Where are the Lawyers at Legal Technology Seminars These Days?

The nice people at IKON put on a great legal technology seminar in St. Louis yesterday. I learned a lot and took a lot of notes. Among other things, there was great coverage of electronic discovery, records management and legal tech from the corporate law department point of view (something I call “client-driven technology”).
It was well-attended (more than 70 people), but when they “qualified the audience,” there were only a handful of lawyers in the room.
The rest were IT staff, paralegals and legal administrators. I’ve noticed this trend over the last several months as I’ve attended legal technology and electronic discovery seminar sessions that are increasingly made up of IT people rather than lawyers.
Maybe I’m off target, but I feel that lawyers should want to hear a representative from the legal department of a major corporation talk about where they would like to go with their technology and how their law firms could help them. They might also like to know where their clients feel that their law firms are not responsive enough.
If you want one “take-away” to consider carefully, it was this: corporate legal departments are increasingly being called on to be part of the business team in terms of budgeting and other standard business approaches. Law firms that do not help them do that should expect to find a growing impatience. Electronic billing is one way to help.
I learned a good deal about the current state of affairs in electronic discovery, compliance and records management, and other things as well, but, looking back on my notes, I can’t help but notice this comment – “What is the mix of this audience and where are the lawyers?”
If you are one of those lawyers who seem to be staying away from good educational events on legal technology, let me encourage you to attend ABA TECHSHOW 2006. Hope to see you there. I guarantee that you’ll get a competitive advantage over the lawyers who seem to be isolating themselves from learning about the leading technology issues of the day that are front-and-center for their clients.
My thank you goes out to IKON for inviting me to this seminar and I’m glad I had a gap in my schedule to attend it. Well worth it and, if this show comes to your town, I recommend it.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
Technorati tags:


  1. says

    Dennis — I couldn”t agree with you more. I’m so tired of vendors trying to sell me something we don’t need and law firm lawyers telling me I’ve got a “massive e-discovery problem” but then have no creative solutions to address it. We need practical, real world solutions to help us deliver appropriate, cost effective solutions to help our mutual business clients succeed in their strategies. Remember, other than for law firms, being good at litigation is seldom an objective or core value for most companies. This means avoiding litigation (as opposed to prevailing in it), leveraging knowledge and work product (as opposed to paying to answer the same question twice), and stopping the insane upward spiral of salaries for associates that we pay to train (as opposed to paying for services we actually need). Unfortunately, this flies directly in the face of the standard law firm business model. If law firms don’t want to be treated like vendors, their answer lies in focusing on the profit margin instead of the revenue line — finding efficiencies to deliver the service we need at lower costs. In other words, to leverage technology instead of hours. As such, more lawyers need to not just use technology but to help the vendors build it to satisfy the real, underlying needs instead of the episodic focus on crisis management. As always Dennis, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  2. says

    As the head of a small law office, long-time attendee of the ABA Tech Show and Tech Show NYC, former ABA Tech Show exhibitor, invited speaker, etc., I can attest that at least one reason more lawyers don’t go to such events is they either don’t have the time or don’t see the benefit (at least not directly enough to justify the day off work and cost in dollar terms). Put another way, investments of time or money in legal technology may or may not yield practical benefits, but they are guaranteed to extract a cost. Other than the dollar cost (including opportunity cost for not being in the office), the only other certainty I’ve experienced in my 6+ years of going to the show is that the trip is always enjoyable but only occasionally useful (which I suppose is why my office manager refers to the Tech Show as my annual vacation). Any first year business school student or Vegas veteran will tell you that this is the very definition of a bad bet. That’s why I’m not going to let it happen again. I’m putting my foot down and refusing to gamble with my firm’s future anymore. In other words, I’ll see you at the Tech Show.

  3. says

    Two points, Dennis. First, I believe the reason you are seeing a desertion of lawyers from technology related conferences and seminars is due to [a] ever increasing pressure on billable time and unless there is a clear, crisp, compelling CLE benefit, billables win; [b] the perception that technology has become very complicated and complex and while it needs to be addrressed, its best handled by those technically competent to do so, and [c] the fact that all but the smallest law firms are now staffed with, or have turned to contracting with IT professionals who are tasked with all things technical. Second, on the point you make elsewhere about litigation tools, the segment of e-discovery, litigation support and case management has overwhelmed the legal technology market because vendors understand that litigation tools are what sell. These costs are covered by litigation fees and expenses, and passed through to the parties to the litigation. With the race to the revenue, e-discovery tools have advanced considerably bringing in complexities and differentiation that nearly require a trained technologist to appreciate and evaluate. The sales point is clear: an e-discovery tool is morphine for litigation pain, whereas a document assembly tool is a vitamin for practice health. And when it comes to discerning technology pain killers from nutritional supplements, this is increasingly being left to the trained “techies.” Afterall, so goes the old saw, “lawyers went to law school because they were interested liberal arts, not sciences.” Of course, that is a maligned POV, but the real point to overcome. Cheers GAM|out