The karaoke machine and the foam high five fingers are back in their boxes after the epic two-day Legal Geek conference earlier this month. I’ve caught my breath and reflected on the top 10 things that struck me from this year’s event:
This article was written by Jenni Tellyn, KM Consultant and former Head of Knowledge Management at Stephenson Harwood
For next year’s event here are Jenni’s top tips:
1. Download the app
Download the Legal Geek app so you can plan your time at the event and get to see the vendors and speakers you want to hear. The sessions are lightning 10-minuters so it’s worth getting notifications for the sessions you’re interested in so you can navigate between the Disco and Balloon Stages and the Workshop room and Start-up Alley don’t miss anything.
2. Don’t expect masses of unsustainable merch
Don’t expect masses of unsustainable merch.
If collecting branded plastic tat is your thing, this isn’t the conference for you! There was a refreshing lack of pointless throwaways on the vendor stands and the doughnuts on the Legatics stall were to die for!
3. Everyone really is a geek!
Everyone really is a geek!
It sounds like an ultra on-brand cliché but all the attendees really are into legal tech! I had a lovely time totally indulging my not-very-buried inner geek with literally everyone I bumped into from the legal tech world, the businesses in Start-up Alley and random new connections I made in coffee and lunch queues. There was a real mix of people from vendors, academics, charities and law firm innovation, tech and knowledge management teams to interested lawyers having their minds blown by the art of the possible.
4. Everyone is very friendly!
Everyone is very friendly!
So screw up your courage, fellow introverts, and have a Redbull to power you though the networking! Even before the dislocation of the lockdowns, it wasn’t my favourite thing but I find it’s always worth it to make new connections and the Legal Geek crew creates such a relaxed atmosphere where speaking to strangers is facilitated and encouraged so it’s made as painless as possible for the likes of me!
5. Be open to saying “yes” to the event!
Be open to saying “yes” to the event!
Before I got there, I didn’t know I needed to see how many times I could put a basketball through a hoop, build a sandcastle in a sandbox (geddit?!) against the clock, run on the spot with Joe Wicks or attend a Metaverse-themed silent disco but apparently, I did! With handy QR codes on everyone’s name badges, it is made as easy as possible to make new connections so embrace all aspects of the event to get the most out of it.
6. Expect some great speakers.
Expect some great speakers.
As an established fixture in the legal tech calendar, Legal Geek has the firepower to attract big name speakers. The event was opened by the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UK, Mr Vadym Prystaiko, then The Body Coach, Joe Wicks MBE, got the whole room moving for a bit of PE before opening up on his backstory and the inspirational former England rugby star Maggie Alphonsi MBE was also on the roster. The more high-profile names were interspersed with experts from the legal tech world so there’s always a feeling that you are learning from people who are at the cutting edge of the industry. I particularly enjoyed Theory and Principle’s Nicole Bradick’s exhortation that your law firm website should not be “ugly, boring or serious” as we well know from channelling Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods!
7. The legal industry really does need to sort its sh*t out on mental health!
The legal industry really does need to sort its sh*t out on mental health!
One of the themes of this year’s conference (alongside the focus on Ukraine) was reflecting on how the legal services profession approaches the mental health of its people. I was particularly struck by the intensely personal message from the skateboarding world’s Ben Raemers Foundation on the suicide ripple effect and the part we can all play in preventing suicide. We have a long way to go in the legal industry to marry up the delivery of legal services in a high-pressure environment with supporting the people doing the delivery and this year’s conference shone a light on this journey.
8. There’s truly something for everyone.
There’s truly something for everyone.
No matter what your angle of interest in legal technology, I felt like a whole gamut of interests was catered for. From developments in the legal education sphere, to the rise of NFTs, to web3 and how climate events really impact the economy, I had my horizons expanded. And if the content wasn’t enough, you’d find something up your street amongst the karaoke, a brass band belting out the Beatles, food stalls serving everything from hotdogs to curry, a frenetic “grab the money in a wind tunnel” game, and some people inexplicably dressed as shrubs!
9. “Intrapreneurs” are a thing.
And it isn’t just firms with formal incubator programmes and innovation teams who are encouraging staff to act on ideas for changes to the way lawyers work. Law schools are now baking in the idea of students expecting to navigate technology rich environments and to be innovators around how legal processes and tasks are carried out from the very outset of their careers. With new generations of lawyers arriving at firms expecting to get involved in change, the appetite for legal technology can only increase.
10. Legal Tech vendors are recognising they need to meet lawyers where they work.
Legal Tech vendors are recognising they need to meet lawyers where they work.
Last but obviously not least, the technology itself is developing in the right direction. There is a maturity to many of the products who first showcased their solutions on Start-up Alley at Legal Geek conferences gone by and their offerings are being refined due in large part to the two-way street of conversations with customers that events like Legal Geek foster so successfully. Getting products adopted in practice by stressed-out lawyers is a perennial challenge and efforts by many vendors to try to integrate their products with the tools which lawyers already use so they aren’t being taken into unconnected other systems to perform key tasks are starting to bear fruit.
If this sounds like your sort of event, you can pre-register for next year now. See you there!
Jenni Tellyn is a recovering debt capital markets lawyer and knowledge management consultant. She works with 3Kites Consulting Ltd and helps professional services firms on a range of knowledge management and legal tech strategy, process and implementation projects. Fiercely supplier independent, she bridges the gap between lawyers and technologists to support adoption of the right tech and KM solutions.