Corrected to change the number of in person attendees from 1200 to 850
The countdown to ILTA is normally one of the most exciting times of the working year for those of us aficionados who attend the conference every August, but much of the editorial and social media commentary of the past week has, perhaps predictably, focussed on who is attending – or not.
LawSites last week (13 August) broke the news that iManage, which is an ILTAMAX sponsor of the conference, will not be sending staff to Las Vegas, thanks to a current travel ban in place for all iManage employees.
LawSites quotes iManage spokesperson Anastasia Bullinger, who said over email: “We let ILTA attendees know last night that due to the current travel ban in place for all iManage employees, we will not be sending in-person staff to ILTACON 21.”
Legal IT Insider spoke to Bullinger, who confirmed that iManage will still have an unmanned booth at the conference, with QR codes and information available. iManage is taking part in five educational sessions and Bullinger says the Chicago-headquartered company will still be taking a very active role in the conference. However, as anyone who is familiar with the normal bustle around the iManage booth and social engagements knows, they will be sorely missed.
One person who is not convinced that iManage’s lack of attendance is ‘news’ is Jeffrey Brandt, CIO of Jackson Kelly and editor of PinHawk Law Technology Digest. Writing under the heading, ‘Is it really news?’ in his daily bulletin on16 August, Brandt said: “Given the state of the world, I am frankly impressed by the attendance counts. But many firms and organizations have travel bans in place due to the pandemic and the rise of the Delta variant. My firm is one. So I’m not sure why iManage not sending people to Las Vegas is actual news? If they had dropped support completely, then I could see it as news. But they did not. They are supporting the virtual event and have five sessions to boot. From the ILTA database, iManage is an ILTAMAX level sponsor (the highest possible) of the organization.”
Personally, I disagree with Jeffrey. Without meaning to apportion blame – everyone is wrestling with moveable travel policies and trying to cope with changing circumstances – this fairly last-minute decision by iManage is nonetheless a blow.
I spoke to ILTA organisers Dawn Hudgins and Beth Anne Stuebe, who say that the other top sponsors are still attending – you can find out who they are here: https://www.iltanet.org/iltacon2021/sponsors
Hudgins and Stuebe tell me that 850 people (including vendors) are signed up to attend this year – that number has grown significantly over the past month and is around where ILTA wanted to be in terms of in person attendance. I agree with Jeffrey that given the state of the world, these numbers are good.
Another important fact Hudgins and Stuebe shared is that the number of coronavirus cases in Nevada is declining. The Western US state saw a predicted spike post 4 July, but numbers are most definitely dropping.
You can keep on top of the latest data here: http://covid.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/cases/
It’s also worth a reminder that ILTA is operating a strict double jab policy not just among attendees, but everyone involved in running the event.
Outside of the iManage news, a side story rumbling away is the upset among some legal tech journalists at not being invited in person to ILTACON 21.
Writing on 12 August with the heading, ‘ILTA Shuns Legal Tech Journalists’, TechLaw Crossroads editor Stephen Embry says that ILTA “in its infinite wisdom” has chosen only to invite and waive registration fees for a select number of legal tech journalists to attend in person. The rest ILTA was “thrilled” to allow to attend only virtually.
I got an in person invite but was surprised at some of the people who didn’t. Vendors rely on journalists to learn about and spread news and product announcements, which are often deliberately timed to coincide with ILTACON. There is no substitute for the exhausting in-person briefings that take place at the conference.
Stuebe told me that ILTA values its relationships with journalists and has given in-person invitations to the ones that it has cultivated a relationship with. She emphasised that this is a hybrid event and that the content and some of the networking will be available virtually, in a year when we always knew that there would be a lot of emphasis on the online attendance.
I do appreciate that ILTA has a tough job in deciding where to draw the line on giving free passes but in my opinion, if there are journalists who want to attend in person, it would be to the benefit of all if they were allowed to. ILTA needs to be careful to avoid the trivial spats that marred the conference in 2018, when the journalists who were invited were told they couldn’t stay in the main hotel but had to book a place down the road.
All this being said, I’m looking forward to joining the live online sessions – well done to ILTA for making the virtual content live and interactive – and the hybrid virtual/in-person networking.
The keynote on Monday is from American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut Dr Mae Jemison and you can use this link to check out the rest of the ILTACON agenda.
To round off our ILTA news in case you missed it, ILTA has launched a legal innovation hub, including an innovation ‘marketplace’ to connect buyers and providers of legal services.
The Hub will be launched in three phases, 1) The Investment Hub; 2) Talent Marketplace; and later, 3) an Innovation Marketplace. The ILTA Investment Hub will launch Phase 1 on 22 August 2021 at ILTACON.
“ILTA is excited for our newest endeavor. This Hub is an ongoing, organic resource for engagement, for legal technologists to learn about emerging companies, and for our community become educated on technologies that will impact the entire legal technology landscape,” said Jason Stookey, VP of business development at ILTA
More information on ILTA’s Legal Innovation Hub can be found here.