The NZ E-Discovery Blog  Facilitating proportionate and efficient e-discovery

LegalTech 2015 – a New Zealand Perspective

February 17th, 2015

A couple of weeks back as many New Zealanders were still enjoying the beach I made my annual trek up to New York where all of the legal technology community converge for the annual LegalTech show.

LegalTech attracts over 10,000 attendees

For those that do not live and breathe eDiscovery, LegalTech is the largest legal technology/eDiscovery event in the world, taking place at the beginning of February each year at the Hilton on 6th Avenue in New York. The event is held over 3 days, and conservatively attracts over 10,000 attendees (with some reports suggesting the number could be up to 15,000). LegalTech features 8 educational tracks, nearly 200 exhibitors and many providers hiring facilities in hotels adjacent to the Hilton.

Key takeaways

Each year at LegalTech there are key themes that dominant the event. Essentially for me one of the constant messages from the show are the tools and practices that can assist legal professionals manage information more effectively in today’s digital world.

Some of the highlights this year for me were –  


One of the common themes was cybersecurity and its role within organisations. The opening keynote featured leaders from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler discussing ‘Cybersecurity, Privacy and Data Protection Legal Challenges in the Digital Age’. They explored the increased security issues and challenges that they were now experiencing. They looked at some of safeguards that they were implementing to prevent security risks, whilst also how they could continue to respond to any regulatory investigations.

The Cloud

It sounds like a theme that we have had for many years, but there is finally the realisation that the cloud is here to stay and is part of what everyone does – the rest of the world has moved to the cloud, about time the law firms followed suit ! There was a general consensus that the nervousness around the cloud is diminishing and the realisation by law firms that the cloud is essential to drive their business and increase their productivity.

the cloud is here to stay and is part of what everyone does

In relation to any security concerns, we heard examples of how cloud infrastructure was certainly more robust and secure than what many law firms could provide themselves. There was the general view that servers should be out of the law firms to enable the law firms to focus on practicing law.

Information Governance and Big Data

As we have seen in past events, Information Governance and Big Data featured heavily throughout LegalTech. Every organisation today now faces greater challenges in managing the volumes of electronic information, but also the challenge to have the ability to analyse and actually do something with that information – and be able to do so quickly, without having to reinvent the wheel.

Information Governance was linked closely to security issues and managing Big Data. The message was that it is becoming more important to have a comprehensive Information Governance programme to address security, eDiscovery and ultimately assisting organisations to make more informed business decisions.

The evolution of Analytics

Even though Predictive Coding still featured in most conversations (or TAR, CAR, or whatever else people want to refer to it as), it was the use of ‘data analytics’ and artificial intelligence that featured more. The focus shifted more on how these technologies could be used to apply to the issues faced by many of us, but also assisting the corporates to use them to make better business decisions than just the ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ approach sometimes associated with eDiscovery.

There is widespread acceptance that solely human review is no longer possible if we want to reduce the burden and cost of the process. The focus is on technology that maximises the expertise of lawyers to make decisions better.

With all of the themes and how to effectively use technology, the focus throughout LegalTech is on moving away from manual processes of the past, embracing technology to assist the productivity of law firms.

Away from the event

The event is not just meetings, demos and conference sessions, as there are so many social events away from the conference.

The week kicked off with the annual brunch organised by Nigel Murray that brings together many industry people from all parts of the Commonwealth (in layman’s terms non-American) on the Sunday prior to the start of LegalTech. There was a great turn out this year, as I know Nigel did a lot of work corralling the troops. It is always a great opportunity to catch up with many people that you may only see once a year, and this year reacquainting myself with colleagues I worked with many years back in the UK. It was also a good opportunity to catch up with Nigel Murray as he will be delivering the International Keynote at the New Zealand Law and Technology Conference  in just a few weeks.

This year I also attended the ‘Bloggers Breakfast’. The event was a breakfast ‘get together’ on the second morning of LegalTech, whereby I had the opportunity to meet with many fellow bloggers from the industry.

And the parties…

For those that have not attended LegalTech, there are just so many parties around the event with multiple options to attend most nights. This year was no different as I tried to get myself to as many parties as my body (or liver), could handle.

For me one of the highlights was the EDT Cabaret party on the Tuesday evening. The evening featured a 3 piece band and many other acts, that perhaps we should just call ‘performing arts’.

It would be amiss of me not to mention the Relativity party (or parties), with the Wednesday evening at Provocateur in the Meatpacking District being a particular highlight.

Why I continue to attend

The simply answer is that you simply cannot afford not to ! Most years I tell myself, that perhaps visiting LegalTech every second year would be sufficient. However, with technology evolving at an alarming rate it is now more important than ever to continue to develop knowledge in this area of the law where the technology and practices are constantly evolving. What I have learnt, working in this industry for over 15 years is just how the industry continues to evolve at an alarming rate.

eDiscovery has now become a multi-billion dollar industry

eDiscovery has now become a multi-billion dollar industry and continues to increase year on year.

Each year LegalTech sets the global agenda as far as what is happening in the legal technology space. The show provides the opportunity to find out about the latest trends as LegalTech is when many of the providers launch new releases of their products. There is always talk about all the latest legal products and service offerings that come out of LegalTech, and this year was no different.

But, for me the key takeaway is the opportunity to meet with and network with some of the industry’s leading thought leaders in this space. It is not just talking about the issues and solutions we have today, but how these will continue to evolve. The networking opportunities and also meetings with software providers are not about software demos, but about where the software will be over the next year and into the future. It is always important to try and arrange the time to have meetings and demos, not just with the latest sales guy, many of which may have been trying to sell you another piece of software the previous year.

Anybody that is anybody in the legal technology space is at LegalTech in some capacity. Again I was the sole representative from the New Zealand eDiscovery and legal technology industry.

Needless to say LegalTech 2016 is already in my calendar again next year.

For me now though, it is back to putting the final touches on the New Zealand Law and Technology Conference in just a few weeks.   



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