Felicity Conrad is the Founder and CEO of Paladin. Find her on Twitter @felicity_conrad.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
In many ways, it was an accident! Before starting Paladin, I was a litigator at Skadden with a keen interest in public interest. I was definitely interested in innovative solutions to scale access to justice, but had no formal experience in “technology.” That said, I’m an optimist, love big ideas, and am a closet tech nerd, so I started meeting folks in startups and technology (including meeting my co-founder, Kristen Sonday). After meeting with lots of industry experts and technologists to vet our idea, we decided to take the plunge and start a legal tech company!
What projects have you been focused on recently?
Building Paladin is our top focus and has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Paladin‘s mission is to increase access to justice by helping legal teams streamline their pro bono programs. We work with leading law firms and Fortune 500s to easily staff, manage, and track their pro bono work on a centralized platform, as well as visualize engagement and impact. It’s been such an incredible privilege to work every day to scale access to justice, and hopefully, we’re just getting started!
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?
As a technologist, this is a tad ironic, but the most important resource has been the incredible community that’s growing and actively working to support each other’s success. This list is a great example—how fantastic that there’s an annual group of talented women striving toward common goals in legal technology. This isn’t just online either—now, more than ever, there are ample forums, conferences, and gatherings to foster collaboration and share knowledge between folks in the industry and provide insights to those looking to get more involved too.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
Lawyers could realize that technology can help expand their scope and scale, rather than threaten it. Medicine has leveraged technology to make great strides for patients and doctors in an incredibly regulated industry, and the legal industry can do the same. With Paladin, for example, our goal is to build tools to support—not replace—pro bono professionals, legal service organizations, and, of course, pro bono lawyers! When viewed this way, I think technology can be a powerful tool for legal professionals to leverage to improve our legal system for the benefit of all.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Lawyers tend to be a risk-averse bunch, and it’s natural to want to conduct proper due diligence about career decisions like moving into legal tech (sorry, mom!). While it doesn’t need to be all or nothing, I would start attending legal tech events, meet as many people as you can, participate in hackathons, work on side projects, and ultimately—if it feels right—take the leap. There is so much opportunity unfolding in legal tech, and women should absolutely be key players in shaping that future!
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
There are so many fantastic women in legal tech that I’ve learned from! Two fabulous women that have been steady supporters along the way at Paladin, and who definitely deserve a shout-out for their legal tech contributions in their own right, are Anna McGrane at PacerPro and Maya Markovich at Nextlaw Labs. It’s a privilege to work alongside such talented ladies!