Zach Warren is the editor-in-chief of Legaltech News, a national magazine of ALM Media. In his role, he helps...
Monica Bay is a Fellow at CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. She also writes for Thomson Reuters, ALM (Legaltech News),...
On Monday, January 29, 2018, legal professionals will flood New York for Legalweek 2018, a conference featuring workshops, networking opportunities, and hundreds of exhibitors all designed to address key issues in the legal industry. In this Law Technology Now, host Monica Bay talks to Zach Warren about the details of the conference and how newbies can attend without getting overwhelmed. Their discussion includes hot topics that will be covered at the event, like blockchain and cybersecurity, and speakers they’re excited to hear from.
Zach Warren is the editor-in-chief of Legaltech News, a publication that features law technology updates, articles, and technology company press releases for the legal profession.
Law Technology Now
What’s Happening at Legalweek 2018
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Monica Bay: Hi, I am Monica Bay and welcome to another edition of Law Technology Now on the Legal Talk Network. We have a terrific guest today. It’s Zach Warren, and he is the Editor-in-Chief at what is now called Legaltech News. Welcome.
Zach Warren: Thank you very much. Legaltech News, a publication that I believe you are very familiar with, Monica.
Monica Bay: Oh yes. Yes, 17 years, I think I was with the other one and I’m just so thrilled at what you’re doing. Speaking of that, you and I have a lot in common and among them is baseball. I was thrilled to find out when I first met you that you actually had been reporting on that. Tell us a little bit about that?
Zach Warren: Yeah — no, when I was in college at least, my grand dream wasn’t anything to do with law whatsoever. It was actually to be the next Al Michaels or Joe Buck or something like that.
So when I was in college I did a good deal of sports broadcasting, especially baseball, I spent two summers with the Cape Cod Baseball League, one of the collegiate all-star leagues during the summer. It was a great two summers. It was basically wake up, had a job landscaping in the morning, go to the beach for a few hours, then called baseball by night, did that for about two months, two straight summers.
When I got into the real world, you find out very quickly that those jobs not only are not very plentiful, but they pay pretty much peanuts. So, especially with student loans, that wasn’t exactly going to be feasible for me, tried working in sports analytics for a bit, but didn’t really work out; so, segmented to something with a little bit more security and something that was still interesting to me being law.
But even so, I still watch baseball like crazy, still a big sports stats not and even if my favorite Braves aren’t exactly able to get a Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of the offseason like you’re Yankees, I don’t like to follow everything that’s happening.
Monica Bay: You have built a terrifically good team at ALM and I’d love to have you talk to us a little bit about how did you bring it, and tell us a little bit about what the key things are that you are finding in Legaltech and what are the key issues that are going around?
Zach Warren: Yeah, well, thank you for the compliment for the great team to start. I’m definitely proud of the work we’re doing as well, and especially for, as you know, journalism, which turns over like crazy pretty much every other month. The fact that we’ve had pretty much the whole team together for going on two years now is pretty extraordinary, and I’m really happy with the continuity and the work that we’re doing.
Monica Bay: Now did you find some of those folks?
Zach Warren: The way that it worked is actually, well, of course, Aaron took over for you at LTN and I was with at Inside Counsel Magazine with Aaron previously. So when she moved over to LTN, I moved over along with her as first an Associate Editor, then a Managing Editor.
When she was in-charge, she brought on board Ian, who is now the Technology Desk Editor and I worked very closely.
Monica Bay: And can you tell us who their full names are so that folks might know who we’re talking about?
Zach Warren: Yes, good call. That would be Ian Lopez. So, Ian Lopez has been with LTN for probably about three years now, going up on that. And then after pretty much around the same time I became Editor-in-Chief, that’s when Rhys Dipshan was brought on-board, and then not too long after that, Gabrielle Hernández was a reporter for one of ALM’s local magazines in Georgia, but they wanted to move her to a national audience. So she came on for Legaltech News as well.
So as a team we’ve been together since about May-June, 2016 and we’re starting to get codified into some individual beats, like Rhys is kind of working more the corporate Beat, Gabrielle is doing a lot with startups, and I know you, Monica, I have spoken with Gabrielle a few times on that particular subject as well.
