Here we are, a month removed from the ILTA 2010 Conference and for InsideLegal, our biggest takeaway was the re-affirmation of community in the legal technology space and specifically the contributions individual ILTA members and vendors make on an ongoing basis to provide a content and experience-rich environment for all, from the 20 year ILTA veteran to the first timer. In recognition of this dedication, volunteerism, subject matter expertise and intellect, we set out to capture the essence of some of our legal thought leaders ... "in their own words". Below are interviews with Joy Heath-Rush, Jonathan Maas, Norm Thomas, Brian Zeve, Bob Tennant, Randi Mayes, Peggy Wechsler, Lance Waagner, Donna Payne, Joseph Scott, Susie Krupa and Brad Sidwell.
[Editors Note: While we have found rich media such as video, podcasts, webcasts and the like to be en vogue, we are still on the fence about the efficacy of these media for our purposes - promoting the legal technology industry and its people. Since we are undecided here, we opted to intermingle old fashioned written content and commentary with concise, informal (albeit Blair Witch style - no, these were not professionally produced) video snippets ranging from 1.5 to 5 minutes in length. In the future, we will increase the quality of these videos. Our goal here was to catch-up with some legal industry leaders to garner impromptu feedback on the 2010 ILTA conference; find out about what they and/or their companies are excited about these days; and finally get their 'off the top of their head' candid insight on thought leadership and what defines thought leaders in our industry]
Joy Heath-Rush - Enterprise Multimedia Services Manager, Sidley Austin
A familiar face, Joy Heath-Rush from Sidley Austin, joined us to recap her ILTA experience as well as her involvement with InsideLegal's annual vendor education program. Unfortunately our trusty camera sort of died in midstream (ironic since Joy is the Enterprise Multimedia Services Manager for Sidley Austin) so you'll need to go to ILTA TV if you want to see Joy in full color. We revisited some of the points that Joy made during the panel when it came to selling to law firms and specifically asked her about the best ways to work with her from a vendor standpoint. We also drilled down into the RFP process because this is something that we're seeing more and more vendors spend a lot of resources responding to. This led to the question of who is actually driving the RFP process and where are they coming from? Joy made an interesting observation that a lot of the RFPs currently being issued are being driven by be the e-discovery market and specifically the need for discovery solutions by law firms. Also, based on the fact that there are so many vendors providing e-discovery services, RFPs are a way of managing that process. Lastly, we talked with Joy about the pure networking nature of ILTA and the importance of legal vendors establishing relationships, building credibility and earning members' trust and loyalty.
Jonathan Maas - Assistant Director, Ernst & Young
After Joy, we had a chance to catch up with Jonathan Maas, 30 year litigation support industry and litigation technology veteran, and current assistant director of Ernst & Young's Forensic Technology & Discovery Services team in London. Jonathan, who spoke at several ILTA sessions and attended several others, made an interesting, perhaps even controversial, point (controversy?! all in a day's work for Mr. Maas) related to cloud computing. Specifically, he thought it was sort of peculiar that cloud computing is this huge buzzword and clearly the number one show topic but in his mind, he really didn't see the difference between cloud computing and software-as-a-service and other web-enabled delivery methods for technologies and services. His point being that there is virtually no differentiation or anything that sets cloud computing apart from what's already being done aside from an updated catch-phrase. His point reminded us of our recent legal cloud computing interview with Microsoft's Norm Thomas and his statement that Microsoft has been involved in cloud development for the past 15 years but not many consumers realize that because it wasn't called cloud computing back then and it did not apply to highly visible consumer services.
Brian Zeve & Norm Thomas - Director & Manager, Microsoft Professional Services
On the heals of InsideLegal's recent interview with Norm Thomas focused on Microsoft's legal cloud strategy, we wanted to catch up with Norm and his colleague Brian Zeve, who leads the charge for Microsoft's legal vertical efforts, to collect their thoughts on legal futures; Microsoft's commitment to the legal industry; and also explore to what extent the cloud 'rubber' has hit the road for the company. With the cloud topic being hot and very apropos for Microsoft, we asked Brian to share Microsoft's top benefits of cloud delivery versus others. While most of his answers (cost savings and infrastructure consolidation/streamlining) reflected industry standards, his bigger point about the significance of increased collaboration and interoperability was our biggest take-away. On the topic of thought leadership, Brian believes having a business vision, as well as the ability to identify and overcome future obstacles, before they become show stoppers, are critical ingredients.
Bob Tennant - CEO, Recommind
Next we caught up with Bob Tennant, Recommind's CEO, to talk about his impressions of ILTA 2010, information governance, its increasing relevance in the legal eDiscovery space, as well as the launch of the company's predictable costs in eDiscovery initiative based on its Predictive Coding technology. According to the company's ILTA release, the Axcelerate Review & Analysis solution (based on predictive coding) allows law firms to offer fixed-fee arrangements for document review, a major breakthrough in the industry's ongoing efforts to better predict and reign in eDiscovery costs. On the topic of thought leadership, Bob mentioned the importance of forward thinking and compared it to hockey, stating the desire to move to where the puck will be, versus where it currently is.
