ILTACON Day 2: Looking On the BRYTER Side

No-code platform BRYTER is at ILTACON in Las Vegas and CEO Michael Grupp and team have also taken on the role of Artificial Lawyer Special Correspondents. Here is their report from Day Two, which focuses on a conference talk about gaining legal tech budgets.

On Day Two of ILTACON 2021, held this year in Las Vegas over the week of August 22-26, one thing is obvious: the topics have gained focus and shape. There are success stories, and there are cautionary tales. The hype is meeting a more informed, calm and critical audience. Nevertheless, curiosity and excitement are still here.

Collaborating with Artificial Lawyer, we are sharing our impressions from the live event – from discussions before and after sessions, in the hallways, and throughout the social gatherings, and hope to provide additional insights that are hard to capture virtually.

Before you ask: no, it is not packed, so far. The event is clearly happening in unusual times and the hybrid format has had an impact on physical attendance. But participants are meeting up nevertheless.

There are active discussions and numerous meet-and-greets taking place around the key agenda. For some, this is the first live event in a long time and the atmosphere is great.

Today, we want to focus on one key topic that was dominant throughout the agenda: how to get access to the legal technology that firms need, and hoping that this is of interest not only to attendees in the Mandalay Bay Resort, but throughout the world. 

The session ‘Advocating for Legal Tech Budget by Speaking the Language of the Modern Legal Chief Financial Officer’ was presented by Ed Aguero, the CFO of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A.; Ken Jones, the Chief Technologist of Tanenbaum Keale LLP; and Dan Lasman, the CFO of Fish & Richardson P.C. The discussion focused on how to advocate for a legal tech budget by illustrating the process in three use cases:

  • moving applications to the cloud,
  • security/data breaches,
  • and financial functions of the firm.

Moving applications to the cloud and enhancing security are goals for many firms, but getting budget approved for new tools and approaches can be challenging. The main takeaway from this session was this: to get the opportunity to present to the CFO, focus on the value proposition.

Speak the language of the CFO by starting with a good request for proposal (RFP). Come to the conversation prepared with a fully vetted proposal that lays out what the software is going to do, the ROI, and the total cost of ownership (which includes breaking down the cost to implement, the cost of training and internal time, and maintenance).

Some of the BRYTER team in Las Vegas.

It’s also important to be able to justify money that could be invested in other areas. One way to do this is by helping management understand how the competition is using the technology and the opportunity cost of not adopting it.

Reframe the question from ‘can we afford to do it?’ to ‘can we afford not to do it?

This advice can apply to conversations about any type of technology. The CFO will simply want to know how your improvement will be efficient, improve the bottom line, and capture value that would otherwise go missing.

After the session, Andrew Medeiros, Director of Innovation Solutions at Troutman Pepper said: ‘My takeaway from that session was around the difference between how we historically would pay for capital expenses when we’re bringing in a new tech project. Before, you would have this large spend in the beginning and a smaller spend on maintenance in subsequent years.

‘Now there is a shift to SaaS solutions where you can pay less upfront and keep paying every year down the line. I’m trying to figure out how to leverage that observation to sell new tools [to the firm] and make new tools work for the firm.’

Other attendees will be presenting on subjects of their choice later throughout the event. Joe Davis, Manager of Knowledge Management Solutions at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, will be conducting a session called ‘Connecting KM’.

‘In order to have knowledge management you need to have knowledge, and knowledge is based on data,’ he explained. ‘You can’t have knowledge management without data.’

After a great start, the BRYTER team is looking forward to an active conference. From our perspective the event is unusual, but there is more time for conversations, more space for new contacts and encounters. And the most important aspect of a physical event always has its place: serendipity.

Many thanks to Michael and the BRYTER team for the report and photos.