eDiscovery Daily Blog

Thoughts About LegalTech New York 2017: eDiscovery Trends

Another LegalTech New York (LTNY) – or “LegalWeek” as they now like to call the event – is in the books.  What did attendees at the conference think about this year’s show?  Let’s take a look.

I reached out to several attendees (some of whom I met with during the show) to get their thoughts and impressions of this year’s show, how it differed from past shows (if at all) and if they had suggestions for improvements.  As a few pointed out in responding, these are their personal opinions and observations regarding the show, not those of their employer or clients.  Here is what they had to say:

George Socha, Managing Director at BDO: “Cybersecurity concerns are driving IG investments, many of which will draw on e-discovery tools, techniques and expertise.”

Shawn Gaines, Director of Marketing Communications at kCura: “As always, Legaltech was an awesome place to meet up with the rest of the legal technology community, leading to great meetings and one-on-one conversations.  Traffic in the exhibit hall started strong, but seemed to fade earlier than usual, perhaps due to what seemed like a smaller set of exhibitors.  The quality of the people there, however, still can’t be beat—and there aren’t too many other opportunities like this to bring together people from all ends of the industry.”

Rob Robinson, Author of the Complex Discovery blog: “Having participated in some way in Legaltech since 2006, it is always fascinating to see how many authors and reporters parachute into the information stream of Legaltech in early January and then add their icing to the cake of content being shared by industry experts. This reporting serves the purpose of highlighting topics but many times falls short of the investigative and educational journalism that could benefit industry professionals. Instead of just providing a mouthpiece and distribution network for the comments of individuals and companies that pay for access, it would be incredibly refreshing and beneficial to see these authors and reporters also focus on how technologies can benefit end users…Cost recovery may be a sound financial business model for ALM, but charging attendees a fee to learn more about exhibitors who have already paid for the opportunity to share their information and offerings with attendees seemed overreaching. As an event’s success is directly related to the quality and quantity of its attendees, it might be beneficial for ALM to deeply consider the impact of future access cost changes on not only finances but on perception.”

Greg Buckles, eDiscovery Consultant & Evangelist – The EDJ Group Inc.: Orange is the new black – again.  Automation and efficiency everywhere, but do the end customers really care?  Does fast track processing directly to Relativity just convert your technology to a commodity?  LTNY losing traction? Booths down, crowd down and most briefing suites in adjacent hotels?

Michele Lange, Director of Thought Leadership at KrolLDiscovery: “Habitual LTNY attendees were happy to report that the stalwart event remained largely unchanged as part of the greater Legalweek experience, with many attendees welcoming the additional, high-quality keynotes occurring throughout the week. Attendees also commented on the reduction in time in the educational sessions – from 75 to 60 minutes – to better align with CLE requirements.  Panelists (many of which were newcomers to the LTNY speaking stage) were more succinct in their remarks, resulting in better, more focused discussions this year.”

Andrew Haslam, eDisclosure Project Manager at Squire Patton Boggs: “For the fourth year in a row, the number of exhibitors was down, what was stretched across three areas, could easily have fitted into 2. There used to be a whole section of training organisations, nary a one this time around. Without the central show, all the fringe activities will struggle to justify themselves, to reuse the Ernest Hemmingway’s quote from Andrew McAfee’s wonderful day 1 Keynote, ‘How did you go bankrupt?’ ‘Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly.’ Are we seeing ALM tipping into a sudden decline? Was this the reason for charging people an admittance fee, or was it a far nobler desire to keep out the ‘mouchers’.  Let’s see what next year brings.”

Drew Macaulay, Managing Director at Consilio: “My impression of LegalTech this year was that it was definitely quieter in the exhibit halls, but still busy in the educational tracks, particularly those that related to regulatory investigations and cross border discovery challenges and best practices. In particular, there was a lot of interest in the potential impact of the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in May 2018 and has broad implications for law firms, corporations and eDiscovery firms alike.”

Bill Piwonka, Chief Marketing Officer at Exterro: “Legal Week this year was in tune with the trends we’ve been seeing, namely that while people in the industry are becoming more e-discovery proficient, there is still much to be learned. With the FRCP amendments, new technologies, ever-growing data volumes and types, and a large number of organizations moving to the cloud, the latest knowledge on how to stay in front of these changes is more vital than ever. LegalWeek 2017 was instrumental in providing that knowledge, and more, for all who attended.”

David Horrigan, e-Discovery Counsel and Legal Content Director at kCura: “This year, ALM expanded the show from Legaltech to Legalweek, bringing more legal issues into a larger overall event.  I think many speakers did a great job in showing how technology relates to all areas of the law.  For instance, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky was one who did an outstanding job of bringing other areas of the law into the rest of the program.  Many sessions did an excellent job of really hitting home how technology and the law aren’t just for programmers and legal teams—they affect everyday life.”

Craig Ball, Noted eDiscovery Thought Leader and Author of Ball in Your Court blog: “Though I enjoyed LTNY 2017 as much as any before (and for me it’s been two decades of LTNY), this year’s show seemed a shadow of its former self.  Traffic was down, and the plenary keynotes saw a fraction of their customary attendance.  Consolidation among e-discovery vendors was striking in terms of its impact on the show floor.  Maybe not an entirely bad thing as e-discovery had all but taken over the show.  I witnessed these things but expect that ALM will report that LTNY was still bigger and better and HUGER by every measure.  As they say in New York, Mazeltov!”

“I thought the decision to charge for floor and plenary admission was not implemented wisely.  I’d charge a modest amount online to register but credit it back when attendees showed up.  Considering how much vendors pay to be onsite, the admission charge felt…tacky.”

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As for my own thoughts, it seems to me that more and more of the activities are outside the conference as attendees take the opportunity provided by the biggest legal technology show of the year to arrange meetings to further business relationships.  While that’s great for doing business, it’s not as great for the show itself as many of the attendees find it difficult to find time to actually attend sessions or visit the exhibit hall.  Many of the people I spoke with during the show had yet to attend the show itself.

Personally, I always try to find time to attend at least a few sessions and the ones I attended this year were first rate, as always.  My particular favorite was the keynote on Day 2 (February 1) of the conference regarding effects of the December 2015 Rules amendments discussed by several judges and attorneys reflecting both the defense and plaintiff viewpoints.  As for the Exhibit Hall, I spent some time in the Hall and spoke with several of the exhibitors, who noted that attendance in the Exhibit Hall seemed diminished compared to previous years (especially after the first day).  It will be interesting to see if exhibitors raise concerns over the decision to charge for Exhibits only passes and the potential impact it has on attendance in the Hall.

So, what do you think?  Did you attend this year’s LegalTech?  If so, what did you think of the conference?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.