As was reported here yesterday, it was revealed that Dan Liutikas, CEO of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA), would be leaving to pursue another professional opportunity. The news came just days before the start of ILTACON, ILTA’s annual education conference, which begins Aug. 19 in National Harbor, Md.
The timing of the news was exacerbated by the fact that, exactly one year ago, again just days before the conference, ILTA reshuffled its management, and the year before that, again just ahead of its annual conference, its longtime executive director Randi Mayes announced her retirement.
This morning, I had the opportunity to speak about this latest development with Kate Cain who is a member of ILTA’s board of directors and director of market intelligence at Sidley Austin, and Patti Moran, ILTA’s vice president, marketing and communications.
In addition, since my post yesterday, ILTA issued a press release regarding Liutikas’s departure, which said in part:
The International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) today announced that CEO Dan Liutikas has made the difficult decision to resign as CEO of ILTA. The ILTA Board of Directors has accepted his resignation effective August 31, 2018. The Board has commenced planning discussions to appoint new leadership.
Cain said that the press release accurately states the circumstances, which are that Liutikas has resigned to pursue other opportunities. She acknowledged that the timing was not ideal, but said that, after the board discussed the pros and cons of announcing before or after the meeting, they chose to be transparent.
“This gives us a chance to really shine a spotlight on the whole herd of professional staff it takes to make this event great, showing ILTA at its best,” she said. And it also creates an opportunity to focus on what’s next for the organization.
With regard to finding a new CEO, Cain said that ILTA will post the position soon. The immediate plan is to look for someone to serve as CEO on an interim basis in order to keep the organization moving forward. That will allow more time to think about what the permanent leader should look like and then find the best person.
“We want to move quickly and deliberately, but our top priority isn’t speed,” she said. “It’s finding the right person, the person who can help our professional staff shine.”
Last year, after ILTA terminated three members of the executive staff just before ILTACON, some veterans of the organization, spearheaded by nQueue CEO Rick Hellers, decided to break off and form their own group, the Association of Legal Technologists. At the time, Hellers said he and others were concerned about ILTA’s overall direction and the “widening gap between the organization’s core values and the actions of its leadership.”
I asked Cain what ILTA has done over the past year to address concerns such as those expressed by Hellers.
One way ILTA has responded, she said, is to try to give its many volunteer leaders an even greater voice in the organization. In January, it hosted its first-ever Ascend event to bring together volunteer leaders for a weekend of peer discussion, networking and brainstorming. “We’ve always stressed collaboration and connections,” Cain said, “but it was really terrific to see the energy and the excitement and the connections made across the organization.”
She said that she expects to see that energy carry through to next week’s conference, which will have the highest number of attendees in the event’s history. as well as more than 300 individual session speakers and 200 business partners.
ILTA has grown rapidly in recent years in size and complexity, Cain said. That has led to a good deal of experimentation within the organization. Sometimes that produces “great stuff,” she said, but sometimes it does not.
“While there are always things we can do better, we’ve had some great wins over the last year.”
Looking beyond ILTACON, Cain said that a major focus of ILTA for the year ahead is innovation. The organization is working to build a grassroots effort among its members and volunteers to think about how to talk about innovation, how to build around innovation, and what ILTA can do to foster that.
In November, ILTA will present a smaller, one-day educational conference in the UK, Insight 2018.