Breakfast at LegalTech, serendipity or stupidity?

Blogging from the taxi line at the Hilton Hotel…

Jumping in to LegalTech feet first on mid-day Tuesday was a blast.  The Hilton hotel was buzzing with EDD chatter and vendors filled three floors of conference space.  Everywhere you turned there was space leased to vendors hawking their services and ‘wares to the attendees.  I’m not just talking about the exhibit floor, but the suites, executive lounge on the 44th floor and several of the restaurants were partitioned for private ad-hoc meetings and events.  I never made it to any of the educational sessions on Wednesday, but my evening cocktails revealed the morning keynote by Robert M. Bjornsti, Vice President, AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company was great.

Thursday started with me getting ready for my afternoon flight.  I did this before I went to any meetings as today it meant making the 12:37pm New Jersey Transit train versus the1:03pm, to Newark Airport.  Breakfast required championship determination as my meeting with John Tredennick, CEO of Catalyst Repository Systems and Law Technology News Editorial Board Member, was in the “Lounge”.

There are three breakfast lounges in the hotel – Diamond Elite on the first floor, Executive Lounge on the 44th floor and Hilton Club Lounge on the 37th floor.  As I learned Thursday morning, one persons lounge is another’s couch.  Through all the standing in elevators, I happened upon Mary Mack from FIOS.  She stepped on the elevator, like a ray of sunshine she greeted me.  She had a wonderful smile on her face and cheer in her voice.

I was without my LegalTech badge, so she asked straight away if I was attending the LegalTech event and I said, “yes.”  Promptly introducing myself, she quickly responded “you are the blogger guy.”  I laughed and said “yes, that’s me, I do exist.” (in my favorite m-m’s commercial voice).  We talked about the event and how there were probably too many vendors there.  I invited her to do an interview with us in the coming months and she agreed, as long as the price was right (crossing my fingers).  She walked off calling it a moment of serendipity, which made me feel better about my inability to find the “Lounge.”

After taking the next set of elevators to the 37th floor lounge, I stepped off to see John Tredennick chatting with Ron Friedmann, Senior VP of Integreon®.  John and I sat down for a chat and he left me pondering three key points about a magnanimous enterprise electronic discovery system:

  1. Companies believe or think that in-house review is “safe” and less risky.  However, as with any a business process and IT project, the possibility of failure is high, given the failure rates of IT projects.
  2. On the outside chance the indexing, storage and analytical application management system are successfully deployed by the mix of in-house and external developers, there is support after the deployment.  Tredennick says, “Catalyst must provide support and ongoing improvements to ensure our success as a vendor.”  This is contrary to an in-house development project; the team may disperse to other projects unless you are supporting the product externally.
  3. The chance of a company turning a project into a non-core business product, is unlikely.  Therefore, within just a few months new requirements will be submitted, but no team exists to enact them.  Unimproved applications are effectively decaying.  The decay, combined with support issues, causes the project costs to spiral out of control until you need to start sending mounds of data outside the firm.

These three points should be considered by any company that falls outside of the high-complexity and high-litigation legal risk quadrant defined by Stephen Whetstone, Esq.  However, if intellectual property and ongoing litigation are key elements in your business, having an information management system that reaches into live, archive, backup and printed data is a good starting point.  From there, you can start layering analytical applications on top of the data or indexes.  Some companies may collect from the broadest set and build a custom index for deeper analytics.  The simplest model is leveraging analytical applications like Attenex or Clearwell Systems.

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