Zach Warren is the editor-in-chief of Legaltech News, a national magazine of ALM Media. In his role, he helps...
Sean is a freelance writer and analyst on legal technology and a sole practitioner who advises on technology controls...
Monica Bay is a Fellow at CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics. She also writes for Thomson Reuters, ALM (Legaltech News),...
LegalWeek New York is just around the corner and we want to know everything that’s going on. In this episode of Law Technology Now, host Sean La Roque-Doherty and Monica Bay welcome guest Zach Warren, to talk about what Legaltech News will be focusing on at the show, what’s different about this years Legaltech and if LegalWeek has improved in the last couple years. Additionally, they talk about what technologies they are excited to see on the exhibit hall floor.
Zach Warren is the editor-in-chief of Legaltech News.
Special thanks to our sponsor, Thomson Reuters.
Law Technology Now
What’s Going On At LegalWeek New York 2019
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Sean La Roque-Doherty: Hello and welcome to another edition of Law Technology Now. I am Sean La Roque-Doherty.
Monica Bay: And I am Monica Bay.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: And we’ve got a great show for you today, with the ALM Event LegalWeek coming up fast, January 28 to 31, our guest this week is Zach Warren, Editor-in-Chief of Legaltech News and ALM Publication to give you the inside scoop. But before we get started, we want to thank our sponsors.
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Monica Bay: Zach, tell us about your background in law and baseball.
Zach Warren: Law and baseball, well, originally growing up, I think I wanted to be the next Al Michaels. I really love sports broadcasting and originally when I went to college that’s what I went for. So at Northwestern, I did football, baseball, basketball and for two summers which I think you’re referring to, I was the lead play-by-play broadcaster for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League that was a great two summers, pretty much I would do landscaping to make a little bunny on the side by morning. Then each evening, I would broadcast a baseball game.
While I was there in 2011 and 2012, saw a bunch of future all-stars. I have a vivid memory of Kris Bryant, now in the Cubs hitting a grand slam against us, so that was fun to call. But once I got out of college, I realized A, there wasn’t honestly too many job prospects in that industry for me and B, I wanted something that was a little bit more of a challenge for me and something that intellectually stimulated me.
At the time a friend of mine was leaving her position at what was then InsideCounsel Magazine with Summit Professional Networks and said, hey, give this a try. I think you might like it, do some reporting. I know you don’t know much about law which at the time I really didn’t had even given the law a second thought. But I said, yeah, I’ll give it a try, see if I like it.
I was there for two years, realized I — yes, I really do like this and then in 2015, I got the call, hey, you’ve been working with corporate counsel, would you like to move over to Legaltech News and take more of a tech spin on things?
So I said, yeah, that seems up my alley. I always been interested in tech and of course, with the legal background that I’ve been working with two years, it would be a nice marriage of the two. So I moved over there in 2015, very shortly after was named Editor-in-Chief in 2016 and has been doing that for around the past three years and continue to enjoy it.
I really do love law and technology and really getting with the people who are trying to push the law forward. I love that innovative nature that so many in the industry have and being able to be rejuvenated on a daily basis that people really do want to change things has really, really been a joy of this job for me.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Well, that sounds great. So taking that kind of perspective forward what are you most looking forward to at LegalWeek in New York?
Zach Warren: There’s a lot that I’m looking forward to this year. I think it’s going to be an excellent show as I’m sure you both know what used to be Legaltech has expanded to LegalWeek now. So it really is a Monday through Thursday affair and what I don’t think a lot of people realize is some of the most interesting stuff to me, will probably be happening on that Monday before Legaltech even actually starts.
There are a few what are called workshops that they really started and played around with last year but are coming into full force this year, talking about a lot of those new innovative emerging technologies like the blockchain, like AI that people honestly aren’t quite sure what to do with yet.
But I think that’s part of what this workshop is for so everybody can kind of collaborate and say it together this is what works practically, this is what — maybe other industries need but we don’t need, this might be better for big law, small law. So I’ll be really interested to see the conversations around those new technologies and kind of how those practical applications shake out between them.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Are they full-day workshops or are they — I mean I guess for someone interested in is it too late to join a workshop.
Zach Warren: I do not believe so, so they are — essentially, there are three two-hour sessions that they are structured originally as panels but since they are two hours apiece, I think there’s going to be a panel component and a workshop component for each. I would imagine that registration for those is still available through the legalweek.com website. I’m not 100% sure on that one so don’t take my word of gospel but I’m pretty sure that you can go check that out.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Okay, and I guess is there an audience factor in that? In other words, if I don’t sign up for the workshop and the panelists available, can I just stop in and see what’s going on?
