Last week I joined an estimated 10,000 others in the legal technology community from around the globe who converged on New York for LegalTech.
What is LegalTech?
Legaltech is the largest and most important legal technology event of the year, held annually at the New York Hilton in Midtown Manhattan.
Complimenting the 10,000 attendees, the event attracts nearly 200 exhibitors showcasing their products and services, together with others who hire out rooms in the Hilton and adjacent hotels for further meetings and demos. The event also includes 200 speakers, over 10 educational tracks.
This year was the 36th edition of LegalTech, of which I have been attending annually since 2010. This year saw the introduction of a new format with LegalTech becoming part of the larger Legalweek. The new format provided a wider focus for legal professionals with concurrent events including LegalExecutive, LegalCIO, LegalPros, LegalMarketing, LegalSmallFirm, and LegalWomensForum.
The key themes
Each year there are trends that dominate the event, from Big Data, Cloud, Cyber to Predictive Coding (which dominated for a few years! ).
The biggest takeaway for me this year was the transformation the legal sector is currently experiencing. There was a broader focus on issues facing the legal profession, together with how important it is for law firms to innovate in how they deliver their legal services.
We learnt about the impact of disruption, together with some of the innovative measures law firms are implementing to stay relevant to their clients. At the same time we heard about the disruptors that are shaking up the legal industry, and becoming competition for law firms.
I was fortunate to have numerous conversations with people about how technology is impacting the practice of law. There are some great examples of innovators out there, from the technology providers to corporate organisations and law firms themselves. Many are facing increasing pressures, but at the same time there are refreshing examples of those who see the opportunities in exploring new ways to innovate and drive efficiency.
As far as an individual session, the highlight for me was the visionary keynote by Andrew McAfee on “Trends, Technology, and Talent in the Second Machine Age”. Andrew provided and entertaining and thought provoking presentation on the impact of artificial intelligence, together with how organizations can survive and thrive in the turbulent years to come.
One of the other excellent sessions was the final legal keynote, also on artificial intelligence. The panel emphasised that AI was still in its early stages, although there was going to be some exciting times ahead, which will present challenges, but also opportunities for law firms.
So much can change in as little as 12 months, as each year we see greater advancements of how technology is being used to improve the efficiency of lawyers and law firms.
I was fortunate to see some exciting new technologies and new releases. It is not solely about what is happening now, but what is on the road-maps for the next 12-24 months. These days I spend less time on actual demos, and more time chatting to the providers about what else is on their roadmap.
The greatest value that I continue to get from LegalTech is the networking opportunities. Everyone is in the one place, all the leading experts, together with technology providers. The event is a great platform to share experiences and discuss issues, whilst still catching up with the latest technologies and trends.
A new development this year was the introduction of an enhanced event app. This was a great source of information and promotional opportunity for sponsors. We are delighted to have our own app for LawFest, which will provide a whole new way for our sponsors to interact with delegates. It is going to be a great initiative to help sponsors promote their brand through the day and in the lead-up to LawFest.
The only wish is the event is at a slightly warmer time of the year!
Learnings for the upcoming LawFest
Many of these global issues and trends are now starting to impact New Zealand law firms, although many in New Zealand are just starting this journey, and need to learn more about how they can innovate and adopt technology into their practice.
Many of the same issues will be discussed at LawFest on the 17th of May.
LawFest is the one event in New Zealand that legal professionals should attend every year to learn more about innovative practices and drive greater efficiency within your organisation, and ultimately drive profitability. Whether you are new to technology, or at the forefront of legal innovation, LawFest has two sessions and tracks that will suit any legal professional.