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Well, after a week of staring morosely at Twitter, ILTACON is over. No more fancy drinks parties. No more driving Lamborghinis around the circuits of Las Vegas. Finally, those of us that didn’t attend can venture back onto social media without experiencing too many pangs of jealousy. ILTA is, however, still a great weather vane for the legal industry. What were this year’s predictions? What were the hot topics? Can we finally dispense with the belief that AI is going to replace lawyers?

In answer to all these questions, we have put together a handy wrap up of ILTA. From our favourite quotes, to the trends predicted for 2017, here’s what the blogs have been writing about the 2017 edition.

What was new at ILTACON 2017?

One of the key differences between 2017’s ILTA and previous years was the practicality of the technology on offer. This year was awash with real-world examples and case studies. Finally, we saw firms able to show off about how technology has supported their processes.  As Matt Golab of Gilbert + Tobin noted:

“This year there was a lot of discussion about ways in which AI has been implemented and tips and tricks about how to effectively implement AI and to use it to augment lawyers” Artificial Lawyer

Sessions too, were focused more on the practical application of technology. Titles like ‘AI in Law; From Theory to Practice’ were common. What was noticeable was how irreverent legal professionals have become about AI. Instead of calling AI the answer to lawyer’s problems, this year panelists focused on the problem itself.

“From the client perspective, we don’t care about AI. We want to see efficiency gains. How is irrelevant.” Julian Tsisin via Prism Legal

It seems that this year, legal professionals are asking what the technology can offer in black and white, rather than hypothetically. The heyday of the ‘AI’ buzzword is over.

What does the future hold for legal tech?

Looking forwards, ILTA 2017 was all about using the data we have better. Firms can use pricing data to understand what drives underlying profitability. Without the data to support this move, firms risk being left behind. The focus in the coming years will be about commoditising legal services where possible. Technology can then replace or support these services. Panelists were keen to emphasise the iterative nature of this process too.

Things don’t just work out of the box. It can take a long time to get there.” Sam Whitman via Prism Legal

So, the success stories are with us. Firms must simply be careful not to get too carried away. Or disheartened if results aren’t immediate.

What hasn’t changed since ILTACON 2016?

Law firms may be more savvy technologically, but it seems that tech adoption is still a slow process. Liberty Mutual held an informative education session on the optimal way to introduce new technology. They recommended first building trust, by placing data in a secure repository which is easily accessible. Invest time in training, the use of the new tool should become a habit to be truly successful. Finally, identify career growth opportunities arising out of use of the tool. Whilst use of legal tech is on the rise, it seems we still have some way to go before wide-scale adoption happens.

The areas in which legal tech are excelling haven’t seen too great a shift over the last year either. Billing, and the use of Big Data to support accurate pricing and fee quotes was heavily featured again in 2017. Stephen Allen looked at Clocktimizer as one of the ways to support pricing.  Once again, Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology in due diligence and e-discovery featured front and center. As discussed in the ‘Big Data and Little Data are Smarter Together’ session, firms are using AI to reduce the mundane repetitive tasks and engage their resources in more complex matters. We imagine the junior associates are pretty happy about this too.

Our favourite social media of ILTACON 2017

Well there’s been a lot of fun social media around ILTACON 2017. ROSS’s excellent bingo square would have kept many amused during the longer panel discussions. We have no doubt every square was ticked off.

Our soundbite of the conference award goes to this gem: “Lawyers think they are artists, and if you remove a brush stroke, the masterpiece is ruined. In house, we need prints, not art.” Thanks to Ed Walker for recording it!

Our award for best networking has to go to Andrew Arruda. He definitely saw the most mentions on Twitter. We also think he may have won the award for most featured panelist.

Finally, our best costume award has to go to PGi. We were very impressed by the commitment to the galaxy theme. Check out the photos here.