Amy Conroy is a Data Scientist at Mishcon de Reya where her work involves using litigation data to improve existing processes, develop new applications, and provide better insights into the way that the firm litigates. She is also the Co-Founder and Director of Law School 2.0, a LegalTech education company that delivers legal innovation education through practical experience opportunities and online training events.
By background Amy studied her Honors Law LLB degree at the University of Bristol where she became interested in the intersection of the Law and technology. She went on to complete a MSc in Computer Science, also at the University of Bristol, where her MSc Thesis was on the development of an automatic legal judgment summarization system. She continues her Legal NLP research with Bristol’s Computer Science department as a Visiting Academic Research Associate.
Please give us three points to summarize you and your work in legal technology.
My interest in legal technology comes from both the technical and legal sides as I studied Law as my undergraduate degree before doing an MSc in Computer Science. Now my day job as a Data Scientist at Mishcon de Reya combines both my legal and technical knowledge.
I am passionate about improving legal tech education and more generally closing the knowledge gap that exists pertaining to legal innovation, this is a piece of work I am pushing forward through the organization I co-founded, Law School 2.0.
I love mentoring students and those new to their legal career, and opening their eyes to new alternative careers when they want to work in the legal industry but aren’t interested in becoming lawyers.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
I wrote my LLB thesis on AI and the Right to Be Forgotten, specifically if our personal data rights are protected when data is processed through machine learning algorithms. This sparked my interest in how law and emerging technologies work together and I decided to pursue a Masters in computer science to advance my technical skills and understanding of how these technologies actually worked. While studying my MSc a friend and I started building an open-source tenancy advice service, built using Docassemble, which was my first real exposure to legal tech (although I didn’t realise at the time!).
From there, I started speaking to those working in legal tech and became interested in how I could innovate in legal as well as combine my interests from both of my degrees, and the more I learnt about legal tech the more it felt like a natural fit for me. What attracted me to the field the most was the opportunity to be creative and work at the edge of what is technically possible, while uncovering new ways for the legal industry to operate and match the technical advancements of other industries.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
At my day job a lot of what we’re currently doing is exploring better ways to collect structured litigation data while leveraging the tools that we already have. This is surprisingly tricky, as most of the legal tech available has been developed for the non-contentious market. I’ve also been pushing forward the MDR Research arm of our Data Science team, through which we collaborate with other organisations and academic institutions on Legal AI research.
At Law School 2.0 we’ve been working hard on our newest initiative the Legal Service Innovation Course, which has been sponsored by iManage and Barbri. We really emphasise going back to basics with legal innovation projects and iterating through the Problem > Solution > Adoption phases of any project, rather than jumping right in with your dream solution that might not be solving a problem that exists in your organisation. We’re excited to be releasing a course that covers each of these aspects and can be applied to any legal innovation project.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in legal tech today?
The general theme of running before you can walk and the search for a quick and easy solution are both challenges for the legal tech industry. There is a burden on the vendor and the customer to make sure they’re selecting a solution that is solving a real problem and can be implemented in the organisation given how they currently operate and the resources they have available, otherwise it will end up costing both parties wasted resources and money in the long run.
What do you see as the most important emerging tech, legal or not, right now?
It’d be impossible not to say Generative AI. Whether people are approaching the tech because it solves identified and well-scoped problems in their legal work is one thing. However, what has been interesting is seeing the reaction from those working outside of legal innovation in law firms who are so keen to get their hands on this technology. This is the type of technology adoption that many innovation teams often struggle to gain with more ‘traditional’ legal tech implementations, so it opens a real opportunity to increase education around legal innovation and the use of technology in legal.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Reach out to those in the industry who inspire you, or who have career paths that you are interested in. Everyone I’ve met in legal tech is very friendly and willing to share advice over a cup of coffee.
Also remember it’s okay if you’re path doesn’t match someone else’s, what’s exciting about legal tech is it’s still early days and the career paths are still being created, so you have an opportunity to forge your own path.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
Catherine Bamford, CEO and Founder of BamLegal, has been an inspiration to me since I entered the legal tech field. She has always been so open and honest with her advice and guidance, and I’m really lucky to have her as a friend.