While ILTACON isn’t the only legal technology show around, it is the one that seems to best deliver the mood of the industry. It’s the show where I first noticed the AI hype wave break and roll back. It also provided an eerie snapshot of an industry grappling with the pandemic. Something about this once-a-year conference and its generalist portfolio — this isn’t an eDiscovery show or a CLM show — always slowly reveals some key truths about the state of legal technology.
Coming off a pandemic stress test, legal technology came into ILTACON22 a little wiser and more mature than it’s been before.
Not that legal tech wasn’t always serious business — my presence at these events notwithstanding — but variations on the word “mature” kept coming up throughout the week to the point that it started to make ears perk up. The context was never exactly the same, but it generally tied to a playing field more settled into feeling confidence in what they provide clients. And equal confidence in what they don’t.
Which is a natural evolution. Startups are likely to run around like their funding is on fire trying to satisfy anyone who can bring in revenue. It takes time and experience to realize exactly what the product can deliver and be in the position to sell the client on what you are. Over the course of the show, I noticed fewer vendors selling me on how they can nimbly change the product to meet a new demand than past years and more willing to tell me about all the customization available in the product already.
If one term challenged “maturity” as the buzzword of the show, it was “API.” Though it seemed as though the latter only fed the former. Vendors seemed at ease explaining that some functions were outside their wheelhouse but that they could easily plug someone else’s solution in. Partnerships and spreading the wealth came up a lot — that’s not the language of a sector doggedly fighting over every last inch of share.
Welcome to the era of playing nice! The closing keynote presentation hinted that Microsoft, Zoom, and Citrix were even working on some limited interoperability.
Is this a function of the pandemic teaching us all what really matters? Redgrave Data’s Dave Lewis suggested I shouldn’t count it out entirely. Though the availability of expertise like Redgrave’s is pretty important too — someone who can bring consulting services to clients to coordinate technologies or create process automation. Where out of the box vendors can’t work together the necessary skills are out there to bridge that gap.
Sectors based on innovation will never truly reach an end state, but there’s something to be said about the landscape settling down with defined lanes. And that could be what brings out the most revolutionary developments. “Art through adversity,” as they say — some of the best stuff comes 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 co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, 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 a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.