The International Legal Technology Association has laid off eight workers and furloughed another five because of the coronavirus and its related impact upon the legal tech economy, trade group officials said.
The group also is changing how its trademark annual ILTACON summer conference will be handled by preparing to offer a virtual conference in addition to the in-person event, ILTA officials said at a Wednesday press event. The layoffs have not affected planning for the in-person conference currently to be held Aug. 23-27 in Nashville, Tenn.
ILTA Chief Executive Officer Joy Health Rush briefly became emotional when talking about the reductions to what had been a staff of 41 full-time employees. “I would rather cut off my right arm than make this decision,” she said. “We know the effect COVID-19 has had on the industry.”
The eight laid-off employees were back-office workers, Rush said. The five furloughed employees help set up the group’s in-person events.
Rush said she could not say how long the furloughed workers would be out of a paycheck. That depends on decisions yet to be made about how the ILTACON conference will be offered, she said.
Rush said the group had been hurt by the ruling by federal officials that the association could not receive funds through the Paycheck Protection Program, which had authorized forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the crisis. Federal officials decided that 501(c)(6) business trade groups such as ILTA did not qualify, she said.
Rush and other ILTA officials said they were excited about the fact that the group plans to offer options to attend conferences virtually gong forward, and that that could ultimately boost the number of attendees.
“Hybrid events will become a norm,” said Dawn Hudgins, the association’s vice president of brand and events.
ILTA officials decided earlier to have its upcoming LegalSEC Summit, to held June 15-17, to be exclusively virtual. The group will use Communiqué, a virtual conferencing company, to hold the event.
In 2019, ILTA broke its attendance record. The event at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., had been on track to hit a total of 1,850 participants, up from 1,715 at the the 2018 conference, which was held outside Washington.