cliocon post-mortem: barely off its a-game, but nevertheless the best convention in criminal tech

question: what do you call the first-class group in baseball whilst it’s off its a-game for an evening? answer: the pleasant team in baseball.

so what do you call the fine convention in legal tech whilst it is off its a-recreation for a yr? the satisfactory conference in criminal tech.

monday and tuesday this week introduced the tenth annual clio cloud convention. it was the primary live cliocon when you consider that covid and the primary to be held in nashville, after preceding years in san diego, new orleans and chicago.

having been to all 10 cliocons, i was thrilled to go back in character. but while the two days have been over, i left feeling that this year’s convention was a piece off the a-recreation i had come to expect.

had it been most effective me that felt that way, i possibly could now not write it. i in all likelihood would have attributed my opinion to my personal temper or misperception and saved it to myself.

however it changed into now not handiest me. i heard it from many others – others who had attended beyond cliocons and who are people whose reviews i cost and admire – that this year’s conference by some means lacked the same vibe that has defined the conference because its inception.

i went to the convention as a reporter, and as a reporter, i would be irresponsible to put in writing only approximately the coolest and turn a blind eye to the no longer-so-true. so on this post-mortem report, i can talk to both.

but permit’s start with what makes this conference so remarkable.

a should-attend conference
i have been an unwavering and unabashed fan of cliocon seeing that its begin in 2013. after the second one in 2014, i known as it one of the great prison generation meetings i had ever been to. after the 2015 convention, i said that it changed into déjà vu all over again. i felt the same in 2016, 2017 and 2018, writing that it had “cemented its standing as a ought to-attend prison technology convention.” after the 2019 cliocon, i described the enjoy as like “a cult of innovation.”

this 12 months gave me no motive to waiver from my fandom. i nonetheless assume this is one of the fine felony technology conferences available, if no longer the satisfactory, and i nonetheless think it’s far a must-attend conference for each person inquisitive about innovating the exercise of law. run out and get your tickets now for subsequent yr, where it’ll once more be in nashville. (there’s an early chook rate via jan. 19 of $399.)

right here again, i’m no longer by myself. in truth, as a collection folks cliocon veterans chatted over liquids at the last night time of the conference, and even though all of us in the organization agreed that this year felt by hook or by crook off, all however one said that cliocon stays their preferred prison tech conference and that they unequivocally planned to be lower back subsequent yr. (the only holdout changed into on the fence as to which is fine, cliocon or the legalgeek convention in london.)

so what made this conference high-quality? right here are a number of the highlights.

the tribe. in his last remarks wrapping up this yr’s cliocon, clio founder and ceo jack newton described the sensation amongst attendees of having “joined a tribe.” “we’re a part of a huge network right here with a common goal of transforming the felony revel in for all,” he stated. tribe is perhaps a better word than my “cult,” however i think newton and i imply the equal factor.

it’s far no exaggeration to say that this is a conference in which it feels as if each single person is there due to the fact they are deeply dedicated to enhancing the practice of regulation and the delivery of prison offerings thru the higher use of technology and the innovation in their practices. those are criminal experts who care deeply about their customers and who want passionately to be the pleasant they are able to at serving them. at no other felony tech convention will you discover this breadth and depth of passion.
the clions. clio despatched some two hundred of its personnel to the convention, no longer as idle attendees or to be salespeople or entrepreneurs, but instead to be, in impact, concierges. anyplace one turns at the convention, there is a clio employee geared up to help, whether or not you sincerely want to be pointed in the proper route or assist with a few different query. i know of no other convention wherein the organizers go to such rate to make certain that attendees are by no means without assistance or steering – or, for that remember, a friendly smile.

the programs. cliocon continues to do a great process of providing applications on topics that target the realistic factors of going for walks and developing a regulation company and using felony era.

exhibit corridor. that is how an show off corridor have to be finished. every exhibitor receives the same sales space. they stand or fall at the strength of their product, not at the gaudiness of their show. the hall includes more than one other activities to draw attendees in and via. breakfast and lunch had been served day by day inside the back. exhibitors informed me that they got exquisite site visitors to their booths and many leads for potential customers.

the winner of the great new app was clearbrief. honors for most improved went to legalboards.

