Flo Nicolas is a technology thought leader with a decade of experience in technology operations and a lawyer that is passionate about promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). As the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of DEI Directive, a technology company offering a comprehensive DEI Intelligence Platform that empowers HR and DEI Professionals to monitor and measure the impact of their initiatives using data analytics.
Flo is also the creator and host of two TV shows in New Hampshire. “Get Tech Smart” educates viewers about tech innovations, while “Get Resource Smart” spotlights organizations providing essential community resources. In addition, Flo is an alumnus of the LinkedIn Accelerator Program: Technology and Innovation. During the program, she created innovative content that featured diverse women in tech.
Flo advocates for access to STEAM education for ALL, Women in Tech, and Diversity in Tech. Her advocacy has earned her recognition, including being honored with the prestigious NH Business Review Outstanding Women in Business 2023 award and named NH Tech Alliance Tech Professional of the Year 2023.
Flo is a philanthropist who volunteers on multiple boards and mentors underrepresented tech and legal professionals. She hosts DEI Networking events in New Hampshire, fostering community engagement and collaboration for inclusivity.
Please give us three points to summarize you and your work in legal technology.
As a tech educator, thought leader, advocate, speaker, and board member, I am recognized for championing diversity across various industries. My focus is spotlighting women in technology, including legal technology. In my role as Co-Founder and COO of DEI Directive, I drive innovation through data-driven strategies, empowering organizations to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion. Passionate about empowering women in technology and promoting girls’ engagement in STEM fields, I am dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion while advocating for digital transformation to shape the future of industries.
How did you become involved in legal tech?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world came to a halt, I found my involvement in legal technology. At that time, I served as the Chief Growth and Community Officer, working alongside Laura Frederick, President and Owner of How To Contract. Hosting the Contracts Tech Showcase, a show I created, I invited Legal Technology Contracts tech vendors to provide demos and discuss the significance of leveraging legal technology for lawyers. Through my social media platform, I actively promoted and advocated for legal digital transformation.
Being selected for the LinkedIn Accelerator Program: Innovation and Technology was a turning point. I took the opportunity to highlight remarkable women in legal technology worldwide. Continuously using my platform, I advocate for technology adoption, keeping my followers informed about the dynamic changes in the legal industry. My passion extends to tweeting about emerging technologies and their impact on regulatory and risk issues.
As the #nonboringlawyer, I have found my unique role as a tech translator, simplifying the complexities of the rapidly evolving technology world for my followers. Continuing my dedication to the legal field, I co-host the international ContractsCon training through How to Contract. Additionally, I was recently invited to moderate the Legal Automation virtual summit hosted by TechSommet and sponsored by Mitratech. My contributions have been recognized through features in prominent platforms, such as the Legally Speaking Podcast hosted by Robert Hannah and Above the Law.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
I will be hosting the prestigious ContractCon Las Vegas, set to take place at The University of Nevada-Las Vegas William S. Boyd School. This highly anticipated event brings legal professionals worldwide to contract drafting and negotiating training. The last ContractsCon, held at the University of Miami Law School, was sponsored by various legal technology vendors.
In addition to my role as host, I am actively collaborating with prominent law firms in New Hampshire on their 1L internship program. This program focuses on providing summer internships to aspiring lawyers from diverse backgrounds. As part of my involvement, I am dedicated to incorporating legal technology education into the program, equipping interns with essential skills for the future of the legal field.
As the Co-Founder and COO of DEI Directive, I am committed to advocating for access to legal technology tools for all lawyers. Furthermore, I am passionate about fostering a more inclusive legal industry, particularly in legal technology. Through my ongoing project, the show Get Tech Smart, I am dedicated to educating my community and followers about the evolving landscape of legal technology.
Recognizing the need for increased adoption of legal technology in New Hampshire, I aim to catalyze change in my state. By raising awareness and promoting the benefits of legal technology, I strive to facilitate greater adoption and enhance the efficiency of the legal community.
What do you see as the biggest challenge in legal tech today?
The legal technology landscape, much like other sectors, presents a multitude of challenges. One prevalent obstacle is the resistance among some lawyers to adopt new technologies, often stemming from the traditional mindset of “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” There exists an unwillingness to invest time in learning and embracing emerging technologies.
Furthermore, the current economic climate has led to downsizing within law firms, resulting in slashed technology budgets. For some, investing in new technologies is simply not a viable option given the financial constraints. Additionally, the rapid pace of technological advancements, including the emergence of artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, poses a significant hurdle even for seasoned technologists. It becomes an added burden for law firms, legal operations, and in-house counsel to stay abreast of these evolving technologies.
Compounding these challenges are the increasing concerns surrounding cybersecurity, data privacy, regulatory compliance, deep fake technology, and other associated risks. This growing apprehension often leads to a cautious approach in adopting new technologies, as the potential consequences and implications must be thoroughly vetted.
In navigating this complex landscape, it is imperative for the legal industry to strike a balance between embracing technological innovation and mitigating risks. Proactive measures, such as thorough vetting, robust cybersecurity protocols, and ongoing education and training, are essential to instill confidence and enable a successful integration of legal technology solutions.
By addressing these challenges head-on, the legal industry can embrace the transformative potential of technology while upholding the highest standards of security, compliance, and ethical practice.
What legal tech resource helped you the most in your legal tech career?
I actively engage with various legal resources and follow esteemed technology experts such as Alex Su, Colin Levy, Olga Mack, Cat Casey, and many more. I rely on reputable legal technology news sources like law.com, Artificial Lawyer, Bloomberg Law, Above the Law, and other notable legal technology outlets and blogs to stay informed. While keeping up with the fast-paced nature of news can be challenging, I prioritize thorough research and staying up to date with trending developments. Additionally, being part of legal tech LinkedIn groups serves as an invaluable way to remain current and connected within the legal technology community.
What do you see as the most important emerging tech, legal or not, right now?
The legal technology industry is currently experiencing a significant boom, with legaltech startups securing substantial investments from eager investors. The market’s appetite for AI embedded technologies is driving this surge, as investors recognize the potential and are willing to open their wallets for innovative legaltech solutions.
What do you see for the future of legal tech?
The future of legal technology is promising, with vendors embracing new and innovative technologies in their products. Some Law schools are also recognizing the importance of legal tech education and the need to incorporate it into the law school curriculum. To remain competitive, lawyers must become proficient in tools like electronic signatures, contract lifecycle management, and eDiscovery. While automation and AI may lead to job changes, they create new opportunities. Technological competence will likely become a requirement in ethics regulations, and lawyers must stay up-to-date with technology to serve their clients better, particularly those in the technology sector. Embracing technology will be essential for lawyers to navigate the evolving legal landscape and provide effective client representation.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Entering the field of legal technology requires exposure and a willingness to learn. When I delved deeper into this field, I began by conducting research and engaging in conversations with legal technology vendors. I asked questions to understand how the technology works, its benefits for lawyers, legal operations, and other legal professionals, as well as any associated risks. Learning is facilitated by asking questions and exploring software. If you have a passion for learning about the industry, anyone can transition into legal technology.
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
A big shout-out to Olga Mack, the queen of legal contracts technology, for her inspiring work. I also admire Cat Casey, the queen of E-Discovery, for her expertise in the field. Leah Molatseli, whom I had the pleasure of featuring as part of the LinkedIn Accelerator Program: Technology and Innovation, is truly the African Legal Technology Queen. And let’s not forget Terri Mottershead, another legal tech goddess, who is making a significant impact on the legal technology market in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. Their contributions are shaping the industry and driving innovation.