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By Sarah Ledgerwood

Published on Tue, February 12, 2019

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With the whirlwind of Legaltech New York 2019 now in the rearview mirror, it’s the perfect time for me to reflect on my attendance at ALM’s annual Legaltech event (which over the past three years has been part of ALM’s larger Legalweek event, a name that’s never really caught on, so I’ll stick with Legaltech).

Despite the frightful cold of the polar vortex that invaded NYC, Legaltech accomplished its mission of bringing together thousands of legal tech stakeholders from across the globe. Here are the top observations from my time in the Legaltech trenches on the current state of law and technology:

  1. The Legaltech Community Really Wants to Change Things - As has been the case for a number of years that I can count on two hands, innovation was still a primary topic driving the agenda at this year’s Legaltech. That desire for innovation was palpable this year, as more and more of the notoriously slow-moving legal world are seeking to figure out ways to merge the traditional practice of law with practical ways to implement innovation. New innovative emerging technologies like blockchain and AI are dominating this conversation, but we’re seeing application of the technologies not just in typical areas like ediscovery, but across the legal space as a whole, with the goal of coming up with ways of using these technologies to increase efficiency and allow lawyers to focus on their highest value work.
  1. We’re Definitely Moving to the Cloud - From my perspective walking the floor and talking to exhibitors, as well as attending multiple sessions revolving around this topic, the Cloud reigned supreme as this year’s top Legaltech buzzword. I can safely say that we are well beyond whether or not we should implement the Cloud, but we’ve moved to when will we implement the Cloud. From an ediscovery perspective, progress on getting the legal world to embrace the Cloud felt substantial at this year’s Legaltech. Talk has squarely shifted from debating the security of the Cloud, to how to manage and navigate the transition as smoothly as possible. As we strive to find faster, more flexible, and the most cost-effective technology, the legal world seems to finally be recognizing that the Cloud is no longer something to be feared, but something to be embraced.
  1. Cybersecurity is the Top Concern Across the Industry - From the fascinating Day 1 Keynote address featuring dueling former Attorney Generals Alberto Gonzales and Loretta Lynch, (one hailed from a Republican administration and one from a Democrat administration), both agreed that cybersecurity is the top issue facing the industry. Data privacy and protection dominate this conversation particularly with the GDPR, less than a year after its implementation, teaching us that we’re responsible for our clients’ data, even if we’ve given it to a third party, so it’s critical to focus on knowing where your data is and how it’s being used. With California’s Consumer Privacy Act on the horizon, and maybe even a federal privacy standard in the US, it’s obvious that the longer you avoid getting your organization’s data protection house in order, the more difficult it will be.Legaltech2019 Tweet-2
  1. eDiscovery State of the Union Can Be Summarized in a Tweet - At the eDiscovery State of the Union session, by far the most entertaining panel I attended, a panel of industry celebrities focused on the future of ediscovery and what will be important. I’ll leave you with my made-for-Twitter summary that brings together the highlights of the state of the industry perfectly: #Legalweek19 State of the eDiscovery Union takeaways…Legal teams still lack tech competence; email remains king even with new data sources; emerging tech i.e blockchain not ready for regulation; data privacy/protection too weak in US; ediscovery industry and jobs rapidly expanding despite consolidation.
For me, the ultimate highlight of Legaltech remained the stellar networking opportunities. Where else can you find so many of the best and brightest minds in the legal technology world in one place, eager to discuss how innovative we can make our industry? If you have questions or would like to discuss any of your thoughts about Legaltech this year, please reach out to me at SLedgerwood@lighthouseglobal.com or on Twitter @sarahewood.
About the Author
Sarah Ledgerwood

eDiscovery Evangelist and Marketing Content Strategist

Sarah is an eDiscovery Evangelist and Marketing Content Strategist at Lighthouse. She has over 18 years of experience across the legal, technology, and marketing industries since graduating from law school. She specializes in creating digital marketing strategy and content for Lighthouse. She particularly enjoys the challenge of translating and communicating the benefits of legal technology to help clients innovate and optimize their information governance and ediscovery programs. Her expertise in ediscovery began in the early days when she supported clients in a project management capacity on a multitude of cases including regulatory investigations and complex litigation. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Washington, and J.D. from American University in Washington, D.C.