2018 ILTACON Highlights by Gayle O’Connor

I’m sitting on the Amtrak leaving Washington DC starting to unwind after spending a week at the International Legal Technology Association Conference (#ILTACON18) where there were 4,100 attendees: a record breaker. I’m looking forward to a relaxing 6-hour train ride to Mystic, CT to spend a much-needed relaxing weekend with family. But first let me gather my thoughts and share with you what stands out in my mind about this wonderful conference.

The highlights for me included the following:


It was wonderful to step off the airplane when we arrived at BWI on Sunday and not be wrapped in a blanket of humidity. All week long, the sun was shining and there was a beautiful breeze.  What a pleasant change from the 90 degree/90% humidity daily standard I face in New Orleans.


Monday morning, I headed off to the Gaylord in National Harbor from our hotel in Old Town Alexandria and immediately started running into old friends such as Bob Ambrogi of LexBlog, Jo Sherman of EDT Case Management Software, Julie Lewis of Digital Mountain, Doug Kaminski of Cobra Legal Technologies, David Horrigan of Relativity, Jeff Parkhurst of Hewlett Packard and of course, the wonderful ACEDS duo of Mary Mack and Kaylee Walstad.

I spent the most of the week hopping from one great session to the next. First up? The keynote on futurism by Lisa Bodell, a futurist and expert on the topic of change. It was standing room only and was extremely well received by the attendees and she got the crowd excited and ready for the week. Other excellent sessions I attended included The Future of eDIscovery with Jay Lieb, Founder and CEO at NexLP, Andrew Sieja, Founder & CEO, Relativity  and Atanu Banerjee, Group Program Manager, Microsoft Office 365, eDiscovery & Litigation Support for Small Firms with Brett Burney, eDiscovery Consultant at Burney Consultants LLC,  and Doug Austin Vice President of Professional Services at CloudNine,  (among others) and the three part  What You Need to Know About Office 365 with multiple speakers throughout the week. It is interesting to note that most sessions were standing room only.


I spent Tuesday making the rounds in the exhibit hall speaking to a number of the 221 exhibitors.  The setup was very excellent with wide areas between the booths, two locations for startups and a separate area for vendors focusing on corporate solutions. There was a major focus this year on cyber security and AI as well as a number of long time exhibitors such as Worldox, STI, Exterro, Zapproved, Logikcull and of course ACEDS.

Special shout outs to start up web-based word processing shop SmashDocs and first-time exhibitor but long time eDiscovery stalwart, CloudNine. Also, loved the Idea Wall sponsored by DocSolid. A wonderful addition to the conference and crafted be Matt Homann, Founder & CEO of Filiment, ILTA members wrote ideas on post-it-notes, placed them on large white boards and artists then brought those ideas to life by drawing the members thoughts into wonderful cartoons. This is the 4th year that Matt brought the wall to life at ILTACON and it was fabulous to see all the wonderful ideas, tips and needs of the members captured on the Idea Wall. Here is one of mine as an example:

Check out the short video posted on the eDiscovery Channel on YouTube of the complete Idea Wall. Subscribe while you’re there. The eDiscovery Channel has a lot of great content.


Now on to the fun stuff because what would ILTACON be without big parties sponsored by multiple vendors.  Can you say networking? Sure ya can! First, of course, the traditional Monday night opening reception in the exhibit hall, this year with a game theme. Lots of people, networking opportunities and great food.

On Tuesday, I attended the CloudNine reception at The Public House (great lamb and crab cakes appetizers) which had a nice turnout and I got to meet up with a number of old friends such as Doug Austin of CloudNine, Bruce Markowitz of Evolver and Pete Pepiton, eDiscovery Director at Dinsmore and Shohl. Pete also heads the Lit Support Department at the firm. Smart move there!

Next on the agenda was CaseFleet, a relatively new web-based litigation database, who held their party at Graces Mandarin House. It was so packed, I was hard pressed to keep up with all the conversations.  Great food of course! Another party in the Gaylord venue was sponsored by Thomson Reuters and featured a bean bag toss and beer pong as well as more good food!

