#LTWC 2011 – Day 1: Kumbaya?

MP900309157 If I blog late on a Friday afternoon – but there's no one here to read it – did I make an impression?  I say this because Google Analytics tells me you all go home Friday afternoon – and virtually nobody reads me from home on the weekend.  Seriously, I apologize for being so tardy with my updates, but when I'm busy, I'm busy.  Of course I could hammer out something fast – which is what we've gotten used to these days – but even though it's a bit stale, I'd still rather take a bit of time and be substantive.  With that in mind…

The usual – and annoying – disclaimer:  Please be advised that this year, I was given an all-access pass to the conference in my capacity as a 'legitimate' blogger (I laugh every time I type that…).  Also, I was provided with a discount code for your benefit – or for the benefit of people you know.  As is always the case, nobody associated with LegalTech asked me to do anything more than what I usually do;  mention LegalTech and give the dates of the conference.  All other posts about the conference are my views alone and nobody has editorial control over what I write, except me (otherwise, I wouldn't accept the pass in the first place).  Ok…to the substance…

I was arriving from out of town and even though I'd given myself plenty of lead time, a last-minute-accident on the freeway guaranteed that I wouldn't make it to the opening keynote.  However, I wasn't too concerned.  The speech was, "Social Media & the Law".  I think we've covered that quite a bit as it is, although David Pashman, the speaker, delved into the Communications Decency, Digital Millennium Copyright and Stored Communications Acts.  I also had to miss the Plenary session for a lunch meeting, but wasn't too upset, since that one covered, "Why the Legal Industry Needs to Embrace Technology", by Tim Hart.  We know, Mr. Hart, we know!

This leads to the session in-between.  Here's the deal.  The scheduled speaker didn't come and the replacement wasn't prepared to cover the subject.  He even admitted he didn't understand what some of the slides were supposed to mean.  As such, I have no idea what they were trying to say, nor did I learn anything.  However, I'm cutting him some slack because he was obviously thrust in at the last minute.  I missed a speaking engagement last year and stranded my co-panelists because the judge in my trial said, "You're not going".  We're lawyers and technologists and it happens, usually at the most inopportune time.  We move on.

After lunch, I went all-tech with "Big Clouds and Small Clouds – Law Firm Experiences with Cloud Computing".  We had three young guys (remember, 'young' is relative) on the panel who were very excited about the technologies they were working with, which is always refreshing.  Especially since, in my capacity, my job is to temper excitement and prevent corporations and law firms from misusing the same technology.  Unfortunately, the new, new thing is usually the most dangerous for my clients.

This leads to my other observations; first, I couldn't confirm that the attorneys at the firms served by these guys really understood how much control of their data they'd actually relinquished to the cloud – and the risk that accompanies that decision.  Second – and if you follow me on Twitter, you've already seen this – I don't think they were worried enough.  That could be where the 'young' part factors in.  When I see this, I usually assume that the techs have never experienced a major outage, because if they had, they're usually a lot more cautious.

I know what you're thinking; I could have just put up my hand and asked them.  But, I wasn't trying to embarrass anyone, plus, these sessions are 75 minutes long.  I could also have opened up a can of worms that would have wasted a large part of their presentation and I wasn't about to do that.  I walked away with the thought that what they've done is exciting – as long as it's adequately explained and signed-off on by their bosses, and a comprehensive disaster-plan is developed.  I know…they're the party and I'm the wet blanket who tells them to go home.

The last session of the day was, "Partnering for Success: Inside and Outside Counsel Working Together".  I have to say, I loved this session!  Why?  Because, they told the truth.  Let me flesh that out a bit.  People at these things all tell the truth from their perspective – that isn't the issue.  What I mean is, this group told the greater truth, also known as the dirty little reality that very few people want to talk about.

Specifically, their flowchart had an accommodation for "e-Discovery as Extortion" and explained how one should change strategy to address it.

I'm fully aware that it's distasteful for both lawyers and techies to discuss some of our experiences because everyone keeps talking about the 'cooperation proclamation' and 'dancing geek to geek'.  Make no mistake, we get closer to those ideals every day.  But, here's my greater truth; that hasn't been my personal experience in many cases.  And when we don't discuss the realities of acrimonious litigation, I think we do a disservice – especially if you take into account that, in these situations, your adversary is counting on you to perform in good faith – while they don't.

I can't tell you quite as much about their presentation as I'd like because unfortunately, their slides weren't available.  They're going to send them to me eventually, but in overview as a whole, they did a great job of covering the issues between inside and outside counsel and the pertinent case law, assessments and strategies that each should know to better facilitate a good result for the client.

After that, I was supposed to attend three cocktail receptions – at the same time.  Thrice is nice, but the best I could do was split myself in two and attend LegalTech's reception and a benefit by Catalyst for Japan earthquake relief.

All in all, a great start to the conference and an excellent finish to day one.  Coming up next?  My summary of day two.  I hope to post that tomorrow.

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