While ILTACON is not the only legal technology program out there, it is the one that seems to best reflect the mood of the industry. It’s the show where I first noticed the wave of enthusiasm for AI break and recede. It also provided a chilling snapshot of an industry grappling with the pandemic. Something about this annual conference and its mainstream portfolio (it’s not an eDiscovery or CLM program) always slowly reveals some key truths about the state of legal technology.
After a pandemic stress test, legal technology arrived at ILTACON22 a little wiser and more mature than before.
Not that legal tech hasn’t always been serious business, despite my presence at these events, but variations of the word “mature” kept popping up throughout the week to the point where it started perking up ears. . The context was never exactly the same, but it was generally linked to a more settled playing field to feel confident in what they provide to customers. And equal confidence in what is not.
Which is a natural evolution. Startups are likely to run around like their funds are on fire trying to satisfy anyone who can generate revenue. It takes time and experience to realize exactly what the product has to offer and to be in a position to sell the customer on who you are. Over the course of the show, I noticed fewer vendors selling to me on how they can quickly change the product to meet new demand than in previous years, and more willing to tell me about all the customization available in the product.
If any term defied “maturity” as the show’s buzzword, it was “API.” Although it seemed that the latter only fed the former. Vendors seemed comfortable explaining that some features were outside their wheelhouse but could easily plug into someone else’s solution. Associations and distribution of wealth came up a lot; that is not the language of a sector that tenaciously fights for every inch of participation.
Welcome to the age of fair play! The closing keynote presentation hinted that Microsoft, Zoom, and Citrix were even working on limited interoperability.
Is this a function of the pandemic teaching us all what really matters? Dave Lewis of Redgrave Data suggested that he shouldn’t rule it out entirely. Although the availability of expertise like Redgrave’s is also quite important: someone who can provide consulting services to clients to coordinate technologies or create process automation. Where out-of-the-box providers can’t work together, the necessary skills are available to bridge that gap.
Innovation-driven sectors will never really reach an end state, but there is something to be said for the landscape establishing itself with defined lanes. And that could be what brings out the most revolutionary developments. “Art through adversity” as they say – some of the best things come from inventing within a defined space. Let’s see where we go from here.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and a co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. He feel free to email any suggestions, questions or comments. follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as General Manager at RPN Executive Search.