Comment: Aderant Virtual Momentum 2021 – The session highlights; product updates & latest trends

Christy Burke outlines the key topics and themes discussed at Aderant Virtual Momentum 2021

The Aderant Virtual Momentum 2021 online conference projected energy, positivity and innovation.  Before the pandemic, Aderant’s conferences had been live events held in major cities around the U.S. – the 2019 conference was live and in-person in Orlando.  COVID conditions last spring moved last year’s Momentum 2020 online, a massive conversion project which the company accomplished in 6 weeks.  The pandemic also prompted 2021’s conference to be held virtually. 

Aderant’s planning team built an ambitious event agenda for Virtual Momentum 2021 with 60+ sessions, more than doubling last year’s session count.  The 2021 conference also set attendance records, attracting over 1300 attendees which were mostly clients and prospects.

In her opening remarks, Aderant CEO Deane S. Price provided an update on the company and shared some recent milestones.  She said that Aderant was doing very well and had already reopened its Australia and New Zealand offices, though the rest of the company was still working remotely.  Aderant continues to dominate in time and billing technology throughout the entire WIP-to-cash process.  The company has grown at every level, adding 35% headcount to its support organization in the last two years.

Price noted that Aderant has found success providing compliance solutions for Outside Counsel Guidelines (OCGs).  The company also continues to forge new integrations between its products, most recently integrating Expert, BillBlast and iTimekeep.  Price remarked that interest in the cloud had grown tremendously in the past year and net-new sales of Aderant Expert were now split 50/50 between cloud-based and on-premise implementations.   Looking to the future, Price said Aderant would be launching new data services around BillBlast soon. 

Chris Cartrett, Executive Vice President at Aderant, summarized the top three trends he has seen impact the company’s clients in the past year.  First was “get me to the cloud now!” Driven largely by the pandemic, many firms have opted to switch to cloud-based solutions this past year.  Second was security, a critically important priority for firms to protect both infrastructure and applications.  Cartrett noted that security was one of Aderant’s main investments and top priorities this year.  Third was the burden of compliance with billing guidelines – law firms need to automate this area, fast, as lack of compliance affects their bottom lines and relationships with clients.

Aderant gave the 2020 Innovator of the Year award to Davis, Graham & Stubbs, the first firm to go live on Aderant Expert law practice management software with all modules in a fully remote environment.  The firm had planned to go live with Expert on March 30, 2020.  Undaunted by the shift to remote work due to COVID, the firm decided to keep their deadline and move forward with their Expert implementation plan.  Their fully remote Expert deployment was extremely successful.

The 60+ sessions covered the entire spectrum of Aderant technology products and services.  Here are some additional highlights and takeaways gleaned from Virtual Momentum 2021 sessions:

Future of Compliance and OCG ManagementOutside Counsel Guidelines (OCGs) have become an increasingly difficult challenge for law firms as they strive to meet corporate clients’ compliance requirements.  Law firms are drowning in the complexity of OCGs and they are writing off thousands of non-compliant time entries as clients are disallowing more expense categories.  Keep an eye out for the results of Aderant’s 2021 Law Firm Leader Survey on Outside Counsel Guidelines, coming soon.   

Aderant addresses compliance for law firms with several technology platforms:– Expert manages the rules framework, flagging instances where OCG rules are violated. – OCG Live centrally stores guidelines, creates summaries by department or team, and automatically identifies people working with the matter. – BillBlast eBilling has embedded rule validation, automatic rule creation and analytics to inform better decisions. – iTimekeep validates time entries so errors at the entry stage are corrected before bills are created.  Enforcing compliance at the point of time entry is essential so billing doesn’t have to correct invoices downstream.

Migrating to the CloudAs Cartrett mentioned in his opening remarks, the past year has been transformational for law firms and the cloud.  During Virtual Momentum 2021, IT leaders of firms of various sizes participated in a fireside chat about their experiences developing a cloud migration strategy.  Their primary reasons for moving to the cloud included financial savings and predictable pricing, more uptime accessibility and productivity, relief for the firm’s IT department, and greater security.

From a deployment standpoint, firms recommended looking holistically at the whole technology ecosystem to truly assess their situation up-front.  Several emphasized the importance of using vendors and implementation partners to help with cloud rollouts, it’s not a “do-it-yourself” project.  They also stressed how crucial it was to interview people at the firm before the migration for the process to succeed – people are often the biggest challenge for a tech implementation and the workflow has to be right or it won’t work. The speakers noted that planning for the cloud rollout and return on investment (ROI) for cloud solutions both take time, perhaps longer than the firm may expect.

Unanimously, the speakers said switching to the cloud had been a good move.  Law firm IT departments are often lean, and they said now that they have cloud applications, they don’t have to maintain those systems anymore.  The speed, availability and agility of cloud providers allowed firms to add new services and features quickly.  Looking back, some firms noted they would have allotted more time for testing and training.  They also would have ensured they had leadership backing to enforce the end-user training requirements. 

The Momentum ContinuesVirtual Momentum 2021 was an exciting, compelling and energizing experience.  Clearly, the Aderant development engine has been working overtime to advance their many tech solutions with new innovations.  The company is accelerating into future plans for additional integrations and more capabilities to benefit their law firm clients, including an upcoming new data offering.

Looking to the future, Aderant announced that Momentum 2022 would be held live and in-person in Austin, Texas on May 16-19.  The event theme “Onward” reflects Aderant’s commitment to move forward with their clients and partners in a new and optimistic direction.  Aderant attested that safety will be their #1 priority at the live event, followed of course by valuable content offerings.

See you in Austin!

About the AuthorChristy Burke is President of Burke & Company, a NYC-based business consulting firm that advises corporates including Aderant.  She is a frequent contributor to legal technology publications.