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With 'SoLI' Conference, Vanderbilt Law Set Sights on Legal Innovation Barriers

[caption id="attachment_6610" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Vanderbilt University Law School. [/caption]   In the midst of supporting “legal hackers” meetings and offering courses on blockchain technology, Vanderbilt University Law School is again moving to define the future of the legal industry. The law school recently announced the launch of The Summit on Law and Innovation (SoLI) a one-day conference on April 30 at Vanderbilt’s Nashville, Tennessee, campus. The event aims to foster collaboration between legal practitioners, legal educators and technologists. SoLI, however, strives to more than just a conference on legal technology. Caitlin Moon, adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law, noted that “while legal technology is definitely an element to the conversation at SoLI, we do not consider this a legal tech conference. Our focus is on bringing together different voices from different parts of the legal profession for a conversations on collaboration and innovation in the legal profession.” For Moon, the conference is an attempt to solve one of the biggest roadblocks holding back the legal industry. Working in silos is a “fundamental challenge we face across the legal profession,” she said. “We don’t work together, we don’t talk to each other, and therefore legal practice isn’t truly informing how legal technology is developed, and legal practice is not informing how legal education is developed.” When asked how the conference will differ from the various other legal and legal tech events throughout the year, Larry Bridgesmith, adjunct professor at Vanderbilt Law School, said that SoLI will not be “a talking heads day.” Bridgesmith, who called the conference “Ted Talks squared,” explained that the goal of each of the conference’s sessions will be to facilitate interaction between audience members. “You will listen to these sort of succinct bursts of information and conversations, and then we will facilitate conversations among the participants.” Those attending the conference will include professionals from all corners of the legal sector, including law firms, law schools, the legal technology space and the government sector. But while legal tech vendors are invited to the conference, including “some sponsors who will be present and engaging in the conversation,” SoLI will not host a traditional vendor hall, Moon said. Though the conference only takes place over one day, the organizers hope to set the stage for future legal innovation projects. “I would consider it a launch date,” Bridgesmith said of the April 30 date. “What we hope to launch are products, forums and consortiums.” He added that the people who attend SoLI will be committed to “exploring how to help legal change its way to better serve the people….and it’s not over when the day ends.” SoLI however, isn't the only conference looking to offer something novel to legal tech professionals.  The launch of the first SoLI conference comes months after the newly formed  Association of Legal Technologists (ALT) launched its first inaugural conference. Created by previous members of the International Legal Technology Association’s (ILTA) executive team following the association’s contentious reorganization, ALT aims to provide a new think tank and networking space to compete with the more traditional legal technology conference.