To apply to our Legal Tech & Business Development Fellowship, please visit our careers site here. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Why did you want to work at a legal tech startup?
Both my parents are lawyers and tried to dissuade me from attending law school. They both hated law school and told me how miserable firm life is. Despite these warnings, I thought about applying to law school when I read about all of the legal tech in “Above the Law”. Seeing these industry disrupters motivated me. Law was changing to provide clients with better service through the power technology.
I knew then I wanted to join that revolution, because other than perhaps math, law is the most powerful force in the universe. If we can increase people’s access to it, we can change the way our society works for the better.
Did you gain any skills while working with Evisort? How do you want to apply those skills in your future career?
At Evisort I gained the ability to perform a wide variety of tasks. I chipped in wherever I was needed, but the most valuable skill I gained was the ability to think like a startup entrepreneur. In an early stage startup business practices are still in beta mode; everyone from the programmers to the sales team has to iteratively learn best practices to achieve scale. We all are working as a team to make the next big thing.
For example, when I first spoke with potential clients, I would quickly spit out a list of features, hoping that one would excite the potential client. I learned that process rarely works and gives you poor results. Rather, you have to make the client talk about themselves and his/her pain-point and make them see that your product offers a solution. When I figured that out, I saw a huge improvement in my personal outreach success.
This experience prepared me to become a founder on my own legal tech start-up.
What advice do you have for law students who maybe are interested in a non-traditional career path?
A 1L should definitely work at a legal tech startup to see what it is like.
I learned more about contract law and drafting than I ever would in law school or even in most law firms. But the non-traditional path is not for the faint of heart, it is fast-paced, and often it is hard to predict what you will be working on day to day.
Notwithstanding, I learned more about the practice of law and how lawyers work because I was on the phone with them everyday hearing about how they did their job and what problems they faced. If I ever do practice, I gained way more valuable skills than just drafting a memo no one would read.
What did you learn at Evisort that you didn’t learn in law school?
I learned a lot more about what it’s like to be a lawyer and then some. Due to reviewing thousands of contracts and learning more about the startup process, I actually draft most of the contracts for my startup and it saves my business a ton of money in legal fees.
But beyond legal work, I learned everything from project management to sales strategy. As a founder, I have to wear a lot of hats, so working at Evisort was the perfect training ground. I got to try different things and wasn’t pigeon-holed into a single mundane task. Frankly, if it wasn’t for the fact I am founding my own startup, I’d much rather work at Evisort full-time than work for a law firm.
How did working at Evisort change your perspective on the legal industry?
I think I learned that the legal industry has a long way to go before it catches up with the technological advances in other industries. Lawyers, as a group, are averse to change. It takes a lot to convince them they need to.
But working at a legal tech startup puts you at the forefront of the law. While in the short-term traditional employers may not immediately value this type of non-traditional experience, I predict that a few years down the road that lawyers must have these skills I gained at Evisort to remain relevant.
Right now large sections of the legal industry are dying (see here). I predict legal tech will be one of the hottest jobs in five years for law grads. From that perspective, I was a head of the curve.
What was your favorite part about working with Evisort?
I worked for a few years after college and I actually find the hyper-competitive environment in law school that pits one individual against another toxic. I really appreciated working in a team-environment where people from different backgrounds could use their different skills to achieve a mutual objective.
One of my favorite parts was working with Alex Su, the Business Development VP. He was incredibly supportive in teaching me how to make sales and be a better sales rep. In return, because I had a tech background previously, I taught him more about how Evisort’s technology worked. I loved that level of collaboration and teamwork.
So you started a startup while working at Evisort. Please tell us more about your startup and what inspired you to start your own company?
I was inspired by Jerry, Jake, Memme, and Riley who all took the plunge out of law school to do a legal tech startup. They gave me a solid template for how a law student could turn an idea into a viable startup business. They gave me sound advice on how to refine my business plan, look for investors, and develop a team around me.
But to speak a little bit more about my company: AiLanthus, is a litigation analytics platform the uses court data to determine probabilities for litigation success. Through our platform, litigation finance firms, law firms, and in-house counsels can determine whether their potential litigation will succeed if it went to court. We allow users to do this through user-generated decision tree models and past court data to guide analysis.
This platform will be particular useful for the $5bn litigation finance industry, since it gives them a framework to decide whether to invest in a case. So far, we have raised $150,000 and are building out the platform. We plan on having a version of our platform ready and in clients’ hands by the end of the year.
What advice do you have for current law students who may be interested in non-legal careers but may be nervous of losing opportunities in big law?
I’d say that the startup route is not for the faint of heart, but it is exhilarating. Everyday is a new challenge to overcome. Rather than sitting in the background, you get first-hand experience solving complex business and legal problems you never would in a law firm.
I remember during my OCI interviews I was asking a summer associate about how some of the firm’s startup clients decided between using SAFE or debt-equity agreements. Her response was telling me: she didn’t know because she only worked on one client’s employment policy. I couldn’t imagine a more boring role.
Moreover, big law is also far from playing it safe. Lawyers burn out every year and most are unhappy. Firm life is far from being as glamorous as partners present it on-campus.
I’d say it might be safer to go into legal tech where you will know you will be happier to build your long-term career.