Legalweek 2022 Observations

Legalweek 2022 Observations from Attendees: eDiscovery Trends

Sure, this is my blog, but you hear enough from me. How about hearing from other people for a change? I asked several people that I met with last week about their Legalweek 2022 observations. So, here are their Legalweek 2022 observations, in their own words.

Legalweek 2022 Observations

Legalweek 2022 was like the first robin you see in the Spring.  A welcome sight, reminder that things are getting better, and call to get busy.  My schedule was so packed that I often didn’t eat but enjoyed catching up with old friends and making new ones.  The sessions were good, traffic in the booths just like pre-pandemic days, and we look forward to the after-show action.

– Doug Kaminski, Chief Revenue Officer, Cobra Legal Solutions

Attendance was smaller than pre pandemic, but still large enough. It was great to see everybody in person after almost 2 years. The Judges panel, in the format of 3 debates on recent issues, was great, in my (prejudiced) opinion.

– Judge Andrew Peck (ret.), Senior Counsel, DLA Piper

The Legal Tech/eDiscovery/Information Governance community was finally able to get back together again, and while this years’ Legalweek may not have been quite as large as years’ past (before the pandemic), it was no less meaningful or informative. At IPRO, we were able to share the latest about our products and acquisitions, I released my latest book at the conference, and we all had so many great conversations about improving end-to-end information capabilities. I think Legalweek 2022 was a great success and the ALM team deserves great kudos for bringing us back together safely and successfully.

– Nick Inglis, Director of Information Governance, IPRO

I thought Legalweek was more fun and exciting than expected, both because people could get together live but also because the weather was mostly better. As for the show, we see that consolidation has reduced the number of vendors dramatically and that innovation has given way too more of the same. Many didn’t attend the sessions or even go to the floor, favoring the private suites. Watch for the new crop of startups to change the game going forward.

– John Tredennick, CEO & Founder, Merlin Search Technologies, Inc.

Overall, a really great week for Onna! As always, Legalweek provides a great way to reach a pretty balanced group of service providers, law firms, and corporate teams. While attendance was a little lighter than expected, our team stayed engaged with meetings and in-booth discussions the entire time. Most of all, we’re so glad ALM brought the community back together in person for Legalweek this year!

– Darin Bartik, VP, Marketing, Onna

Exciting. Refreshing. Invigorating. A good start!

– Michael Quartararo, President of ACEDS & Professional Development

Legalweek roared back in person with ferocious engagement from the participants! The quality of attendees was notable and their interest in viewing new tech, benchmarking with peers and providers, and networking was impressive.

– Marla Crawford, General Counsel, Cimplifi

It was obvious in all my interactions just how much people missed people—the spontaneous brainstorming, the serendipitous introductions… everything.  The energy driven by the in-person attendance was in evidence everywhere one looked. While AI was a general topic, the sense I had was that most of the attendees had moved beyond the buzzwords and were either moving into implementation or even starting to optimize for AI adoption in specific use cases.

The information governance tracks were very well attended, and the follow-on conversations really point to an increasing melding of the roles, responsibilities, and shared outcome potential between IG and eDiscovery.  While the IGRM has been a component of the EDRM for some time, this was the first time I’ve really gotten a sense that the domains/disciplines are starting to really leverage each other.

The drive to optimize and move from reactive to proactive was clear.  Part of this was the conversations with IG, but I think there’s a real sense that there are ways to dramatically evolve many of the workflows powering the industry.  I think many of the technologies, including the specific application of AI technologies, are reaching a point of productivity optimization (e.g. the Gartner Productivity Plateau) that can power dramatic improvements.

A major topic this year in many different market segments was how to best target, assess and review all the different and emerging collaboration systems. From the Corporate perspective, they’re wondering if these are truly “records” to consider and if a shorter retention should be considered. Law Firms seem to be focused on how to easily search and review with Active Learning as short messages don’t have a lot of context.  Finally, Service Providers were intent on the best way to target a collection and search in real-time in these large collaboration sets. This will continue to be a major pain point.

– Dean Brown, CEO, IPRO

Many buyers of legal technology and related services came to Legalweek with a mission. Meeting rooms were packed hour after hour, day after day to meet executives, vet the products, and build relationships–and contract analytics was the buzz.  In my estimation, there was not the same level of “exploration” at the exhibitor hall.

– Marc Zamsky, CEO, Cimplifi

Legalweek 2022 was so refreshing for our entire team – from traveling to NYC, to in-person (instead of Zoom) business meetings, to the evening events – I think everyone who attended this year regained a sense of community that comes with working in our industry. In terms of trends, all of our meetings were focused on corporate legal departments gaining more insight and control of their data – Can we control where our data is stored? How do we aggregate our workflows into a single pane of glass? How do we improve our tracking and reporting?

