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.)