The personal highlight for me was the ACEDS Monumental Sunset Cruise up the Potomac River.  A riverboat full of the ACEDS community enjoyed a fabulous buffet dinner, drinks and great conversation sponsored by some incredibly generous and wonderful ACEDS partners. The cruise had some great people onboard including industry luminaries such as Tom O’Connor of the Gulf Coast Legal Technology Center, Kenya Parrish-Dixon, Assistant Director, Division of Litigation Technology and Analysis at Federal Trade Commission, David Kinnear, High Performance Counsel and ACEDS Media partner, Doug Kaminski, EVP of Sales at Cobra Legal Technologies and Julie Brown, Litigation Technology Manager at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, who, as a side, was announced as next year’s incoming co -chair for ILTACON19. The cruise lasted three hours and traveled down the Potomac toward the Washington Monument and the Capitol. The full moon shining off the Washington Monument was a beautiful sight.

The highlight of the evening was a birthday cake presented to Mary Mack by the entire crowd with David Horrigan, Discovery Counsel and Legal Education Director at Relativity, leading a rousing rendition of God Save the Queen in eDiscovery verbiage and David Greetham, VP of Ricoh Legal and member of the ACEDS Advisory Board officially crowning Mary the Queen of eDiscovery by placing a special tiara on her head and a celebratory banner over her shoulder.  A well-deserved honor.

Considering all the issues regarding press attendance and the shakeup at ILTA Headquarters just days prior to the event, the conference went very smoothly and everyone I spoke with was having a great time networking, attending sessions and gathering great schwag from the technology partners. I heard a lot of great ideas and met some wonderful people and overall, I felt it was a total success. I look forward to #ILTACON19 and hope to see you all there.


The ABA Center for Innovation Content Survey

The ABA Center for Innovation released a survey that will hopefully assist you with determining what resources you, the legal professional, should turn to and how best to access those materials when answering this question: Just how and where do legal professionals learn about innovation and strategy?

This project was produced by Amanda Leigh Brown, a young lawyer turned legal technologist, while seconded to Microsoft’s Corporate Legal Department through the ABA Center for Innovation Fellows program. The Center for Innovation is a group of creative thinkers gathered to develop and launch new projects to address critical needs in the legal sector. Microsoft helped to underwrite the survey.

Would you like to know what resources are available to you and the legal profession that are focused on innovation and the practice of law? Want to know the way to access that information?

In this project, the data was collected through August 1, 2018. You can access the source objects used for this blog here. The survey remained open about a month and was distributed by word of mouth and social media. In order to broaden the responses, several influencers, such as Robert Ambrogi, Ron Friedmann and TechnoLawyers, were also asked to spread the word amongst their networks. The resultant responders were divided as follows:

The two methods of preferred content format were portals and newsletters at 104 and 102 respectively with blogs coming in at 87. Podcasts and other audio/video came in a distant 4th at 48 and newspapers, yes, newspapers following at 26. Smaller firms preferred newsletters while larger firms preferred portals and content aggregators.

When it came time to determine whether people were reading the content or listening, I was surprised to find out that twice as many people listen to content via podcasts, video or other audio than reading items such as blogs and newsletters. Perhaps I should have made this a podcast!

All these graphs allow you to interact with the survey and click on the various filters to dive deeper into the data.  to determine who is reading which blog. For example, let’s see who is reading 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. When digging deeper, most people are reading “Other” or “None.” What this tells me is that no one blog or podcast has risen to the top of the heap yet on Blogs.

Moving to Portals and Content Aggregators, the clear leaders tend to be “Above the Law, Law360, ABA Journal and TechnoLawyers” particularly from Associates. Associates. It appears, turn to Twitter for their main source of information.

Newsletters on the top of the heap are Law360 and TechnoLawyer, both opt-in and usually full of varied legal news.

Finally, some noteworthy resources include the following.

Personally, I am an avid follower of many of these, including the ACEDS newsletter, Bits + Bytes.  Some I must admit, I have never heard of, so this was very educational for me to go through this survey. I encourage you to determine how you best get your news and look through some of these offerings as you may be missing the best sources out there. I would be curious as to your comments on this blog. Please send comments to gayle@gmomarketing.com.


10 Tips to Get the Most out of ILTACON 2018 Plus a Bonus

I’ve attended more tradeshows over the years than I can count. Making the most of your time and your financial commitment is imperative and everyone should be doing these ten things at a minimum! Just showing up and wandering aimlessly is no way to approach any event, no matter how big or small. If you do the following things, your investment will pay off ten-fold.