So, I think we’re doing pretty well for ourselves and I’m happy with all of the inroads that we’re making and keeping on the great legacy of LTN so far.
Monica Bay: Well, I would definitely agree with you. You’ve just developed a really excellent crowd. So how did you end up like I did in tech, when we both had such a strong interest otherwise?
Zach Warren: Winding, winding paths. No, not something I had any conception that I was going to be doing coming out of undergrad because like I said, I worked in sports analytics for a tiny bit but the startup space being what it is that kind of fell through and they decided they didn’t want content people anymore.
So, a friend of mine was with Inside Counsel Magazine, previously Corporate Legal Times, and she said, hey, I’m leaving for another job. This is something — it’s an interesting job, I think you’ll like it, I think you’d do well. So I moved over there and about a month after I moved to Inside Counsel Magazine that Editor-in-Chief left and Aaron Harrison came on-board as the new Editor-in-Chief there.
She decided that she wanted to keep me on, which was awesome, because I didn’t want to be switching jobs again for the second time in two months and I think we — yeah, we made a pretty good team. It was me, Aaron Harrison, Rich Steeves, Chris DiMarco and we had that team up until ALM purchased Summit Professional Networks, which included Inside Counsel at the time; was not fun when Inside Counsel being purchased by its biggest competitor Corporate Counsel. But it did pretty well for me in that, they wanted people to move over to the Legaltech News team, after yourself left, and everybody who is involved there, and yeah, the tech space is something that’s always been really interesting to me, because talking with corporate counsel is nice, and there were excellent people that I’d interview on a daily basis, but I’ve always been drawn to the people that are pushing stuff forward.
The people who are trying to be innovative, the people that are a little bit more techie, like myself, I’d like to think of myself as a little bit more techie. So being able to speak that language as compared to frankly a little bit more dry corporate speak, really appealed to me and it’s something that I’ve been very happy to, I have had the opportunity to do.
Monica Bay: Yeah, I was always mesmerized with change, and my dad was a United Airlines pilot and my whole life, I’ve just been absolutely mesmerized. And I’m not under the hood, which I think surprised a lot of people that I could do a lot of stuff about tech, but when somebody wanted to give me a big long thing, I would sort of go, oh God, but what was so magic about it was really sort of like, how does the world adopt change and how do all of these things get us there in some are surprises and some aren’t, and I’ve just been mesmerized by how fast things change with tech.
And some that just flop all the time and I started my career with a typewriter that tells you how old I am, but I’ve just absolutely loved it, and I’m still doing it and I’m in a different environment that allows me to focus really on the stuff I really love, which is dealing with startups and Access to Justice, blah, blah, blah. Back to you.
Zach Warren: I just wanted to say I’d absolutely agree with that, but one thing that I’d put on top of that even is something that’s always interested me is numbers and data as well, and kind of how you can make change with practical realized results. And I think I got into LTN at the right — exact right time for that reason quite honestly —
Monica Bay: You sure did.
Zach Warren: — with the explosion of big data with analytics and so many people trying to make those practical changes. I’m very happy with that I got in when I did.
Monica Bay: Well, I think it’s absolutely perfect for you and I think I was really lucky because I got the opportunity to go to the Stanford CodeX and it was time for me to take a change. I’d been there for 30 years and it’s just been so exciting.
But, I feel like one of the things that I have done every single year and will be doing again this year is going to Legalweek —
Zach Warren: Yeah.
Monica Bay: — which is a new name for them, but I’m still going to call it “Legaltech” because as far as our concern, it’s all about Legaltech.
Zach Warren: Yeah.
Monica Bay: And it’s coming up very shortly, January 29th to February 1, I will be there from the 30th to the 1st, but I won’t be there on the first day. Let’s talk about our listeners and tell them a little bit about what’s going to come up this time because they’ve made a little bit bigger and the structure is a little different, but mostly we’re interested in the tech part of it.
So there’s so much stuff that goes on, and for the folks who are coming for the first time, it can be completely overwhelming. The big joke is always, make sure you bring good shoes, and they’re absolutely right.
Zach Warren: Yeah.
Monica Bay: This will be your second or third one, is that right?
