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ILTA 2008 – best ever ?

people said last week's ILTA (International Legal Technology
Association) annual event in Grapevine, Texas, was the best legal IT
event in North America this year. Some people said it was the best
legal IT event in the Western World this year. They are all wrong – it
was the best legal IT event in the Known Universe this year, if not

of exhibitors – all the major players in the international and large
law firms sectors. A huge educational program of around 200 good
quality conference sessions and seminars. Excellent facilities in terms
of food, drink and entertainments. More vendor jollies than you could
shake a stick at – one supplier flew in Tom Petty to seranade the
company's users – although we'll draw a line of Insider/Orange Rag
editor Charles Christian's attempt to master line dancing at Billy
Bob's Honky Tonk (the biggest honky tonk east of the Pecos). As for the
venue – the interestingly named Gaylord Texan hotel – it was so big it
could not only accomodate what appears to be a full size replica of a
Spanish mission church (and a fountain and a replica of the Alamo) but
the dome of the atrium is so large they can hold firework displays on
the inside!

There were even some Brits on the speaker panels – including Andy
Rudall from Wragge & Co and Janet Day from Berwin Leighton Paisner.
But, why were there so few other Brits among the delegates– about 15 out of a total of over 1400?

the exception of a couple of UK vendors who only operate in the
UK/European markets, there was almost everything most top 100 UK law
firms (and a fair number of the remainder of the top 250) would want
from a legal IT conference and exhibition. In fact you could forget the
Legal IT exhibition at Islington, forget the Legal Week Portugal event,
forget By Legal For Legal and forget the Celtic Manor Legal IT Forum –
and get everything you needed at this one single ILTA event – and that
included an enjoyably debauched, alcohol-fuelled night-life. (No, I've
no idea who she was either.)

you are interested in learning more about ILTA in the UK, Janet Day at
BLP is now the regional V-P for Europe, otherwise visit
There will be an ILTA event in London in the spring of 2009 – and make
a note in your diary for 24-27 August 2009, when the next ILTA annual
conference will take place in Washington, DC.

will be reporting on the tech trends and new product announcements at
ILTA in next week's edition of American Legal Technology Insider –
however we will just say the event confirmed Christian's First Law of
IT Presentations: namely the quality of the presentation is in reverse
proportion to the size of the presenter's laptop. In otherwords, the
bigger the laptop, the flakier the presentation. Thus the slickest demo
I saw was given by Bighand on an iPhone, while the worst was given by
some guy with one of those 20″ screened laptop/desktop substitute
devices. I practically lost the will to live during the demo – and I
did become distracted by the guy's infeasible toupee/rug/wig/hairpiece
whatever. Alternatively it may have been a small Texan critter that
opted to hibernate on his head as the air conditioning was fiercely
cold in some of the rooms. There again, the outside climate was
fiercely hot (100 degrees F) and humid – something no one is likely to
have to worry about in Newport, South Wales this October.

PS In case you are wondering, I did pay my own air fares & hotel accomodation.

5 replies on “ILTA 2008 – best ever ?”

“But, why were there so few other Brits among the delegates– about 15 out of a total of over 1400?”
“PS In case you are wondering, I did pay my own air fares & hotel accomodation.”
I think you've answered your own question. If you asked the vast majority of UK-based IT Directors/Managers whether their firm would stump up for the conference fees, fares and hotel bills the answer would be a resounding 'Fat Chance!'.
Now factor in that a huge proportion of attendees at ILTA are from the middle ranks and coalface of legal technology rather than top management. What is the likelihood of a firm sending their helpdesk manager on a 'jolly to the states' (as it would be perceived by any typical UK partner)? The answer is a resounding 'No Chance'.
Bear in mind this would be the situation in a normal year, never mind these credit crunch/recession looming times in which we live. The harsh fact of life is that a few IT Directors of the larger firms might get there once in a while if a vendor partially or fully sponsors us.
Unenlightened as we are and destined to remain, relative attendance at events is driven by the fact that it's reasonably easy to get a freebie to one of the UK based events, pretty hard to get the cost of a trip to Portugal out of the managing partner but anyone can afford the tube fare to Islington.

spot on – now if ILTA organised a decent event over here instead of a token drinks session with a token UK rep…. not likely though as it would give our American cousins the same travel justification problems. Perhaps at the next London event we could have a sparkler each instead of indoor fireworks.

If you join ILTA its not so expensive, exchange rate is still superb and you have an open invitation to sail with Rupert on the Cheseapeake, Annapolis is 45 mins from central DC, and you can bolt on a w/e with your family to see the sights of the Capital, plus jollies galore it really is an “over the top” extravagansa, suppliers plan for a year to bring new and exciting solution to market and spend a fortune to exhibit, so please support them with your presense, software packages have never been so excting !

Thank you for your review of ILTA ‘09. While I was sure you would be impressed, I was thrilled to see that you thought it was the “best legal IT event in the Known Universe this year, if not ever.” Of course, I think this about our conference every year – and they keep getting better and better. The economy is certainly a factor for travel, etc., but we do hope that more of our members in Europe find a way to attend in the future. ILTA ’09 will be held August 24-27, at Gaylord National in Maryland, 8 miles south of Washington DC.
I do want to clarify the statement made in one of the comments to your post: “a huge proportion of attendees at ILTA are from the middle ranks and coalface of legal technology”. Out of 1400+ member attendees, over 500 were “C” or Director level. And, over 750 attendees came from entities with over 250 lawyers. Many of these attendees may not be “C” level, but they manage large departments, in multiple offices, worldwide, etc.
We also had 47 CIOs from the Global 100 law firms participate on day one in the G100 CIO event: “Web 2.0 – What does it mean for law firms?”
We would love to see more UK firms and legal departments participate, not just at conference, but throughout the year, in our virtual communities, webinars, publications, and the local meetings that Janet Day is planning for the coming year. We will hold out 4th annual INSIGHT event in April, 2009, offering again a day full of educational content, and yes, drinks with our sponsors at closing. Cheers!
Peggy Wechsler, Program Director, ILTA

Though having moved 'to the dark side', I was at ILTA for the last 3 years , thanks to a very far sighted employeer; Wragge & Co.
I did miss it this year… I was was working on-site during ILTA 2008, but otherwise woud not have missed it for anything other than essential client work.
It's a great place to be; the content is peer driven and excellent. The 'jollies' are nice but they are not the driving force; many attendees don't even bother – they get an early night in order to be fresh the next day to learn something new.
I've known law firms to more than re-coup the cost of being at ILTA by negotiating directly with suppliers while they were there.
But (and I say it again) the real benefit is the peer involvement and learning, for all tiers of Legal/IT.
The real tragedy is that many UK firms (Partners, budget minions etc) see it as just a jolly – the truth is that it's only a US flight away and the same same US/UK prices for a hotel (if you plan properly). It's actually an investment if only you make the best of your time there. Even then you can have fun!
Thankfully Wragge & Co (Nigel Blackwood in particular) saw it that way, and I thank them for it…

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