Some
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
ever.

Masses
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?


With
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.)


If
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
www.iltanet.org
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.


We
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.