Building Stronger Legal Tech: Get Women to Your Start-up
On International Women’s Day 8th of March, we celebrated women in our monthly webcast together with ContractBook. We invited renowned and inspiring speakers from the legal tech sector from across the world. Women, representing a diverse set of stakeholders, such as big law firms, legal tech start-ups, and legal tech consultancy, joined us to discuss the recent developments in the legal tech industry and the importance of women for this industry. We touched upon various topics such as a lack of diversity, existing hurdles, and breaking the glass ceiling as well as the advantages of being a woman in the legal tech. In this short piece, I would like to share with you a few takeaways not just for women, but many for men.
Over the past couple of years, we have been discussing the conservativeness of the legal sector. Its hierarchy and inability to quickly adjust to new developments. This conservativeness also translates to the lack of diversity in the leading roles within the industry. At the same time, the tech industry is far from the most inclusive sector. Thus, if we merge the two, we can see that there is a major gap. A gap in the number of women founders of legal tech companies, a gap in the funding of legal tech companies driven by women, but also a gap in the leading legal technologists' roles in law firms, large corporations, or the legal tech firms themselves. The question is why, whereas the answer is in the representation. There is a saying “If you can see it, you can be it” and many women, and even more so, those who are highly competent will not join a firm or a legal tech company if they only see men in the leading roles. Such firms clearly show either their lack of knowledge and recognition of the importance of diversity or their full disregard. In both cases, it is not a place that can attract skilled and dynamic women. Thus, the first lesson is if you aim at attracting competent and visionary women, show them that they can achieve leading roles. The all-male-clubs companies are the music of the past and if they are not yet, they soon will be.
Further in our discussion, we analyzed the strong traits and skills that women bring into the legal tech industry. One of the key elements, based on which the legal tech is being built on is collaboration. The ability to bring together various professionals, listen to them closely and be able to find creative solutions. Collaboration between law and technology, between the quality content and professional client-centric delivery, lies in the center of successful legal tech. Based on the experience of our speakers, it is unequivocal that women are great collaborators, active listeners, and thus are able to design efficient and innovative solutions. Women often bring the experience of the user to the assessment, which looks at many legal tech around is still an under-represented focus. Other competencies that women retain are their agile and the pro-active approach. These help them to overcome the usual tech male’s skepticism as to their technological knowledge or the benefit for a company or a project. However, as a few of our speakers mentioned, being underestimated is often a powerful position, where women easily see through the approach and values of the other party. This ultimately contributes to the quality of collaborations and partnerships that women are able to foster.
Even though I am not a huge fan of generalization and division between the skills that men and women possess, the continuously increasing research shows that diversity matters. Companies that are able to attract employees with diverse backgrounds and experience, actively bringing in people of different ages, races, gender, or sexual orientation, are companies that are doing better than those are that do not. Moreover, innovation is directly linked with diversity. A Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19% higher revenues due to innovation.
There are many groups and organizations that help to create a more inclusive industry, such as Women in Tech DK or Diversity Factor that help bringing these and many other topics to the forefront of the discussion of making Denmark the leader in innovation and inclusion. We live in a complex, interconnected world where diversity, shaped by globalization and technological advance, forms the fabric of modern society, and the more the legal tech embraces and reflects this reality, the more successful it will become.
If you like to listen to more observations and insights into the legal tech industry, you can find our podcast on Spotify and listen to Maya Markovich from Nextlaw Labs, Mariana Hagström from Avokaado legal tech, Orsolya Szabo from Legal Tech Consultancy, Malin Männikkö from DLA Piper, Aikta Wahi from PacerPro legal tech, Mikel Boris from ContractBook and myself.