Last week I attended the 2012 International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) annual conference. Rather than summarize it – an impossible task – I offer my impressions and musings. 

Legal project management and alternative fee arrangements remain hot topics. This is not news, merely confirmation. Each year more of my KM friends ‘do LPM or AFA’. Each year, I meet more BigLaw professionals focused on pricing. Only one other legal market trend – law firms merging and globalizing – seems as powerful. Like that one, expect LPM and AFA to be on the agenda for years to come. For just one reason why, see Bruce MacEwen’s excellent blog post today, Growth is Dead: Part I.

E-discovery remains hot, judging by both the program and the number of EDD vendors in the exhibit hall. I still cannot explain why the vendor market has not consolidated. To help both customers and vendors through the complexities of matching requirements and capabilities, George Socha and Tom Gelbman continue to build and refine their service,, which allows vendors to specify capabilities and customers to select them based on multiple criteria.

The many EDD vendors compete vigorously for sales talent. I had an interesting conversation with Jared Michael Coseglia, president of TRU Staffing Partners, a search firm focused on legal technology and e-discovery. Jared points out that vendors constantly seek top sales talent outside their companies and bid up compensation. He believes vendors should grow their own talent and has interesting ideas about how to make that happen. So I look forward to hearing more from him.

Legal process outsourcing (LPO) was never big at ILTA. Recent years had at least one session focused on it, albeit not well attended. The one 2012 outsourcing session, based on the speakers (I could not attend), seemed more about tech outsourcing than LPO. Whether that reflects the market at large is unclear. A September 3rd Managing Partner article, Law firms are losing work to LPO providers, suggests LPO remains robust. I suspect ILTA participants lump LPO in with managed review services, which have grown rapidly.

Legal technology outsourcing, however, may be on the upswing. I spoke with the principals of Keno Kozie, who tell me that both their help desk outsourcing and managed services business are growing nicely. I remember a decade+ ago suggesting to a law firm that it outsource its help desk; the idea was shot down without consideration. Technology outsourcing may not be right for every firm but I do not understand how firms or CIOs can dismiss it out of hand.

I was sorry I did not have time to attend more sessions, especially the ones on knowledge management. Fortunately two of the best legal market bloggers live blogged many KM session: Mary Abraham at Above and Beyond KM and David Hobbie at Caselines.

Both the ILTA professional staff and the many member volunteers deserve tremendous thanks for organizing another fabulous annual conference.

Update: (5 Sep 2012)
Andrew Davis of Boxless in Melbourne, Australia asks in a comment “Just wondering what the mood was in relation to public cloud offerings such as Google Apps? Are law firms embracing those sorts of services, or are they holding back?”

My answer:

The great thing about ILTA is its diversity of topics. I did not spend time on the cloud topic but I know there were many sessions on it. Anecdotally, I know the topic is on the agenda for many CIOs but there is also a lot of concern about security.

I hear more firms are moving to NetDocuments, which arguably is one of the first cloud services – outsourced / cloud document management to replace legacy enterprise DM. (I recall two firms migrated to it about a decade ago and more since.)

If I were a CIO again and working for a firm interested in competitive advantage, I would be wanting to move as much of my infrastructure to the cloud as possible. That way, IT and the firm could shift focus from maintaining infrastructure to using tech for competitive advantage. This may be the minority view.