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ACC Annual Meeting 2023: Free (Aussie) Chocolates, A Survival Guide For Lawyers & More
We had a great time at the ACC Annual Meeting in San Antonio with our snazzy yellow jackets! Here are some observations and key takeaways from the conference.
Six years ago, it felt like both a punch to the gut and a direct challenge: “Your product is interesting, but we’ll see if you’re still around in a few years,” commented several attendees as they strolled by Xakia’s little booth at the 2017 Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting. Lawyers sure are a tough bunch to impress. Frustrating? Yep. Motivating? You bet. Jodie Baker and I gritted our teeth, smiled, and not so quietly vowed we would prove the doubters wrong.
How things have changed from that 2017 eye-opening U.S. launch to this year’s ACC Annual Meeting in San Antonio 🤠! The Xakia U.S. team brought its A-game joined by our Chief Product Officer, Richard Conway, who made the rugged time warp trip from Australia to join the fun. ✈️🌏
Whether it was the energy flowing off the historic River Walk or the roll-out of our snazzy yellow jackets, the vibe was upbeat and focused.
Observations & Key Takeaways
Setting aside the popularity of our yellow jackets for a moment, we have a few observations and key takeaways from the conference as a whole.
1. Something’s in the Air
The LegalTech market has advanced at lightning speed, and it’s a noisy and often overwhelming space. At past events, it was sometimes challenging to spark up a conversation or drive interest in learning about legal matter management. The “this is how we’ve always done it” approach dominated, and teams weren’t interested in exploring ways to modernize. “Don’t have time.” “Too hard and/or expensive.” We’ve heard them all. 🤯
This was particularly true for small to mid-size legal teams who felt left out altogether. Legacy LegalTech was too big, too expensive, or both. Many small team GCs simply assumed there was nothing available for them and resigned themselves to being married to Excel spreadsheets forever.
But throw in a global pandemic mixed with the ongoing management of remote teams, and suddenly all eyes are on the benefits of LegalTech. Gone are the days of attendees staring at their phones while avoiding eye contact with vendors as they shuffle by the booths to get coffee. This year was different.
We’ve been shouting to the mountain tops that modern matter management doesn’t need to be hard to implement or expensive to be powerful and effective, and this year we noticed a shift. Ears are perked up. In-house legal departments are dialled in more than ever. Tell me more, they say….
The 2023 ACC attendees were eagerly engaged in digesting the LegalTech alphabet soup, CLM, ELM, eBilling, AI, Matter Management, etc. Mastering the lingo is the first step for many in understanding who solves which pain point. As vendors of all shapes and sizes continue to educate, the rising tide will lift all ships.
Takeaway: There’s a rapidly growing interest in legal matter management, especially for small to mid-size legal teams, and Xakia is here to serve that market!
2. Offer Value: In-House Survival Guide = BIG Hit
This year’s vendor swag was creative as always, I mean… who can forget the light-up cowboy hats - amazing! Resisting the temptation to keep up with the swag masters, we focused on how to offer something of long-term value. 🤔
Following the “if you build it, they will come” school of thought, we pivoted away from the ever-popular branded sock and chose instead to publish a free In-House Lawyer’s Survival Guide: Straightforward Solutions to Common Challenges for conference attendees to access organized, detailed, and informative tips ranging from simply understanding the benefits of modern matter management, to strategic and budget planning and best-in-class legal reporting. Risky? Not so much as it turns out. The Guides flew off the shelf and we are still receiving requests for copies weeks after the conference! 📚🤩
Plus, free chocolate from Australia doesn't hurt. 😉
Takeaway: Offer value, not landfill.
In-house legal departments have real problems and need help resolving them. We’ve set the bar high for ourselves, and we have lots of ideas for our next instalment. Watch this space!
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3. AI Chatter is Exhausting
Going into the ACC Annual Meeting, we knew that AI would be the topic du jour, but how would attendees react to the hype? Vendors blasted promises of AI but for many, it created more confusion than clarity.
Some booth visitors demonstrated visible relief that Xakia positions itself as a “careful watcher.” One visitor gleefully made a specific notation on our brochure, “NO AI!” There’s no doubt that buzz around AI is exciting - and it’s likely going to have a significant impact on Legal - but right now? Probably not. Attendees were interested in learning more, but struggled to articulate a practical use case or justify the ROI with so many questions hanging in the air.
Takeaway: AI is here. It’s developing. It’s amazing to be part of this market transformation, but being a ‘careful watcher’ is likewise perfectly appropriate. There’s no rush - make sure you can justify the ROI before diving in.
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We had a great time at the ACC Annual Meeting and we're already looking forward to Nashville next year. If you didn’t have a chance to grab our In-House Lawyer's Survival Guide before we ran out, complete your details and we'll post you a hard copy.