I’d never been invited to speak at or even attended LegalTech New York. So an invitation to do so was greatly appreciated. The only hard part of the decision was explaining to my family why I should go do New York City without them.
The show didn’t alter my bias in favor of ABA TECHSHOW, but it is a great event. LTNY, produced by American Lawyer Media, features a huge vendor exhibition area with 370 vendor booths spread across three floors of the NY Hilton. (No, that’s not a misprint.) That sounds overwhelming and it could be. But for someone who thinks he wants to know everything about law office technology, it is great.
This was the 25th Anniversary of LTNY and it was announced it was the largest LTNY ever. It was a good chance to see a lot of old friends and make new contacts. I got to hang around with Craig Ball, Tom Mighell, Dennis Kennedy and Matt Homann quite a bit. I also got to meet Technolawyer’s Neil Squillante and Sara Skiff and Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, all of whom I had only known through e-mail exchanges and blog posts before. Most importantly I got hugs from ALM’s Monica Bay and Jill Windwer.
But I know readers don’t care about the friends I saw at LTNY. What did I learn that is important to your practice?
Well, first of all, if one judged from LTNY, the conclusion would be that every law office is buzzing about and working daily on electronic discovery issues. Many are. Many aren’t. But well over one third, and perhaps close to half, of the vendors had the label "Electronic Discovery" attached to their booth. If you talked to them as much as I did you’d be surprised at how many different things that term can mean. It’s almost like the dot.com explosion again. I have to believe that many of these companies won’t be around for the long haul. But ED brings many challenges and opportunities. So many ED vendors may thrive.
E-mail management and retention could be viewed as a subset of ED. I frankly expected to see all of the ED vendors, but was surprised at the number of vendors who wanted to help you with everything from spam to ensuring copies of every e-mail were retained as business records. I detected an unspoken belief that while Sarbanes-Oxley may only apply to public companies now, at some future point either new legislation, regulations or court decisions will make it a smart business practice for every business and, yes, even every law firm to retain copies of all e-mails and other documents for a time. I’m not saying that is the case and couldn’t force myself to attend any SOX/document retention policy sessions. Searching online for the topic will yield you a lot of reading material like this.
LTNY is really for the large law firms, even though some small firm lawyers attended and I even had a dinner with a group from Solosez. One item of interest was how many CEOs of companies were actually present for much of the show in their company’s vendor area. I’ve never seen that at any other event. I think a lot of business gets done at this event.
The highlight was hearing a keynote from Jonathan Zittrain on "The Future of the Internet and How to Stop it." He was so entertaining and informative. If you ever have a chance to hear him, take it. We shouldn’t believe that the Net will always be what we have now, plus more. Between aggressive government regulators, technology "advances," cautious administrators and political pressure groups, we could end up with less, not more, in the future.
My final presentation was on the "Future of the Lawyer’s Desktop." As I anticipated, with it being scheduled at the very last hour of LTNY, it was lightly attended. But it gave me a chance to develop my thoughts on this topic and seemed to be well-received. Gazing in the crystal ball is always fun.