Day 1 of LegalTech New York is a wrap and the dust is settling on what turned out to be a very eventful beginning for one of the biggest legal technology shows. While last year was indicative of the down economy with low attendance and lackluster enthusiasm both from vendors and attendees, LegalTech New York 2010 is hopefully a preview of what economic recovery in legal looks like. As to be expected, the "big boys" arrived with guns blazing, led by Thomson Reuters Legal's launch of WestlawNext, the self-proclaimed next generation in legal research. Everywhere you looked in New York, you found advertisements for WestlawNext - the baggage claim at LaGuardia; guys on the street in front of the hotel giving away coffee; and the gyro street vendor at the corner complete with Westlaw jackets and WestlawNext umbrellas on their carts. An impressive press conference, complete with a mini-string section and a slick multimedia show, touted the most comprehensive and expensive R&D project in the company's legal history - to a VERY captive audience (there was over 50+ of us jammed into a room best suited for 20-30).
LexisNexis, on the other hand, shot back with a more familiar tone - Microsoft. Their new offering, LexisNexis for Microsoft Office, aims to empower lawyers to search and find relevant research in the Office applications they already use. While these two easily made the biggest opening splash, we'll have to see what sort of wake they leave behind. Westlaw, which is already considered an expensive research solution, indicated WestlawNext will cost "a modest premium" according to company executives. A few industry consultants mentioned that compared to free/low-cost rising stars such as Google Scholar and Fastcase (which just launched its free iPhone app), the value proposition for solos and small firms becomes tougher.
While much of our time today was spent catching up with old friends such as Brett Burney of Burney Consultants; Neil Squillante, Publisher of Technolawyer; and Dan Safran of Project Leadership Associates; and meeting new legal movers such as Ari Kaplan (looking forward to that ABA TECHSHOW keynote!) and Curt Meltzer, the new editor of PinHawk's Law Technology NewzDigest, we did have a chance to roam the tradeshow floors. While attendance and enthusiasm were definitely up from 2009, we did notice the aftermath of a down year with a noticeably lower booth count, especially on the 3rd show floor which is completely void of exhibitors this year. Less vendors, but more attendees than last year could turn into a great thing for vendors - we'll report back post-show to see.
Other big news from the floor was somewhat predictable and focused on all things SaaS and "heavenly" - with cloud launches by Nextpoint and Exterro. FTI Consulting, which has really picked up steam on R&D, especially since its 2008 acquisition of Attenex, announced the general market availability of Acuity, the company’s new integrated eDiscovery and document review offering. Above all, the theme of predictable, up-front, and simple to understand pricing is popping up on more eDiscovery vendor ads, booth demos and in press materials.
While we counted 96 eDiscovery/litigation support vendors, others had big news to report. BigHand continues its steady march in the digital dictation (or what they coin as "voice productivity") market and looks to further its momentum with the launch of a new server-based Speech Recognition module, which utilizes the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech server from Nuance Communications. It includes both a “speech recognition only” option and an option for “speech recognition with proofing”.
Also noteworthy, on a non-software or product launch note, is the availability of the Perfect Practice® – Legal Technology Institute Case, Matter, and Practice Management System Software Study. Conducted by the University of Florida Levin College of Law's Legal Technology Institute (lead by its Director, Andy Adkins) in the fall of 2009, the 320 page final report provides information to assist law firms and corporate legal departments in making better management software decisions. In addition, the study clarifies the terminology used by the industry and provides software designers with insight on how to improve the usability and efficiency of their case and practice management products. The study findings, which can be purchased at the Legal Technology Institute's site, includes an abundance of intelligence pertaining to current technology environments; core applications; software market leaders; security concerns; cost concerns; future technology plans; decision drivers, and total cost of ownership. Case/document/practice management vendors at the show should make this mandatory reading for their sales, marketing and even R&D folks.
Join us for virtual coverage of Day 2 beginning with the ALM Editors Breakfast beginning at 8am. Also follow our tweets at InsideLegal.