eDiscovery Daily Blog

What is the Future of the Legal Technology Conference?, Part Two

Editor’s Note: Tom O’Connor is a nationally known consultant, speaker, and writer in the field of computerized litigation support systems.  He has also been a great addition to our webinar program, participating with me on several recent webinars.  Tom has also written several terrific informational overview series for CloudNine, including his most recent one, Thinking Like a Millennial: How Millennials are Changing Discovery.  Now, Tom has written another terrific overview regarding the state of legal technology conferences titled What is the Future of the Legal Technology Conference? that we’re happy to share on the eDiscovery Daily blog.  Enjoy! – Doug

Tom’s overview is split into three parts, so we’ll cover each part separately.  Part one was Monday, here is the second part.

Legal Tech Conference Observations from Other Commentators

As I mentioned, a number of renowned legal commentators about the state of legal technology conferences all year. Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell took on the question in one their regular podcast earlier this year entitled The Future of Legal Tech Conferences. They had several interesting observations, including Tom’s comments that the entire notion of how we “consume” information has led to our notion of a conference changing with a differentiation between educational conferences vs those that emphasize the nuts and bolts of the practice of law. To that point, Dennis noted that conference attendees today expect something they can personally relate to rather than mere academic discussions.

Another respected commentator in the field, Bob Ambrogi, weighed in back in February with a column he entitled, Legal Tech For The Legal Elite: Observations Of Two Conferences.  Bob took a look at two conferences he just attended, Legalweek, or what he called “the conference formerly known as Legaltech” and Inspire.Legal, a new “unconference”. He was left, as he put it “… wondering how legal tech and innovation became the domain of the legal elite, and how true change will come about in law without more voices at the table.”

As Bob elaborated, these conferences were “… predominately by, for, and about the roughly 10 percent of the legal industry dominated by the world’s largest law firms and corporations.” The result is a roster of speakers that “… came mostly from large law firms … or from large corporations …  or from major vendors that provide products and services to large firms and large corporations, most prominently in the area of eDiscovery. “

He noted the glaring absences of “… the roughly 90 percent of lawyers who practice outside the large firm/large corporation ecosystem.” as well as “… those the legal system is failing ….” what he described as “… the lower economic levels of the market [which] are being underserved or not served at all.”

And while it is true that some shows with a strong vendor presence still maintain an educational integrity that is to be commended, shows such as the annual U of Florida Law E-Discovery Conference and perennial regional conferences by Todays General Counsel and the Masters Conference, the fact is that at least in the field of eDiscovery, the offerings are grim.

As prominent eDiscovery expert and prolific writer Craig Ball wrote in a column in May of this year:

“Look at the agenda of any major e-discovery conference (a few survivors litter the field).  Count the hours devoted to practical e-discovery skills that support the finding and turning over of relevant evidence.  Now, count the hours devoted to telling lawyers how to limit discovery, challenge discovery, assert proportionality, protect privacy, enforce data security, manage data breaches, delegate discovery to vendors, cut costs or cede their roles to robots.  Again, not trivial topics, but out-of-proportion to the ever-greater need for lawyer competency in information technology and electronic evidence.”

We’ll publish Part 3 – My Observations Regarding Legal Tech Conferences – on Friday.

So, what do you think?  Do you attend legal tech conferences and do you think attendance has proven valuable to you over the years?  As always, please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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