At last! Finally! What has taken so long?
Lawyers are seeing the tangible benefits of collaborating with technologists and starting to realise that technology is a differentiator when it comes to winning new business. This was the highlight of the day for me last week at UKDEG’s Document Excellence Day #DED17.
This from BLP’s Head of Banking, Emma Howdle-Fuller, as a member of the panel session chaired by Ann Hemming, to discuss how automation is changing the way law firms work and the impact in the future.
As one of the founding members of UKDEG and past Chair of the not-for-profit group, I love that the annual Document Excellence Day is one of the the best networking events of the year, especially if you care about the challenges faced by law firms when it comes to document production. I can’t quite believe the organisation is 13 years old. I know it’s true because at the first UKDEG meeting, I was on stage and heavily pregnant with my second daughter who’s now at secondary school!
What I love about the Document Excellence Day
UKDEG events have a few key essentials that make for a brilliant event.
1. First, the speakers. Always knowledgeable, always subject matter experts, always professional in their presentation. (We used to insist on new speakers auditioning before the organising committee). This event was no exception. From Mr Meerkat (aka Ryan Soosayraj) to Marianne Armitage, every speaker spoke with passion, freely sharing their expertise. Even though I no longer work directly in legal IT, I always come away with new knowledge and fresh insight.
2. The no pitching rule is an absolute unbreakable. UKDEG aims to promote collaboration, share knowledge and develop best practices. In order to do this, it is important that members can share their experiences and air their views with vendors in a pitch-free zone. Vendors who break the ‘no pitching’ rule have a hostile reception and don’t get invited back.
3. The networking – every session runs like clockwork (congratulations event chair Clare Waller) and there is a good amount of time between sessions to allow for the all important networking. An opportunity to chat to vendors, make new connections and rekindle old friendships. Definitely something to aspire to for my forthcoming City Conversations networking event.
4. Fun – if there is not an element of fun involved, then what’s the point. Attending a development or educational event doesn’t mean you can’t have fun too.
5. Balance – for me it’s important that events strike the right balance of education, inspiration and connection. This is something that UKDEG does brilliantly. Events are not just about the networking. At the Document Excellence Day we were educated and inspired.
What I loved this year
This year I particularly enjoyed Marianne Armitage’s (Watson, Farley & Williams) clear explanation of the UKDEG Standard Styles naming convention. I was delighted to see that there are now 15+ confirmed adopters of the UKDEG Standard Styles because I know how hard the creators worked to develop the naming convention a few years ago.
Sarah Chipping (ILTA / Clyde & Co) and Susan McClellan (ILTA) talked about what an amazing organisation ILTA is. ILTA stands for the International Legal Technology Association. I am lucky enough to have been an active member of ILTA when I worked at McDermott and absolutely loved the peer-to-peer support.
Levente Nagy (Microsoft UK) demonstrated some amazing features in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Real “Wow” moments in the audience when he showcased the 3D imagery.
Annette Brown (Milbank) and Jayne Smith (Bluebird) discussed agile working and what that really means. Technology is the facilitator however law firm clients are the driver for agile working. Still one of the biggest challenges is the cultural acceptance and mindset around agile working.
Ryan Soosayrag (Workshare) is always a thought-provoking speaker, and this year focused on security awareness, exploring the pervasiveness of information gathering. Not only the risks it brings, but the positives too.
And that was all before lunch!
I loved the panel session chaired very effectively by Ann Hemming (LexisNexis) with active participation from vendors, technologists AND lawyers: Adrian Stafford (LexisNexis), Rob Lankester (BLP), Emma Howdle-Fuller (BLP) and Helen Owden (LexisNexis). And as somebody who campaigns for increased gender diversity in technology, I was delighted to not see a majority male panel at a technology event! Exciting too to see how lawyers and the technologists are increasingly working together, and that firms are seeing technology as the differentiator to gain that all important innovative edge.
And boy, hearing Mark Garnish (Tikit Ltd) talk, I am SO glad that I am no longer the person who gathers together the inventory of add-ins before you launch a software upgrade. What does Office 365 compatible mean? Well it seems the answer differs depending on who you talk to.
After the coffee break, Iwona Dudek (CMS) took us on a fascinating tour of decimal points and brackets around Europe. When I worked at McDermott, I remember being so frustrated having to constantly remind the US-based template developers that we use A4 in the UK. Now I see how that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Finally the closing session was from Paul Walker (iManage). Paul stepped onto stage knowing that he was the person between us and the social. Always the toughest gig. However, despite the heckling,he provided a fascinating tour of best practices in document control. The major takeaway for me … users will get around the controls if you don’t provide mobile technology.
That’s it for another year.
What is truly amazing about the UKDEG event is that the organising committee is staffed by volunteers who all have their day job too.
What next for you?
A quick shout-out on how to join UKDEG, the not-for-profit group: just click here. Membership is free.
Find out if your firm is a member of ILTA here.
And if you want more networking in the City with good speakers, no pitching, plenty of networking time, fun and balance, get yourself on the City Conversations priority waitlist here.