Highlights of LegalTech New York

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 I returned home from LegalTech New York last Friday and took a couple of days to collect my thoughts about the show.

 

OK that’s not completely accurate: I did mention to squeeze in a few minutes of festivities around a little sporting event we had here in New Orleans over the weekend.

 

With regards to show statistics, InsideLegal had a great breakdown of the vendor participation on their blog at http://insidelegal.typepad.com.

The big picture?  41% of all vendors were selling eDiscovery. That was down 4% from 2012 but that decrease was attributed to mergers since the net increase in ED vendors since 2008 is 12% EDD vendor increase since 2008.  Total exhibitor count was down since 2008 from 262 to 224 or 15%.

I’m not sure of attendance figures but from my perspective it was not as crowded as last year but the majority of attendees had specific goals either informational or in terms of prospective purchases. Most of the discussions’ I had with attendees were focused and clearly defined: I did not meet a great number of people asking general questions. People were clearly focused on what they wanted to learn.

What were my specific takes?  From an attendees perspective not good.  Starting with the first day keynote, the emphasis was on glitz and glimmer not substance. Ted Olson, the keynote at the self proclaimed “Most important legal technology event of the year” mentioned technology once. What did he say?  “Everything I need to know about legal technology, I get from my granddaughters.”  Wow. Thanks Ted. Your granddaughters? Really? That was incredibly helpful.

Catchy phrases were everywhere. Big Data. Predictive Coding. The Cloud.  Useful information? Not so much.  As Maura Grossman noted in one of her presentations, “If you go out on the [exhibit] floor and someone tells you they’re going to find 95, 98 percent of the documents, I’d run. That’s not possible.”  95%?  I was routinely hearing 100% !!

Education and professional responsibility were two trends that were gaining momentum. Monica Bay reported on the ABA pushing this trend forward when last summer they “… put a few more teeth into the professional conduct rules” Well I suppose that in the land of the toothless, the man with one incisor is king.   The new rules began by mentioning “ …the bewildering pace of technological change …” .

As Michael Arkfeld pointed out shortly after their release, “ …the transition to widespread use of digital technology has been in effect since 1985, more than 25 years ago. This is hardly a “bewildering” pace of change, unless you have stayed in a cave and remained a Luddite.”  The ABA and their legion of endorsed law schools continue to ignore technology education with a few notable exceptions including Michaels course at the University of Arizona and Craig Balls course at the University of Texas, as well as their joint work at the Georgetown EDiscovery Academy every summer.

Related to the educational trend is a clear push by judges to demand more EDiscovery expertise by attorneys appearing before them. Jude Peck said is best with a succinct admonition: “bring your experts to court.”   Judge Francis however countered that judges need to be careful not to cross what he described as the line from intervention into interference.

For more on the show including Monica Bays video interviews with Judge Francis, Craig Ball and others, see http://www.law.com/jsp/lawtechnologynews/index.jsp

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