Many students approached this new school year with anxiety regarding technology. Four OU Law students, however, tackled technology head on – attending the jam-packed, completely virtual, International Legal Technology Association (ILTA)>ON technology conference.
OU’s College of Law generously sponsored four third-year students’ registration to the ILTA>ON conference. Cole Reynolds, Rich Lubbers, Amanda Finch, and Anthony Kanalas break down all their favorite moments from the conference in a recent TALIcast podcast, but some key takeaways are included here.
ILTA>ON was virtual conferencing done right. The programming offered a plethora of concurrent tracks and sessions with novel and varied content. It was challenging for the students to choose just one session to attend.
The conference was attended and presented by practitioners from all over the world. As a result, there were sessions offered much earlier and later than a typical in-person conference. This made it easier for, not only the international professionals, but also busy students to work in conference sessions at their convenience. Many presentations were also available on demand afterwards. So, to the extent that there was a conflict and you missed a presentation you were really interested in, you could watch it on your own time.
Amanda was particularly impressed with the conference’s integrative technology, such as interactive polls, that encouraged attendees to actively engage in the presentations in real time. She was also pleased with the ease of giving feedback as surveys were provided as a simple poll, on the screen, right at the end of each session. This format was not only convenient for attendees, but conference organizers were able to—and did—improve the experience continuously based on the quick feedback they received.
For many participants, networking is the primary goal of conferences. This is especially true for law students and other young professionals. Cole appreciated that ILTA>ON took this into consideration when they designed the “Hallway Chatter” sessions, which facilitated networking conversations, allowing attendees to catch up with and meet other conference goers outside of the moderated chat in the more formal sessions.
If each of the students who attended could tell you one thing about this technology conference, in particular, it would be that it is about “more than gadgets and gizmos, the focus is really on the people, both those we serve and those we work with.” The ILTA>ON conference was not just about technology; it was about how technology supports and influences people.
This support, especially when it involves process changes, is often met with resistance. Rich noted that ILTA>ON addressed this difficulty through numerous sessions discussing tools and strategies to help get teams on board with technology improvements. He found the practical advice for how to leverage technology and implement change especially refreshing.
Amanda’s refreshment, however, was found in the sessions regarding emotional intelligence, as well as diversity and inclusion. She enjoyed being given concrete steps to affect change in your firm; and the emphasis on measuring change on a spectrum. Improving diversity and inclusion is more than just checking a box; it’s about collecting data and implementing evidence-based practices that rehabilitate the culture of a firm, while protecting, and many times, boosting the bottom dollar.
Anthony enjoyed learning about evidence-based practices surrounding the service perspective of embracing legal solutions. He came away realizing that while some professional environments could benefit from a complete technology overall, that approach is not always practical based on the resources available. It is crucial, therefore, to evaluate the metrics of the current systems to determine where efficiencies can best be realized through the implementation of new systems. This data-driven approach focuses on prioritizing upgrades, while convincing the whole team to come along for the ride.
As new technology is integrated into legal practice, these solutions impact real people and that reality should influence implementation decisions. This is why the leadership-oriented sessions appealed most to Cole. He was introduced to different ways to approach technology-based solutions to people problems. And, at the end of the day, or week even, this technology conference was about just that: people.
As a whole, the students appreciated how well OU Law’s Digital Initiative programming prepared them to fully engage in some of the more tech-heavy sessions. The ILTA>ON conference introduced skills and strategies that built on strong foundation of technical competency OU Law works hard to instill in its students. This investment will go far in assisting students as they transition into the legal profession.
Check out the latest TALIcast podcast episode to hear more!
Sydney N. Forsander, P.E., 3L
Secretary, Technology and Legal Innovation Society at the OU College of Law