I got to meet heroes. In the wake of the disruption the week before, we discussed the opportunities and threats facing the legal industry.
On March 14, 2023, OpenAI released GPT-4 and demoed live at the 19:30 minute mark, how you can be your own tax lawyer. This is the moment we promised to let you know about after our 2020 analysis: Will lawyers be replaced by GPT-3? Now, with this shadow looming large, I went to cross off one item on my bucket list: Legalweek by ALM. I had no plan, and no purpose except to explore and to experience. Here’s what happened.
We announced our World Tour locations and kept our dates stealthy. It’s a Surinamese superstition to be stealthy about travel. Just as we applaud every safe airplane landing we are in. However, I did mention Legalweek to a few friends, and they graciously invited me to meet. And that’s the first tip for all Legalweek rookies: meetings. No matter if you are a visitor or a vendor: the goal is to get meetings with people in person. We had 2 meetings planned before our arrival. On departure, we had completed 24 meetings in a three-day time span. We missed the parties since we were wiped out by 5 PM and awake at 1 AM every night.
Doing meetings almost made us miss the coolest part of Legalweek: exhibitors. There were three exhibition halls and we discovered the 3rd only later. These halls were filled with heroes, and I admired all who paid to make the trip to New York. Not only the sponsors and exhibitors, but also the visitors. Our rough estimate was 4000+ in attendance, all with one passion: working with legal. That’s why Legalweek was on my bucket list. Was it larger before the pandemic? Maybe. Will the next one be even bigger? For the prosperity of all, we sincerely hope so.
How could Legalweek grow? We need more heroes. Visibility is a valuable investment, and that’s why conferences are irreplaceable. However, deciding to show up would have been tough for most. Based on our calculation, most can not afford a big splash funded purely by revenue. The legal tech unit economics are like every other: products x price minus operations. We have fair benchmarks on both operations and prices per area. These benchmarks are generated using a large curated dataset. Given the pullback in spending by companies across the globe, the decision to attend took courage. Yes, even for those with access to outside capital.
Wandering Hilton, with these numbers on my mind, made this experience surreal. Because most of whom I met, and every vendor I saw, is a row in our dataset. Each is input to an equation on areas, segments, and geographies. Suddenly, the input had faces and voices and they talked to me. Imagine meeting movie stars at the Oscars. You know their movies, but you expect them to not know you. When I met Jack Newton, CEO of Clio, he said to me: I know who you are, and I like what you do. I had a hunch, since he had liked two tweets. Nevertheless, I was overwhelmed, and I kept that feeling until I landed in Amsterdam.
Why overwhelmed? The diverse faces and voices I met, in most cases for the first time, gave me hope. We knew we have enemies, now we know we have friends too. In all honesty, both originated from our ideas about the legal industry. We believe numbers matter and aren’t swayed by narratives. At Legalweek, we had those conversations with the people we met. It’s not all bad because the good news is usually hiding in data. Starting this Thursday, we’ll share the photos of our Legalweek adventure on LinkedIn. So follow us to see Heroes.
To be continued every Thursday…