It is ILTA week here in DC as the litigation technologists, purveyors of software and services, geeks, practitioners and others parade through the immense exhibit hall and attend the conferences sessions and seminars. With this event I am reminded of the need to reexamine our legal conferences and search perhaps to craft a new model. This is nothing against ILTA at all – in many respects it is unique and offers value other conferences do not. But it is inescapable reality that if you were to attend three or perhaps just two of the major legal conferences offered in a year you would encounter the same material, studies, information, with nothing truly “new” or “unique” offered.
I understand that conferences such as ILTA or Legaltech are not necessarily geared towards the purpose of advancing the dialogue of legal transformation but rather report on what has happened or is happening. Groups such as The Sedona Conference and the Futures Conference from the College of Law Practice Management in Denver have the aim of exploring potential for change and looking to prepare or even craft solutions and guidance. The other difference being between many gatherings is that in some “vendors and sales” drives the agenda and even makes such gatherings possible through underwriting and sponsorships while other conferences are self-funded through grants or attendance fees. I will leave it to readers to debate the value of each. Needless to say both serve a purpose just perhaps not the same one.
It is difficult and would leave the end-product too bloated or diluted to look to combine all the best of the annual masses of legal conferences into one big one. But there is room for changing the model of how these conferences are constructed and participated in. I envision an event that is scholastic and academic in approach, bringing into its folds the practitioners, experts and others who have relevant voices for advancing the profession and for changing it (not just something to sell). I am not a revolutionary who seeks change simply to cause havoc and unrest but I am a transformationalist – one who understand the profession is in the midst of fundamental pressure to change – and I want my voice to be heard as to how best to adopt the change and integrate new ideas and models into the process and practice of law.
I believe that the folks who are gathering in DC this week for ILTA would gain much to be active participants in a Sedona event while most Sedona attendees would do well to attend ILTA (and I believe many do). I believe the likes of CIO.com should be embraced in this environment to capture the thoughts and ideas of this profession – as the decisions on ediscovery, discovery technology, legal spend software, time keeping, etc. are moving into the CIO suite – both within firms and in corporations.
Just some ideas. All the boondogglers out there have no fear – many other conferences will remain for your pleasure.
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