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More on that alternative legal IT event

Just before the Christmas holiday break, we mentioned that some UK law firm IT directors (altho our contacts in the US say there could be a similar demand over there) are wondering where to go for their legal IT conferences and networking events this year – on the basis that most of the events currently taking place have either lost their way or past their sell-by date. And, there is also a view that any project that is actually going to cost IT directors money to attend is going to be out of the window in the current financial climate.

What is therefore wanted is some kind of networking event which brings vendors and IT directors together – that is totally funded by sponsoring vendors BUT (and this is a big but) which is not in the hands of commercial conference organisers who inevitably wack on a massive profit margin for themselves and pretty quickly wring the last drop of blood out of the stony goose that once laid the golden egg (to mix a few metaphors).

So what kind of programme would such an event include – given we can assume nobody wants to sit through death-by-Powerpoint presentations by sponsoring vendors?

One suggestion is that day one would see Dragon's Den type presentations/elevator pitches by vendors before the IT directors with an impartial chair/moderator. This would be run under Chatham House Rules – altho possibly Las Vegas Rules (what happens in Vegas, stays in Las Vegas) might be more appropriate.

(We're not certain how this event would handle the other vendors – presumably they would be excluded from these presentations until it was their turn. Another variation might be some kind of product shoot-out between vendors with competitive products – we're sure there would be a lot of interest in a three way shoot-out between Bighand, Winscribe and nFlow in the digital dictation arena. The Workshare versus DocsCorp debate at the Tikit Word Day in the autumn certainly proved informative.)

This would be followed on the second day with a reversal of roles – with an audience of vendors asking individual IT directors to explain their respective IT strategies and purchasing decisions. (Current betting among rather cynical vendors is that the most frequent explanation would be “We only bought that system because we read that Janet Day had bought one.”)

Reflecting the frugal times ahead, the suggested title for this event is Barely Legal IT. What do readers think? Here on the Orange Rag/Insider, we'd certainly be up for sponsoring some of the action (as long as our money was going into the event and not the event organisers' pockets.)

16 replies on “More on that alternative legal IT event”

An interesting idea, and I'm interested. However, isn't the Dragon's Den idea one that received mixed press (to put it politely) on here in relation to the Legal Technology Awards???

Brilliant Charles, very keen to paticipate in the New York market, we had a few social events a few years ago, that were self funded, but I think we are all tired of the prawn cocktail circuit, I vote for a sailing day where everyone is mixed into teams willy nilly with a purpose, IE a race, , and the sales/buy pressure is off from both ends of the spectrum, IE anyone talkin shop is thrown in etc. Rupert

Why dont you just call it the I wish I was Janet day – make sure you dont forget the 'et' or no one will turn up!

I think this is a great idea – cut out the middle man and introduce a structured agenda that actually offers value to all involved. It also gives some of us smaller vendors the opportunity to present our proposition to this niche audience- lets do it!!

Who is this “Janet Day” anyway, and what has she done to deserve this 'elevated' position?

Janet is proabably one of the most respected Legal IT Directors in the world and that's saying something in an industry that is populated with some seriously impressive IT Directors.

What is it they say about sarcasm?
(no disrespect to Janet who is near the top of a varied talent pool)

I cannot think of anything worse. I spend my working hours avoiding speculative vendors, last thing I want to do is give them a captive audience let alone justify my Firm's IT spend to them.
I am focussing my time on serving the needs of my Firm, rather than attending events where I can see no obvious benefit in the short term.
Raise this again in 12 months time when the vendors hopefully will have something more innovative and their businesses are aligned to the changing legal market. The recession should give them that opportunity. Lets face it the boom times where vendors can sell software that sits on a shelf for a few months while law firm IT Departments ponder how best to implement it are thankfully long gone…

Keep the comments coming – negative or positive. And thank you CD for spotting the typos.

and the last thing vendors want to do is waste time presenting our services to brochure collectors with no influence and limited understanding of Legal IT who try and prove they are busy by the number of presentations they can attend and free lunches they can eat.

That last mark does rather prompt the question: if vendors' time is so precious, why do they bother with exhibitions when most of their audiences are not even brochure collectors but CPD point collectors???

No such thing as a free lunch so the saying goes – especially from someone trying to sell something.
I am a little dismayed that some views on this thread relating to the people who work in this industry have been
“varied talent-pool”
“buy because Janet has one”
“uninformed in Legal IT”
Either some attitudes need re-aligning in this industry or we have one or two very bitter vendors who have missed out on their quarterly sales targets and are taking it far too personally. In my experience it rarely pays to criticise your target customers and generally these types of comments come from the people who are the most out of touch and fearful of the fast changing environment we live in.

In the current climate, taking 2 days out for a conference at an 'attractive location' is being perceived internally as unnecessary and unjustifiable both in terms of time and expense.
In the past I have found the presentations at the large legal shows to be of limited value and like others, find that the informal discussions with colleagues to be far more useful.
To that end I now prefer to go to events similar to those put on by the Legal Support Network since
1) They are local and require only the minimum of travel to get there
2) they are typically held in the evening so there is a minimum impact on the working day
3) the whole event is spent in discussions with colleagues
4) vendors are available to chat to but its low key
All in all this format has been a refreshing change and I look forward to other peole adopting this format.

I agree entirely with this. Having attended the Legal Support Network event in Birmingham recently, I found this event like a breath of fresh air. It's a great opportunity to meet up with folks from other firms/vendors and compare experiences in a truly non sales orientated gathering. Even though vendors were present (and I like to see vendors by the way – perhaps as I used to work for one of them until recently!) every one of them left their sales hat outside and we all enjoyed a very sociable and valuable evening. So in summary, an informative, useful and fun networking event. So, well done to the Legal Support Network (if you're watching this space!) and thanks for putting on a great event.

Quite frankly I would love to see some form of Gladiators or Krypton factor challenge for IT Directors to really show who is the best IT Director. No more hiding behind strategy papers, budgets or BlackBerrys, it's your time to shine!

Whereas I always preferred the BOFH Vendor Assault Course with response to tenders

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