Spread throughout 5 days and with some 350 distinct instructional alternatives, ILTACON 2023, the annual convention of the International Legal Technology Association, is a marathon, not a dash. But it was a marathon effectively price the effort, and virtually all of the attendees I spoke to thought of themselves winners for having participated.
When I say it was extra a marathon than a dash, there was some literal in addition to figurative fact to that this yr. Conference occasions spanned some 431,000 sq. ft of exercise house, and whereas the convention was centered in the side-by-side Disney Dolphin and Swan resorts, it spilled over into farther-afield buildings on the Disney campus, typically requiring walks of three-quarters of a mile simply to get from one assembly to a different – walks, thoughts you, outdoor in the swampy warmth of Orlando in August. Even on one of my most stationary days of the convention, I clocked over 10,000 steps.
But, strolling apart, in virtually each different approach, this yr’s ILTACON was a hit. With over 3,400 registrants, attendance was up from the final two years (though nonetheless decrease than 2019’s 3,800). The exhibit corridor was sturdy, with 158 exhibitors and a gentle circulate of prospects. The instructional alternatives have been, as I stated, ample, in addition to various and substantive of their content material. Opportunities for socializing and consuming and consuming and partying have been plentiful.
Programs and Exhibitors
For most attendees, the foremost motive they have been there was for the alternatives to study from consultants and colleagues of their fields. Because a lot of my schedule was stuffed with briefings from authorized tech corporations, I attended only a few instructional applications. But the suggestions I obtained from others who did attend applications was constantly constructive, with reward for each the vary of matters and the high quality of the audio system.
For the exhibitors who attended, their aim, of course, was to not study, however to promote. Here once more, the exhibitors I spoke to have been fairly happy with the circulate of visitors to their cubicles and the high quality of the interactions they’d with the attendees who got here to their cubicles.
This was true although the massive exhibit corridor was poorly laid out – divided into entrance and rear sections in a approach that favored exhibitors fortunate sufficient to be in the entrance part and disfavored these in the rear. But even in that rear part, exhibitors advised me that they have been happy with the total visitors to their cubicles.
For these attendees who ventured all the approach again to the furthest most reaches of the exhibit corridor, they’d have been rewarded with discovering the ILTACON Startup Hub, that includes 27 authorized tech startups. In addition to every startup having a sales space in that part, every bought the likelihood to take to a small stage in the Startup Hub and provides a brief presentation about their product, with these shows operating all day over the course of two days.
As for the convention venue, I’d fee it a “meh.” Not positive why I’ve turn out to be so cranky lately about convention venues. Last yr, I made no secret of my dislike of the Gaylord Nashville, the place ClioCon was held, calling it sprawling and byzantine, and simply final month, I wrote about how the venue of the American Association of Law Libraries annual convention appeared so disjointed that it left the convention with no middle of gravity.
This yr, ILTACON suffered considerably – or, I ought to say, its attendees suffered drastically – from its unfold throughout a number of venues, the excellent news is that it managed to not really feel disjointed regardless of its sprawl. This was due to the Dolphin serving as its anchor. With the registration space in the Dolphin, the exhibit corridor in the Dolphin, the opening and shutting receptions in the Dolphin, and breakfasts and lunches in the Dolphin, it very a lot supplied a middle of gravity to anchor the convention. In addition, the Dolphin’s always-bustling foyer bar served as a social hub for the convention.
Of course, no convention is full with out events and receptions to gas networking and entertain attendees after hours. When it involves events, ILTACON by no means disappoints. The hardest selections attendees needed to make every day have been which occasions to attend every night.
ILTA itself at all times throws good events, together with the opening evening reception, the exhibit corridor opening, and the closing evening occasion. But the vendor-sponsored events are sometimes the ones to not be missed. This yr’s sizzling occasion ticket was for the iManage after occasion, with attendees lining up at its sales space early on the day of the occasion for a coveted admission wristband. Held in the cavernous World PresentPlace Pavilion straight inside Epcot, with a 90s-themed band and a liberal circulate of liquor, it was by far the loudest and most packed occasion of the week.
If the most talked about know-how at ILTACON was generative AI, then the second most talked about was Klik, the so-called good badges given to attendees. These identify badges bore some time button you would maintain subsequent to a different attendee’s badge and click on to trade contact data, with every particular person’s button lighting up inexperienced to substantiate that the trade was made. The buttons would additionally inexplicably gentle up and flash at different random moments, main some attendees to wonder if the gadgets have been someway monitoring their exercise.
As I wrote earlier this week, the preliminary drama over these badges was the information that attendees who did not return them can be fined $50. The downside with this was that this was not made clear to attendees once they registered. Apparently, some have been advised this once they picked up their badges, however clearly not everybody. After I wrote about it on Monday, I had dozens of folks thank me for saving them the $50 high-quality.
But that was not the solely downside with the Klik badges. The complete concept of them was to shortly share and save contacts. But for some folks, I used to be advised, it saved just some of the contacts they thought they’d made.
I first heard of this Wednesday evening, when somebody advised me that she had been advised by another person that they’d tracked the Klik contacts and located that not all have been getting saved. She tracked it for herself, she stated, and had the similar consequence.
I can not say for positive that the app failed to gather all contacts. It is sort of attainable folks didn’t click on it accurately or just misremembered which contacts they’d collected. If you had this downside in any respect, please let me know.
Vibrancy and Energy
Whenever I write a autopsy on a convention, I base my analysis partially by myself intestine impressions, however I additionally put quite a bit of inventory in the conversations I’ve with others throughout the convention. They present a intestine verify, if you’ll, confirming or countering my very own takeaways.
My intestine this yr tells me that this was one of the greatest ILTACONs I’ve attended, and my conversational intestine checks constantly confirmed that. Yeah, folks complained a bit about the unfold throughout a number of buildings and all the strolling in the 90 diploma warmth. Yeah, some distributors complained about the poor structure of the exhibit corridor, largely these in the again half. But nearly everybody I spoke to – whether or not attendee or vendor or no matter different function introduced them there – advised me that they’d an excellent convention and bought out of it one thing near what they’d hoped to get out of it.
There was an plain vibrancy and vitality to this yr’s ILTACON. That could possibly be attributable to a number of components, not least of which is our persevering with pleasure at merely having the ability to as soon as once more congregate after the lock down of the pandemic.
But I additionally assume the vibrancy of the convention mirrored the vibrancy of the authorized tech business extra broadly at this second in time – a vibrancy fueled by the pleasure round generative AI and the new spirit of innovation it has engendered all through the business.
Regular readers might imagine it hypocritical of me to say that, on condition that once I wrote simply final month about the sense of malaise at the AALL convention, I blamed it on the air of uncertainty there introduced on by the broader uncertainly round generative AI and its potential influence on authorized professionals.
But there are two sides to that coin. If there’s uncertainty about generative AI, there’s additionally pleasure. And ILTACON’s attendees are a really totally different group than AALL’s. Many work in innovation and IT inside their corporations and organizations, and are straight concerned in managing, deploying and utilizing know-how. Of the attendees I spoke to this week, many appear to be cautiously hopeful about the prospects of generative AI.
There is a buzz throughout the authorized business that we’re on the cusp of main change, and ILTACON appeared to encapsulate some of that buzz – a convention enthusiastic about the place we’re right this moment and inquisitive about what the future holds.