Mary Vandenack, Founding & Managing Member at Vandenack Weaver LLC. Find her on Twitter @mvandenack.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
I have always been interested in efficiency and innovation as ways to provide better client service. Additionally, I have always found the hourly rate model frustrating. I wanted to improve client service and seek to help myself and other lawyers find a way to be profitable without dealing with the disadvantages of the hourly rate structure.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
We are currently focusing on 1) How we can incorporate blockchain into our practice and enhance client service; 2) Specialty websites to provide specialized legal services; 3) The use of chatbots and other types of artificial intelligence both as marketing and efficiency tools.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?
For legal tech, I do think the American Bar Association has done an excellent job by having the ABA TECHSHOW annually. In addition, the Legal Technology Resource Center is an excellent resource. Through the ABA Law Practice Division, I have been fortunate enough to meet numerous people in the legal technology field with differing perspectives. I am also involved in substantive sections and have been able to meet practicing lawyers who are implementing technology in unique ways. I was named as a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management last year. That organization is also an excellent resource.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
Generally, I think lawyers need to look at technology generally, rather than any particular technology specifically, as a way to improve service and benefit society. Currently, there is a lot of press about how technology is going to put lawyers out of business. While technology is changing how legal services are delivered, it is unlikely that the need for lawyers will be eliminated. Lawyers should consider how they can implement various technology to improve services. Lawyers really want to evaluate what services they provide that can be enhanced with technology and what services remain unique and add value. While artificial intelligence the can do basic contract reviews exists, such technology won’t replace the lawyer thought process and experience that will be needed in unique situations.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Read both legal tech resources and general tech resources. Join technology networking groups, and not just in the legal industry. Attend technology events. When attending technology events, spend a lot of time in exhibit halls and talk to all vendors. When attending substantive conferences, seek out the vendors in the technology field and engage in discussion about how to collaborate and improve legal services.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
- Britt Lorish, Affinity Consulting
- Debbie Foster, Affinity Consulting
- Adriana Linares, LawTech Partners
- Heidi Alexander, Massachusetts Law Office Assistance Program
- Sharon Nelson, Sensei Enterprises