Erin Gerstenzang is the Founder of EHG Law Firm Collective. Find her on Twitter @EHGLawFirm.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
I was invited to Lawyerist’s LabCon in 2017. I was blown away by how creative and forward-thinking the lawyers who attended were. I got to meet Sam Glover and Aaron Street, along with Dan Lear, Barron Henley, Chad Burton, Erin Levine, Megan Zavieh, Ed Walters, and others who have influenced how I think about what the future of the practice of law could and should look like. Inspired by the brilliant people at LabCon, I signed up to attend ABA TECHSHOW the following month, and from there I never looked back. Since then, I have become mildly obsessed with making connections to others who similarly want to shape the future of the practice of law to make it better for both lawyers and consumers.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
I am currently working on a new law firm model that operates a bit more like a collective than traditional small law. Most traditional criminal law firms struggle to keep talented lawyers because the economics of the old model no longer makes sense in the modern technology-enabled world. Young lawyers are demanding more autonomy and profit-sharing than the traditional models permit. As a result, we have a noticeable uptick in young lawyers leaving firms to start their own solo practice. I celebrate and applaud this entrepreneurial spirit, but the solo practice model can have its drawbacks. One of the drawbacks of a solo practice is the absence of mentors ready and willing to jump in and help when your client has a problem that you do not know how to solve.
At EHG Law Firm, we build teams around our clients’ problems. It is very much akin to the “Hollywood Model,” wherein you pick the cast based upon the script. Instead of simply putting any available associate on a case, I select the lawyer from a pool of solo attorneys whose skill sets I know are best suited for the task at hand. This way, the client receives the benefit of attorneys who are best suited for their particular problem.
The pool of attorneys is carefully vetted and trained through the EHG Law Firm Collective. Although the women all run their own law firms, we regularly meet together to help each other develop legal, business, and technology skills that will accelerate solo law firm growth and success. We are a network of women criminal defense attorneys who learn from one another through collaboration and team building.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that you find yourself returning to or that was particularly formative for you?
Lawyerist.com has remained one of my traditional sources for great technology for law offices. However, whenever I want to learn about or research a new tech tool, one of the first calls I make is to Kimberly Bennett, who is a walking encyclopedia for all things tech. She is very ahead of the curve and is always trying out new tools and systems.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
Using technology to allow people to access the courts remotely. Far too often people who are struggling to make ends meet have to take days off work to meet their legal obligations or protect their rights in court. We should be looking at ways to permit video appearances and make it easy to access the court remotely.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Get on Twitter and social media. It is not always easy to find tech-forward people who are in your town or proximately close to your office. However, most of the people I know in legal tech have a strong social presence, particularly on Twitter. Start following some of the awesome women in legal tech, like their posts, and retweet.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
Natalie Kelly of the Georgia State Bar. She has been bringing technology to law firms for the last 24 years and has more experience in this space than anyone else I know!