by David Horrigan on September 09, 2015
Throughout our coverage last week of the International Legal Technology Association’s ILTACON 2015, we provided a deep dive into some of the major sessions illustrating how legal technology affects everyone. Now that the 2015 educational conference is behind us, let’s take a quick look at some of ILTACON’s major takeaways and why they matter.
ILTACON Moment #1: Humans Matter, Part I
Patrick Oot of Shook, Hardy & Bacon discussed the importance of humans in technology-assisted review. In considering the cross-section between human and machine, he said “A good artist with a good brush is best.”
Why It Matters: In the constant refrain of machines taking over the practice of law, data from the Oracle Predictive Coding Study indicate that humans do, in fact, matter in the practice of technology-assisted review (TAR). What we take from the Oracle data and Oot’s quote is: great people + great technology = great results.
ILTACON Moment #2: Humans Matter, Part II
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck offered his perspective on keywords and producing documents, discussing the use of keywords and whether you would produce documents without having a human look at them. (His answer was no.)
Why It Matters: When asked in ILTACON’s final session whether keywords could be used effectively, Peck said, “absolutely.” Still, he noted the problem is they’re often not used effectively—for example, misspellings run rampant. He added that using TAR does not mean you should produce documents after a machine review without having the human legal staff review them before they go out the door.
ILTACON Moment #3: The Rules Matter
Scott Cohen of Winston & Strawn spoke on the predictions before the 2006 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The audience on the last day of ILTA erupted in laughter when he said, “The 2006 amendments solved everything, right?”
Why It Matters: The discovery provisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have been amended multiple times over the last 30 years. Each time—including this time, before amendments are set to take effect this December—there have been predictions of fundamental positive change, along with dire predictions of doom. Whichever way things go, these rules set the parameters for just about everything we do.
ILTACON Moment #4: Sir Ken Robinson’s Visual Experiment
In his keynote, Robinson presented a photo of a tiger standing in a jungle, noting that some who viewed the photo focused only on the tiger, while others noticed the entire jungle.
Why It Matters: The visual example reminds us that our clients, customers, partners, and parties to litigation or regulatory matters may be looking at the very same facts and issues, but see them quite differently. That’s an ongoing trend in e-discovery—and human perception—that won’t go away.
ILTACON Moment #5: Professor Bill Henderson on Models
Henderson, of Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, quoted George Box: “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”
Why It Matters: Whether it’s legal doctrines, pricing models, staffing procedures, technical protocols, or the method for consuming an Oreo cookie, there are pluses and minuses to every model. There’s not much to be gained by harping on how they’re wrong, but there’s a world of opportunity in finding how they’re useful and applying them accordingly.
ILTACON Moment #6: Legal Technology Careers Part I
Robert Wickstrom of Paul Hastings talked a lot about the value of pursuing ongoing education to advance your career in legal technology as the industry evolves.
Why It Matters: Both the law and technology are always changing, making legal technology a field where change is constant. Continuing education is a necessity, and as Wickstrom noted, much of it is free. Whether you prefer to get your continuing education from pursuing new certifications or attending conferences like ILTACON, as the shoe people like to say, just do it. It’ll help your career.
ILTACON Moment #7: Legal Technology Careers Part II
Jamar Haywood of Tower Legal Solutions cited the importance of interpersonal skills. He said employers will ask themselves, “Who do you want with you when the walls are caving in?”
Why It Matters: When thinking about our careers, we often think about our experience, degrees, licenses, and certifications—and potential employers certainly care about all of these things. However, all of these accomplishments become moot if the employer leaves an interview thinking, “I’d have a hard time spending five more minutes with this person.”
ILTACON Moment #8: Legal Technology Careers Part III
Beth Patterson of Allens and Eric Lieber of Toyota commented on the job markets in various cities for positions in e-discovery.
Why It Matters: When Lieber noted the market in Los Angeles was difficult at the moment but that New York was better, Patterson added, “If you want to come to Australia, we need good people.” The takeaway is that—whether it’s planning the next step in your career or navigating international data law issues—e-discovery is becoming more international in nature every day.
ILTACON Moment #9: The Line Between Tech and Law Expertise is Blurring
Mary Pat Poteet of Poteet Consulting said on ILTACON’s final day, “Law firm IT departments are not equal—some have no legal knowledge.”
Why It Matters: Poteet’s point was made also by Winston & Strawn’s Cohen, namely that the line between legal staff and technology staff is being blurred. The takeaway: lawyers need to learn more technology, and technologists need to learn more law.
ILTACON Moment #10: Small Firms Matter, but Big Firms Matter, Too
Monica Bay of Stanford Law School’s Center for Legal Informatics (CodeX) and Dan Lear of Avvo shared their thoughts on disruption in the law and technology.
Why It Matters: Lear noted that the disruptive forces in the law—such as 40% of people in need of legal services simply going online to get them—are a potential growth market for small firms strategizing with legal technology. However, Bay reminded the audience that Big Law has a big place at the table, adding, “There’s always going to be a place for Big Law for matters so big and so important that money doesn’t matter.”
What we saw last week is an industry that’s changing constantly, with the law, the technology—and perhaps most importantly for a professional conference—the careers creating new opportunities. We can’t wait to discuss many of these issues further at Relativity Fest in October.
These 10 key moments were but a handful of the important issues discussed at ILTACON 2015. For a deeper dive, see our daily recaps starting with day one—and let us know what you thought of the conference in the comments below.
David Horrigan is kCura’s e-discovery counsel and legal content director. An attorney, law school guest lecturer, e-discovery industry analyst, and award-winning journalist, David has served as counsel at the Entertainment Software Association, reporter and assistant editor at The National Law Journal, and analyst and counsel at 451 Research.