#WiECon19 Blog Series: Intro to the Conference and Women in eDiscovery
A month ago, I attended the first Women in eDiscovery (“WiE”) conference in my hometown of Austin, Texas. I originally planned to write a single blog about the conference, but after attending and being so impressed with the quality of the sessions, I thought the conference would be of interest to the Venio community and deserved more than a single blog post, so this will be the first of several that we’ll be sharing over the next several weeks. The rest will focus on specific topics and sessions, but I wanted to start by sharing some general thoughts about the conference, the attendees, and the WiE organization.
As I walked into the hotel on that first afternoon, I was feeling a little out of my element. Being newly back in the eDiscovery world, I was excited and a little nervous. I was involved in the Austin chapter of WiE in its early days, but that had been about a decade ago. It had also been a while since I had attended a conference where I didn’t know very many people.
I got my badge and bag, but was early for the opening event, so what to do? I wandered back down to the entry to the hotel where I had seen some women with badges congregating. I picked a group and asked if I could join them. Thank you to Laura, Susanna, and Ashley of Night Owl Discovery for making me feel welcome and including me in your conversation. I enjoyed learning more about all of you and your company. It couldn’t have been a better intro to the event! Nerves gone…for the most part.
Next, it was time for the opening event, which was a networking reception. Almost immediately, I ran into Patti Zerwas of Haynes and Boone, a great firm started in Texas that I worked with in my consulting business. Patti organized the panel I was moderating and was one of the volunteers who helped put the conference together. Did I mention that Women in eDiscovery is a national volunteer-run organization and the conference (their first) was organized by them? Yep! You’ll be even more impressed with the content in my follow up blogs about the session content and quality knowing this fact.
Patti was soon needed for something, so I made my way through the event talking with various people I had never met. It’s interesting to be on the vendor side now, because I remember how much I hated being sold to at events. Fortunately, WiE has a strict no sales policy, so it makes life easier for everyone, especially given that the WiE crowd is frequently equal parts business partners and their clients. There wasn’t a moment of hesitation by anyone to engage in conversation – good, meaningful conversation about both eDiscovery and life. If you are a woman working in eDiscovery, I would encourage you to go to the Women in eDiscovery website to see if there’s a chapter in your area. If not, consider starting one! It’s free to join, so you’ve literally got nothing to lose.
I’ll leave you with a couple of final thoughts. As a woman who has worked in law firms for most of my career and legal IT most recently, it was inspiring to be in a huge hotel ballroom filled with almost entirely women working in the eDiscovery area. Having been the only woman in the room for many years, it was exciting! (Kudos to those few men attending. Now you know how we feel most of the time!)
I especially enjoyed the conversations I had with younger women who will shape the future of the profession, which is on the brink of many rapid changes with the advent and wider acceptance of various new technologies. With this group at the helm, maybe we’ll finally see wider adoption of things like continuous active learning (CAL) for technology assisted review (TAR) and other new tools! (Hint, hint: check out the rest of this blog series.)