ILTA is the International Legal Technology Association. Its 36th Annual Educational Conference “The Catalyst” takes place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas between 18 and 22 August. Its website, comprehensive as always, covers everything you could need to know.
[A note for the purists, of whom I am generally one. It sticks in the throat to write “Caesars Palace” without an apostrophe, but that is what the place is called and accuracy trumps purity. Las Vegas is a great conference venue, but it is not a seat of learning – except when ILTA is in town.]
ILTA is one of the few events which I attend whether I am speaking or not – indeed, much of the pleasure and value comes from going, as I am this year, with an entirely open agenda. I have formal meetings arranged, of course, with those who sponsor the eDisclosure Information Project or who might do so, and I will see many other people there, including many I don’t know or don’t expect to see. That, to me, is the biggest single benefit to be gained from mixing for several days with a very broad cross-section of the eDiscovery world.
If a lot of what I know comes from hours of reading, from sitting in sessions, and from proper meetings with agendas and stuff, a lot more comes from casual conversation in bars and restaurants. Who is recruiting and who is laying off? What really works and what is all fur and no knickers? Is it really true that…? Did you hear that…? I’m drinking one to every three going down everyone else, soaking up the market vibes, sniffing the breeze and mentally evaluating what I am hearing and why I am being told it, sifting news from gossip from special pleading from wishful thinking. The market gossip is interesting, but what really matters are the portents of big shifts – the recurring subjects, what the clients are asking for, what they are turning their back on. I don’t process it in a formal, statistical way as an analyst would do, but just soak it up and add it to what I know already.
And that is what everyone can do at ILTA. Part of the aim is structured and purposeful, informing a firm’s buying strategy or adding to its knowledge by attending sessions or having demos and explanations, but much of it is really soaking up understanding (a higher level than mere knowledge) of what is going on in a market which, which apart from its own value and importance, is increasingly critical to the fate of corporate and law firm litigation departments. That’s a lot of billions of Pounds and Dollars.
The sessions are always of the highest value, and, as before, can the found on the ILTA Mobile App. The subjects are grouped under broad headings like Information Management, Organisational Management, Applications / Desktop and Technology Operations, covering between them every intersection of legal practice and technology. ILTA has worked hard, as always, on encouraging discussion, not just in the conventional sense of networking for business purposes, but in a way consistent with ILTA’s mission to be a peer-to-peer sharing organisation. Whatever you are thinking of doing in your department or practice, and whatever software applications or services you are considering, there will be someone at ILTA, in addition to the software and service providers, who will be happy to talk about it and share their experiences.
There is an opportunity to see nearly all the rival applications under one roof and to talk to those who provide them. One of my observations from last year is that providers are often represented by those who guide strategy, develop upgrade paths and engage daily with clients whose problems are similar to yours. Spread as it is across five days, ILTA allows ample opportunity to speak to all these people.
I am taking up my youngest son William, together with kit for recording audio and video. I hope to do some interviews and experiment with different ways of conveying messages.
It is not too late to decide to go. ILTA’s registration team is calm, organised and efficient and Las Vegas is as convenient place to get to as anywhere. Don’t listen to all that nonsense about gambling and strippers. I don’t say that these things are not available for those who want them, but they are not an inevitable component of conference life in Las Vegas. Last time I was there, I saw some very fine paintings by Corot and others of his quality. As with ILTA itself, you can find everything you could want in Las Vegas.