to do, how we are supposed to act, and how aggressive we should be about business as usual without coming off as annoyingly tone deaf.
I was recently invited by Qorus Software (producers of sales enablement/proposal/RFP automation technology) to address the "how the hell should we market right now, what's our reality and how does this match up with 2020 marketing trends and developments." We decided to host a "10 Marketing Trends and Realities" webinar to drill-down further and provide law firm marketers with some guidance (and a sanity check) as to what they could/should be doing during this crisis.
In addition to the webinar (which in exchange for some contact info you are free to access here), Qorus also produced an easy to follow and practical to use eBook: Adapting to Change: Definitive Guide to Law Firm Marketing in 2020. The eBook includes 8 practical tips on how legal marketers can seize the moment and put their best marketing foot forward. If you don't have time to download the webinar or the eBook, check out the 14-slide PDF (with all ten trends and realities) from the program.
Here are a few of the trends (and realities) that legal marketers should not only acknowledge but consider acting on now:
Client-centric marketing: This might be a no-brainer ... "all marketing should focus on clients", but you'd be surprised how many campaigns miss the mark. Check out any corporate legal survey and you'll quickly realize how much outside counsel DO NOT listen to client challenges and demands. The current crisis gives you a 'do-over' of sorts when it comes to revealing your authentic marketing self. Your clients are swimming with you in the deep end so why not work together to your collective advantage
Strategic content marketing is king: Content marketing is nothing new. Devising a clever strategy of how to leverage and amplify hard earned content is still novel and not the norm in legal marketing circles. Spend some energy on "marketing your marketing" with a 1-4-7 approach. Focus on one concept; develop four related content pieces such as newsletters, webinars, eBooks, and whitepapers; and chose seven distribution channels for your content including online, social, communal and direct.
Community building ... the new black: Acquiring new customers is 6-7 times more expensive than marketing to an existing community base. These days, word-of-mouth means engaging through social platforms, sharing educational resources while introducing clients to your network of subject matter experts and influencers. Legal communities are out there and waiting with open arms. Check out ILTA, LMA, ALA, and ABA Law Practice for starters.
We will be sharing more legal marketing trends and realities in future posts gleaned from legal marketing and business development experts.