Everything First-Timers Should Do Before, During, and After Relativity Fest

by Kristy Esparza on September 25, 2018

Community , Professional Development

Fall in Chicago is synonymous with two things: alternating doses of hope and disappointment from the Bears and, more importantly, Relativity Fest. This year marks our ninth year hosting the e-discovery conference, and we’re expecting 2,000 members of the community to join us—including Relativity Fest veterans as well as newbies who have no clue what to expect.

We’re writing this post specifically for those of you in the second camp. But, even if you’ve joined us in Chicago before, read on. There might be a few tips for you, too. (Or maybe some that we missed? If so, share them with the community.)

Before the Conference

Study for your free specialist exam.

Every full conference pass includes one complimentary specialist exam. But don’t mistake free for easy.

“Relativity exams are tough and require both job experience and dedicated study time,” says Alexis Williams, a member of Relativity’s certification team. “Don’t wait until you arrive at Relativity Fest to start studying.”

Alexis recommends this Quick-Start Guide to help you decide which exam to take, and a few resources to help you prepare:


Set conference goals.

Relativity Fest packs in a ton of content in a few short days. Recording a few goals before you arrive can help you stay focused and make the most of your time.

Maybe you want to complete at least three hands-on exercises in the Relativity Experience, or talk to a Relativity solutions specialist about a challenge you’re facing. Or maybe you just want the best Italian beef Chicago has to offer. Take a few minutes now to collect your thoughts and create a plan.

And remember: sessions are first-come, first-served and some of the breakouts will fill up, so build your agenda ASAP. Just log in with the username and password you created when you registered.

Bonus Tip: If you’re attending Fest with co-workers, divide and conquer to get the most bang for your buck. Attend Reflect and Plan: Using What You Learned at Relativity Fest to organize your thoughts and takeaways, and then reconvene and swap notes once you’re back in the office.


Create a “survival pack.”

We’re not talking extra water or snacks (we’ve got that covered), but there are a few essentials you’ll want to have on hand:

  • Device chargers so you don’t run out of juice mid-session.
  • The Relativity Fest mobile app: it’s free, and it will be a huge help during the conference. Your personal agenda, hotel and Chicago maps, session and speaker info, and conference updates will be right in your pocket. This is also where you’ll find session presentations and surveys.
  • Business cards.
  • A light sweater, because the Hilton Chicago’s air conditioning is aggressive.



The word “stalking” gets a bad rap (rightfully so), so we’re calling this “pre-networking”—the perusing of various social channels to see who’s coming to Fest. There are a few easy ways to do this:

  • Join the Relativity Fest group on the Community site to connect with other attendees and Relativity team members.
  • Browse through the mobile app’s Networking widget.
  • Search for #RelativityFest on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

If your pre-networking leads you to anyone you know or would like to meet, set up some time now to get together in Chicago.

During the Conference

Get comfortable networking.

You’re going to be in the same room as just about every type of e-discovery pro: developers, in-house counsel, IT, analysts and press, professors, State Supreme Court justices—the list goes on. The knowledge and connections you’ll gain will be invaluable … but you have to start the conversation.

Real talk: networking doesn’t come easy for most people. Striking up conversation with a stranger can be awkward, uncomfortable, and totally against what our mothers taught us. But the payoff is worth it.

So put your fear aside, and maybe take a tip or two from cognitive neuroscientist and psychologist Dr. Lynda Shaw:

  • Scan the room for open body language. “If people are in a tight huddle then they don’t want to be disturbed. But if you see two people facing outward, it should be fairly easy to join them,” says Shaw.
  • Admit if you don’t know anyone at the conference. You’ll either be met with a “me too!” or an offer for introductions.
  • Keep things light-hearted—it doesn’t all have to be business. “As you enjoy yourself, your brain releases dopamine, the motivator, and serotonin, the happy chemical. Others will also enjoy your company more,” says Shaw.

Bonus Tip: On Monday evening, ACEDs is hosting a networking session. Join them for tips, tricks, and networking practice. Then, stick around for their networking reception or head to a celebration of diversity in legal tech.


Join the hot hangouts and get hands-on with the tech.

You’re going to be in sessions throughout most of your time in Chicago, but you’ll have a little downtime as well. Where should you spend it? We have two recommendations:

  • The Relativity Experience, Boulevard Rooms A – C, Level 2

We call it the RX, and it’s your go-to spot to dive into Relativity. Try out a hands-on exercise or two, meet Relativity’s product experts—and get your questions answered—or sit in on a fireside chat.

  • The Community Pavilion, Grand Ballroom, Level 2

This is the place to meet members of the community and learn about the cool workflows and solutions your peers are building. Head there to find Tech Talks on e-discovery integrations and applications, as well as the solutions up for an Innovation Award.


Don’t forget to claim your credits.

Relativity Fest has nearly 20 sessions submitted for CLE credits—titles like “Access to Justice: Challenges for the Legal System and the Nation,” “Cybersecurity for Attorneys,” and “Will Artificial Intelligence Supplant the Practice of Law?”

But, you must scan in and out of sessions—including the Annual Judicial Panel—for the chance to count these credits. Check out this handy guide for more info.


Vote for your favorite innovators and innovations.

The conference will wrap up on Wednesday morning with the Relativity Innovation Awards. Don’t forget to submit your vote for the year’s coolest apps and brightest stars. Voting booths are located in the Relativity Lounge, or you can vote online.

Cast your vote by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2.

After the Conference

Spread the knowledge.

You’ll leave Relativity Fest with more information than you probably know what to do with—and that’s okay. Continue the learning experience at home by sharing your notes, presentations, and stories with your co-workers.

Presenting your takeaways to others—whether it’s by sharing a brief report or hosting a lunch and learn—can help organize your thoughts and align everyone around what you learned.


Follow up with new connections.

Don’t lose track of names and faces you met during the conference. Build a real relationship by following up with new connections a few days later, while your conversation is still fresh.


Share your thoughts.

You’ll have the opportunity to complete surveys after each session, as well as after the entire conference. Please fill a few of these out. We read all your input (seriously!), and it helps us plan content for next year and continue to make the conference even better.

Bonus Tip: Complete at least three session surveys for an official Relativity Fest 2018 t-shirt. After you complete three, you can pick up your shirt from the registration desk—so really, you’ll want to do this before you head home!


Have a specific question about the Relativity Fest experience? Head to the Relativity Fest group on the Community site for answers.

Kristy Esparza is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, specializing in content creation.


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