How did you become involved in legal tech?
I practiced law for five years as a general litigator in Los Angeles at Nosaman and then Fulbright and Jaworski (now Norton Rose Fulbright). As I was practicing, I saw the inefficiencies in how law firms operated and how they serviced their corporate customers. I thought there must be a better way to perform, manage, and utilize legal services. In 2004, I started one of the pioneering law companies called LawScribe. We were providing legal support services to US law firms and legal departments through attorneys in India. We could not have done so without advances in technology allowing us to provide services from across the globe. Since then, legal technology has been key to the service model we have created including at my current company, Elevate, where I am a co-founder. We continue to provide legal services such as M&A, contracts, litigation, compliance, and IP through technology. In contracts, we have developed our own proprietary software to analyze contracts for key provisions and to auto-extract key information relevant to understanding and managing contractual obligations. In litigation, we have applied predictive coding to reduce the document population to be reviewed in order to help the customer understand which documents are relevant to a matter. This synthesis of data, e-billing technology, and data analysts have been very significant in conducting legal spend assessments and evaluating the information contained in law firm invoices. Legal departments can now understand what they are paying for different engagements, how those matters are staffed, and where there are opportunities to do work more efficiently, i.e. right sourcing of legal services like e-discovery and document review.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
I work closely with corporate legal departments to help them innovate and improve how they work. This has ranged from helping customers set up self-service/automated support for contracts such as NDAs to helping them optimize how they internally manage contracts by incorporating the right technologies, processes, and people. As we provide contracts support, we leverage technology to capture key performance and operational data which we report using our Cael Vision platform. This provides information that helps us improve the services we deliver and inform companies to make better decisions around their contracting processes.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?
There is so much legal technology out there and so many new companies sprouting up with innovative offerings. What I try to do is meet with these new companies to understand their technologies to learn how they can improve the services we are providing customers. I (and my colleagues at Elevate) am also very connected with CLOC and ACC, which provide great resources around legal technology. These organizations have annual conferences where companies present on new technologies and provide case studies from customers utilizing the technologies. These are invaluable for understanding what is new and how best to incorporate technology to improve efficiency in delivery, performance, and management of legal services.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
There have been tremendous advances in contracts technology incorporating artificial intelligence to analyze the provisions contained in contracts and the results of decisions that are made. These technologies can predict what the outcome will be of a new contract negotiation based on previously executed contracts and past results. If this is applied to any type of contracting, individuals will be able to understand the outcome of contract negotiation and make better negotiation decisions before entering into long term agreements. This could be helpful in divorce, real estate, and other types of interactions impacting consumers and businesses.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Just start! If you are interested in technology or have a great idea, find someone with a tech background/connections to talk to and share your interest or idea.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
My mentor, as well as good friend, is Connie Brenton, Chief of Staff and Senior Director of Legal Operations at NetApp. She was a true pioneer in legal operations and the Founder of CLOC which is one of the biggest users and proponents of legal technology. Legal operations professionals are leveraging technology to run law departments like a business. It is because of Connie and her guidance that I built businesses that utilized technology to improve legal service delivery.