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Goodbye and thank you for all the Irish comedians

Just for the record, because of the erratic nature of supplies over the past 12 months, the Legal Technology Insider newsletter has ceased distributing copies of the Legal Technology Journal to its subscribers. Sorry about that but it's another publishing group and we have no control over their operations.

We also will not be supporting (either through sponsorship or editorial coverage) next January's Legal Technology Awards on the, admittedly puritanical, grounds that we think expecting vendors and law firms to splurge thousands of pounds on tables at an award ceremony that honours – as one Orange Rag commentator once memorably put it – the 'Deputy Knowledge Officer for January in a firm of between 1 and 5 partners based in the North West excluding Manchester' in the middle of a recession is ludicrous and – given the lay-offs being reported – in bad taste.

To quote another Orange Rag comment posting “I've got my own views on how awards should be run – or not run – and
there is a clear distinction between awards that are meant to reward –
and awards that are run primarily as a money making venture by the
organisers. However unless enough people stand up and say 'Bollocks, we
aren't playing and are not buying a table at the ceremony' – they will
keep trundling along.”


It's time to say bollocks.

16 replies on “Goodbye and thank you for all the Irish comedians”

Is it true that you proposed a “Best legal technology journal that has orange in the title” and were turned down, hence this new resentment of an event previously supported, obscure categories and all? I do agree that some of the categories are obscure and laughable, which harms the credibility of the awards.
However, overall it still works in my book: personally I wouldn't experience a great deal of joy in winning 'Deputy Knowledge Officer for January in a firm of between 1 and 5 partners based in the North West excluding Manchester', but to win one of the more mainstream awards … still good. We all know which are the awards that matter.
I'd like the judging process to be more transparent (I can't see from the website who the judges are), however the 'dragons den' approach is going a long way towards transparency. I quite admire the Institute of IT Training's Awards for their transparency in recent years, it'd be good to see the Legal Technology Awards more in line with those.
And as for the comment about the awards being primarily designed to generate money, well, there are few award ceremonies that don't start with that premise (there are few businesses that don't start with that premise), and of course the issue is not whether they're trying to profit from the exercise, but whether they're doing so in a way that we want to continue to support.
Personally, I still do. But then I just spent time submitting our entry for 'Online training project conducted off-shore but accessible from the City' award

I think the judges, every year, are honest and above board.
The problem? …
The categories they are asked to judge are inconsistent and change by title and meaning every year – because individual awards are 'sponsored' by sponsors with an agenda.
In the BAFTA/Oscar awards, 'Best Actor/Actress' – 'Best Original Screenplay' etc are generally understood, meaningful and are consistent across generations and productions. They have value and worth within the industry because they persist.
When the award titles change every year, and are sponsored by individual organisations (and let's be honest, the way things currently work then without a sponsor with an agenda then there is no 'Award') then we will always have this inconsistency.
And I agree with Charles that time it's to say 'Bollocks!' Or know that change will happen.
Perhaps this years judges, who I'm sure are independant, could be a given an additional task? …
Derive 12 consistent award categories that will persist over time. To be sponsored equally by organisations who wish to support such awards but without being tied to any particular one.
I hope such a change could be made to give credance to something that once had a certain degree of worth.
As for me, I'm going for the 'Most numeric, though meaningless, contributions by a named individual on a Rag wot is Orange Award (kindly sponsored by Myself)'

I cannot speak on the behalf of the judges but I do know that some of them felt that they were given too much work to do with the number of awards and the number on the shortlist.
WIth the extended “Dragons Den” format this year I presume they will not think that the situation has improved.
Incidentally, I think the judges were unpaid. If I was a judge I would also say “bollocks” if the organisers were making substantial sums.
I have been shortlisted for the “Best use of the word bollocks” award although I fear the competiton is tough.

I've been a judge for a number of competitions – normally you are not paid – tho you do get a free ticket to the awards ceremony – which is personally my idea of living hell as you are normally trapped on a table for the night surrounded by PRs you've spent the previous year trying to avoid and various muppets from the event organisers company. You also do get too much work to do – including doing the organisers work for them sorting entries into their correct categories and – on one occasion – having to explain in words of no more than one syllable the different between integrated solutions and best of breed/point solutions.
I think we have definitely reached a bollocks moment in the legal IT world. And personally I think a similar moment has been reached with a number of other events and, arguably, the Law Soc's annual solutions guide – but that's just me.

