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LegalTech 2017 – a New Zealand Perspective

February 3rd, 2017

This week I joined an estimated 10,000 others in the legal technology community who converged on New York for LegalTech.

This was the 36th edition of LegalTech, but this year also saw the introduction of a new format with LegalTech becoming part of the larger Legalweek. The new format provided a wider focus for legal professionals away from just technology, or more specifically the predominantly eDiscovery focus of LegalTech. The concurrent events included LegalExecutive, LegalCIO, LegalPros, LegalMarketing, LegalSmallFirm, and LegalWomensForum, all in addition to the traditional LegalTech.

It is a hectic three days – and 2017 was no different !  The new format probably made the three days even more chaotic than usual, although still very enjoyable.


For me, the focus is still the LegalTech component (and has been since I have been attending annually since 2010). Each year there are trends that dominate the event, from Big Data, Cloud, Cyber to Predictive Coding (which dominated for a few years! ), with eDiscovery still being a primary focus.

The biggest takeaway for me this year was the broader focus on the transformation of the legal sector, together with how important it is for law firms to innovate in how they deliver their legal services.

We learnt about the impact of disruption, together with some of the innovative measures law firms are implementing to stay relevant to their clients. At the same time we heard about the disruptors that are shaking up the legal industry, and becoming competition for law firms.

I was fortunate to have numerous conversations with people about how technology is impacting the practice of law. There are some great examples of innovators out there, from the technology providers to corporate organisations and law firms themselves. Many are facing increasing pressures, but there are refreshing examples of those who see the opportunities in exploring new ways to innovate and drive efficiency.

As far as an individual session, the highlight for me was the new State of the Industry visionary keynote by Andrew McAfee on “Trends, Technology, and Talent in the Second Machine Age”. Andrew provided an entertaining and thought provoking presentation on the impact of artificial intelligence, together with how organizations can survive and thrive in the turbulent years to come.

One of the other excellent sessions was the final legal keynote, also on artificial intelligence.  The panel emphasised that AI was still in its early stages, although there was going to be some exciting times ahead, which will present challenges, but also opportunities for law firms. 

Networking opportunities

I was fortunate to see some exciting new technologies and new releases, although for me the greatest value that I continue to get from LegalTech is the networking opportunities. Everyone is in the one place, all the leading experts, together with technology providers. The event is a great platform to share experiences and discuss issues, whilst still catching up with the latest technologies and trends.

There are great opportunities to meet new people, but also catch up with old friends.

The event is not just meetings, demos and conference sessions, as it would be amiss not to mention the various functions each evening. These are great opportunities to network further (in more relaxed surrounds), discussing what is happening in our fast-changing industry. Each evening you have to juggle different events, and fitting them all into your schedule can be a challenge.

So much can change in as little as 12 months, as each year we see greater advancements of how technology is being used to improve the efficiency of lawyers and law firms. As far as software it is not solely about what is happening now, but what is on the road-maps for the next 12-24 months. These days I spend less time on actual demos, and more time chatting to the providers about what else is on their road-map.

LegalTech continues to be three of the most well spent days of my year, although I do wish it was at a slightly warmer time of the year !


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