ILTACON Reveals the Maturity of Legal Technology
While ILTACON isn’t the only legal tech show, it seems to best reflect the mood of the industry. This is the show where I first noticed the tide of AI hype breaking and receding. It also provided a disturbing snapshot of an industry struggling with the pandemic. Something about this annual conference and its generalist portfolio — it’s not an eDiscovery show or a CLM show — is always slowly revealing some key truths about the state of legal technology.
After a pandemic stress test, legal technology entered ILTACON22 a bit wiser and more mature than before.
Not that legal tech hasn’t always been serious business – despite my presence at these events – but variations on the word “mature” kept cropping up throughout the week to the point where it started to do prick up the ears. The context was never exactly the same, but it was generally tied to a more established playing field for trusting what they offer customers. And equal confidence in what they don’t do.
Which is a natural evolution. Startups are likely to run like their funding is on fire trying to satisfy anyone who can generate revenue. It takes time and experience to realize exactly what the product can offer and to be able to sell the customer who you are. During the show, I noticed fewer salespeople selling me how easily they could modify the product to meet new demand than in previous years, and more willing to tell me about all the customizations available in the product already.
If any term challenged “maturity” as the show’s buzzword, it was “API.” Although it seemed that the latter only fed the former. The sales people seemed comfortable explaining that some functions were outside of their wheelhouse but they could easily plug in someone else’s solution.
Welcome to the era of cool gaming! The closing 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 I shouldn’t count it entirely. Although the availability of expertise like Redgrave’s is also very important – someone who can provide consulting services to clients to coordinate technologies or create process automation. Where off-the-shelf vendors can’t work together, the necessary skills are there to bridge that gap.
Innovation-based sectors will never really reach an end state, but there is something to be said for the landscape that is settling in with definite pathways. And that is perhaps what brings out the most revolutionary developments. “Art through adversity”, as they say – some of the best things come from inventing in a defined space. Let’s see where we go from here.
Joe Patrice is an editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email tips, questions or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe is also Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.