LawFest – Innovating legal services by leveraging technology

Last week over 200 people from law firms, in-house legal teams and the technology industry joined some of New Zealand’s leading legal technology thinkers at LawFest, New Zealand’s premier legal innovation and technology event, at the Langham in Auckland.

LawFest is the key one day conference for legal professionals, developed as an opportunity for anyone involved in the intersection of technology and the law to develop their knowledge and immerse themselves in the latest topics and trends in this fast-changing area.

The day was engaging and innovative, providing great practical advice that everyone could learn from. The programme asked questions that challenged delegates, with industry leading speakers providing insight into how to take advantage of the opportunities that technology brings.

The opportunity to innovate through technology

Innovation through the use of technology is becoming a game changer for providing legal services. It is the opportunity to do things better, better than what we do at present and for less money.

Legal professionals need a platform to engage with the increasing technology, in order to adapt and offer efficient legal services. We developed LawFest for those willing to innovate, as they will be the ones to lead the way – opposed to those who will be left behind.


The thought-provoking programme was packed full of practical advice, eye-opening presentations, and success stories from leading legal professionals. The programme had something for everyone: from those new to technology, to those currently at the forefront of legal innovation, and everyone in-between.

The opening keynote by Rod Morris of Spark addressed how technology can disrupt the way the legal profession thinks and operates. Rod provided a great insight of what clients now expect from their law firms, emphasising the shift of a lawyer from a trusted advisor (which is more reactive) to that of a strategic advisor. He reinforced how technology is a great enabler for improving the delivery of legal services.

In timely fashion, Carl Woerndle’s raw and personal account of the cyber-attack that destroyed his business. In two weeks, he lost a business that had taken over 10 years to build up. Carl highlighted how law firms can be prepared themselves, but also the opportunity they have to advise their clients. Craig Columbus followed this up later in the day with some great practical advice for everyone to help with cyber protection.

Technology and future tend to go hand-in-hand, and this was illustrated by Caroline Fergusson of Simpson Grierson in her session to prepare legal professionals to “Get fit for the future”. She reinforced the need for a culture change for the legal profession, and outlined what the next generation of law grads will look like, together with the skills that firms will expect.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards shared the challenges, yet importance of privacy in the digital age and reinforced that privacy and data protection is one of the key areas for the future of the profession. David Harvey provided a great insight into Online Courts, which was passionate, but at the same time challenging the norm for many lawyers.

Throughout the day, we heard about Artificial Intelligence (AI). The message was largely that we are only getting started with what AI may be able to do in the future. We heard how AI was a great enabler to challenge the traditional practice of law, but also that humans together with the technology have a role to play. James Every-Palmer provided an entertaining and informative session to help delegates demystify some of the areas of AI.

The new LawFest debate was a great light hearted way to conclude the day with an enlightening look at the role of AI. Graham Kohler QC and Clive Elliott QC negated the moot “That Legal Perfection will be Achieved when Lawyers are Replaced by Computers”, against pro-AI aficionados Denise Evans and Jarrod Coburn. The debate was professionally and fairly adjudicated by the learned James Every-Palmer – who found in favour of the affirmative team.

These sessions are just a few of many, giving delegates great practical insights and advice, that they could all take back to the office. These topics covered Blockchain, Information Governance, Social Media, eDiscovery, Technology Assisted Review and a great session by Carlene O’Meagher of Chapman Tripp, all about the practical tips for those just starting their technology journey.

And so much more…

LawFest was so much more than the great topics and speakers. We had exciting tech demos with Ricoh providing their collaborative whiteboard tool, whilst NuLegal showcased their next generation eDiscovery software, Everlaw. This was together with some enlightening tech talks from Shaun Plant of Law Vu and Claudia King of Automio.

It was the largest ever gathering of exhibitors at a New Zealand legal event. Technology providers showcased their new and exciting solutions for the legal market, as well as having the opportunity to meet with other providers under the one roof – which can be rare.

This was in addition to the many opportunities to network with other legal professionals and providers to share knowledge, discuss challenges and opportunities.

Become a LawFest member today

We have also launched our new LawFest Membership. This is a new initiative for people to be a part of the New Zealand legal innovation and technology community.

Creating this community will bring legal professionals together, keeping them up to date with the latest legal tech news, developments and solutions from NZ and around the globe. Not only does this membership bring you into the legal tech community, it also includes great discounted rates on LawFest 2018 tickets

With the undoubted success of LawFest 2017, I am sure even more legal professionals with an interest in innovation and technology will be there in 2018. For those that did attend, we do hope that you enjoyed LawFest this year, and we look forward to seeing you again at LawFest 2018.

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