When I was a baby SEO, my first professional conference was Bruce Clay’s SEO Training 101 class. It was the first of many SEO conferences, and the two things I can say about SEO conferences are there’s always a longer line for the boys’ room and almost every table at lunch is quiet because almost everyone is nerdy and awkward.
Since then I’ve been to all manner of conferences, and they all have their particular flavor.
But what I haven’t been to yet is a legal technology conference. I’m trying to imagine the nerd level of lawyers who are into technology, and it’s honestly blowing my mind a little bit. It seems like an awesome time, frankly. Legal technology conferences are a great way to make connections and learn about the latest trends in the legal industry.
But you can’t go to all of them.
Which conferences are worth the time and money?
Here’s a brief overview of the best legal tech conferences.
“Legaltech® is the largest and most important legal technology event of the year.” And the most humble too. It always raises my suspicion levels when anything “tech” has a website straight out of 2000. It’s also really hard to find current information about basics like where it’s going to be and when.
But, in Legaltech’s case, web design notwithstanding, they’re right. These are the biggest and baddest legal tech trade shows around.
You can hit them up on either coast, in New York or San Francisco, “to get hands-on practical information for improving [your] law practice management.” New York is much bigger, but San Francisco is growing. “Legaltech West Coast, if it’s anything like last year, will also soon be a must-attend legal tech conference!” said Jon Kerry-Tyerman, VP of Business Development at Everlaw.
As for who goes, “LTNY is strongly focused on mid-size and large firms and in-house counsel,” said Lisa Solomon, an Independent Lawyer, Legal Researcher and Writer.
Jon listed Legaltech NY and ILTACON as the only two “must-attend” events.
“This means that the CLE tracks focus on issues like e-discovery (this year, each day features a different ediscovery track), enterprise risk management and advanced IT topics (i.e., topics that only a dedicated IT person would understand). The exhibit hall reflects this bias as well: It seems like at least half the exhibitors are ediscovery vendors. In the past, LTNY has occasionally offered tracks geared to solo and small firm lawyers, but it’s not offering a solo/small firm track this year.”
Lisa has been going for a while. Here she is discussing LegalTech 2012:
“I usually attend LTNY for one day, primarily because, for the past ten years, I have organized a solo/small firm meetup during (but not officially affiliated with) the show,” Lisa said.
As MyCase Legal technology Evangelist Nicole Black put it in her review of the 2015 show, “If you’re interested in legal technology, then the annual Legaltech conference in New York City is an event that’s not to be missed.” MyCase co-sponsors the LTNY/Solo dinner.
It’ll be interesting to see what the solo/small turnout will be for 2016.
If you’re thinking of attending and want journalists to cover you, please read MyCase Legal technology Evangelist Nicole Black’s Open Letter To LegalTech Vendors for what not to do.
Date: February 2-4, 2016
Location: The Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY
Date: June 13-14, 2016
Location: The Hyatt Regency San Francisco in San Francisco, United States Of America.
2. ABA Techshow
“ABA Techshow is be a must attend event for every progressive law firm,” Rick said. “It brings a unique blend of state-of-the-art in today’s legal technologies as well as a peek into what is coming. Law firms often come out with actionable ideas/tools they can benefit from today as well as tons of vendor connections. It truly is a amazon of legal technologies where you are likely to find a solution for almost every law practice related issue.”
This event is more of a law practice management conference than a technology conference, according to Lisa, who has attended for many years.
“Lots of vendors who are looking to appeal to small law firms,” said Deb. “Not just attending but also ponying up to show at those.”
“CLE tracks focus on the technology that lawyers use in their day-to-day practices,” Lisa said. “So, for example, each year the show offers tracks about Microsoft Office and using macs in law practice; law practice management systems—why to use them and how to use them most efficiently—are another popular topic.”
Lisa describes the ABA Techshow as “squarely aimed at the solo to mid-size firm market.” Jon echoes Lisa, saying it’s “great for smaller law firms and solo practitioners.”
“The content of tracks that address topics that apply to firms of all sizes, such as cybersecurity and ediscovery, is geared toward the questions that solo to mid-size firm lawyers have about those topics,” Lisa said.
She describes the exhibit hall vendors as fairly varied, including marketing, credit card processing, and remote receptionist services companies, along with a few eDiscovery vendors.
Date: March 16-19, 2016
Launched in 2013, Clio Cloud Conference is the new kid on the block. Talks focus on innovation and the future of law. It’s geared toward solo to mid-size firm lawyers, according to Lisa.
“Although it’s been around for only a few years,” Lisa said, “It’s a hot ticket, thanks to its curated content (there are only three CLE tracks) and A-list speakers.”
“In addition to a vendor track (Clio University), there’s a track on the business of law and one on legal technology, which means there are plenty of interesting programs for non-Clio users,” Lisa said. “Exhibitors are primarily companies whose products integrate with Clio.”
Date: Monday, September 19, 2016 at 7:00 AM – Tuesday, September 20, 2016 at 6:00 PM (CDT)
Location: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago
Deb let me know about the newest kid on the block, EvolveLaw.
Officially rolled out last October, the purpose is to connect the legal and tech communities to bridge the gap between legal tools in development and lawyers’ felt needs.
EvolveLaw is filling a similar need that Reinvent Law tried to address a few years ago and that Stanford’s Codex is currently working on.
Some would say legal tech is experiencing a bit of a bubble. “We’ve got tons of innovators trying to understand why adoption is taking so long from the attorney side,” Deb said.
In order to make those valuable connections, EvolveLaw is hosting events all around the country.
And don’t forget about local meetups and events. “Small law firm lawyers should make it a point to attend their local solo/small section events,” Rick said. “Those are normally less expensive and provide much more hands on exposure. From CosmoLex’s experience in presenting and exhibiting across the country, we feel you really get value for your money and time. These events are great source of getting hands on training both in law & technologies, actionable ideas, and connection with local attorneys. And since these are local events at lower fee, your return on time & investment is better!”
Which of these conferences have you attended? Which are worth the money? What other conferences should solo lawyers and small firms not miss? Let me know in the comments!
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