How did you become involved in legal tech?
Funny story, I was running my family’s businesses in Champaign, IL and honestly got really burned out. After deciding to move back to Chicago, I answered a Craigslist ad for a legal technology and marketing company called Total Attorneys. I immediately took to working with lawyers. Over the course of the seven years I worked there I was mentored by both the CEO and president. They gave me every opportunity imaginable within the organization. From sales and marketing to leading a development team that built a case management and payment processing system, to managing all of our bar association relationships and finally teaching webinars on law practice management topics for our clients. I learned so much there and really fell in love with the space.
After Total Attorneys, an opportunity to become a practice management advisor in Chicago opened up, and I jumped on it right away. That by far is one of the greatest ways to both serve our community and learn about legal technology at the same time. My job was to research and learn everything I could about legal technology and law practice management, then translate the options to our members. In my opinion, there is no better path to professional growth than being responsible for the education and success of others.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
Our current initiatives for 2018 are:
1) Launching a Women in Legal Podcast, where I will interview women in legal tech, legal marketing, and the law. The goal of the program is to shine a light on the rock stars in our community, tell their stories, and inspire others to lead. Motivated by my hope that the website also becomes a meeting place where event planners looking for female speakers can research, find, and connect with our guests.
2) The Legal Technology Media Group will publish over a dozen e-books in our Buyers Guide series this year. The publications range from e-discovery, marketing, staffing, artificial intelligence, text messaging tools, cybersecurity, and more. Our next release is coming up in May, the In-House Counsel Buyers Guide, which I am working on with my co-author Brett Burney. Each title combines product reviews with educational articles and follow-up webinars that aid in the research phase of buying legal technology products or services.
3) The Legal Vendor Mastermind Program. With so many new startups in the legal space, not everyone has a budget for a full-time marketing person or team. Cathy Kenton, Founder of Legal Vendor Strategies, and I teamed up to deliver a one-on-one coaching program for legal tech companies. Wherein we provide strategy, advertising guidance, and accountability to them as they grow.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?
ABA TECHSHOW just wrapped up, and I find that to be the one “not to miss” conference every year. There are so many new products, and the addition of the Startup Alley makes it so easy to stay up to speed on what’s available in the marketplace. Not to mention the great lineup of CLE’s and incredible networking opportunities. You can get months worth of research done in less than a week!
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
Text messaging; this is by far my soap-box speech of 2018. Because text messaging is the new dominant form of communication. Especially for law firms who serve the consumer market, communicating with clients via text, plus booking appointments and sending reminders, will result in better overall customer satisfaction. For litigation professionals, consider the need to efficiently capture text messaging evidence, which is already increasing at a dramatic rate. There are several new tools available for lawyers that aid in the secure and ethical communication over text between the law firm and their clients, or collection of text message records as evidence.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Pick a niche and dig in. Commit to making a name for yourself in the legal space, work hard, and stay the course. No matter how many times you get thrown a curve ball, or fall down, get back up and try again.
Get out there! Volunteer for everything you can feasibly execute, speak as often as you can, whether it’s a room of eight or 800. Reach up, surround yourself with people that inspire you. Then, when in doubt, pick up the phone and ask them for help. You would be amazed at the kindness and generosity of our community. Lastly, be relentless in the pursuit of your dreams; no one is going to make them come true but you.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
Catherine Sanders Reach, who is one of the most knowledgeable and generous professionals I have ever met. I had the great pleasure of working with her at the Chicago Bar Association as a PMA (Practice Management Advisor). Not only did she teach me how to be a better speaker, but she expanded my understanding of the legal space tenfold.
Feature image from #WOCinTechChat