This article first appeared in Legaltech News, February 20, 2018.

Monica Bay relates her experiences from the inaugural ALT conference and asks attendees their thoughts on the event.

It didn’t hurt that The Association of Legal Technologists’ (ALT) inaugural conference “ALT: Networking Rebooted” was held at the delightfully warm JW Marriott Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, February 11-13. The 141 attendees included people from law firms, vendors, law schools, and others, with the goal of breaking down the walls that have frustrated efforts to improve legal services.

The organizers have been active in other legal organizations, such as the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA.) ALT’s executive board members includes Rick Hellers(executive director), Cathy ReillyKelli KohoutSam Davenport and Judith Flournoy.

ALT kicked off the conference with a keynote speaker, Stanford University’s Margaret Hagan. She is the director of the school’s Legal Design Lab, and a lecturer at Stanford Institute of Design (the Hagan graduated from the Stanford Law School in 2013. The keynote, “Design Thinking” encouraged the attendees to change the way legal traditionally works, such as “using limits to push yourself,” “love your user, but don’t limit your work to their ideas,” and “work with people not like you.”

Two Tracks and Another Keynote

The attendees then broke up into two tracks. “The Changing Legal Landscape,” where Hagan and Sam Davenport conducted “Small-c Change.” Other topics included “Deliver the Highest Value Hour,” “New Resources for a New Age,” and “Envisioning the AI-Enabled Legal Team of the Future. “

The DevOps group kicked off with “Defining DevOps for the Legal Function” by Beau Mersereau and Steven McCue. Other topics were “Problem Solving using DevOps Techniques,” “Live Lab, Cornerstone IT”, and “Applying DevOps to Your Own Firm.”

Ron Sepielli had the last microphone, with the final Keynote Address, “So What. Now What—FURPA.”

The conference also included plenty of interaction with the attendees, with two dinners (outside) plus breakfast and lunch.

Surprises & Favorites

Legaltech News asked for their opinions about the conference (trimmed for size):

Bob Dolinsky, Chief Strategy Officer, Adaptive Solutions: ALT was two days of networking, the exchange of ideas and addressing many of the challenges facing the legal technology arena. The “Changing Legal Landscape” track had several interesting sessions, including “Small c-Change” led by Margaret Hagan and Sam Davenport. Another interesting session was “New Resources for a New Age,” led by Brad Blickstein and David Cambria. It was helpful in focusing how corporate legal departments should think about making the highest use of their resources on tasks whose outcomes could be high risk and have a major impact on the business (and possibly automating and/or outsourcing other tasks).

Jennifer Whittier, President, Cole Valley Software: Entering the ALT conference without a company name or designation as a vendor was no easy task. At ALT there are just strategic partners. The ability to introduce oneself and make a new connection was refreshing. It was exciting to be in such a different environment. ALT’s founding circle deserves a well-earned gold medal. They set the record straight, dispelling the skepticism surrounding the birth of a new legal conference. They not only met all of its stated objectives, but also created a refreshing new sense of community that values its members contributions and ideas. It is a community that doesn’t see a vendor or a CIO; but, instead, a resource.

Jim Moreo, Principal, Cornerstone.IT: “The conference succeeded in its mission to bring together thought leaders from law firms, clients and vendors,” writes Moreo on his company’s blog. “It was not one speaker and 140+ listeners. It was 140+ creative minds solving existing problems and designing the future of an industry.”

Judith Flournoy, Chief Information Officer, Kelley Drye: What surprised me: The level of engagement across the board from all attendees. We structured the event to facilitate that. It was awesome to see that structure work. Favorite session: The Design Thinking and the group exercises. Also, before and after the sessions there was a tremendous amount of interaction with attendees the meals and at the evening around the fire pit.