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Tech Circuit: LegalTech New York Edition, Take Two
Law Technology News
When last we chatted, we were lamenting about how difficult it is to pick among the many options at LegalTech New York, be it seminars, keynotes, parties, plenary sessions, demonstrations, booths, or networking.
So I was very disappointed to miss the Wednesday (January 30) keynote, " The Morning Show! Episode 1: The Judicial Perspective Managing Big Data, Proportionality, Data Security, and Privacy." But I had a very good excuse, LTN was hosting our annual Editors' & Bloggers' Breakfast, which featured ALM's Vice President and Editor-in-Chief Aric Press, who emceed the editors' session, and President and CEO Bill Carter, who lead the bloggers' event. As usual, it was jam-packed; thanks to all who attended. It's always such a delight to meet face-to-face with people we've "met" via email as well as renew ties with longtime colleagues. (Check out the videos of Carter and Press.)
Patrick Oot, general counsel of the nonprofit E-Discovery Institute and special counsel of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (appearing with the usual disclosure that he speaks only for himself and not for the SEC) served as moderator of the session. On Tuesday (January 29), Oot offered a sneak preview in this video, explaining how the panel would be set up like an a.m. talk show. (Think Today, CBS This Morning, or Good Morning America.)
For the keynote, Oot was joined by Senior Judge Michael Baylson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Matthew Gillis, vice president and managing director at LexisNexis, which sponsored the panel. Evan Koblentz, LTN reporter, covered the discussion, which ranged from cost-shifting (Peck: "When a lawyer says, 'Oh, this is going to cost us a fortune,' I think we take that with a certain grain of salt.") to the importance of cooperation. (Baylson: "'I don't want to cooperate' may be a legitimate strategy, but it's going to cost [litigants] money in the long run.")
Before we leave Oot-land, a quick shout-out to EDI for organizing a terrific dinner at Lidia Bastianich's Becco, at 355 W. 46th (in the theater district). Great guests, food, and a cozy ambience and our group of 96 certainly contributed to the noise level! The diverse guest list included lawyers Craig and Diana Ball (photo, left); Eric Lieber, Toyota's director of legal technology; attorney Conor Crowley; Anthony Mosquera, senior legal discovery manager, global discovery operations, at Pfizer; and Jennifer Hamilton, senior and global e-discovery counsel at John Deere (and a 2011 LTN Innovation Award winner). The judiciary was represented by the aforementioned Peck, and Magistrate Judge Frank Maas, also of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Thanks also to Andy McDonald, CEO of sponsor First Advantage Litigation Consulting. A good time was most definitely had by all.
>> Managing Document Services: Another LTNY tradition is The Cowen Group's Day 1 crack-of-dawn breakfast. This year, the focus was on law firms, with 38 attendees (60 percent directors of legal technology, 30 percent managers of e-discovery and litigation support, 10 percent e-discovery attorneys. Five attendees work in corporate posts). As is his ritual, president and managing partner David Cowen started the event with a short "state of the union" update, predicting that 40 major law firms will move to managed e-discovery services in 2013. He then turned the microphone over to Rachelle Rennagel (photo, right) director of legal services at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, who offered advice based on her experience bringing managed services to the firm, which has a single office in Manhattan.
Among her tips:
Know your Cs culture, costs, and clients.
"Law firms are very risk averse," said Rennagel. But the ultimate key, she said, is the people. "Loyalty is to people, not a company," she said. "Unfortunately, for better or for worse, this space has been a revolving door." But, she encouraged, "There is a way to price MDS [managed document services] so that firms save money, but companies make money."
Cowen summed up the morning saying that adopting MDS will be a transformation for law firms. "We need to learn to ride this bike."
Cowen discusses law firm productivity in this LTNY video.
>> Remembering Steve. The hottest invitation during LTNY wasn't to a midnight bash in a chic Manhattan venue, it was a (relatively) small gathering at Thomson Reuters' World Headquarters' 30th floor conference room to listen to Walter Isaacson (photo by Patrice Gilbert, left) reminisce about Steven Jobs and tell us about the process of writing the authorized biography, Steve Jobs. Isaacson is CEO of the Aspen Institute, and former chair and CEO of CNN and editor of Time magazine. He also is chair of the board of Teach for America, which recruits college graduates to teach in underserved communities. (That's just some of his accomplishments.)
I was a latecomer to the "Cult of Steve," listening to Isaacson's book cemented my affiliation. While anyone but the most die-hard fan would no doubt agree that the book would have benefited from a slightly tighter edit (yes, we "get" that Jobs didn't have great hygiene) the book is an absolutely fascinating portrait with so many life lessons. And if you have ever felt confused about the different approaches to computing by Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., Isaccson explains it with complete clarity.( Here is my review of the book.)
Isaacson is a wonderful speaker, and in his mesmerizing talk he weaved references to his other books (he has profiled Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Henry Kissinger) and his other passions (education, government). Isaacson's resume is so dense with appointments to corporate, government, NGO, education, and international boards it seems impossible that any human could do so much. (It reminds of the old expression, "If you want something done, ask a busy person.")
The audience was enthralled by his presentation, and Isaacson saved the best for last, thoughtfully answering eagerly-posed questions. The most moving response was when he was gently asked why he didn't discuss Jobs' death in the book. Isaacson said he would be addressing via an epilogue in the upcoming paperback edition; but that he was too upset to include it in the hardback, which was released shortly after Jobs died October 5, 2011, and needed more time to process his own reaction.
Isaacson gave us the gift of a humble, inspiring, and thought-provoking presentation. Who could ask for anything more?
Monica Bay is editor-in-chief of Law Technology News and a member of the California bar. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lawtechnews @LTNMonicaBay