Of the many legal technology events I attend each year, ILTA is one of my very favorites.  This year’s event in Las Vegas moved me to attend though I was not presenting, making it the only event which has done so in years.  That’s how much I love ILTA.  The rock solid core of ILTA is serious education, including down-in-the-weeds attention paid to important technologies and challenges.  But the candy coating of ILTA is fun and bonhomie.

Case-in-point: Monday night’s reception was themed to classic rock-and-roll.  This event caps a day of study and, with the good-humored assistance of almost 160 vendors, there were multiple Elvis impersonators (male and female), singing and dancing technologists, better-than-average giveaways and a torrent of free alcohol.  Yes, the vendors hawk their wares; but for one raucous evening, commerce takes a back seat to Bacchanalia.

Though the educational offerings are splendid–the audience attends in earnest, taking notes and asking great questions–the networking opportunities are where much of inside dope changes hands.  ILTA offers the opportunity to meet law firm technologists who share the special challenge of keeping the firm afloat and making Luddite lawyers look good.  Unlike the other major conferences, ILTA isn’t geared to lawyers.  Nothing need be dumbed down here, and no one pretends you’re competent if you don’t understand forensic technology.

This is my second ILTA in Las Vegas, and I wish they held it here every year.  The first time, two years ago, was a lagniappe.  ILTA had to quickly shift to the sparkling new Aria Hotel in City Center because the Nashville Gaylord’s ‘Raging River Through the Lobby Ride’ ran amok and flooded the entire city.  This year, the venue is Caesars Palace, the understated hostelry that features prominently in the first of “The Hangover” films. Like the movie, I’m confident that several attendees will disappear for much of the show, but it won’t be (entirely) due to drink or drugs.  Most will simply be lost in the Gordian maze that is Caesar’s sprawling conference center.

I spent Monday in back-to-back product briefings and am pleased to reassure you that there is nothing particularly new out there in terms of e-discovery services and technology.  It’s clear that anything can be labelled TAR or predictive coding with a straight face, and many seem to believe that the practice of copying large swaths of data for processing by outside vendors will remain the norm for years.  The buzz words remain Information Governance and Big Data, though exactly how those terms are deployed to sell services and software varies.  Sometimes they are just sprinkled in among the acronyms.  Two people told me “the EDRM is dead,” and I didn’t even know it was sick.  Will there be services?  Do we send flowers?

On a personal note, ILTA is a delightful opportunity to see friends.  I relished time with such luminaries as Browning Marean, Chris Dale (and his son, William), Tom and Gayle O’Connor, Eddie and Morgan Sheehy, Nigel Murray, Peter Mercer, Bill Hamilton, Scott Cohen, Debbie Caldwell, Dominic Jarre and many others.  Too many encounters were just a wave, a handshake or a hug in the hall, and I wish I didn’t have to leave for another conference in South Carolina just as this one is spinning up.

Thanks to Peggy Wechsler and the ILTA team for the magic they make each year. Thanks to the MLife program for the glorious suite upgrade at the Bellagio and to the Blackjack dealer at Caesars who dealt me all those face cards and herself all those sixes.  Thanks to the nice folks at Louis Vuitton (Crystals)–especially the bright and beautiful Jessica–for the exquisite private tour of the James Turrell lightscape.  Thanks also to Bobby Flay for the fine food at Mesa Grill and to the generous hostess at the Jean George Steakhouse (Aria) who comped all those drinks.  It’s Vegas, baby, and I loved every minute.

ILTA 2014 will be in the (dried out) Gaylord in Nashville, TN.  Hope to see you there.