  1. Research, research, research: Find out who is going, who you want to network with, set up appointments with those people whom you want to meet, and follow-up a couple days before the show to solidify plans via text or email. Make sure you put it in your calendar!
  2. See what vendors will be there and find out what product or service they are selling. Call them ahead of time and schedule an onsite demo. Ask questions ahead of time to make sure it’s a product or service that you truly need. Keep in mind that oftentimes there are show specials so if it’s a product or service you want, get budget approval before you go. Be prepared to sign up on the spot to capitalize on the savings. ACEDS will be at ILTACON 2018 in booth #130 so don’t forget to bookmark our booth. We will be giving a 20% discount on the CEDS Certification – quite substantial. Work on that budget now so you can save big at the show!
  3. Download the show app ahead of time. For example, ILTACON 2018 already has their app available for IOS and Android (just search for iltacon). There are hundreds of registrants already online sharing information about the show. The complete schedule is in the app so you can easily create your own schedule ahead of time. With a simple click on the event or session you want to attend, voila, your schedule is now in the palm of your hand. Very convenient and much easier then using a hardcopy and highlighter!
  4. Contact the speakers of important sessions ahead of time so they know what your pain points are and what you hope they cover in their presentation, All the speakers are listed on the app and can easily be contacted. Don’t be shy.
  5. Wear your badge on your left shoulder. It allows people to easily see your name with their peripheral vision and bypass that awkward stare to the middle of your chest. Also, carry your business cards within easy reach in your left pocket. That way, when your shaking hands with your right, you can easily reach your business cards with your left. Practice this move at home. It’s a skill that can appear very slick!
  6. Use the free conference Wi-Fi. For those who haven’t downloaded the ILTACON 2018 app yet, the SSID is ILTACON18 and the password is accellion. Accellion is the sponsor of the free Wi-Fi, hence the password name.
  7. Use the bookmark feature in the app to plan your attack on the exhibit hall. Don’t just wander the vast aisles aimlessly wasting precious time and energy. Once you’ve bookmarked the exhibitors you want to see, check out the Exhibit Hall map located in the app as well. Strategize your movement to flow from one end to the other, much like you do when you go grocery shopping.
  8. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Whether at a session, a keynote, a coffee break, lunch or dinner, the elevator, or just sitting and relaxing – NETWORK! In my opinion, networking is one of the greatest advantages of tradeshows. Gather business cards from everyone you meet. Make notes on the back of the cards to help remind you of whom you’ve just met. Then, send them a follow-up email after the show saying how nice it was to have met them. You never know who how their skill set may come in handy for you one day.
  9. Wear comfortable shoes. I won’t be, but shoes are just my thing. I just can’t help myself. I just carry an extra pair so when my feet start screaming, I have a backup.
  10. Finally, pace yourself. Take time out of the day to absorb what you’ve learned, finish those notes on the backs of the business cards, get in a work-out or go to your room for a little break from the craziness of the day. All the sessions are gong to be recorded at ILTACON 2018 so you can always listen to them when you get back from the show.

If you do these things, you should be way ahead of the game. When you get back from the show, do a post-show brief. Share it with your supervisor or managing partner. How was it beneficial? What did you learn? Could you have done something different to maximize your attendance? Send emails to the contacts you made. Reach out to the speakers who really helped you solve a particular issue. Be polite to the vendors who WILL be contacting you if you stopped to talk. Remember, they are just doing their job. Most of all, have fun and make every moment count.

Oh, here is a little bonus. Leave some room in your suitcase when packing as ILTACON vendors usually have incredible swag (I.E. cool giveaways) You’re going to need the extra room to schlep all those great giveaways home. Share them with your staff. It’s great for brownie points! See you on the ACEDS Monumental Sunset Cruise if you were lucky enough to get a spot. See you in D.C.!

ACEDS Celebrates Detroit Chapter President Scott Petz

I just got off a phone call with a lawyer who I really hope to meet one day…Scott Petz. Scott is a member at Dickinson Wright, a national law firm with offices throughout the Midwest, the South, the Southwest, and Canada. Scott is in the Firm’s Troy, Michigan office and focuses on high stakes litigation, including class action litigation. He has recently received the following acknowledgements:

  • Selected for America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators® for Michigan, 2018
  • Selected for Benchmark Litigation “40 & Under Hotlist,” 2018
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America©, Commercial Litigation, 2018

When I brought up these accolades, Scott was extremely humble and said that while it was very flattering to get acknowledgments, he is always looking for what best serves his clients and provides them maximum value. He truly seemed almost embarrassed. It was clear to me that this was a really nice guy who just keeps striving to be better at his craft. We immediately dived into discussing his work with the ACEDS Detroit Chapter as this is what he wanted to talk about, NOT his individual achievements.

