Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The 2nd Annual APAC LawTech Summit

The 2nd Annual APAC LawTech Summit is currently being held here at the Noosa Sheraton Hotel and Resort in Queensland, Australia.

As the event comes to a close, it is fair to say that the content and caliber of this year’s speakers has been second to none in comparison to any other event held this year within the law firm management and/or law firm technology/knowledge management fields. Moreover, the event’s success has been secured by the attendees themselves. A majority of the region’s major firms were well represented with the total number of attendees easily surpassing 100 – an amazing feat given the time of the year, the disruptions in Sydney caused by the recent APEC summit, and the involvement of Australian firms in the recent ILTA conference in the USA.

Tom Baldwin (Chief Knowledge Officer – Sheppard Mullin USA), Sally Gonzalez (Director – Navigant), Peter Williams (Partner – Deloitte), and the ever impressive and innovative (and “fantastically amusing”) Richard Susskind OBE of “The Future of Legal Technology” fame, provided immense input and value to the agenda.

Tom’s presentation yesterday on the application of Sheppard Mullin’s Microsoft SharePoint strategy provided one of the very first tangible examples for many attendees of the way in which a law firm can utilise this platform – a question that (prior to Tom’s session) was on many attendees lips. He also provided a number of innovative ideas and overviews on the state of the Enterprise Search market place – something that he is certainly qualified to do given his experience.

Peter Williams from Deloitte Digital and the Eclipse Group entertained the packed room with his ideas and experience on innovation (and his frustrations with Macs), and was the talk of the networking drinks which followed. Peter’s approach to Web 2.0 technologies, and his encouragement to embrace (rather than restrict) users’ uptake of social networking sites such as Facebook initially surprised a number of the CIOs in the room; however his explanations as to how innovation and emerging trends will allow firms to benefit from the development of such sites had a number of attendees eagerly scribbling down notes for their return to their firms.

Peter’s second session of the conference today on the emergence of Blogs and Wikis within the walls of a law firm was another valuable session which yet again proved that the organisers have been spot on with their thoughts on the non-vendor elements of the agenda.

In our opinion, it is great to see the Australian firms come closer to their international cousins in this area. Linklaters and Allen & Overy (and Sheppard Mullin) are certainly leading the way in their use of these technologies, and it is a great compliment to the firms in this hemisphere that they are able to hold their own against much larger and cashed up firms and IT/KM Departments.

To this point, the event’s link with ILTA again this year has proved invaluable. For those firms not yet members of ILTA, we would encourage you to contact the region’s current chairperson (Brent Snow of Baker MacKenzie) to discuss the program (brent.snow@bakernet.com).

We have been fortunate enough to be traveling on the Web 2.0 journey with a number of our clients currently as we work with regional early adopters on their strategy around the internal and external uses of Blogs and Wikis – more to be posted here in the coming weeks as one client goes to market with their announcements.

The event is being chaired by Martin Telfer (APAC CIO – Baker MacKenzie) who continues to provide valuable insight (mixed with Martin’s own famous brand of satire and humour), and has seen additionally impressive presentations from Richard Parsons (Change Management) and Ben Swindale (VOIP) of Mallesons Stephen Jaques, Maureen Duffy (Litigation Support Strategies) of Freehills, and an engaging panel discussion on “the role of the CIO in relation to innovation” featuring John Duckett (CIO – DLA Phillips Fox), Sally, Martin and Maureen which has just concluded after some great audience participation.

Although this was the second annual event, it was the launch of the annual Legal Technology Awards. Large IT Team of the Year was taken out by Baker MacKenzie with Cooper Grace Ward scooping the award for Small IT Team of the Year. Other awards went to BAT, Australian Business Lawyers, Australian Government Solicitors and Campbell & Co.

As a special note – the international version of these awards is currently open for nomination. We encourage all Asia Pacific firms to participate in these awards by nominating peer firms. Australian firms have a great reputation internationally for innovation and excellence in Knowledge Management and Legal Technology, so take a visit to www.legaltechnologyawards.co.uk and get nominating. Nominations close at the end of October with the awards being presented in London on 31st January.

Yes, the networking went off with a bang as usual. Of course, what happens in Noosa, stays in Noosa. Special award to the 4am Polar Bear Beach Club members (you know who you are).

The event would not succeed without the involvement of the obvious array of our industry’s software and hardware vendors – although these booths are sometimes seen as a necessary evil at such events, hats off to all for diligently and professionally buying drinks and manning your booths so as to answer the range of questions fired at you by a caffeine influenced crowd who were mainly interested in taking your branded pens and giveaways rather than hearing about your recent wins in Bratislava. Special mentions must go to BigHand Digital Dictation for their demonstration of their impressive BlackBerry dictation integration, Cannon for their amazing support of our industry yet again, and new participants Nuance and Nuix.

Not only the was the event of great value from a content and networking perspective, the team from CMS Chilli Marketing yet again excelled themselves with their professionalism, hospitality, and their understanding of what makes an event of this scale work for all concerned. Congratulations to George, Kathy, Jenny and the team at Chilli for creating such a remarkable event and getting it right each time. The industry looks forward to yet another engaging event in 2008 and applauds the organisers for their hard work.

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