Whilst I can see the point that is being made here, isn't this just a classic case of a 20 a day smoker stopping smoking and preaching to smokers. Or indeed a born again (Charles) Christian?
Yes, we are in a recession, and yes the logic of paying thousands for a table in these times is to be questioned. I also think the posts about the less meaningful awards are spot on.
All that is good debate, however, what I think is a little bit much is the moralistic fashion that this comes across. I have to question why people suddenly think that their previous attendance and sponsorship was perfectly acceptable, but when times are bad decide to criticise the event….Just like the Bankers that have earned stellar bonuses for the last 5 years, I personally am not going to listen to any pleas as to how they are now unacceptable just because they have made a token gesture by foregoing their termination payment. I will make my own mind up thank you.
Surely, the most appropriate way forward would be for those with influence to engage in a positive way with the organisers to relay the views of the silent majority, seek to retain the good things about the awards and look to adapt them to meet the ethics of the current climate.
And if that fails, as my Gran used to say to me years ago, “If you have nothing postive to say, then keep your mouth shut”.
And before I get the usual responses – I am not connected in any way with the awards organisation.

I agree and disagree in equal parts (so I'm saying either “boll” or “ocks”). I think these type of award ceremonies are a Very Good Thing for the UK's legal IT world and that stopping them would leave a large vacuum. I have been supportive of these events since In Brief Magazine started recognising efforts in this area.
That said, I do feel that the evening wears on too late and the overall progamme is too ambitious. Keep it simple and, if possible, keep it constant (as others have suggested). Next time I see the organisers I shall offer my penny's worth to them (and, indeed, point them to this post).

I remember attending an event where the speaker was Nicholas Witchell, and I had the misfortune to sit next to him for dinner, which I spent contemplating whether the knives were sharp enough to stab him, and whether I'd get off on self-defence. Matters were compounded when he got up to speak and managed to stun the audience into a bored silence. I think they'd removed cutlery from all tables by that point, otherwise it would have been a bloodbath.
Once he'd completed his speech, he came and sat back down before launching into one of those 'how did it go' luvvie-type fits. We all lied and assured him it had gone well. He kept on with his luvvie-attack and finally Maria (I think t'was her) said 'Look at it this way Nicholas, it's over now, you can just enjoy the rest of the evening'.
At least he didn't 'Phil Cool' over anybody…

Oh what mastery of diversion Charles! You give notice that you are ceasing to send out the paper copies of the orange rag that costs you a fortune in paper and postage then divert the discussion to something else. I assume you will use the substantial boost in profits from ceasing paper distribution (yes printing, packing and especially postage is expensive isn't it!?) to give back to your many advertisers or indeed buy a table at the LTAs given the credit crunch – I'm sure you could afford one with the increase in profits!
Lets face it everyone – people are in business to make money. Notwithstanding some of the sensible comments made in this thread I will leave it to firms to vote with their attendance and not because some publisher has an apparent axe to grind as a possible diversionary tactic.

Get your facts right – the Orange Rag newsletter (aka Legal Technology Insider) has not ceased to be available in a print newsletter format – the next one is out next Thursday. There are no plans to cease the paper distribution – in fact we carried out a reader survey earlier this year which confirmed the continuing demand for print. And as the reader is always right, we're sticking with orange paper – altho we may revisit this decision in 2015 when we come up to our 20th anniversary.

This is probably the last comment on this posting… however we met a company today that sponsored one of the categories in the English Law Society's recent legal excellence awards. They said it was well run, only had about 10 categories, awarded lawyers who had actually achieved something worthwhile – pro bono, campaigning for human rights etc – and was well hosted by Kirsty Wark. OK, so it wasn't a tech awards show and seems to have received little publicity but clearly it is possible to do a useful awards.

Of course it's possible! I know that the organisers of the Legal Technology Awards have noted the constructive comments on here, so here's hoping.

since you mention comedians
has anyone heard the one about the knowledge management officer who cracked the problem of unstructured data, managed to put it into a commercial context and deliver something useful to his practice or clients?
me neither, nuff said

Now you are starting a whole new thread on the Great Myths of the Legal IT World… Along with the plausibility, realisability and feasibility of knowledge management, we could add: has anyone heard of an IT director who has ever developed a bespoke project that has subsequently been packaged and enjoyed commercial success being sold on to other firms. Discuss.

As a matter of fact… both Greenberg Traurig and Bryan Cave (and probably others) have a successful track record in doing just this. Different model perhaps, but nonetheless.

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