How did you become involved in legal tech?
I was starting my 2L year at Notre Dame Law School (“NDLS”) when my fellow legal tech founder and colleague, Katelyn Ringrose, invited me to join the Impowerus, Inc. team. The team was in the starting stages of developing a Software as a Service (“SaaS”) online platform to connect youth with legal pro bono services. We participated in several competitions for new businesses, legal tech startups, and student tech startups, to name a few. I believe one of the competitions that helped us tremendously was the 2018 McCloskey New Venture Competition at the Idea Center at the University of Notre Dame. We won several prizes, which we used toward building our platform.
Working with my team while seeing the impact legal technology has on improving legal services has been amazing. This experience was vital in my professional focus on up-and-coming areas of law in legal tech, data privacy, and IP combined with traditional areas of law like labor law, commercial law, and general litigation. I also learned a lot about numerous business processes, such as business development, marketing, compliance, and financial projections. For a self-proclaimed nerd-at-heart, it has been a fantastic experience.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
I’m focused on privacy impact assessments and other privacy/compliance-related assessments for Impowerus. I believe these types of assessments are essential for any company dealing with customer information, regardless of the kind of service or industry. These types of internal activities help protect end-users as well as companies. They also help guide product development and changes that need to happen to improve a company as a whole.
As to personal projects, I am writing a book where I share my law school experiences—good and bad. The purpose of this book is to share strategies that made my law school experience a great one, including becoming part of a legal tech startup. I hope to launch the book in June of this year.
I am also developing an online platform called Latinas in Law. It is in the beginning stages. My goal is to establish a platform where we highlight Latinas in Law and tech by sharing personal and professional stories. I firmly believe that diversity in all areas of law is essential for several reasons; one of them is to provide a different paradigm from which to assess a legal challenge and finding creative solutions for clients. After all, the legal industry is a customer service industry.
I also plan on developing online modules to be shared via live video and record for later access. As we know, women wear numerous hats. Using tech to make information conveniently accessible outside business hours is critical in bridging the gap of women in legal tech.
Is there a legal tech resource of any kind that really helped you when you were starting out in the field?
Absolutely! I can’t say enough about the support Impowerus received from the Idea Center team. The Idea Center is the University of Notre Dame’s collaborative innovation hub dedicated to expanding the technological and societal impact of the University’s innovations.
The Idea Center provided us with workspace, guidance, support, and training as we were developing the platform, prepared for VC presentations, and did other work. The Idea Center is walking distance from the main Notre Dame University campus. Thus, it was easy to have a meeting point for all team members when we also had to manage our class schedule. What made this resource special is the human element—the personal relationships we developed with other like-minded professionals who saw our passion for law, tech, and legal services. As anyone who has started a company knows, the work is challenging and very rewarding. Having support and encouragement from a reputable and respected institution like the Idea Center was priceless.
What technology do you think lawyers could look at in a different way that would benefit society?
I think lawyers could look at technologies that streamline repetitive work, such as contract drafting or document review. By getting comfortable with and using technologies like artificial intelligence in these tasks, lawyers can provide better service to clients by increasing efficiency and speed in tasks that should not take a long time.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Reach out to other women who are in the field to ask for advice. I’m always open to having a conversation with people who reach out via LinkedIn. But, do your homework before you get on the phone with someone—prepare particular questions you want to ask. You can get a lot of value from a 15-minute call when you show up prepared.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
I want to give a shout-out to Professor Carla L. Reyes. I think Professors will make a significant impact on increasing women’s involvement in legal tech. I admire professors who are doing this work to establish the foundational knowledge we need future lawyers to have when they enter the legal practice. Only by having the training and exposure to technology can we increase the legal field’s use of promising technologies.