Zach Warren: This will be my third one, yes. Third or fourth?
Monica Bay: Yeah, I think so.
Zach Warren: No, I think third.
Monica Bay: So, from your point how — they have changed a lot of what’s going on adding a lot of other stuff, but as we were saying, focusing on the tech aspect of it for first attendees what would you recommend to them in terms of how to go through all the things and find the right things that Legaltech provides?
Zach Warren: Yeah, I definitely do think it’s important to come in with a plan, because as you were saying, a lot of people show up that first time and it’s overwhelming. I mean, especially for people who aren’t from New York, that’s even more so going to the New York Midtown Hilton itself and walking into hotel and seeing just the massive second floor with everybody you could ever think of, in the exhibit hall, especially with the five different conferences happening at once with Legaltech being the huge one.
Monica Bay: Yeah.
Zach Warren: There’s just so much to do. So, even for us covering it, we printout the agenda ahead of time, mark it down saying, oh, this is something we want to check out, this is something we want to check out, and even if we don’t have a set in stone schedule, having the familiarity with the schedule ahead of time makes life so much easier and lets you build in, oh, this is where I think it would be helpful to maybe walk the exhibit hall and see what’s new. This is where it would be helpful to have a few meetings. This is where we want to definitely see this keynote, this keynote. If we have time, that’d be great. So that’d be my main thing is not having a rigid set in stone schedule because even walking from place to place you’re going to find that you’re going to be interrupted and it’s going to take a lot longer than you thought it might, but having a rough outline of things that would be good to do at certain times, I think is a great idea.
Monica Bay: Going into the exhibit hall can be absolutely overwhelming. It seems to me that a lot of some of the ones that were very hot 10 years ago are now pretty mature, mostly eDiscovery, for example. But, what are the hot areas now that people should look at when they are in the exhibit hall? Are there any particular areas that you think they should pay attention to if they want to get the best out of the event?
Zach Warren: Yeah, well, I mean, everybody has heard the phrase, AI is a buzzword these days and that seems to be going around, but I mean, you know as well as I do that investment into Legaltech AI tools has been on the sharp uptick over the past year, and that’s something that I am definitely interested in seeing even compared to 2017 is just how much A, these companies have grown and B, what their offerings are as compared to last year’s Legaltech as compared to even ILTA last summer. I know a bunch of companies are going to be coming, AI specific companies I should say are coming out with a bunch of new solutions that promise all new things and I want to get my hands on it, I want to see how it works practically.
Monica Bay: For some of the newbies, tell us what AI is?
Zach Warren: Yeah, absolutely. So Artificial Intelligence in consumer technology a lot of times — it’s you go to Amazon, you order something and it predicts what you might want next. So, say you want gloves, it will say at the bottom, Consumers who bought this also bought a hat or a scarf or something like that.
In legal AI or Artificial Intelligence, technology works a little bit similar in trying to predict things. Predictive coding in eDiscovery has happened for years, but Artificial Intelligence technology is starting to break out into other predictive analytics like you’re seeing in contracts especially if you fill in say what type of case matter it is and who the contract is with, it will come out with a contract for you and then you can adjust some individual clauses in there, but it automates the practice a lot easier.
You are seeing it in case research a lot as well. If you — kind of similar to that Amazon example, if you have a case that you’re looking at and you’re studying, the algorithms will predict cases that may interest you based on what you’re already seeing. So, if you’re looking at — I don’t know, a stop-and-frisk case say, there are other cases some that are stop-and-frisk, some that are not, that may interest you and may lead to further research kind of developing not only your own research, but also the software itself. It’s better able to predict in the future based on what you’re saying, oh, this correlates with this, but this might not be the best.
So that’s where a lot of artificial intelligence technology is. Some will tell you that especially with the growth of AI in financial and insurance and other spaces that legal is lacking a little bit, but I think a lot of it is just practicality at this point. You need to actually be able to apply this technology, and a lot of, especially lawyers, are not only reticent, but just don’t see the value proposition in it.
So until that value shows itself I think it’s going to be a lot of that repetitive contract research type work for now. But I am excited to see whether anybody can prove me wrong and that’s part of what I want to see at Legalweek as I am walking the Exhibit Hall this year is kind of what people view as that next stage and like I said get hands-on and see how it actually works.
