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Over the last few weeks I have been to several legal tech conferences; notably the British Legal Tech Forum, Future of Technology Arbitration and Legal Geek.
Like many arbitrators and barristers I know, I was keen to get back into a room full of people with the COVID-19 pandemic seemingly behind us. While I have attended many virtual conferences over the last few years, they simply do not give you a feel for how the legal tech market is maturing.
There were no big surprises with many of the firms exhibiting having established products in the UK, although that is not to say I got to see every company at the events. It was however noticeable that Cyber Security and eDiscovery were generally the biggest presence overall – and which is an all too noticeable theme. Are there really no new legal tech products out there?
The event was extremely well put together with a very seamless entry and exit system. The location at the 1 Old Billingsgate Walk was perfect for this type of event with a well-designed floorplan with access to the main stages and ready room for the exhibitors.
Name tags were very visible and were able to be scanned which was very good for the vendors to keep track of who they had spoken with at the event. The talks were informational with many law firms and in-house legal teams invited to speak and share their experiences. While there were the obvious sales pitches, these were kept to a minimum and I think it is one of the reasons that it drew a large crowd from in-house legal teams and law firms. If I had a gripe, it would have been the filter coffee on offer; so all in all it was the best produced, interesting, and useful conference on offer in my experience.
Read later as to what XBundle think more about BLTF.
The event was a two-day conference held at its now traditional location at The Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street. The largest of its kind in Europe for Legal Tech, it was well put together but did not have the same slickness displayed at The British Legal Tech Forum.
The name tags were not well appointed with the company information, too small to see at a glance. Although it attracts some very big names in the legal tech world, the talks can tend to be very sales driven. That said, there was plenty on offer over the two days to gain valuable insights into what’s happening in legal tech right now. The keynote was delivered by Joe Wicks and focused on mental health, shining a light on the potential dangers of law’s ever-increasing tendency to overwork its people. While I’m unsure if that was going to move the needle given the lack of senior leadership from firms at an event like this, it was an interesting and well attended keynote.
It is a great event for meeting old friends in the legal world and it didn’t disappoint in that respect.
The event was held at the IET London, Savoy Place. A fantastic location with views over the Thames and a well-appointed main hall with exhibitors displaying their platforms. Obviously focused on arbitration it was much smaller than the first two I have mentioned.
It had a very nice overall feel to the event with a wide range of arbitrators and litigators in attendance. The structure of the day included a series of talks and round tables focusing on several interesting topics concerning potential developments within arbitration and legal tech. However, having the auditorium on the ground floor was a burden for the participants who had to cram into two lifts just before each session was due to take place. The sessions themselves although very hyped up by the hosts did not contain much substance or developments the event sponsors had promised. In fact the first session of the day was a 30-minute sales pitch from an established vendor, a trend that was repeated throughout the day. Some of the speakers were excellent, particularly Rekha Rangachari the Executive Director at NYIAC and Ekaterina Oger Grivnova of Allen & Overy.
While it was interesting to see a hologram on stage of Brandon Malone the chairman of the Scottish Arbitration Centre, it was at best a fun gimmick, but remained the highlight of the day along with the view of the Thames. Given the price of tickets compared to the bigger conferences already mentioned, I was left feeling somewhat short-changed and disappointed at the end of the day. While from a technical standpoint it was delivered well with various speakers dialling in from a variety of locations it still felt somewhat disorganised and haphazard. Given it was the first of its kind, those teething issues are to be expected, but given the price tag it has some way to go to offer the same value as Legal Geek and British Legal Tech Forum.
If your overriding ambition is to get out and catch up with colleagues from other firms and vendors, you would be best served by attending Legal Geek. For those genuinely keen to learn from shared experiences and find out about the next big thing in legal tech, British Legal Tech Forum firmly edged it for me. While Future of Arbitration is likely to improve, it felt like it offered neither one nor the other and its premise of show casing the next big tech ideas in arbitration failed this time around.
We were so impressed by the British Legal Tech Forum that XBundle has decided to be a sponsor at the next BLTF in May 2023. More on that in coming posts and newsletters.