WHY ILTACON IS STILL THE BEST LEGAL TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE

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I just spent a very relaxing weekend with Gayle at my sister’s house in Noank CT.   Sunny, low humidity, light breezes, lobstah, cigars, fire pit at night in the back yard, more lobstah.  At one point during a relaxing moment in an Adirondack chair (with a lobstah and a cigar), my sister said to me, “don’t you want to go do something” and I replied, “I’m doing it”.

But at some point between crustaceans, Gayle and I spent a little time recapping the ILTACON18 conference we had attended the week before. You can see her summary in this week’s ACEDS blog at https://blog.aceds.org/  as well as other recent posts by Bob Ambrogi and Kevin O’Keefe which capture the details of the show but I thought I’d add a few thoughts of my own because … well because I’m out of lobstahs and cutting back on cigars.

I had some initial trepidation going in to the conference given all the administrative issues, including the shakeup at ILTA HQ and the dust up over press credentials before the show.  (See my blog post at https://technogumbo.wordpress.com/2018/08/13/what-in-the-wide-wide-world-of-sports-is-going-on-at-ilta/ ) But once there, I saw that the event was being run very smoothly and was another resounding success.

I think there are several reasons for this.

First is the sessions. If the slogan for the real estate profession is “location location location” then the slogan for a professional conference should be “content content content.”  ILTACON18 offered anywhere from 35 to 40 sessions a day for four straight days and it was not just the volume of the sessions but the actual content.

These were professional discussions across a wide variety of topics ranging from training to lit support to enterprise management to back office applications and even the state of the profession. They covered topics for small, medium and large firms and featured excellent speakers and (mostly) a minimum of selling from the podium by speaker who were vendors.

Second was the organization. As always, ILTA volunteers did an excellent job of staffing and running the show.  But beyond that, it was the people themselves.  ILTACON is, after all, a user conference and the 1800 ILTA member attendees not only have their jobs in common, but they seem to genuinely like each other. That gives the conference a personable feeling that reminds me more than anything else of New Orleans, where people say hi to you on the sidewalk when you pass. Unlike people in Virginia and DC who seem startled when you do that.

Two examples arose from the admin issues I mentioned above. After I wrote my blog post about press passes and bloggers, I received a call from ILTA staff saying they had received a number of member comments about the policy and wanted to discuss how to revise it.  And at the show, ILTA members held a town hall meeting to discuss the issues around their recent leadership changes.

The point is, this is a group of people who aren’t afraid to discuss problems they are having openly and candidly  and then collectively make changes to adjust what they are doing. That aspect reminded me of growing up in Vermont and attending town meetings as a young boy. Democracy in action and a forum where everyone has an opportunity not only to voice their opinion but feel like it is being listened to and respected.

Isn’t THAT refreshing!

Third, of course was the venue. ILTA seems adept at finding venues large enough to handle their large turnouts. 4100 was reported for ILTACON18, a new record. And the Gaylord in National Harbor not only accommodated but managed the flow of traffic easily and comfortably.  There was actually room for Matt Homan to move his Idea Wall several times to new locations.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZIWEBdN3lM.

Next year the conference will be at the Swan and Dolphin at Disney World Orlando and the year after, at a personal favorite of mine, the Gaylord in Nashville. Both great venues that make attending a large conference still seem like fun.

Finally, two personal notes. The Co-Chair of the next two conferences will be Julie Brown, Litigation Technology Manager at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease in Columbia. I’ve known Julie for years and in addition to her being a great person for the role who will do a wonderful job, I love that a lit support person will be helping run things.

And second I must mention the ACEDS Monument Sunset Cruise up the Potomac River.  A riverboat full of CEDS members enjoyed a wonderful buffet dinner and great conversation as well as celebrating Mary Mack’s birthday. A relaxing evening with friends and a wonderful setting.

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So great job once again ILTA. Craig Ball says you are his favorite conference and as we like to say in New Orleans, “yeah you right Craig”.  If you want to attend a tech conference with deep dive sessions across the entire gamut of law firm technical needs and mingle with knowledgeable tech people who are happy to discuss their experiences, this is the conference for you.

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