Zach Warren: Since the conference hasn’t officially started yet, I believe the workshops are a separate signup, so I don’t know unless you have a full LegalWeek pass whether that would get you into the workshops, that’s a very good question actually, I’m not entirely sure.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Okay, no worries. What will Legaltech News focus on at the show Zach?
Zach Warren: Well, we’re going to have wall-to-wall coverage or at least we should. Two of our new reporters, Frank Ready and Victoria Hudgins, are going to be there, covering three or four panels a day apiece, and of course, myself and Rhys Dipshan will be there throughout the show as well. But a few things that we’re probably going to focus on, one that we’ve been hearing from a lot of people is privacy.
Last year, obviously the GDPR around this time was the big subject leading up to the May deadline and this year at least from our conversations, we’re seeing something similar with the California Consumer Privacy Act, where a lot of people that maybe didn’t necessarily have used citizens and had to get ready for the GDPR, well, they do have California customers. So they are needed to get on-board now before that January 1, 2020 deadline and what a lot of people learned from the GDPR, the longer you wait, the harder it’s going to be.
So, I’ll be very interested in the privacy discussions there, and of course, what everybody is talking about in the general news, right now, the shutdown.
We’re going to have a few government people on various panels. One of them I believe, well of course, the AGs as the opening keynote and then directly after one of the first panels talks about the government reference model, which primarily has to be with information governance in the government and how exactly that data transfer works. But I also think it will be interesting to get the perspective of especially now are there any differences working with the government then there have been previously and how exactly is everybody on both sides of the equation managing not only the current shutdown but some of the general shall we say uncertainty that is surrounding the government right now.
So, it will be very interesting to hear those conversations and a whole lot more around those new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, like the blockchain, and seeing how they are being applied in practice.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Well, very good. So hold that thought for a moment. We’re going to take a short break to hear from our sponsor.
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Sean La Roque-Doherty: All right, welcome back to Law Technology Now. I am Sean La Roque-Doherty with Monica Bay. So I’m notorious for not attending keynotes. What’s in it for me to go to a keynote this year?
Zach Warren: Well, it just depends whether the speakers are up your alley, I would suppose. I personally think getting both sides of the coin with the attorney generals, one former Republican, one former Democrat. I can’t say whether they’re going to be at odds on certain questions they are going to be asked but I don’t think it’s out of the question, so just from a pure voyeuristic standpoint, I think it’s going to be super-interesting to see whether or not they are at odds and whether there’s a little bit of contention there.
And as I’ve been saying Artificial Intelligence has been a big, big topic for pretty much everybody and very fewer more at the forefront of that than IBM and Watson. So I will be interested for that day too as well just to see what’s new and stuff that we should be in the lookout for moving forward considering the practical applications. Especially IBM Watson has been there before, and I feel like a lot of people maybe have heard Brian Kuhn specifically speak on this subject, but I don’t know, three, four, five years in there’s just so much more data that they have now and they’ve worked with so many more people that I think they are probably in a better place to talk about how this stuff is actually being used in law firms to corporate legal departments than maybe they were even two or three years ago.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Well, I mean, that’s amazing. So it sounds like there’s going to be some things for both newbies, people just first coming to the show this year and also some of the older crowd like myself, so do you want to maybe highlight some things for new attendees?
Zach Warren: Certainly for new attendees, I mean, the place where I would start honestly is the exhibit floor, just talking with people about so what exactly does your solution do for both of our new reporters. As I talked about we have two new reporters from LT and they both started around October and that’s what I told them is, just take the first two hours and walk and talk to people, because there’s no better way of actually knowing what this stuff does and what legal technologies actually are than seeing it put into practice.
So from there you’re able to make judgments and compare one solution against another, et cetera, but you really need that baseline of seeing what actually this stuff is before you actually get into the weeds of E-Discovery or cybersecurity, et cetera.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: That’s good advice, because almost everyone who’s kind of exhibit is going to be demonstrating their wares at the show, so that’s — that’s good. That’s where I go. I’ll say that though I admit that I’m a senior.
Zach, I heard that there’s going to be some product innovation at the show, can you dive into that?
Zach Warren: Yeah, certainly. So something new that they really wanted to put on since this show has been running a long time and previously I think a lot of people thought that there was a huge focus on not necessarily the newest solutions but kind of the legacy solutions.
Well, ALM in particular wanted to flip that on its head this year. So what they’re putting on for the first time is called a Product Innovation Competition and the submission for that have already gone and there are seven finalists that have already been named for this competition and what they are doing is putting a wide variety of legal technologies whether it’s analytics, there’s a patent explorer in there, there’s a time and billing and they’re putting all of these head-to-head to say what exactly is the most innovative technology that’s coming out and what’s going to push the actual practice of law moving forward.