Scott became a member of ACEDS in 2015, as well as a member of the ACEDS Detroit Chapter. Scott recognizes that facts in litigation are often found in electronically stored information and he wanted to expand his knowledge on how to get to those facts. “It’s really important to know not only the rules of discovery, but also the technology, storage, and management of information,” said Scott, “Having a deep understanding of these matters helps you proactively advise your client and can strategically guide a long-term litigation strategy.” He likes what ACEDS brings to the table: education and networking on eDiscovery. eDiscovery is important to his successful practice, and his association with ACEDS and ACEDS Detroit has proven to be an asset to him.

He became treasurer when he first joined ACEDS Detroit Chapter and in 2016, Scott quickly moved into the Vice President role leading, of course, to the President’s role which he’s now held for two years. The ACEDS Detroit Chapter board, like its members, consist of people from different positions in the eDiscovery world such as litigation technology support personnel and lawyers. The ACEDS Detroit Chapter, like ACEDS, aims to bring all the eDiscovery players together and is a huge collaborative effort. Its mission is one of education and networking in the eDiscovery world with everyone welcome. Says Scott, “The appeal of ACEDS, for me, is that the organization recognizes that lawyers and non-lawyer professionals need resources and need to collaborate to effectively and efficiently address eDiscovery issues while maintaining a focus on reasonableness and defensibility. In the end, that’s really what our clients want.”

The ACEDS Detroit Chapter puts on four events throughout the course of the year. They first do a lunch and learn, this year it was on cybersecurity. The presentation was given by Rachel Ratcliff – Managing Director at Stroz Friedberg, and Collin Battersby, Attorney at McDonald Hopkins. The event was sponsored by Stroz Friedberg, an Aon Company and was held at the law offices of Dickinson Wright in Troy, MI.

Next, they did a wine and cheese social at the Capital Grille in Troy, MI in June featuring guest speaker Tom Gricks, a managing director at Catalyst and a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For the past several years, Mr. Gricks has devoted a substantial portion of his practice to eDiscovery, with a particular emphasis on technology-assisted review. He argued the Global Aerospace case before the Circuit Court in Loudoun County, Virginia, which is the first case to permit the use of technology-assisted review over the objection of the opposing party. Attendees had the chance to meet Tom at the social and it was very successful.

The next event is the 3rd Annual ACEDS Detroit eDiscovery Symposium/Inaugural ACEDS Midwest Regional Conference on October 25th and 26th at Greektown Casino Hotel in Detroit, MI and will feature George Socha. George will present the keynote speech at the conference entitled Understanding Disruption in eDiscovery with Scott giving the opening remarks and Mark Mack giving the closing remarks. The panel topics outlined below will include industry leading speakers – Tom Gricks, Maura Grossman, David Horrigan, Rose Jones, Doug Kaminski, Hon. Mary Beth Kelly (Ret.), Jacob Koering, Brian Lennon, Tom Lidbury, Eric Lieber, John Pappas, Carol Romej and Jenni Weaver. Sessions include:

  1. The Role of Special/eDiscovery Masters
  2. Setting up a Successful eDiscovery Department
  3. AI – Defining, Demystifying and Paths to Really Using Artificial Intelligence
  4. Data Breach Litigation

Finally, the ACEDS Detroit Chapter does a year end event focusing on giving back. This networking event will be December 3rd at M-Brew in Ferndale, MI so mark your calendar now. Last year the recipient was Mandy’s Place, an emergency shelter program that provides short-term placement and support to young children, age birth – 17, who are removed from their homes by the court due to neglect, abuse and status offenses. Mandy’s Place provides a therapeutic, homelike intervention for all residents in their care as they wait to return to their family, go into foster care, be placed in Children’s Village live-in program or go to another agency. DISCO was the platinum sponsor of last year’s event providing the event’s food and trivia entertainment.

So much activity and community surround the ACEDS Detroit Chapter and Scott seems to love what it brings to his professional and personal growth. Our conversation was easy, inspiring and fun. Scott is a true go-getter and is not one to rest on his laurels. We discussed the importance of always growing and moving on to the next chapter. He was completely humbled by his awards but truly, at age 37, he IS someone to watch in this field. I’ll close with a quote “If justice is a fact-finding mission, then why don’t we all come together to find those facts.” Thank you, Scott, for your time and candor. A most pleasant man and one headed for greatness!