How did you become involved in legal tech?
I started my career in Fukuoka, Japan on a Japanese government-funded research project addressing Asia-Pacific cooperation followed by a three-year stint in the Corporate Planning Department in Tokyo, Japan as the first western hire in Showa Aluminum (and I was also the first woman hired at management level). During those years the closest I got to technology was a two-day typing class in Shinjuku at Fuji Xerox where I attempted to keep pace with a classroom filled with Japanese office workers learning how to type kanji on J-Star.
I decided that my next move would be a technology company, and I moved back to the U.S. and joined IBM in Boulder, Colorado, but was soon relocated back to Tokyo, where I managed an Asia-Pacific distribution organization across 15 countries in Asia. Feeling the entrepreneurial spirit… I left the employment of big corporations to reinvent a career in legal tech at LawToolBox 11 days before September 11, 2001, in Denver, Colorado.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
I head up marketing, sales, and strategic partnerships at LawToolBox and have spent the past few years focused on developing strategic partnerships. We are excited about the AI bot technology, our “build once, use many” technology that now allows customers to access the same Office 365 skin for legal in bots and tabs within Microsoft Teams as they are accustomed to in Outlook.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?
I was recently invited to participate in Voices for Innovation and find that participating in policy discussion with federal and state representatives rekindles a passion for promoting fairness and equality of opportunity.
VFI inspired me to have a voice and get involved and champion for STEM education, women in technology, and cloud privacy. Thanks to VFI, I’ve learned new skills and knowledge to move the needle on these important issues.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
I believe platforms typically used for commerce and profit can also serve as match-making technology that connects lawyers with underserved populations to offer their time on a volunteer basis could go a long way to leveling the playing field and providing access to justice.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
My advice to women is to lean forward in everything you do. Be the first person in your office to get up to speed on the latest tech gadget. No fear! In legal tech, you are generally walking into a room filled with guys. Start the conversation and guide the agenda. Build relationships and friendships. Be yourself. Ask for help. The more you ask the more you are leaning forward and growing. Then don’t forget to hold the door for others, and to give back to customers, partners, and colleagues.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
During the start-up years, I will always remember the advice from then-CEO of Yahoo, Susan Decker, that if I’m going to find a balance between work and family, I’ll need as much help as I can find managing not only my work life but my home life, whether it’s help with homework, cooking, or errands.
Later in my career, I met Monica Bay, chief editor of Legal Tech News at a legal event in Denver. Our relationship began with media 101 where she grilled me on the do’s and don’ts in a press interview, mostly pointing out all the things I should stop saying. Some of the best mentors are also your best critics. While she didn’t hold back with the constructive criticism she opened doors for me before other industry leaders did.
More recently Margie Gradwohl of Microsoft; she is such an accomplished woman who turned the Microsoft ship with her leadership, energy, and vision. If any of you have attended a meeting with me and received an email before the called ended outlining next steps and who’s doing what, you can thank Margie for that!