Randi Mayes & Peggy Wechsler - Executive Director & Program Director, ILTA
What would an interview session be without talking to the energetic go-getters who coolly orchestrate the ILTA conference year after year ... Randi Mayes, ILTA's Executive Director and Peggy Wechsler, ILTA's Program Director. While Randi focused her video snippet on how vendor partners can work with the organization on providing members with content and thought leadership via the various publication and media vehicles, Peggy provided an insider's view on final attendance numbers, vendor participation and 2011 conference location details (Nashville!). One of the key points, gleaned from both Peggy's and Randi's comments on thought leadership, was the importance of commitment to legal and the energy, sacrifice and time it takes to establish credibility and earn respect within the ILTA community.
Lance Waagner - CEO, Intelliteach
We caught up with Lance Waagner, CEO of Intelliteach and former CIO of Atlanta-based Kilpatrick Stockton, who had just wrapped up a successfully panel session focused on helpdesk and deskside support. The session, which he co-presented with Tony Hartsfield and Franklin Stevens of Bryan Cave, drew 135 law firm support managers and user services personnel looking for practical ways to provide better helpdesk support while increasing analyst morale and keeping user satisfaction high. In fact, Lance's video snippet speaks to the Guru's Guide he and his analysts developed in order to provide law firms with heldpdesk statistics and metrics in order to help measure satisfaction and helpdesk efficacy.
Donna Payne - CEO & Founder, PayneGroup
A short time later, Donna Payne joined us and continued the thought leadership conversation we first kicked off earlier in the week during the vendor education program's legal thought leadership panel discussion. Donna, who juggled running PayneGroup's booth with four speaking slots during the conference, is an ILTA fixture, not only as a valued and trusted vendor partner, but also as a peer and thought leader to the entire ILTA membership. Whether she is travelling the country as part of ILTA's Office 2010 presentation tour or having one-on-one technology conversations with leading firms' managing partners, Donna has always applied the right mix of subject matter expertise, industry knowledge and straight-up business acumen.
Joseph Scott - Vice President & General Manager, CompuLaw/Deadlines on Demand
Joseph Scott, GM of legal calendaring solution provider CompuLaw and Deadlines On Demand, took time out from an extremely busy CompuLaw booth to share his ILTA experience. It was good to hear Joseph reiterate 'the economy has rebounded' message and talk about loosening purse strings of large firms pursuing calendaring and docketing solutions. Joseph, who spends much of his time speaking with firm risk managers and attorneys throughout the country about the malpractice risk associated with calendar and deadline-related errors, provided a unique slant on our thought leadership themed question. Specifically, he identified thought leaders as those that ask questions no one has asked before and in turn pursue answers. Asking those 'wow, I never thought of that' questions according to Scott is a lot more important and impressive than 'talk leaders' who repeat what others have already espoused before them.
Susie Krupa - Industry Principal, Professional Services, SAP America
We were delighted to spend a few minutes with Susie Krupa who shared with us what SAP and its professional services vertical partner, Tata Consulting Services, are up to in legal and also gave us an insider's view on the G100 Global CIO Forum, a meeting of the world's top law firm CIOs, which occurs on ILTA day one. Susie represented SAP as part of a G100 financial management panel discussion (along with Microsoft, Elite and Aderant) and talked about how the global company's leadership and track record in other professional services (such as accounting) can go a long way in helping law firms embrace and adopt future technologies that will define their organizations 5-10 years from now.
Brad Sidwell - Vice President & General Manager, LexisNexis InterAction
One of our last interviewees at conference was Brad Sidwell, responsible for LexisNexis Interaction. Brad shared with us InterAction's big ILTA conference news - the release of InterAction 6.0 for Microsoft Outlook and corresponding positive ILTA attendee feedback, and had a lot of fresh perspectives to share on legal technology, the ILTA community and thought leadership. In terms of the big product news, Brad, the former CIO of Troutman Sanders, also shared with us his company's core product principals, no doubt critical in the development of InterAction 6.0. Specifically, he cited increasing CRM user adoption rates (which they hope to achieve via common workflow within Outlook); renewed focus on partnerships, specifically Microsoft; and embracing Office as a platform (vs. an application) and as such being able to embed InterAction services/functionality within the new framework.
While ILTA 2011 is roughly 11 months away, the news, views, and insights shared by our legal thought leader interviewees can be put to use now and reflected upon over the next year. While it is commendable to occasionally focus on specific technology themes (cloud, virtualization, etc.), the topic of thought leadership, and the subjects broached by those we consider 'thought leading', will be shared and commented on by InsideLegal for a long time to come.