Monica Bay: Yeah. What about cybersecurity, that seems to be very, very hot still?
Zach Warren: Yes, most definitely. I mean cybersecurity, yes, but I think the privacy aspect of it is becoming so important, especially as we get toward the GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, which is a European regulation being enforced in May, that basically changes a lot of the major privacy rules for international companies and law firms that are also doing work overseas.
If you violate those, I believe the penalties are up to 4% of total revenue, either total revenue or total profit I am not sure. But because of that you are going to be seeing a whole lot of privacy technology, a whole lot of compliance technology and a whole lot of even your security and e-discovery vendors making sure that every piece of data that’s in there, especially if you are working in Europe is as secure as humanly possible, because the issues if you are not are going to be very, very large coming up here very shortly.
Monica Bay: Are there any particular ones that you are looking forward to seeing and/or do you recommend any particular ones that you know are going to be there for folks that might be coming who are newbies?
Zach Warren: In terms of technologies I like to be neutral on that one, as much as humanly possible, but I would say to check out just generally some of those AI technologies. I am particularly interested in some blockchain-enabled technologies as well, in terms of security. I like seeing what people are doing with the blockchain and kind of where people are pushing forward with that.
Yeah, with the blockchain I think it’s particularly interesting too, because it almost seems like law firms and academics are ahead of companies on that one, at least from my anecdotal experience. I know a bunch of law firms that are working with clients about how to possibly look at the blockchain and trying to get together affinity groups and there are some general technology blockchain companies. But I haven’t seen as much focus on legal, so that’s something I definitely want to see and I would encourage others to try and see if people are adopting those new technologies, because it could be the next wave. So that’s definitely something for me.
I also just personally, I love audio, I love video, and audio and video has vexed lawyers and especially people working on discovery for years. So I am always interested in how people are going to be incorporating audio, video, social media and kind of tackling those new data sources. Again, as a number guy I like the data sources, so that’s always something I like to hear as well.
Monica Bay: The keynotes for Legaltech seem to be about four or five of them, are there any that you are particularly excited about?
Zach Warren: I would say the very first one personally. I believe the title is Addressing Existential Threats – Surviving Turbulent Times and Finding A Way Forward. So that’s day one, January 30.
Monica Bay: Who is doing that?
Zach Warren: That is Jeh Johnson, who was the Secretary of Homeland Security between 2013 and 2017, and he was also with the Department of Defense before that. And we were talking a little bit earlier about cybersecurity, well, that’s going to be the major cybersecurity one right there, and I feel like nobody knows the cyber threats that the US has faced probably better than Jeh Johnson over the past four years, from everything I have heard as well. I was actually talking with Judge Peck about this on a recent planning call and he said that Jeh Johnson is one of the best speakers that he has heard in a long time. So I feel like that’s very high praise and I am very excited to see what he has to say there at the very beginning.
Monica Bay: And that’s going to be on January 30 at 9 a.m. I was surprised at how many that they are having; they have a cybersecurity one, they have an ESI one, I think that’s the one that Judge Peck is on, and Judge Peck is going to be retiring about a week after he leaves Legaltech. So it’s going to be really interesting to see what he does next. He has got a lot of interests on those.
Zach Warren: Yeah, I think it’s going to be interesting as well, because I mean frankly a lot of these judges’ panels do have a lot of the same people and Judge Peck has been on panel after panel for years. So personally, I am not only interested in, A, what he is going to say because that is going to be a very big panel there on January 31 at 9 a.m., but I am also kind of interested to hear some of these people that I haven’t seen as much, like Judge Conti of Pennsylvania, like Judge Matthewman of Florida, because that’s the future right there.
When you have, your Judge Peck, your Judge Frances, Facciola recently retired, Judge Scheindlin recently retired. So getting more of these judges, not only involved with the tech community, but hearing what they have to say and their future vision of what it can be, I think that kind of mix of young and old is going to be very interesting, personally.
