Relativity Fest 2015 was a conference unlike any I’ve ever attended; kCura’s team is on point when it comes to putting on a show and developing top-notch eDiscovery software. I have to say, I felt like I was on another planet. I have a basic understanding of eDiscovery technology and the mechanics of kCura’s Relativity software, but my experience with the advanced details of legal technology software is vastly different than that of a practicing attorney using it daily. Despite this, I was completely engaged, and inspired by the diversity of attendees.
From lawyers of small and large firms to IT professionals and legal assistants, the Chicago Hilton’s International Ballroom was packed with eDiscovery enthusiasts for the Opening Remarks & Keynote given by kCura President & CEO, Andrew Sieja. Led by an eccentric marching band and gang of “nerdy” cheerleaders, the Keynote kicked off Relativity Fest with a bang—eDiscovery people know how to have a good time!
The conference was held at the beautiful Chicago Hilton, which became a maze of twisting hallways that left me a little lost, to be honest. Once I got my bearings, though, I navigated the building like a pro.
The Grand Ballroom was converted into a Community Pavilion filled with vendor kiosks, sleek white couches, and high-top tables available for attendees to use for mingling, working, and exploring. The salons on the lower level were filled with rows of computers with kCura staff and Relativity experts ready to walk you through a hands-on demo of Relativity 9.3. I didn’t turn any corner without seeing at lease two “blue-shirt” kCura staff members prepared to answer any questions I had regarding meeting times and locations.
I attended the inaugural “Women in Legal Technology Luncheon,” where a “kCurian” moderated the panel discussion and Q&A. Three eDiscovery women discussed their experience in the field, how they got there, and where they are headed. Every woman on the panel admitted that eDiscovery was not their intended career path, but that once they jumped into this niche industry, they were there to stay. The Q&A was engaging, interactive, and relatable.
These women weren’t just highly intelligent, they were also hilarious. One panelist, Emma Kettleton, commented that when she had clients who refused to educate themselves on the process of eDiscovery, she would kindly reply to them: “The eDiscovery button is right next to the litigate button.” Another panelist, Amanda Evanson, remarked that Chainsaws and Hand Grenades will be the title of her memoir, when answering an audience member’s question on multitasking and the immense volume of work done over the course of her career. Laughter and sisterhood filled the room. When the audience was asked if Relativity Fest 2016 should include this luncheon, every hand was raised high, followed by applause and a few whistles.
Academic Partner Program
kCura revealed their Academic Partner Program during the Keynote presentation Monday morning. This program will provide law and paralegal students hands-on eDiscovery training for free! In a press briefing that afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit down with kCura President & CEO, Andrew Sieja; kCura Educational Relationship Manager, Janice Hollman; as well as representatives from Chicago-Kent College of Law and Georgetown University’s Paralegal Studies program. Andrew stated that this program was “Janice’s vision,” that her passion for education built this program from the ground up.
Law students are under a tremendous amount of pressure to not only practice law, but to be able to utilize the incredible amount of legal technology available to them. “Students can say ‘I have basic Relativity experience,’ and their resume flies to the top of the pile,” Janice said. The representatives from Chicago-Kent College of Law agreed. Cinthia Motley, Adjunct Professor at Chicago-Kent, said that, “every case is an eDiscovery case,” and that eDiscovery courses should become a requirement for obtaining a Juris Doctor degree.
Fortunately, there are nearly 50 law schools who have partnered with kCura to incorporate this curriculum within their existing programs, and more law schools are jumping on the bandwagon. In a recent kCura press release, the company said that this program will prepare law students “…with legal technology skills by providing them with custom coursework, guest lectures from industry experts, and the same Relativity software used by more than 190 of the Am Law 200, as well as more than 120 litigation support providers across the globe… at no cost to schools.” Existing Relativity Academic Partners include: Chicago-Kent College of Law, University of Montana Law School, Michigan State University College of Law, Georgetown University Paralegal Studies Program, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, University of California Los Angeles Paralegal Training Program, and University of Miami School of Law.
Overall, my experience at Relativity Fest 2015 was stellar. I met some amazing kCurians, bonded with women in the eDiscovery industry, and learned more than I ever thought I would about eDiscovery software and the advancements of Relativity 9.3. The greatest takeaway from Relativity Fest was the immense impact that this community had on me. To see lawyers, legal professionals, and IT specialists together in one place sharing their experiences was inspiring and incredibly gratifying. Relativity Fest is not just about celebrating technological advances in eDiscovery software, but about sharing those experiences within a community of other professionals who are dealing with the same frustrations, enjoying the same benefits, and working harder than ever to move their firms and companies toward a higher standard of law practice. In every interview I conducted during the conference, every respondent said they love Relativity Fest because being part of this community helps them relate to other professionals and gain new insights into the industry that they otherwise would never have access to. I hope that I have the ability to join this community again at Relativity Fest 2016.
All photos by Chelsea Beran.