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ILTACON 2023 Recap: The Future of Legal Technology

Last week, I attended my inaugural ILTACON conference in Orlando. The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) Annual Conference, or ILTACON, is billed as the premier gathering of legal professionals, technologists, and experts. This year's conference offered a deep dive into the latest trends, hot topics, and news in legal technology, offering a glimpse into the future of law firms and the legal industry.

Engaging with legal professionals, IT experts, and innovators from around the globe about how legal technology can and likely will impact the legal industry was so inspiring; innovators clearly never sleep. While the conference's primary focus was on the intersection of law and technology, it was clear that all those in attendance were committed to making sure diversity, ethics, and responsibility remain fundamental in such an intersection. With thought-provoking sessions, engaging discussions, and hands-on demonstrations, ILTACON 2023 showcased the latest advancements in legal tech and provided a platform for networking and knowledge sharing.

Here are my brief thoughts.

AI, AI, and more AI

Unsurprisingly, generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning were prominent topics at ILTACON 2023. While these technologies continue to alter legal practices, streamlining document review, contract analysis, and legal research, the enthusiasm for generative AI has evolved into something I would characterize as caution. While major software platforms continue to tout their integration of AI-powered features, legal ops professionals and attorneys have become more adept at discerning actual value from mere hype.

The approach to AI has become more refined, as attorneys remain intrigued about the possibilities for using AI-assisted and AI-based tools to improve legal work. Many vendors I interacted with touted their power at creating efficiencies for lawyers. But there were some outliers that may bring newer advantages including sentiment analysis, or the process of identifying, scrutinizing, and labeling a speaker’s emotions. With each conference I attend, I am seeing a new use of AI and trying to gauge the actual usefulness of the tools being discussed to ensure I can zero in on using AI in the best way.

Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks and the changing regulatory landscape, cybersecurity and data privacy were hot topics at the conference as well. Law firms and legal ops professionals are investing heavily in robust cybersecurity measures and reevaluating the third parties to whom they entrust their data, all to protect sensitive client information and maintain trust. It has become clear that changes in compliance are imminent due to the vast amount of data entities are holding, transferring, and accessing as more states and countries roll out comprehensive data protection regimes.

Discussions at ILTACON emphasized the importance of staying ahead of evolving cyber threats – especially for law firms and legal departments which hold vast amount of data for clients –while cybersecurity firms introduced advanced threat detection and response solutions. These offerings focus on real-time monitoring, threat intelligence, and incident response to safeguard sensitive legal data.

From Barbie to Bakke: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Bringing lawyers, legal ops professionals, and tech innovators together to network and solve problems in our industry is inclusion at its finest. But I was surprised at the efforts the conference organizers made to demonstrate that ILTACON recognizes the continued importance of DEI in the legal tech world too. Sessions at ILTACON 2023 addressed the need for greater diversity of culture in technology development as well as the importance of inclusive design to ensure legal tech solutions meet the needs of all users.

I appreciated the affinity group sessions that were offered. I attended a session for Black professionals, discussing the importance of Black legal and non-legal individuals in legal spaces to lend their perspectives, even in the wake of (or especially in light of) the recent SCOTUS opinion reversing affirmative action. I was reminded that affirmative action never handed Black professionals anything – and we continue to struggle to show numbers in more spaces than the legal industry: corporate boards, doctor’s offices, media, to name a few. And I also attended a session called “Female Leadership in a Barbie World: The Challenge of Being Everything,” where a panel of women talked about the difficulties associated with women being (**spoiler alert for the movie!) forced into “a box.” It is always refreshing to attend conferences where both your professional acumen and your mental strains can be addressed by like-minded and diverse groups of people.

It also proves to me that the legal tech industry will continue to prioritize diversity and inclusion, recognizing that diverse perspectives are essential for designing innovative and successful results. DEI initiatives will play a central role in shaping the future of legal technology.

ILTACON 2023 was a testament to the transformative power of technology in the legal field. And Orlando never disappoints. The trends and discussions highlighted at the conference underscored the industry's commitment to providing better legal services. As legal technology continues to advance, law firms that embrace these changes will be well-positioned to thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape, offering their clients more value and their professionals more opportunities for growth and success. For more insight on legal technology and the legal industry, subscribe to our blog here.