We bring you the winners and highlights of the projects that were celebrated at ILTA’s virtual 2021 Distinguished Peer Awards.
Congratulations to all of the winner of ILTA’s 2021 Distinguished Peer Awards. The event was run virtually today, 25 January 2022, and this is the first time that the awards – which normally form part of ILTA’s annual North American conference – have been run as a standalone event.
First up was the Young Professionals to Watch List, a category in which 16 individuals were recognised, including three from NetDocuments.
Next up was Consultant of the Year, in which ILTA looks for a trusted consultant who has demonstrated commitment to using technology to solving problems. The winner, who hails from the United Kingdom, is Justin North, senior managing director at Morae Global.
North, who many of you will know as founder of Janders Dean, which was acquired by Morae in 2020, said: “Joy (Heath Rush) and I have known each other for a long time and there are many on this window that I know or have come across, and all I can do is applaud ILTA and all the volunteers who make it what it is. Thank you to ILTA and everything you do to make the ILTA community a strong one.” He added: “What is amazing is the international component. Many people think ILTA is just for North America but thanks for driving something that is truly international.”
Heath Rush, who is ILTA’s CEO, observed: “The relationships that are created through ILTA, there is just no way to express their value in terms of personal and professional enrichment, and it’s been my pleasure to know you for the time we go back, and we are delighted to recognise your efforts in this area.”
The Solution Provider of the Year Award was awarded to a business partner company for outstanding achievements. The winner must have developed software with for the legal tech space and demonstrated success in adoption in legal departments, fostered a culture of innovation and provided great customer service.
In a night where the competition for each award was said to be close, the runner up was Peppermint Technology, and the winner was eBrevia.
Ned Gannon, co-founder and president of eBrevia thanked his company’s customers, commenting: “You have helped in guiding us in our product roadmap and in finding new spaces: you’re the reason we develop software.” Gannon also acknowledged the hard work, dedication and diligence of the eBrevia team, and the work of ILTA itself. He said: “I remember in the early days I would talk to industry veterans, and people would say ‘you have to get involved in ILTA.’ I didn’t know what ILTA was at the time, but I feel fortunate to be a part of it.”
The Innovative Leader of the Year went to Evan Shenkman, who leads the knowledge management, innovation and library functions at Fisher Phillips. Shenkman, who is a member of Fisher Phillips’ executive leadership team, reflected back on his time starting out in the legal tech space and said: ‘I’d look at all the cool things that people were doing and for me to win this award is a surreal experience, so thank you to everyone involved.” Shenkman thanked all of ILTA’s volunteers, observing: “Every one of you has something valuable to offer. One thing I’ve always tried to do is give presentations and podcasts, and I’d love to hear from you.”
Shenkman has been an ILTA volunteer for the past seven years and said: “It’s probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
He added: “Definitely work with startups. There are amazing things happening in AI and data analytics and many of the things in my submission involved working with startups. There are so many companies out there looking for their start: give them a chance.”
The Impactful Initiative of the Year – Corporate, went to Liberty Mutual, where legal systems senior product owner Vivian Liu-Somers discussed the department’s new outside counsel billing tool LISA, which stands for ‘legal invoice support assistant.’
The tool is described by users as incredibly intuitive and has reduced average turnaround time of invoices by 50%.
Within the private practice sector, the Transformative Project of the Year went to Ogletree Deakins for the launch of its new cloud-based ODConnect intranet platform, with Davis Wright Tremaine, Fisher Phillips and Seyfarth Shaw also recognised as runners up.
David Boland, head of knowledge management at Ogletree said that he was thrilled and humbled by the award, which recognised a huge project to move to SharePoint online, integrate a new enterprise search function and incorporate a new chatbot into one project release. Boland said: “This release has catapulted us forward in our digital workspace journey.”
He thanked partners including BA Insight and V.Group for their involvement.
Both Susan Sommers, director of KM at Ogletree, and product manager Meghan Sullivan talked about the huge change management effort behind the project, which required management buy in and commitment.
Sullivan described the risks of replacing the incumbent intranet platform, observing that this was “a very visible project” in which there were many deadlines that had to be hit.
Heath Rush said: “What this shows is the incredible commitment at the top of the organisation and a willingness to help you decide which risks to take.”
