The Legal Technology Awards 2008 happened five days and an ocean away – two oceans, in fact, one called the Atlantic and one poured from various bottles on both sides of the Atlantic. Both time and tide mean that my recollections are necessarily hazy, so if you want an authoritative account of who won what, I suggest you go to the LTA’s own site.
Waiting for the Oxford bus at the top of Park Lane at 2:00am on the first morning of February is a sobering experience. Just as well really. Nigel Murray of Trilantic, whose guest I was, had pressed the first glass of champagne into my hand at 6:15 the previous evening. I drained the last at 01:30. In between came dinner (rather better than one expects on these occasions), the awards themselves, and several hours of shouted conversation in a crowded bar.
The MC rattled through the awards at a creditable pace – these things differ from the Oscars in several respects, including the fact that we are spared introductions and acceptance speeches. The category is named, the short-listed names are read out, a sponsor bounds up to the stage and hands a bit of plastic to the winner; a quick embrace occurs for the benefit of the cameras, then the stage is cleared for the next one.
The Legal Technology Awards is Jeremy Hill’s baby – well one of them, since baby Jake had arrived a few days before. He seems to organise the whole thing single-handedly (Jeremy, that is, not Jake), and looked strangely calm in the circumstances. Most of us, I think, would look a little on edge at the culmination of a big-budget event for hundreds of people. Perhaps Jeremy found it relaxing relative to the responsibility for a new baby.
Does it help to win in your category? The extra publicity can’t hurt, but most assume that the selection process depends as much on the pitch as the product and cannot really evaluate one person, firm or product with any great accuracy relative to the others. It is not quite pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey but nor is it a precise balancing of factors such as a buyer would make (I hope) in choosing a product. The winner gets a warm glow but those who did not win do not feel losers as result.
Anyway, the important bit is catching up with people. There were at least two people there whom I had long assumed to be dead but who were still as busy as ever. I met people I had not seen for years, people with whom I had often spoken or exchanged e-mails but never met, and people I had never come across. The latter group included a gratifyingly large number who knew me through this blog. One of these had a complaint – the first post he had come across was one about a Trilantic party. Why did his company not get such mentions? Invite me to your parties, I suggested, and if I enjoy myself or learn something useful or interesting, I will probably write about it. I can’t write about what I don’t know about and will not write about anything which does not interest me.
Much of the serious talking gets done on the pavement at these events. The small-minded will disapprove, but this business has a lot of smokers in it and our shared status as social lepers introduces one area of common ground which may lead to others. Someone came and parked an ambulance in our midst at one stage which seemed an elaborate way of making a point.
I missed this, but the high spot of the unscheduled external entertainment came late in the evening when a lady (well, someone of the female sex anyway) turned up from nowhere, abused one of the guests, and started removing her clothing (her own clothing, I mean, not the clothing of the abused guest). Not a pretty sight, I gather. The ones who are keenest to show you everything are rarely the ones you want to see more of. Come to think of it, that is true of the legal software business as well, so perhaps the lady had been hired as a visible metaphor for the industry.
The most-asked question amongst the e-disclosure people was “what flight are you on?” It felt slightly odd to realise that most of us would meet again a few hours hence in New York, where LegalTech was about to begin.
I got to bed at 4:00am. Pretty good acclimatisation for the week ahead really. News from New York will follow.