HBR Consulting discuss their recent visit to ILTACON 2019

It was great to see so many friends at ILTACON in Orlando last week – it was an excellent opportunity to network, learn and have fun.

While this year’s conference theme and location surrounded us with nostalgic TV characters and the magic of Disney, there was nothing “old-school” or “Mickey Mouse” about ILTACON’s content. Following are a few of the overarching themes we observed:

  • AI and process automation. Attendees remain fascinated with artificial intelligence. Indeed, there were multiple educational sessions on AI and the exhibit hall was filled with both well-known names and relative newcomers in these areas. It is our observation that AI has incredible potential given the right underlying data, but, while many legal organizations are eager to implement AI in some way, many are not quite sure how to do so. We recommend focusing first on the issue to be solved, e.g., examining workflows and processes in the context of the organization’s needs, then looking for the right enabling technology, which may or may not involve AI.
  • Leveraging data. The legal industry is becoming more measured, and evolved uses of data were a common theme for many of the educational sessions. Some legal organizations are gradually progressing from using data for basic spend and operational analytics to more tailored and sophisticated use cases that have a connection with the practice of law and the delivery of legal services. HBR senior director Andrew Baker, finalist for the ILTA Peer Award for Thought Leader of the Year, facilitated the Legal Data Science series, with sessions that explored the intersection of law and data, addressed building a data science team in the legal industry, canvassed data engineering and mining, and provided examples of thoughtful data visualization within law firms.
  • Data security and protection. Protecting an organization’s and its clients’ data and information was a prevalent theme. In a range of sessions, including the session on IT costs facilitated by HBR’s IT Managed Services Chief Technology Officer Matt Coatney, IT professionals discussed the challenges and costs of security programs. There were also sessions covering information governance initiatives to address the proliferation of data created by new technology. HBR managing director Terry Coan facilitated a session about defensibly disposing of law firm records – particularly important in light of the risk of data breaches and clients’ outside counsel guidelines.
  • Moving to the cloud. The topic of security is a consistent focus when contemplating a move to the cloud. It seemed almost universally acknowledged that the move of legal technology to the cloud is inevitable. Cloud solutions abounded in the exhibit hall, and a number of educational sessions addressed cloud-related issues. For example, Matt Coatney discussed how to develop a holistic cloud strategy, versus simply a “cloud first” philosophy.
  • Collaboration and innovation. One theme that we have observed industry-wide, also manifesting itself at this year’s ILTACON, is recognition of the importance of collaboration between law firms and their law department clients. From fundamental issues such how law firms get hired, the subject of a panel facilitated by HBR managing director Lauren Chung, to technology choices, to innovation programs, the voice of the client was strongly recognized. We saw technology providers who traditionally have focused on law firms expanding to the in-house market and vice versa. ILTACON had specific sessions and roundtables for in-house members in attendance and now has an in-house representative on its board.

As trusted advisors and providers to both law firms and law departments, HBR can help foster collaboration between firms and their corporate clients and guide innovation efforts that arise from these collaborations, responding to the voice of the client. Our recent whitepaper, "More than a buzzword: how law firms and law departments can harness innovation", discusses some of the concepts and trends we see in the market.

If you were there, we would love to hear your key takeaways. Please reach out to me or one of our experts listed here with your thoughts about the conference or if we can help you with any challenges or opportunities in these areas.

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