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Looking back on the NZ Law & Technology Conference

May 20th, 2016

The New Zealand Law and Technology Conference lived up to its billing, with New Zealand’s premier legal technology event attracting over 150 participants in Auckland last week – without question our best event yet !

The one day conference provided a platform to educate, showcase and encourage greater adoption of technology by lawyers and their firms. This year it was encouraging to see many new attendees, together with familiar faces that have been with us over the past 4 years.

Since the day, we have been inundated with positive messages from delegates and sponsors alike. You can see for yourself the conversations on Twitter from the day.

You can even check out this great video compilation of the day !

The challenges and opportunities of technology

One of the themes was that technology does bring challenges, but at the same time great opportunities. Those that are open to innovation and embracing technology will be the ones that will lead the way. The way that law was practiced in the 20th century has changed dramatically, and will continue to do so. Technology and innovation is at the heart of this change as lawyers and their firms look at ways to optimise how they work.

None of our speakers held back – which definitely made delegates sit up and take note. One of the key messages was that technology has and will continue to transform the practice of law. Lawyers and their firms are going to have to adapt in how they use technology to survive.

The highlights

We were fortunate to have an amazing line-up of speakers and topics that were relevant to many. From my opinion (which may be biased), the calibre of speakers and topics continues to improve each year.

It would be wrong of me to single out particular speakers or sessions, but this is a highlight post – so here goes…

The cloud came along and everything changed

Xero CEO, Rod Drury provided the opening keynote as he explored his journey and the impact of the cloud. He captured the audience with his refreshing presentation style that was hard hitting (especially if you were in the New Zealand media), yet highly entertaining – a great way to start the day ! Rod provided important messages of how the cloud has changed how we work, but also removing some of the challenges that technology could provide. He stressed in detail some real legal and privacy issues that firms like his now face.

The cloud: increasing security, productivity and mobility

Microsoft General Counsel, Michael Brick, together with Chapman Tripp Partner, Kelly McFadzien provided a look at Trust and the Cloud. Michael outlined how the cloud has become integral to business transformation. He identified how the adopting the cloud is a great way for law firms to increase security, productivity and mobility. Kelly provided some excellent experiences of her own journey (both good and bad), which resonated with delegates. 

Let’s innovate

Warrick McLean, CEO of multi award winning Coleman Greig provided an insightful look at legal service delivery in the 21st century. He promoted innovation in how firms deliver legal services, with technology being the enabler, together with IT departments having a key role to play to assist their firms to innovate. Throughout, Warrick stressed the impact of mobility and the use of the cloud to facilitate new ways of delivering legal services.

Digital Apartheid and ‘Lawmageddon’

Ebborn Law CEO, Jarrod Coburn provided an invigorating session on the impact of technology on justice in New Zealand. He emphasised the ‘Digital Apartheid’ and ‘Digital Divide’ between firms who adopt new technologies and those who stick stubbornly to the past. Jarrod stressed that the legal profession needs to shift its position to adopt technology to increase efficiency – if not they will simply be left behind. He emphasised that their customers are increasingly expecting this.

The endless war on cybersecurity

Russell McVeagh CIO, Craig Columbus opened all of our eyes to some very real cybersecurity issues. With recent events with the Panama Papers, the session took on even more importance – which was reflected in the great turnout. Craig explored issues of cyber-attacks, insider threats, ransomware and the dark web – issues that are becoming increasingly important for law firms and their clients. It is great to see a law firm CIO leading the way in these areas.

Technology is the future of law

Judge David Harvey provided one of his most passionate presentations that I have seen as he explored legal futures and technology. He stressed how IT is vital to the profession as the future of law is changing. Throughout Judge Harvey provided insights into many key issues including Susskind, data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Online Courts. He strongly criticised the recently introduced New Zealand Electronic Bundle Protocol, as it is not innovative as it is simply a replication of paper.

Judge Harvey left all in little doubt that he will have plenty more to say on these issues. He concluded by saying “One of the things about leaving the bench is I get my freedom of speech back”. I am really looking forward to hearing more from one of New Zealand’s leading thought leaders on the impact of technology on the law – let’s hope the Ministry of Justice, the Judiciary and the profession all involve Judge Harvey in some way to help build a more sustainable future for the Courts, as well as technology and the law.

Special thanks

Special thanks must go to everyone involved, from speakers, sponsors and to those that attended on the day. Without your support this event would not be possible. It was great to see the interaction between delegates and the leading technology providers in our expanded exhibition hall.

This year, it would be amiss of me not to mention the increased role that Judge David Harvey had as he assisted us with our programme.

Lastly, a special mention also needs to go to my co-organiser, Warren Dunn of EY. We started this journey 4 years ago and it is great to watch it continue to grow year on year.

Looking ahead to 2017

The excitement and the success of this year makes us all wanting more. Needless to say our plans for 2017 are well underway.

These are exciting times as lawyers and firms are starting to realise they need to do more with technology. The event continues to grow year on year and has become a must for all lawyers and their firms that want to find out more about the impact of technology on the law.

We know we also have to continue to innovate and evolve the event, and that is exactly what we will be doing for 2017. Over the coming months I will be announcing further details about next year’s event.

Watch this space to find out more.


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