ILTACON Takeaways from Thomson Reuters: “Everything Began and Ended with Generative AI”
ILTACON seemed back this year,” said Zach Warren, manager, Enterprise Content for Technology and Innovation, Thomson Reuters Institute. “While attendance may not have been exactly at pre-COVID levels, it was darn close, and the energy felt the same.”
With more than 3,400 registrants, as Steve Embry noted on TechLaw Crossroads, it was the second most-attended show in the conference’s history.
Several Thomson Reuters employees were among the crowd. Legal Current caught up with them for their takeaways from the conference.
What was missing stood out to Kathleen Miner, vice president, Product Marketing.
“Usually there are more product announcements at ILTACON; this year there were very few,” she said. “Comments were that companies were waiting until they have a generative AI product to offer.”
Pablo Arredondo, Casetext CIO and cofounder, agreed that generative AI was front and center.
“Any topics and trends had to do with specific facets of the phenomenon: how to vet solutions, how best to use the tools available, how to talk about its use with clients, how to roll it out among members of a firm, how to train staff … everything began and ended with generative AI,” Arredondo said.
Warren also noticed firms and legal departments are ready to transition from talk to action.
“Even in non-AI related sessions and conversations, I noted that a few consistent jokes about ‘We need to make a generative AI reference in here somewhere’ always got a laugh,” Warren said. “But what that tells me is not only is generative AI pervasive, but the industry is ready for it to be more than just talk. The hypotheticals of generative AI have been near discussed to death at this point, and I think everybody is ready for actual implementation and use cases. That anticipation will make the introduction of new generative AI tools hit even harder when they arrive for legal.”
Rachel Beithon, senior product manager, echoed Warren’s perspective.
“While, overall, customers are excited about generative AI and the conversational AI piece, they are more excited about what other applications we plan to use LLMs for,” she said. “It is a highly knowledgeable – about AI and technology – group of legal professionals at ILTA, and they understand that LLMs are going to be very powerful and can really help us leap forward in terms of content and capabilities in our products.”
Arredondo noted the legal profession is ready to implement AI.
“During both one-to-one discussions with participants and listening to speaking sessions, it was quickly clear that most legal professionals do not fear the use of generative AI, and in fact are genuinely eager about the progress the technology has made,” he said. “The excitement was palpable, and most conversations revolved around how to educate lawyers about the power of AI tools and how to start incorporating them into daily workflow.”
“Customers are excited about the possibility of generative AI to do better work faster,” added Zena Applebaum, vice president, Product Marketing. “I heard from procurement professionals in firms, as well as lawyers in firms and practice managers that they are excited about the power of the technology for contract review and analysis, contract life cycle management, and drafting capabilities as well as legal research. Customers are also really excited by the integration with Microsoft 365 Copilot.”
Throughout the conference, Thomson Reuters attendees talked about redefining legal work with the power of generative AI, ahead of launches of generative AI capabilities in Westlaw and Practical Law, among others.
“From the level of attendance, fascinating discussions, and energetic engagement, ILTACON 2023 made clear the global legal industry is preparing for a period of profound change,” said Neil Sternthal, managing director, Global & Large Law Firms. “The promise of new technologies, including generative AI, raised important topics ranging from changing commercial models, new training and talent needs, and of course preparing lawyers and business professionals for adoption of new technologies. I have never experienced a more exciting time to be at Thomson Reuters with the extent of our investment and leadership in content-enabled technologies to help advance the legal profession.”
A memorable moment for many was the Casetext toast, pictured above.
“My favorite moments were those spent with our new colleagues from Casetext – getting to know them, the product they’ve built and support, and really getting a view of the great talent and colleagues we have added to our Thomson Reuters team,” said Erica Kitaev, senior director, Product Management.
“It was an incredible moment for me to see my team at Casetext and our new team members at Thomson Reuters come together for a toast to the future,” Arredondo added. “I couldn’t be more thrilled about joining the Thomson Reuters family, and ILTACON was the perfect place to celebrate and acknowledge the work it took to get to this moment.”