Great to see the return of LawTech after two years of Covid lockdowns, the world of conferences has returned. I have been fortunate enough to have had a long association with LawTech, having attended at least 10 as either a delegate, sponsor, speaker or chairperson. I have also been on the LawTech advisory panel and been an awards judge for a couple of years, which might help explain my attachment to the event. And then of course there are George, Kathy and Jenny of Chilli IQ, wonderful people who have been organising legal events since 2006. Unfortunate that George and Kathy weren’t able to actually attend their own conference due to Covid, but fortunately Jenny was there and had everything under control. As Jenny says, 'it was so exciting to be able to finally hold the 15th LawTech Summit after two long years of uncertainty. We know how important it is that the event is held live as it is not only about learning but also about bringing the LawTech community together. You somehow cannot replicate this over Zoom over a couple of days. I think the following words from one of the attendees sums it up' - 'Chilli conferences are always relevant, and presentations provide content that you didn't even know you wanted to know! Great excuse to network with old contacts and forge new ones.'
This was the delayed LawTech 15, and LawTech 16 will be in September, returning to Queensland where it has been traditionally held. The venue for number 15 was the iconic Luna Park, which is a superb location. However, one concern that was frequently expressed was that the presentations and the vendor halls weren’t in separate rooms, just one large hall with an artificial separation, which meant that conversations in the vendor hall during presentations had to be muted.
There were of course plenty of regular delegates in attendance as well as some first-timers, including Luke Kendall, CIO of Mills Oakley, who told us that he’s had the opportunity to attend many industry events over the years, but this was his first LawTech. From the unique surroundings of Luna Park to the quality and diversity of the speakers it was a very worthwhile event. Great information from speakers and suppliers alike, with excellent networking opportunities with peers. One regular attendee and member of the Law Tech Advisory Panel was Mark Andrews, Director, Global IT Service Delivery at Baker McKenzie, who delivered a well-received presentation on how IT is going from Ad hoc to Strategic Partner, something that has been accelerated during Covid as the value of IT has increasingly been recognised. Mark thought that 'there was a really positive feeling over the two days with it being very obvious that people had missed the chance to attend in-person conferences. The design of the conference with short Tech Talks and slightly longer feature presentations worked really well and made the time fly past.'
Luke also found that the presentations identified a number of common challenges including 'the need for improved security and the desire for greater efficiency,' and he thought that 'the speakers did a great job in highlighting their approach to these issues; with some very worthwhile solutions identified.'
There were also some new vendors, such as Rulestar, a document automation platform that competes with products such as HotDocs and Contract Express, and Sekuro, a cyber security and digital resiliency company. David Lipworth from Rulestar, said 'that the ability to hop on stage to give a short TED-style presentation was fantastic for gaining interest and starting conversations with delegates and other exhibitors alike. However, it can be challenging for vendors when delegates are encouraged into the exhibition space for mealtimes only, as was the case with this LawTech 15. Sometimes event organisers create incentives for delegates to engage with the exhibitors, such as 'exhibitor passports' that encourage attendees to obtain a stamp from each vendor.' David also thought 'that the event as a whole would have benefited from something like that, but regardless feedback was positive, everyone enjoyed being 'in person' again, and we made a number of valuable connections at the event, which is great to hear for a new vendor at one of the first major events for 2022.' Noel Allnutt, Managing Director of Sekuro, thought that 'the event was impactful and highly relevant, the legal industry is tackling the crossroads where modern business is a digital business – and a digital business has to be a secure business.' Noel also found that 'the attendees were highly engaged.'
There were a number of regular vendors including some that have undergone a change of ownership, such as HighQ, now part of Thompson, and DocsCorp, now Litera. Mark expressed the hope 'that the consolidation in the vendor market means we will end up with best of breed solutions.' However, like many CIOs, he also expressed a concern 'that the resources need to integrate solutions may slow product development in the next 12 months or so.'
Even though it was only by a video it was excellent to see Joy Heath Rush, CEO of ILTA and one of the keynote speakers, presenting. And on the subject of ILTA, for those still feeling courageous when it comes to travel ILTACON will be live this year and will be held at National Harbour in Washington DC on August 21-25. National Harbour is generally considered to be the best of the venues that ILTA uses for their conference, and for those who have time on their hands and work for a generous firm you can always attend ILTACON, spend a couple of days seeing the sites of Washington, then take the train to New York (in time to go to the US Tennis Open) before flying back to attend LawTech on September 8th and 9th. Or return immediately after ILTA to attend the ALPMA Summit from August 31 to September 2. And perhaps we should mention the In-House legal National Conference being held in Brisbane from November 16 – 18.
This plethora of legal conferences within the space of a few weeks has often been a subject of discussion and disappointment because despite them all being worthy events the reality is that both delegates and vendors are unlikely to attend all of them. It would no doubt be helpful if they were spread over a greater timeframe. But irrespective of which legal conference you are able to attend, as most delegates will tell you, the real value is the opportunity to meet with peers, to build new relationships and renew old ones.
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