2020 was my first year off the conference circuit in 3 decades. I miss running and participating in panels, briefings and social events. Most of all, I miss my eDiscovery friends, clients and peers. I wanted to spend these days hustling between ILTACON meetings and events through the crowded Mandalay Bay halls. I held off my request for a press pass as the Delta surge gained momentum. Then I had several strange conversations with blogger/press friends along the lines, “Are you doing ILTA? They just denied me press access. They just lifted the attendee cap, so that is not the reason.”
Trying to run one of the first in-person industry conferences during a pandemic has to be filed with hard decisions. Quietly excluding the trusted journalists and industry pundits who translate and hype your event should not be a hard decision. Check out Stephen Embry’s article, ILTA Shuns Legal Tech Journalists. Then there is Bob Ambrogi’s Why I’m Pulling My Chips Out Of Attending ILTACON In Las Vegas. I also found LinkedIn chatter from other regular bloggers/publicists on the conference circuit confirming that they had been refused a press pass. That did not stop all of them from grabbing a room at the casino and doing their social networking, but it did keep them from reporting on session and exhibitor hall attendance.
Always interested in firsthand accounts, I asked friends who were speaking on panels to send me pictures worth a thousand words.
Sufficient to say that the road back to in-person conferences will be rocky at best. I hope that LegalTech and ARMA stay press friendly and I can blog my booth impressions from the exhibit hall and catch up with friends old and new after delta had peaked. Before I took a couple year Australian project I enjoyed ILTACON 2017. Notably they had roughly 156 sponsors compared to the 98 2021 sponsors. The side by side comparison demonstrates the impact of the pandemic and market consolidation. A few 2017 shots from the floor make an interesting comparison to the 2021 shots above. Mainly, this makes me want to support in-person conferences and bring back quality panels with real expert to audience interaction.
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I had reports from speakers responding offline to this post that ILTA’s real motivation may have been financial. ILTACON 2021 initially had an attendance cap, which puts a lot of pressure on organizers to recoup their overhead. Although many speakers reported having to pay for at least a day pass, I did find some who were not asked to pay for a pass. That pokes a hole in the theory that press were denied passes because no one got in for free. The financial uncertainty of running an in-person convention during a pandemic undoubtedly played some role in ILTA’s inconsistent… Read more »