Today, nearly every publication on the future of the legal profession examines the impact of automation on legal jobs, the provision of legal services, current law firm practices, the structure of the legal profession itself, and the rise of legal tech.
Women. Law. Technologies. Not the three words that would have been placed simultaneously in the past, and certainly not three words that would make up a woman's professional career. However, the focus here is on the past - it's not just women in legal tech anymore, it's successful women in legal tech who are disrupting not one, but two, traditionally male-dominated professions.
73 of the 769 companies listed as “legal tech” on Crunchbase have a female founder. That means 9.5%. As of Nov. 21, of the top 50 companies ranked by funding and catalogued as "legal tech" on Crunchbase, 32% have women on their executive management team. Seven of those with female administration also have female founders, so only 18% of these non-female-founded companies have appointed a female executive.
Increasing the representation of women in critical AI technical roles requires more than just recruiting efforts—it starts with nurturing an inclusive culture and enhancing access and opportunities for growth and expansion. The world's most customer-centric companies understand that diversity, equity, and inclusion are business essential for accomplishment.
As with most industries, female entrepreneurs in Legaltech fall far in between – which is interesting because tech jobs are plentiful and usually in high demand. The technology boom is an opportunity for women to work in leading companies in well-paid positions. We know that workforce diversity is what defines success, so we need to start empowering, encouraging, and supporting women who deserve a seat at the table.
In a rapidly changing business environment, diversity of ideas and perspectives helps to find innovative solutions.
Biggest Benefits in Legaltech
Diversity provides better prospects and results in better business outcomes, and the benefits to be gained from an environment that provides appropriate support for women in LegalTech extend beyond women themselves – the legal industry and the wider legal ecosystem all can benefit. Leadership diversity contributes to productivity, profitability, and market value for organizations in a variety of industries. Diverse perspectives help you think more broadly and differently about the products and services a company offers and the day-to-day nature of the workplace.
Statistics shows that companies with a diverse and comprehensive culture focus on increased productivity and innovation in their workforce, turning into better products, a competitive advantage over their peers, and increased sales and profits. Within LegalTech, the importance of diversity has also been well documented: To build an effective AI system, including identifying the problem to be solved by AI, designing the solution, selecting, and preparing the data input, and building and training the algorithms, the AI team must be equally diverse as the population that will be affected by artificial intelligence.
A more diverse workforce is better equipped to identify and address AI biases while interpreting data, testing solutions, and making decisions. As far as gender goes, women are more likely to pick up on things that men might miss (and vice versa). In this regard, gender diversity can benefit the development of AI.
While being the only woman in the room can be a challenge, it can also help them to stand out, differentiate themselves, and have a lasting impact on their organizations. It tends to cultivate a sense of confidence within a woman. When you look different, you will think differently and approach problems differently, which makes your perspective different. That makes it more memorable. People work very hard to be memorable.
Empowering women is more than just creating networks, but about adapting firm-wide attitudes – including those not involved in these networks – to cement change from the top down. Women seek the same opportunities as everyone else, working in legaltech field build environments that give the confidence these women deserve in pursuing their dream.
With the emergence of LegalTech, it’s important these companies avoid building a culture that doesn’t support or engage in diverse hiring. Instituting a diverse, compassionate environment is the best approach to empower all employees.
Biggest Challenge in Legaltech
Battle for Credibility
Women in law and technology, regardless of position or seniority, often face resistance, questions, and judgment. Women noted that they must constantly show themselves as credible and experienced.
The continuous cycle of women constantly having to overcome doubt, disparagement, or even complete disregard and "get the badge" to advance in their work can put women in an uncomfortable and exhausting position, likely contributing to burnout and pay inequality in industry.
The automation of legal work means increased competition between entry-level and early-career lawyers. Increasing competition requires them to stand out with greater presence at work and longer hours, even from home, while potentially facing lower incomes than current practitioners.
This can make it more difficult for female lawyers, particularly those with parental and other caregiving responsibilities, to maintain a viable work-life balance, which is likely to undermine current efforts to retain women in legal practice.
Lack of Visible Role Model
Lack of female role models is a major sore point in the tech industry. This could certainly explain why we don't see women entering the field as often. It can be difficult to find a mentor you can relate to and connect with. There are very few women in tech that girls and young women can look up to. This isn't to say that women leaders haven't existed or that women haven't historically made significant contributions to the legal tech space—it's just that society has generally overlooked them and not placed emphasis on them.
By increasing the visibility of female entrepreneurs, we can enable more women to access support networks and mentors and will create role models to prime the next generation of female entrepreneurs.
Future of Women in Legaltech in Bright
Large commercial law firms and in-house counsel are driving towards automation, artificial intelligence, and legal technology to diminish costs and gain a viable edge over other market players. Law along with technology is still a nascent field in which relatively few people have leading expertise, and as such many organizations and their workforces are just beginning their AI journeys.
There is still time for organizations to close the gender gap in AI, organizations that can bring more women into their teams can not only bring much needed gender equality to the field, but also bring more value to their business and customers. While it is surely difficult to change a gender-biased problem that is not being quantified, companies globally are realizing the value that gender diversity can offer in Legaltech. The future for women in Legaltech is promising.
SpeedLegal had an opportunity to speak with Olga V. Mack about the representation of women in the legal tech industry and her initiatives to empower more women to grow in the legal and tech industries on an episode of Rethinking Legal Ops. She is the CEO of Parley Pro and an award-winning General Counsel who loves legal innovation and has dedicated her career to improving and shaping the future of law.
She delves into her experience as a legal tech consultant and the challenges she has seen and experienced and provided guidance to those coming through the ranks on how to best thrive in an ever-changing market.
We have covered many facets of this significant topic:
- How theirs a lack of representation of women in legal tech compare to that of men
- Building up a community of confident lawyers’ men and women both.
- Where we can aspire to be in the medium to long term future
Watch it HERE!