Legaltech 2017 Notes, Observations, and Proclamations

I know we were supposed to call it “Legalweek: The Experience” but it’s hard to get everyone to re-brand in one year, and it still felt like the same old Legaltech (not necessarily a bad thing). Monica Bay offered an expert write-up on the conference remodel but I agree with Mary Mack in that piece that “adding more adds more chaos to an [already] frenetic event.”

For me, it’s just a great excuse to see old friends, get the news from vendors, and enjoy some fancy reception locations in NYC.

Here are some notes and observations from this year. As usual, the overriding topics circled around e-discovery but I found some interesting items in the cracks of the midtown Hilton.

Special thanks to InsideLegal for putting this word cloud together every year. Click the image to see all the word clouds from past Legaltech Conferences.


You’re The Wind Beneath My E-Discovery Wings
Zapproved’s Corporate E-Discovery Hero Awards Celebration

I had the privilege of attending the inaugural Corporate E-Discovery Hero Awards Celebration hosted by Zapproved, D4, and a few others. The “hero” part was a little cheesy, but the event was enjoyable, with Brad Harris doing a fine job emceeing the event.

Michael Arkfeld received the e-discovery lifetime achievement award, graciously introduced by Hon. Shira Scheindlin (Ret.).

Then Craig Ball conducted a cyber-fireside chat with Nina Totenberg. Ms. Totenberg was supposed to be in NYC in person at the event, but there was a tiny little legal-related news story expected to break the next day that kept her in D.C.

Brad told us that Ms. Totenberg would still be joining us virtually and I cringed a little knowing how these things break down. But darned if it wasn’t a perfectly interesting and non-glitchy conversation thanks to the magic of Skype! Craig was as smooth as a jet-black iPhone 7 in transitioning from the podium to the large screen behind him with Ms. Totenberg’s lovely head looming over him.

I also got to sit next to my friend Pete Pepiton during the event which was great.

Zapproved also just posted a roundup of the event with some pretty pictures.


Everlaw had a great booth location on the 3rd floor. Here’s my review of their platform from December 2015.


Molten E-Discovery
LLM

I always enjoy my annual chat with Cas Campaigne, CEO of Liquid Litigation Management (LLM). Although I do believe Cas looks better in person than his LinkedIn avatar.

Cas has been doing litigation support for a long, long time, and has seen everything come and go, and come back around again in the litigation industry.
I reviewed Liquid Lit Manager in December 2015 for Legaltech News and found it to be a “a platform that litigators can feasibly utilize from discovery all the way through trial.”

Cas and his team continue to push the bounds of what “litigation software” should be beyond a document review database, or case manager. Cas told me they are focusing on “unifying” the legal process by integrating additional tools that litigators actually need such as budget tracking, witness pages, etc.

They also have some of the best-looking iPad apps available for litigators (which I hope to review soon on www.appsinlaw.com).

 


Keep on Corel, Keep on Truckin’


United in E-Discovery Education
UnitedLex

At one time, UnitedLex was solely focused on legal outsourcing services but they have expanded to become a “global provider of legal and business services.” I suspect that legal outsourcing still continues to be a large part of their revenue and I like to follow them as a mark of where those services are heading.

Not a whole lot for announcements, but it seems they have quietly started supporting half of all the active product liability multi-district litigation cases and that is significant.

I was also pleased to hear about their Legal Residency Program which is a spectacular idea to help law schools actually produce “practice-ready” graduates instead of just ivory-tower intellectuals. I am always greatly encouraged to hear about law schools offering students real-life, practical education to better prepare students for the reality of law practice (such as @suffolk_law home of Andrew Perlman who I invited as a keynote speaker at ABA TECHSHOW 2015), but UnitedLex is a wonderful example of a vendor giving back and investing in the future of law school graduates.


Inventus won the “Largest Flat Panel in a Booth” Award.


Analyzing your Law Practice
Lex Machina from LexisNexis

I got to spend a few minutes with Josh Becker of Lex Machina and finally got to see what a lot of folks have been talking about lately around “legal analytics“.

Lex Machina uses everything available in the public domain to offer lawyers some automated insight into how judges and courts have ruled on specific issues, as well as helpful way to evaluable opposing counsel, etc. They announced two new tools at LTNY called Damages Explorer and Parties Comparator.

Now I know why LexisNexis swooped them up.


Thank you DiscoveryReady for the best view at a reception.


Running OCR Stinks a Little Bit
Cullable

One of my more interesting meetings was with a couple of gentlemen from Cullable. While the Cullable website is a bit quiet on the specifics while they’re in beta testing, turns out the platform is a brainchild of litigation support provider Platinum IDS out of Dallas, TX.

