What a whirlwind!  A quick first (midnight) reaction.

For those who have never experienced a Legaltech/(now)Legalweek, it’s a veritable collision at the intersection of law and tech (not to mention all the new non-tech Legalweek intersecting side streets).  ALM does an admirable jobs of sweeping up the resulting explosion of ideas and innovations into cogent and coherent thematic programming.

For example, today’s Legaltech panels were grouped along five “Educational Tracks”:

  • Forward Thinking in eDisovery
  • Exploring the Future of Legal
  • Corporate Counsel’s Legal Technology Challenges
  • ILTA’s Emerging Technologies and Innovation for Legal
  • Data Security and Governance

In addition, there’s an Exhibit Hall is full of legal tech companies of every type and stripe: eDiscovery companies, document management companies, workflow automation tools, data privacy services—even niche products like short-term financing options for legal bills and a government-affairs management platform (which hosted a very nice reception this evening—thanks, FiscalNote!).

Today, I tried to sit in on as many panels and keynotes as I could to get a sense for the key trends and current themes in the legal tech market.  As a result, I spent very little time in the Exhibit Hall speaking with individual companies, but will be sure to devote more time and attention to the exhibitors on days two and three.

Speak Less, Say More

A quick word about our Legalweek-related coverage and posts in the coming days/weeks.  There’s so much happening at this huge event—and so many other legal-tech news sources covering the blow-by-blow (such a Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites, Legaltech News, Law.com, etc.)—that, instead of trying to “report” on what’s happening, we’ll instead be trying to note a few highlights and striving to offer some commentary on a few interesting things we’ve seen and heard, taking (we hope) a speak less, say more approach to our event reactions.

Some Recurring Themes

All day, I was keeping one eye on key trends and recurring themes that seemed to permeate the  talks.  There were many, and we look forward to digging into a few of them in detail in future posts, as there are many things to say/angles to explore/assumptions to test, etc.

To start with, here are a few of the themes we kept hearing/seeing:

  • Clients are worried about regulatory uncertainty, and that concern reverberates around the universe of legal services.
  • There are new (and non-traditional) competitors in the legal services market, which are both responding to and driving changing client demands.
  • Those changing demands are affecting different firms in a variety of ways, depending on their flexibility, positioning, and business model.
  • The data-protection arms race continues a full speed, and the quality of the products and services, as well as the platform investments made by key vendors, will herd enterprise services into cloud-based platforms just like consumer products.
  • Legal technology has achieved (in some cases, very recently) some critical form and functionality milestones that will accelerate the impact of legal tech on the practice of law.
  • Relatedly, workflow automation has come of age and will begin playing a key role in legal efficiency.
  • Also relatedly, the promise of certain non-general AI (machine learning, neural networks, deep learning, etc.) is finally being fulfilled and directed towards the enterprise, including in law.

The Highlight

For me, the highlight of the day was the piece that was least law focused.  Andrew McAfee gave a keynote address entitled “Trends, Technology, and Talent in the Second Machine Age.”  Unsurprisingly (given his resume, TED talks, etc.), he was an engaging speaker.  But he also raised of host of incredibly provocative substantive points—a number of which provide a jumping-off point for really interesting conversations about the state of legal tech and its potential impact on the current practice of law.  Rather than give those points and conversations short-shrift in this midnight update, we’ll address them in fuller form in the coming days and weeks.  Stay tuned!

Looking forward to another full and fascinating day tomorrow.