Recapping ILTA 2007

A great technology show is way more about the people than the technology. That’s why it’s always been great to be part of the ABA TECHSHOW, and it’s why I’ve really grown to like the ILTA annual conference.
Yes, I learned about some product developments and spotted some new trends, and I’ll comment on those later, but my ILTA 2007 experience was all about the people. It was great fun, I learned a lot, and it was nice to meet so many people who read this blog (one of the chronic blogger concerns – there are days when you wonder if anyone is really reading your blog).
There were a good number of my legal blogger friends, a sizable contingent from St. Louis (including some of my favorite IT people from my old law firm), many vendor pals, and plenty of new people to me. As usual, I benefited from many kindnesses, especially from people helped me locate where I needed to be, who got me into various events, and who helped me learn about new technologies, both their own and those of others. I find ILTA to be a generous show.
I got to present with a wonderful group of co-presenters, all of whom I would highly recommend to anyone looking for speakers for their events: Gloria Fox, Kevin O’Keefe, Doug Hoover, and Meredith Williams. A big thank you to Michele Gossmeyer and Lisa Kellar-Gianakos for organizing our sessions. A special thanks to Doug Cornelius and David Hobbie, who both earn an A+ for live blogging all the sessions they attended, for covering the sessions I was part of here, here, here and here. I enjoyed getting the chance to talk with Doug and David several times.
I read Sean Doherty’s article about ILTA 2007 this morning and noted that we agree on many of the same highlights (and talked to some of the same people). I don’t really understand the title of the piece and would put the emphasis on some different areas, but I generally agree with his assessment. With one major exception that I’ll mention in a moment.
To summarize my take on Sean’s article, I see that he highlights litigation and records management tools (CaseMap 7.5, Recommind’s Axcelerate eDiscovery, Interwoven), email continuity (MessageOne and Teneros), digital dictation (WinScribe and Big Hand), audio search (Nexidia), and Blackberries. He always gives a nod to CT Summation in the electronic discovery area. He also emphasizes the collaboration theme of the conference.
Money quote from Sean’s article:

At base, collaboration and effective communication go a long way — perhaps to the moon and back — to resolve IT problems in the legal profession.

If you and I sat down for an extended conversation, I believe that I’d eventually tell you about everything that Sean mentioned in the article other than the Blackberry items (my epiphany at ILTA was that many of the most interesting developments I’m seeing can be traced to the growing failure of email as a communications platform – I’ll return to that theme in later posts).
However, I would have highlighted some different areas and I have a completely different take than Sean about the ubiquity of e-discovery vendors at legal tech conferences. There are very important things happening in that space and we miss that if we simply take the “oh, everyone is in EDD these days and nothing is new” approach.
From my ever-opinionated perspective, I would note the following seven (for ’07) highlights that really got me thinking:
1. SharePoint, SharePoint and More SharePoint. I’m not sure that I ran into anyone who was not looking into SharePoint or already had SharePoint projects on the table. I would call it the dominant topic of the hallway talk of this conference and there were plenty of sessions about it as well. I have to give a special shout-out to Seth Miller of Kraft, Kennedy & Lesser who gave me the full SharePoint tour, showed me what KKL is doing with SharePoint, answered all of my many questions, and made me want to work on some SharePoint projects with him. [Update: Seth’s blog is now here.]
2. Thomson West’s Firm 360 / Monitor Line of Services. I really liked this technology when I first saw it two years ago, but seeing Doug Hoover and Meredith Williams talk about it in our Current Awareness session emphasized to me how cool this technology is and how valuable it could be for competitive and other intelligence for law firms and their clients. Think “actionable intelligence.”
3. Electronic Discovery at a Crossroads. I spent a good chunk of my plane ride home thinking about what’s happening in EDD, in part because I’ll be speaking about EDD trends in October. I had several extended conversations about EDD at ILTA, especially with Allen Gurney at Fios (and formerly at my old law firm). Here’s what interests me. There are great tools, getting better all the time. The information environment is changing rapidly (think audio and video). There’s consolidation in the industry and a pressure for companies to generate more revenues. The regulatory environment is forcing clients to manage information in new ways. And, at the same time, lawyers stubbornly resist the move to e-discovery, even after the new rules. I’ve said many times before that litigators in the US had better become familiar with what the word “disintermediation” means or they will learn it the hard way. I know think that process, given the pressures in this space, might well happen much more quickly than I would have thought. Are law firms no longer the primary market for EDD tools?
4. Backup and Storage; Disaster Recovery. OK, I’ll admit that I’ve become a bit over-concentrated on storage lately, but Sean’s emphasis on email failover solutions (I’ve always liked the Teneros appliance approach and got the chance to speak with Stephen Lewis, CEO of Teneros, at ILTA).
5. Open Source. I didn’t get to investigate this, but I noticed a couple of Open Source sessions where the audience overflowed well out into the hallway. I also learned about a new Open Source case management project.
6. The Return of KM. OK, I spoke on the KM track, so that might have affected my perspective. However, I was surprised by the high level of attendance at KM sessions and the interest in practical KM efforts. The tools are definitely coming along (see Recommind, for example). Thought experiment: what happens if you take tools designed for EDD and turn them back onto your on data?
7. Great Minds Thinking Alike? I’m always interested when I see people I highly respect in the legal tech field interested in the same things. I found myself at a reception Recommind hosted and in the room was one of the highest concentrations of people I respect in legal technology I’ve been in for a while. Makes me think that something is happening and the conversation definitely involved points 1, 3, and 6 above. On the topic of Recommind, let me recommend John Alber’s new article, Search at the Foundation of the Enterprise.
I have much more on ILTA, but it will filter into my posts over time. I wanted to get these thoughts down and share them. My compliments and thanks to everyone (and let me single out Adriana Linares for taking a group of us to her favorite Turkish restaurant and Michele and Lisa for inviting me to speak).
If you ever have the chance to attend an ILTA conference, you should definitely take it.
Apologies in advance to the many people I left out of this post. I had to end the post at some point.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
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