My first thought when I heard about the platform was that it steps on the toes of Logikcull a little bit, since they are both obviously looking to help litigators CULL down a large document set into a smaller, more manageable set.

But regardless, it was hard to pass up a meeting with two gentlemen wearing “OCR Sucks” hoodies, which mirrors the site at www.ocrsucks.com. I was a tad bit skeptical that we need a cloud-based tool for OCR-ing documents since after all, we’re trying to go native and eliminate any need for OCR.

But alas, this is the legal profession, and there will always be paper. So when you get a document dump of scanned images or paper from the other side, this is another tool in your toolbelt that you can use to get everything OCR’d as fast and as accurate as possible.

I liken this a bit to a favorite site of mine at www.smallpdf.com. I COULD try to reduce the size of PDF files on my own desktop using different tools, or I could “outsource” that task to www.smallpdf.com knowing that they’ll do it faster and better than what I can do on my desktop.

Besides, OCR is still a high-overhead, processor-hoggin’ task for computers. When you have to OCR large file collections you usually can’t do anything else on that computer because so many resources are devoted to the OCR task. So why not outsource that task to someone that has MUCH bigger computers than you (Google Cloud Enterprise) and can do it faster than you (Cullable claims 20,000 pages per minute).

My skepticality was turned around by the time we were done, and I’m excited to see where this goes.


Nuix standing strong. Read my review at Legaltech News.


Aligning the Planets for E-Discovery
Planet Data

I got to meet with Planet Data to hear how things have progressed since I reviewed their excellent Exego platform in May 2016.

It was great to meet with President Zoltan Horvath (who is super-nice although his name is perfect for being a villain in a Flash comic), Adam Novick and the energetic Laura Marques and we had an excellent conversation about how the legal profession is still wrestling with load files and the need for simpler e-discovery tools.

Planet Data is going strong, and I continue to be impressed with their unique tri-fecta of the Exego offering with Extract, Select, and Review.


There was a tangible presence of the cloud with Ipro handing out cotton candy and NetDocuments with the squeezy toy.


Here’s a Head Scratcher and a Page Turner
Paper Software

This was one of my more interesting meetings.

Ben & Nathan Whetsell (shown in the picture trying to jump out of the picture) developed a Mac-only software called Turner in September 2015 that parses through contracts to provide a simple outline, analysis, cross-references, and more.

I was really just blown away that they decided to develop for the Mac when the vast majority of lawyers are still Windows based. They told me that they prefer the Mac (as do I!) and that’s where it was easier for them to start.

And because their customers predictably requested a Windows version, they developed “Contract Tools” as an add-in for Microsoft Word on Windows. It’s certainly no where near as elegant as their Mac software, but it was an inevitable evolution of their work.

The Turner software is impressive and charming. The generated outline is probably the best selling point but their “token search” is helpful as well. I was most impressed with the ability of the software to update all of the cross-references in the contract when you make a change.

I plan to review Turner for www.macsinlaw.com very soon.


Good to see Cellebrite at LTNY since they are arguably the best tool for mobile forensics. Gotta watch that back door though.


Corporate Insight into the E-Discovery Plight
Catalyst Insight Enterprise

I always enjoy hearing what Catalyst is up to since I’ve followed them in reviews for Law.com in 2013 and Law Technology Today in 2015.

I wanted to get some additional info on Insight Enterprise since they announced it in January as a tool for corporate in-house counsel to better manage their spend on litigation matters.

I was expecting something akin to “e-billing” platforms like LegalTracker (formerly Serengeti) or TyMetrix but this was much more focused on the spend involved in the matters hosted in Catalyst Insight. It’s a nifty “portal” that will certainly be helpful for any corporation or organization that has standardized on Catalyst.

Catalyst had one of the best giveaways last year with the hat – which I’ve enjoyed while jogging this winter 🙂


Xerox Legal Solutions re-branded to Conduent. And they had a lovely reception Wed. night where I got to see Craig Ball for a few minutes.


May I Have a Deal Room for My Transcripts Please?
Opus 2

I know that Opus 2 was at the show to talk about their Virtual Deal Room but I was still interested in learning more about Magnum transcript management platform that they’ve offered for a while.

One of the primary questions I receive from law firms is about transcript management software. Say what you will about Summation iBlaze (and we can say a LOT) but the software had some excellent tools for managing, searching and linking transcripts. And while the “new” Summation Pro offers some of those tools, it’s not the same.

So firms then look at TextMap, but everyone is concerned with what Lexis is doing with the tool (or not doing).

Westlaw Case Notebook is an excellent tool but many people tell me the price is colossal.

So what else is there? That’s why I wanted to hear more about Magnum. We didn’t have a lot of time (and apparently the entire Opus 2 contingent was ill), but I seek to learn more.