– Ben Hengels, Vice President, Business Development and Partnerships, LIGL

Last week’s Legalweek had a feeling of energy, excitement, and enthusiasm greater than any Legalweek (or Legal Tech) in years. Innovation abounded, AI was at every corner, and, if I may be so bold, Reveal was everywhere as well. It was great to be back!

– George Socha, SVP of Brand Awareness, Reveal

Artificial intelligence in general was top of mind for many at Legalweek, but we also saw significant interest in several emerging technologies and in blockchain specifically.  If social media traffic is any indication, many want to learn more. My biggest tweet of the conference: Are you still confused by blockchain, bitcoin, and NFTs, but were afraid to ask?

– David Horrigan, Discovery Counsel & Legal Education Director, Relativity

What a blessing to be back in person with our colleagues after two long years! There is no substitute for seeing people face to face. Remote working has created all new issues in how to handle eDiscovery, and Legal Week addressed those issues head on during sessions. The session content was plentiful and the exhibit hall full with new technologies and more to see and take in than the three days allowed. All in all, a great first step back to our new normal.

– Kelly Twigger, Principal at ESI Attorneys and CEO of eDiscovery Assistant

One takeaway I gleaned from the myriad of sessions and discussions with conference attendees is the critical nature of understanding and dealing with emerging collaboration platforms.  The impact of remote work has accelerated the widespread adoption of collaboration applications like Slack and Teams. As a result, how and where we communicate is rapidly changing. There is recognition that collaboration data is clearly relevant and required for investigation and discovery.

– Brad Harris, VP of Product & Service Delivery, Hanzo

Legalweek was about getting back to business, AI everywhere, and women leading the charge everywhere. What stood out was less people in sessions, more women speaking and moderating, more people on show floor than in past, and lots of hugs and laughs after getting past the initial weariness. What was still missing more diversity and inclusion for people of color.

– Maribel Rivera, Independent Marketing Consultant and Senior Director at ACEDS

Evaluation (aka comparative measurement of an approach against a strong baseline) continues to be planetary-sized blind spot in the industry’s ability to buy, sell, and use technology.  Evaluation is more consequential than AI or any other technology (or even human-driven process) that exists.  Evaluation is the most important tool that we have, and it is simultaneously the least utilized.  This year’s Legalweek has not fundamentally altered that utilization trajectory.

Case in point was a panel questioning whether it is time to retire TAR, because it and related labels have been beaten to death. And what we really should be doing as an industry is holistically focusing on getting the job done, perhaps using tools other than TAR such as email threading or removal of junk images.

You might think that I’m going to defend the alphabet soup, as this year’s Legalweek marks the 10th anniversary of when John Tredennick, Jim Eidelman, and myself first introduced the Predictive Coding (TAR) 2.0 moniker at LegalTech.  And to a certain extent my natural inclination is to do exactly that.  But I’m not going to; I’m going to agree with the premise that it doesn’t matter what it’s called, that the goal is just to whittle down documents until you get to the heart of the matter.  And that you can use anything — literally anything — to do that whittling. 

The problem is that no matter whether you do or do not label a technique, some whittling techniques are more effective and efficient than others.  Not all whittling is the same.  What matters is not what you call the whittling; what matters is what actually happens.  And, most importantly, whether you have tested / vetted / evaluated ahead of time what you are about to do so that you know whether that is effective. Specifically, whether what you’re about to do is effective relative to an existing known-effective way of doing something — what we scientists would call a “strong baseline”.

If you have not done that comparative evaluation, then your “let’s just get it done and ignore the alphabet soup” orientation is just as bad (if not worse) than relying on the alphabet soup.  Why worse?  Because while the alphabet soup tends to mask important details in factors that have an impact on effectiveness, at least the alphabet soup folks tend to evaluate what it is that they are doing.  This puts them on a stronger foot than anyone who does not.  The only way to banish the alphabet soup approach for good is to be willing to measure, to evaluate.  If you do not measure, then you have no ground to stand on.  Evaluation is the only way to treat the problem holistically, to close blind spots and to move away from labels and into results.  And I did not see anything at this year’s LegalWeek that led me to believe that any of the problems with the TAR alphabet soup are being overcome using the best tool the entire industry has: Evaluation.

– Jeremy Pickens, PhD, Principal Data Scientist, OpenText

Feeling a case of FOMO? Put your Legalweek 2022 observations into the comments below! And look for more Legalweek 2022 observations in a couple of additional posts soon!

So, what do you think?  Were you at Legalweek last week? If so, what were your Legalweek 2022 observations?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

One comment

Leave a Reply