Monica Bay: Boy, do I agree with you. I think that’s spot on, and particularly with the very strong sense of women. Our area has always been one that was not very attractive to women and it’s really growing much better now and it’s very exciting. So it’s going to be very, very interesting to watch what’s going on there. I am very excited with that.
Zach Warren: Yeah. And kind of going back to the Exhibit Hall as well, that’s something I have been seeing recently too is women entrepreneurs in the space. People who were in a law firm but left, wanted to start their own company and I am seeing that even through your own Women of Legal Tech Series with LTN, how more women are seeing a path forward. So that’s something else I wanted to explore in the Exhibit Hall is kind of those women-led companies, but also on panels like Judge Conti, kind of getting more voices into the space I think is a great thing.
Monica Bay: Yes, it has been incredibly exciting, particularly at CodeX, because one of the women that has been very active in CodeX just sold her company, and it’s Alma Asay; if I pronounced it incorrectly I will be so embarrassed, but I am pretty sure we got it right. So it’s going to be very, very exciting. I think it’s really incredible.
Switching back to the keynotes really quickly, I just laughed when I saw the one for February 1, which is Fake News Eats the World. That is when I am definitely going to try to find. What do you know about that one?
Zach Warren: I think it’s going to be interesting, because especially a lot of the Legaltech sessions in the past, they have been very techie and for a tech audience, but especially as it’s trying to transition to Legalweek a bit more and trying to open up to different parts of the law firm, I like having the ethics conversations in there a little bit more as well. So I think that’s definitely what they are going for with the subhead of it is Protecting Speech, Evaluating Truth & Validating our Decisions.
And it’s talking with a few different professors on that one and somebody from PolitiFact as well. So I mean, you are a journalist, I am a journalist, for that reason I am going to be very interested in it personally. But I think for the lawyers and legal people in attendance, it’s going to be something a little bit more different than you had gotten in the past, but interesting as well, because current events; I mean everybody is glued to their Twitter these days for the most recent tweets and trying to parse not only the ethical, but the legal implications of everything that’s going on. So kind of combining that into one, yeah, I think it’s a good idea.
Monica Bay: Zach, we are running out of time, I could talk to you all day, but before we tell the listeners how they can find you, anything else that you wanted to add?
Zach Warren: I would just say we have been very focused on Legaltech, but the Legalweek as a whole, I think especially last year was a bit hectic with it being the first year of Legalweek and trying to expand upon just the Legaltech, a lot of people didn’t know where to go and the signage wasn’t great and nobody really knew the delineations. But I do feel pretty good about this year, it being more clear and people actually knowing what the differences are between Legaltech, LegalCIO, diversity, legal marketing et cetera.
So I am excited for all of it quite honestly and I know those days I will be running around like a chicken with my head cut off with 30,000 meetings each day. But if you get a chance to pop in some of those sessions and especially sessions that you might not have even thought twice about before, like kind of the marketing aspect of things or especially the diversity track or the Diversity Conference I should say that they will be having, I highly suggest kind of broadening your horizons and seeing what else is out there beyond just the Legaltech as well, if possible.
Monica Bay: Very good. And of course we always have to say make sure you bring good shoes.
Zach Warren: Yeah.
Monica Bay: Before I let you go, if the listeners are interested in reaching you, how can they reach you?
Zach Warren: Absolutely. So the easiest way is through email. My email is HYPERLINK “mailto:[email protected]” [email protected]. I usually have my email on me; that’s the best way. I have a Twitter and a LinkedIn, but despite my age I am not the most social media savvy person, so if you would like to connect with me, find me on LinkedIn, that is great, but I can’t guarantee quick responses.
Otherwise, you can see me. I will be at Legalweek New York on Monday through Thursday, the 29 through the 1, just again look for the person running around like crazy and try and stop me and have a chat for a few minutes and I think that would be great. I love meeting new people, especially being out in Minnesota and not being able to put faces to names too frequently, events like this are great for me. So go ahead and stop me while I am out there.
Monica Bay: Well, it’s always wonderful to be able to see you. This has been another edition of Law Technology Now for the Legal Talk Network. I thank you for listening.
If you liked what you heard today, please rate us in Apple Podcasts. We will see you next time on the next edition of Law Technology Now. This is Monica Bay signing off.
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