Logikcull had run out of men’s t-shirts by the time I got to their booth 🙁 but I was thrilled to hear about their partnership with New York City.


I Shook the Hand of the Man Who Brought Visual Analytics to E-Discovery
FTI

I always appreciate seeing what FTI Technology has been doing with their Ringtail software since I reviewed version 8.4 in November 2014. They’re now on version 9. And last year at Legaltech FTI released their visual analtyics tool for ECA called Radiance.

But this year, I had the pleasure of meeting e-discovery luminary Skip Walter who just recently joined FTI. Mr. Walter was the founding CEO of Attenex which really originated visual analytics for document review.

I vividly remember when the Attenex platform came across my desk. I opened the AmLaw Tech supplement in 2003 and got enraptured in the cover story on Skip Walter and then law firm Preston Gates & Ellis on how they were working with this new fangled concept called e-discovery.

Skip provides amazing detail on all this history on his own blog: Attenex Patterns History – The Critical First Year.

Attenex opened up new ideas for how legal professionals could attack a large collection of documents in different ways than a linear list. We affectionally called the Attenex interface the “petri dish” of e-discovery.

FTI acquired Ringtail in 2005, and Attenex in 2008, and then stumbled into the what I call the “dark years” while they tried to duct tape the two technologies together (exemplified by the awkward A2R Connector). But when I reviewed Ringtail 8.4, both technologies were married in the most lovely of ways.

Version 9 streamlines everything even more, and I was delighted to talk with Skip on his vision for the future of visual analytics as not just applied to “documents” but to the kinds of information that we use to communicate today such as text messaging, Slack channels, etc.

I was also interested to hear more about FTI’s Office 365 announcements.


DMS @ LTNY: Some interesting activity on the doc management front. iManage is working hard and now offering a cloud option. OpenText (ye olde Hummingbird) acquired Recommind. And Netdocuments had a fantastic session where CTO Alvin Tedjamulia gave a fantastically nerdy presentation on their security improvements (complete with Entropic Cryptography!).


Do You Serve a Little E-Discovery With My Office 365?
Microsoft

I was hoping to talk with Microsoft a little more at the show. Almost every single corporate client I work with today is either using Office 365 or Gsuite on the backend and in-house counsel want to know how they can utilize the e-discovery tools built into those platforms. And with Microsoft, we’ve all been anxious to see how they incorporate the well-respected Equivio tools into their Advanced eDiscovery tools.

The only problem was that every time I got to the booth I’d get interrupted by other potential corporate customers coming to ask questions. That lead to some great conversations, but I’ve got to find another avenue to get some really deep technical answers to e-discovery in Office 365.


Casepoint rebrands and I like it. I reviewed their software in 2015.


The E-Discovery Gobblers

Then there were the “e-discovery gobblers” that continue to exemplify the spate of mergers, acquisitions, and consolidation in the e-discovery marketplace.

FRONTEO (formerly UBIC) gobbled up Essential Discovery last November but has still been working through a re-branding after UBIC acquired TechLaw a couple of years ago.

Xact Data Discovery acquired C:DOX, Orange Legal Technologies, and most recently F1 Discovery over the last 3 years and they seemed poised for continued growth.

DTI & Epiq Systems announced last September that they were joining forces which created a powerhouse. DTI was one of the more active acquirers in the space with Daticon EED in 2010, Fios, Inc. in 2012, Applied Discovery in 2014, and Merrill Legal Solutions Group in 2015. Epiq had also made their own acquisitions but this joining of forces with DTI is worth watching.

LDiscovery probably did more to mess with the heads of us e-discovery industry nerds with their new re-branding smushed together logo with KrolLDiscovery. I remember Kroll’s reinventions through the years with Marsh & McLennan, and Altegrity, but now this is just a little weird. Not to mention that Ldiscovery has been on an absolute tear over the years with acquiring or merging with AlphaLit, RenewData, Turnstone Solutions, Credence Corporation and more.

(All mergers verified through Rob Robinson’s excellent post on ComplexDiscovery: “15 Years of eDiscovery – A Quick Merger, Acquisition, and Investment Update“)

There is nothing whatsoever wrong with any of these shifts in the marketplace. I see it as simply the e-discovery industry growing and evolving.

But one little tiny note I did catch is how each of these powerhouses are reacting to RelativityOne – which seemed to be an annoying, murmuring elephant in the room with a lot of e-discovery service providers. While folks from these larger service providers above were excited about the prospects of RelativityOne, most of the smaller, regional service providers were still fuming at the prospect of kCura undercutting their business models.

It remains to be seen exactly how all this will play out, but I found it intensely interesting as we continue to watch kCura’s evolution in the market.

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