Kate Orr is Senior Innovation Counsel at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
After litigating for many years, I was ready for a new challenge and was given the opportunity to help develop and then launch Orrick’s proprietary case management system (CaseStream). I wasn’t sure where it would take me but I was determined to make it a success. Five years and many projects later, I am a member of Orrick’s innovation team and responsible for improving the way we deliver legal services through the use of legal tech, people, and processes.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
There are many—legal tech is a busy space—but three that are most top of mind are: 1) Consulting with our clients on legal tech and innovation, and collaborating with them on solutions for their internal pain points. 2) Creating the Observatory, Orrick’s internal platform that tracks 600+ legal tools in the market and 40+ active innovation projects at the firm. 3) Reengineering a practice through process mapping (including the best people and tech to use) to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and better serve our clients’ needs.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that really helped you when you were starting out in the field?
There are many good industry reports that help me stay abreast of the evolving legal tech industry but I have found the most useful resource to be people. I learned and continue to learn more from my colleagues and other professionals in the legal tech space than I could ever glean from reading something at my desk. Conversations and knowledge sharing are especially helpful to separate hype from reality, find out about unique approaches that others are taking to solve common problems, and to think creatively about what is next in the legal tech space.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
My answer isn’t limited to one type of technology. Rather, I think that lawyers should look at all technology as an opportunity to improve the services they provide. Lawyers often hesitate to embrace technology out of fear (“robots will take my job”), misinformation (“that won’t work for me”), or a simple lack of time. By shifting the lawyer/tech relationship to friend, not foe, and being open to tech-enabled legal services (including self-service and on-demand solutions), I really do believe that the quality of everything that we do will improve. Not only because technology allows us to do things more efficiently and accurately, but because it also makes us more accessible and frees us up to focus on the issues and tasks that matter the most.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
In addition to networking, which we all should do, I highlight the importance of asking questions. I think that many of us hesitate to ask questions out of fear that we will look silly but it is critical to our success. I am not a trained technologist and am frequently in meetings with individuals far more tech-savvy than me. I cannot count the number of times that I have asked the proverbial “dumb” questions (How does this tool actually work?), the hard questions (Why do we use it this way?), and the questions with no obvious answer (What else could we be doing with this?). Those questions make me better at my job and I’ve found that they can also serve as catalysts for broader discussions, help generate new ideas, and push others to think differently about how we do what we do.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
This is a no-brainer—Wendy Butler Curtis, Chief Innovation Officer at Orrick. I have the pleasure of working with Wendy and learn from her every day. Her legal tech journey started in the litigation space but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Wendy is truly a leader in reengineering how we all deliver legal services—whether in-house, firm, or alternative legal service provider. She has infinite ideas and her enthusiasm is contagious.