A new award this year was the Trailblazer award, which arose from feedback from one of ILTA’s G100 CIOs, who pointed out that every time a firm adopts technology for the first time, they are taking a risk and helping others to forge a new path.
The award had to be applied for jointly by an ILTA business partner and a member, and ILTA had nine applications. The runner up was Fisher Phillips and LegalMation. However, the winner was Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Jigsaw.
Jigsaw was founded by Stephen Scanlan and Travis Leon, and helps to quickly build diagrams from corporate structure charts.
Simpson Thacher was working on a real estate deal involving 700 properties and was preparing for closing. They reached out to Jigsaw to see if they could generate automatic structure charts and, according to Simpson Thacher’s practice innovation manager Debbie Ting, asked for functionality that didn’t yet exist. Working with Jigsaw was a risk but Ting said: “The key factor for success was that each team brought their collective expertise and were open to collaboration.”
Scanlan added: “Simpson Thacher was an example of open-minded professionals who had the courage to pick the provider that was right, and you have every right to claim the trailblazer title.”
Being recognised posthumously was Alan Crawford, senior solutions architect at TCDI. Ian McCormick, application engineer and change manager at ILTA said: “Alan was well known and respected in the legal community, and having heard from so many about their own personal interactions, he was a great manager, great mentor and great friend.” He added: “We remember his humour, his talent and hard work, and the impact he had on so many of us.”
The final two awards were for lifetime achievement, firstly the Lifetime Achievement Award for a Business Partner, which went to NetDocuments chief technology officer Alvin Tedjamulia.
For those of you who look forward to Tedjamulia’s wide ranging speeches, he did not disappoint. Having tracked his long career and the evolution of cloud within the legal sector, Tedjamulia referred to learning from the passion of Nighthawk’s, and to always surrounding yourself with people better than you (demonstrated by a picture of a farmer guiding ducks with sticks.) “The lesson learned is that as leaders you can give the vision, but you must give the people the ability to be laser focussed and relentless on their own. The best method to success is to be surrounded by people who are better than I am,” he said.
The lifetime member achievement award went to long time ILTA member and former MCB executive director Catherine Reilly, who before MCB served as the vice president of administration for the legal department of Chase Manhattan Bank.
Reilly said: “I’m a bit overwhelmed by the whole idea – it makes me think my act is over, and I have news for you, it’s not over.”
She added: “Twenty years ago, the origins of ILTA came out of a user group trying to get a voice that was loud enough for the vendor to hear, and look at where we are now.”
Here are the winners in full:
Young Professionals to Watch List (16 honorees):
Brian Balistreri, Education Coordinator, ILTA;
Victoria Baranow, Product Manager, Norton Rose Fulbright;
Amanda Bayless, Data Scientist, Fisher Phillips;
Sasha Forbes, Legal Project Manager, Davis Wright Tremaine;
Heather Golovnya, Demand Generation Senior Manager, NetDocuments;
Crystal Kelley, IT User Support Manager, Troutman Pepper;
Elizabeth Kittner, VP of Finance & HR, ILTA;
Jaimes Lee, Learning Development Specialist, Traveling Coaches;
McKenzie Mayer, Customer Success Manager, NetDocuments;
Joshua Moore, Solutions Expert, NetDocuments;
Katsiaryna Pazniak, Associate, Strategic Advisory & Compliance , Morae Global;
Zorik Pesochinsky , Dir Large Law Firm Market Development, Thomson Reuters;
Stacy Rushing, Sr. KM & Data Analytics Counsel, Fisher Phillips;
Amanda Stuart, Client Value Lawyer of Special Projects, Shearman & Sterling;
Mary Vareberg, Manager of Procurement, Robins Kaplan; and
Beini Wu, Legal Operations Analyst, Hall and Wilcox
Consultant of the Year, Justin North, Morae Global
Solution Provider of the Year, eBrevia
Innovative Leader of the Year, Evan Shenkman, Fisher Phillips
Impactful Initiative of the Year Award, Corporate, Liberty Mutual
Transformative Project of the Year Award, 100+ attorney, Ogletree Deakins
Trailblazer Award, Simpson Thacher + Jigsaw
Lifetime Achievement Award, ILTA Member, Catherine Reilly
Lifetime Achievement Award, ILTA Business Partner, Alvin Tedjamulia, NetDocuments