So that I’m actually going to be writing an article about who those finalists are very shortly, that is on my docket for next week. So I don’t really want to go too in-depth with it yet, but I think it’s going to excite a lot of people and it’s going to be fun to see who’s the winner of this competition and hopefully it’s something that goes off well and people can look forward to moving forward potentially with even more submissions next year.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Okay, well, we’re going to watch for that Articles Act, so that’s great, and it’s not only the product innovation from maybe startups, but we’re talking about some established companies in the industry, right?
Zach Warren: That is correct, yeah. I’m looking at the list of finalists in front of me currently and it is a mix of both established companies and new ones that are in the space.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Now there were a few years into LegalWeek, which now comprises multiple conferences. Zach, is it working for ALM or more importantly is it working for attendees?
Zach Warren: I think that it is. I think especially some of the conferences early on didn’t quite know where they were separate from Legaltech, but especially with some hands-on people behind the scenes that is changing.
The one that I think most people within ALM are most excited for is the business of law forum, and the Editor-in-Chief of The American Lawyer, Gina Passarella, has been extremely hands-on with the Business of Law Forum not only coming up with the panels and getting speakers for panels and workshops associated with that, but kind of tweaking it a little bit so that it is more of a conversation between corporate law and major law firms about what the business side of the equation should look like in a way that benefits both parties. That’s something obviously that has been touched on through technology for years at Legaltech, but there wasn’t as much of a business conversation for not only CTOs and CIOs but Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Financial Officers at major law firms that really are starting to come to this show for the first time where maybe they hadn’t been in the past.
Monica Bay: What are they doing along with what you’re saying right now? Are women going to be more visible in this?
Zach Warren: They are, and that was a concerted effort that the events team at ALM made from last year especially because I mean you heard the criticism as well as I did and it was very well-founded that it was especially in the keynotes, very male and a lot of the panels were the exact same way.
So one thing that ALM made sure to do is working with the corporate partners that sponsor Legaltech this year when we were going — everybody was going over who exactly was going to be on track panels and who exactly was going to represent in keynotes for not only Legaltech but Business of Law, LegalCIO, all of those different conferences, needed to make sure that we had a female voice through all of them.
So you may notice the Judges panel this year, Judge Peck is a mainstay, but the other three judges who are going to be on it are all women judges, which is one thing that the Planning Committee was super-excited about this year to get a different perspective and perhaps what’s been in there in the past.
Gina made sure to do the same thing for Business of Law and of course the legal diversity is its own conference, for I believe the second straight year, and of course, that theme will not only be in that conference but pervasive in a number of different panels throughout all conferences in the week as well.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Zach, you’ve got Frank and Victoria some new staff writers covering the exhibit floor, but where will we find you and what are you most excited to see at LegalWeek?
Zach Warren: Well, if you can find me, that’s good luck on you, because I’ll be running around like a crazy person for about four straight days. So many darn meetings is what it is, but I enjoy that. It’s a good thing especially considering that I live in Minnesota currently. There are a few legal technology companies but not too terribly many that are based out here. So I really don’t have that many opportunities to have face-to-face meetings with so many different people. So, honestly, that’s going to be a large portion of my experience. It will be less reporting and more meeting with people that I haven’t seen face-to-face in a long time.
For what’s exciting for me, it really is just catching up with a lot of those people since it’s probably LegalWeek, ILTA, maybe one or two other opportunities that I actually have to see people, and just learning that there aren’t very many greater sources of data dumps than conferences like this that I can really get my finger on the pulse of what we should be reporting for the next six months based on my conversations with people about what they are hearing, what’s innovative and what’s exciting them.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Zach, we are running out of time, but before you leave please tell us how our listeners can reach you?
Zach Warren: Absolutely. So my email is [email protected], that’s [email protected]. That’s probably the easiest way, because despite being a millennial I am very bad at social media and I have been known to let LinkedIn messages in particular linger a lot longer than I should.
I also have a number that probably I would suggest emailing me first before trying to call, but yeah, reach out at any time, I love hearing from people. I love learning about different trends that people are seeing and what’s next and if you have a story idea, you can always reach out and we can talk about it.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: Well, very good. So Zach, thank you very much for your time and this was great to hear that you’ve got a couple new staff reporters covering the show and we’ll be sure to be watching Legaltech News coverage for LegalWeek.
Zach Warren: Of course, thank you for having me on and excited to speak with both of you again as well.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: This has been another edition of Law Technology Now on the Legal Talk Network. If you like what you heard today, please rate us on Apple Podcasts. Joint us in the next edition of Law Technology Now, I am Sean La Roque-Doherty.
Monica Bay: And I am Monica Bay.
Sean La Roque-Doherty: And we are signing off. Thank you very much.
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