a laugh. cliocon does a brilliant job of weaving fun activities into the fabric of the day. this 12 months, that protected line-dancing instructions every day at midday, pop-up networking occasions, sunrise yoga, a place for playing corn hollow, and a western garb shop, among different things.

media savvy. there can be no more media savvy criminal tech conference than cliocon. a few conferences cope with the media as a chore, or whilst the enemy. cliocon welcomes the media in each way imaginable, from the materials it offers earlier of the conference to the assistance it gives on website. a highlight this yr, as it became in san diego, is the place set aside for podcasting, wherein exclusive podcasts every get their personal desk wherein they are able to set up and document at will.

(a specific shout out is going to pamela smith, senior supervisor, corporate communications, at clio, who is a consummate pr professional and who is constantly on pinnacle of each detail a reporter may need.)

so what was off?
now not handiest have i been keen on this conference considering that its start, but i’ve also over the years come to recognize and be buddies with a few of the individuals who work at clio. that extends proper to the pinnacle, to ceo newton, whom i honestly trust to be one of the main visionaries in regulation and who has been and remains a using pressure in shifting the criminal career and the criminal tech enterprise to the following degree.

for the reason that, i very tons wish i had nothing but reward to heap on this year’s convention, as i’ve on past years’ cliocons. however having heard from so many of the attendees i spoke to — specially folks that had been at past cliocons and who are human beings whose opinions i trust and value — the equal sentiment that some thing became amiss, it’s miles the elephant in the room.

in spite of this, the assignment in writing approximately that is that the ones very equal humans had trouble putting their palms on what it become that regarded amiss. some pointed out a one of a kind vibe. others pointed to greater tangible problems.

so what become it? right here are some viable candidates.

the pandemic

i might begin with pointing a finger at covid. look, everyone are a piece rusty in our social skills. we are all a chunk out of shape doing whatever that entails collecting with other humans in social situations. if that is actual for smaller gatherings, then it’s miles true in lots of multiples for large gatherings. perhaps it was fitting, then, that one keynote speaker turned into priya parker, writer of the art of the collection: how we meet and why it matters. we are all relearning how to acquire.

the venue

in my conversations with humans about the conference, there has been one point on which truly they all agreed: it become hard to separate their gut feeling about the convention from their disfavor for the venue. the question, then, is: to what volume did their distaste for the venue taint their affect of the conference?
the venue, the gaylord opryland lodge and conference middle, is a sprawling, byzantine facility that looks to were designed via a group stimulated by way of the drawings of photo artist mc escher, with a confounding array of multi-stage crisscrossing walkways, soaring plant-crammed atriums, escalators that result in stairways, and an universal format that had humans frequently feeling lost.

with its water park and indoor boat tours, the gaylord might be a a laugh region for a family. but for a conference, it appeared nearly deliberately designed to deter the very kind of networking, intimacy and social spontaneity that has been a trademark of past cliocons.

in its earliest years, cliocon become on the radisson blue motel in chicago, where the venue changed into intimate and had any variety of nooks and crannies in which people ought to sit down and chat. whilst the conference grew through the years to a few 2,000 in san diego in 2019, i used to be impressed that clio became somehow capable of hold that experience of intimacy.

possibly the lack of that intimacy is an unavoidable price of fulfillment. whilst other meetings battle to rebuild attendance in the wake of covid, this yr’s cliocon became the largest ever, with 2,000 attendees on website online and any other 1,000 attending certainly from everywhere in the world. with that many humans, it’ll continually be a undertaking to find a venue that is conducive to networking, however the gaylord appears hellbent on discouraging it.

after which there’s the truth that the gaylord is nowhere close to downtown nashville – extra than 10 miles far from it, to be precise. until this year, every live cliocon has been in the heart of an first rate town – chicago, new orleans, san diego – where attendees may want to without difficulty get out and discover a chunk or maybe just take a ruin.

by way of assessment, the gaylord is correctly within the middle of nowhere. granted, it’s far at once adjacent to the grand ole opry, which no question is a draw for usa song enthusiasts. but that doesn’t exchange the fact that each the gaylord and the grand ole opry are far from the heart of music metropolis.

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