Last week thousands of lawyers, legal IT professionals, and others with an interest in legal tech made the annual pilgrimage to New York City and descended upon the Midtown Hilton. For people invested in learning about the latest and greatest innovations in legal technology, especially eDiscovery, this is a great conference to kick off the new year and mingle with other likeminded people. This year’s conference was, however, markedly different from earlier versions, at least on paper.
It was rebranded as “Legalweek 2017: The Experience” and the conference was broken up into a number of different tracks. There were tracks for those with an interest in legal technology, small firm issues, legal marketing, knowledge management, and women in the law. Perhaps because this was the first year of the new format, the conference didn’t feel all that different to me. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, as evidenced by Bob Ambrogi’s take at Above the Law:
“The Legalweek part of it, however, seemed largely invisible – not just to me, but to many people I spoke to. In fact, I spoke to a number of attendees who were oblivious to the conference’s parallel tracks, even though they all ran in the same hotel and shared the same exhibit hall.”
That being said, I nevertheless found this year’s conference to be worthwhile and welcome the effort to include other segments of the legal space. The solo/small firm track was of particular interest to me and I hope it will be included again next year.
While in New York, I had many fascinating discussions with colleagues about the future of legal tech, both in the short term and long term. I also explored the Exhibit Hall to get a sense of what different companies were focusing on and to learn about new releases and product updates. And, I met with representatives from a few companies that I found to be particularly interesting, discussed legal tech trends, and learned about their latest news and releases.
For example, I met with Mark Noel, managing director of professional services at Catalyst Repository Systems. After we discussed foreseeable trends in legal tech over the upcoming year, I also learned about Catalyst’s latest release, Insight Enterprise. It’s a platform for corporate general counsel designed to centralize and streamline discovery processes, with the end goal being to reduce e-discovery costs across multiple teams.
I also met with Jack Grow, the president of LawToolBox, which provides calendaring and docketing software. He had a lot of exciting announcements to share since I last covered LawToolBox in August 2017, when their integration with Office 365, LawToolBox365, had just rolled out. At Legaltech this year, their latest integration with DocuSign was announced. This collaboration will streamline digital document flow by allowing lawyers to process new client intakes in digital format and then store those retainer documents in the cloud along with other documents as a case progresses.
Another surprising announcement that I learned about at Legaltech was that LexisNexis was shuttering its Firm Manager law practice management platform. Current customers will continue to be supported for now, but according to an email sent to consultants, LexisNexis planned to “suspend development of, and…no longer sell…” Firm Manager. Firm Manager was one of the first cloud-based law practice management solutions aimed at solo and small firm lawyers that was offered by a large, well-established legal technology company, so this news definitely left its mark on the conference.
In addition to many meetings, I also managed to fit in lots of great networking with my colleagues in the legal tech space. One of my favorite recurring events at Legaltech is the annual evening of drinks and dinner at Bann Restaurant organized by Lisa Solomon, a New York attorney who provides legal research and writing for other lawyers. Lisa has been holding this meetup during Legaltech for a decade now and it’s not to be missed. If you didn’t make it this year, make sure to attend next year! So, whether it’s at the conference itself or this annual meetup, I hope to see you in New York in 2018, if not before!
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