February 9, 2011

Legal Tech 2011: An Overview

by Cary J. Calderone

I am tempted to summarize this show and call it, "the year of the canceled flight."  Having to return from an airport because your flight has been canceled due to snow is an inconvenience anyone who travels hates.   Having it happen twice during the same business trip?  Priceless!   I cannot blame my bad luck with snowstorms on Legal Tech, but I will add another big plus in the pros column for attending Virtual Legal Tech and those conferences that are closer to home, like Legal Tech West.  In spite of my bad luck with travel the show did not seem to suffer an attendance drop and had quite a few interesting items.  Here are a few:

Interesting panels

Proactive Information Governance to Reduce the Pain of eDiscovery
A Game Show:  Top Concerns of the General Counsel
Cloud, SharePoint and Social Media:  Discovery on the Next Data Frontier
Toys and Tools:  How the Latest Technology is Changing How Lawyers Lawyer
Plenary Session:  A View from the Bench

In future posts I will share details of some of the great lessons taught during these panels.

Product Shouts
Autonomy-After spending 30 minutes looking at updates to the product I walked away more impressed than ever and I believe I understand one of the main reasons they have been selling so well.  There is almost always a trade-off with software.  Either you get powerful and feature-rich or, you get easy to use.  This product is an end-to-end eDiscovery solution and yet it feels as though anybody with a basic understanding of what they want to do, and 5 minutes to learn some basic things, can use it and be productive.  The User Interface (UI) is incredibly straight-forward and easy to follow.  It puts a lot of information in front of a General Counsel, or legal assistant, and gives them a fantastic way to perform early case assessments or other parts of the EDRM.
The other product that impressed me was Bloomberg Vault.  They have data management and retention functionality built in to their cloud solution.  This kind of functionality was an afterthought with many cloud providers who just offered space and perhaps an email application.  It never made any sense to me that so many Cloud providers offered storage or applications without much, if any, additional data management capabilities or compliance tools.   It seems like a big plus to help justify moving your data to the clouds.  As a newcomer to this space, they are using their background in the highly regulated financial arena, and the extra attention to staying compliant by managing electronic information, and offer this same capability to non-financial customers.   I like what they say:
Bloomberg Vault features for e-discovery, records retention, and legal hold allow companies to manage retention with customized policies, as well as support e-discovery processes quickly and cost-effectively. They also ensure a traceable chain-of-custody, and help avoid inadvertent deletion of potentially responsive data."   

My Favorite Keynote
Michael Rogers-A Look at the Law: 2020: A Radical Perspective on how Technology will Shape the Legal Industry 10 years from Now. Will you be Ready?   Just like in 2010, where I went in wondering if futurist Malcolm Gladwell would make any critical observations on the law and technology, and was amazed, I was very happy I attended the Michael Rogers talk.  Hint, hint-look at how WebMD.com and other health web portals have changed medical diagnosis and understanding.   Social knowledge transfer will play a significant role in the legal profession.  

My last comment is that if you did not attend, you would not believe just how much "eDiscovery" dominated at Legal Tech.  A quick review of the exhibitors and panel sessions should leave no doubt that eDiscovery is what people think is important.  The market has spoken and the vendors have responded.  There were more eDiscovery service and product vendors than any other and by a wide margin.  This is good news for you and your DRED projects as the products have matured and there is a much better understanding of how to be prepared for litigation in this age of electronic data.   The downside is that I don't get to see as many new and interesting products.

More Legal Tech 2011 posts to follow...

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