ILTACON 2016: Growing Up With ILTA
I am what’s known as a “lifer”… or an “old-timer … or any number of other descriptors usually said affectionately but with just the slightest hint of pejorative undertone. I’ve been around the legal tech community a long time, and am coming up on 24 years at Thomson Reuters Elite. However, I am a mere spring chicken in comparison to ILTA, which has roots that go back to 1980.
Known then as Lawnet (the ILTA name wasn’t officially adopted until 2005), it was already a powerful force in the US legal tech community when I joined Elite in 1993. The origins of ILTA are well-documented (yet oft disputed!), but some basic facts are accepted as given, including the early focus of the group, and that of the preponderance of its members, was the software for law firms that ran on Wang VS.
In the early 90s, Elite was just finding its footing in the market with our time & billing system, then called ELBS, and now called Enterprise. Originally designed in 1988, it was the first law firm billing system built on a relational database. Back in those times, it was all about Informix, but we also toyed with Sybase and Oracle before eventually settling on Microsoft SQL Server.
All of the advancements in technology that Elite was faced with at the time – the advent of Windows, the struggle for database and operating system dominance in the market, and even the internet itself – were exactly the issues the members of Lawnet were facing at their firms. Some felt that Wang technology was not keeping pace, and in fact its time & billing system was not Y2K-compliant. This led to a rush to market in the mid-to-late 90s for law firms needing to purchase new time & billing and financial management systems.
Elite had the right solution for these firms, but it was little-known outside of Southern California. It’s hard to quantify exactly how significant a role Lawnet played in changing that situation, but I’m quite sure all involved at the time would agree it was indeed very significant. Through a robust and committed partnership with Lawnet, Elite was able to forge strong relationships with key law firm decision makers, build its brand recognition and reputation in AmLaw 100 firms across the nation, and of course, in conjunction with having the best solutions available, ultimately emerge as the market leader in the US by the turn of the century.
Over the years, Thomson Reuters Elite has taken advantage of the breadth and depth of ILTA to better understand market requirements and better prioritize strategic initiatives. ILTA has provided a powerful and far-flung forum for two-way communication between Elite and our clients. And the relationships with both ILTA leadership (Peggy Wechsler – we met as mere teenagers!) and members have flourished and indeed strengthened over time.
This year marks a milestone in ILTA’s history: Randi Mayes will be retiring after decades of involvement with the organization, and as its first executive director. I have been privileged to know Randi since the mid-1990s when her then Austin-based law firm became a client of ours, just a few years before she joined ILTA as a full-time ED. The last 20-ish years have seen both of our organisations grow to be global leaders, each with a continually expanding scope of services and solutions for our common constituencies. Although I have been part of a wide and diverse team at Thomson Reuters Elite over these years, ILTA has always run lean, and there is no doubt that it would not be what it is today without the driving force that is Randi Mayes.
All of us at Thomson Reuters would like to thank Randi for her commitment to the legal and technology communities and we wish her a wonderful, fulfilling, lasting and healthy retirement.
ILTA and Thomson Reuters Elite: a lasting partnership committed to benefiting the global legal community. It’s like we grew up together!
This post was written by Patrick Hurley, vice president, Customer Advocacy, Thomson Reuters Elite.