Sameena Kluck joins Paladin as its first VP, Business Development!

We are beyond thrilled to announce that Sameena Kluck has joined Paladin as its first VP, Business Development. Sameena’s incredible work around innovation at Thomson Reuters, coupled with her longstanding efforts to champion diversity and access to justice, make her the perfect addition to the Paladin team.

We asked her a few questions to learn more about how her past life has influenced her ATJ perspective, and what she’s most looking forward to about the future of ATJ tech.

Sameena, welcome! First off, tell us about your background.

I started working in law firms in high school as a filing clerk and legal assistant and quickly realized that legal was a great fit for me because I wanted to help people. After law school, I clerked as a staff attorney for the Eighth Circuit before practicing at a small firm in St. Louis. My favorite part of the job was getting to meet clients and cultivating those relationships. When I realized I liked that better than practicing, I started looking for a role that better utilized my networking and business development skills. I ended up at Thomson Reuters, building relationships with lawyers and firm leaders for 16 years, focusing on how technology could help them do their jobs faster and more easily.

Why do you think innovation in the legal industry is important?

Innovation is more important in the legal industry now than ever before. Corporations and firms are looking for ways to better serve their clients and meet their goals. Lawyers want to be part of that conversation and don’t just want to provide legal options to their clients, but the best advice possible. Where advances in technology-predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, IoT-can help lawyers develop ideas or execute on those ideas faster, lawyers (whether in-house or in firms) can spend more time providing solid business advice to their clients.

What trends are you most excited about in legal right now?

I’m most excited right now about the explosion of legal technology that allows lawyers to do things they’ve never done before. I recently met a startup using AR (augmented reality) to essentially help lawyers provide tele-lawyering to clients who they can’t physically meet… imagine the implications! I’m also excited by all the serious thought around re-imagining the practice of law and format of legal education. Everyone from courts to regulatory bodies to startups to big law firms to corporations are thinking about how we can improve legal practice, from ensuring lawyers come out prepared to practice to ensuring lawyers are focused on their wellness to figuring out how we can help more Americans navigate the legal system.

What drew you to Paladin?

I first met COO Kristen Sonday at a Thomson Reuters conference on emerging technologies and was excited to hear how Paladin was using technology to reduce the access to justice gap. I had heard from several in-house counsel that they wanted to do more pro bono work but felt hampered in those efforts because they were understaffed, and their attorneys are often very highly focused in niche areas. Since I worked mostly with full-service national law firms, I knew there could be a natural pairing of outside counsel and clients on pro bono matters, but the way pro bono opportunities were getting to each party seemed too slow to keep up with demand. Paladin has focused on how to use tech to speed up that process in a way that ramps up pro bono work in large enterprise organizations while reducing the access to justice gap so more people are able to seek justice. Beyond that, when I realized how closely Paladin works with clients to truly co-develop the platform and its features to not just serve lawyers better but to improve the entire legal ecosystem.

Why is access to justice important to you?

Access to justice is important to me because it’s heartbreaking to stand by and see the number of people in this country who can lose their housing, their children, their military benefits, orders to protect them, etc — all without the assistance of a lawyer. As a clerk, I helped judges review claims from prisoners representing themselves, and as a lawyer I handled the heartbreaking weekly landlord-tenant eviction docket for a large corporate landlord; over almost 2 years not one of those tenants had counsel. Many Americans who are unrepresented don’t even know what the words “pro se” mean. I realized there had to be a better way to help people seeking justice — and that most lawyers joined the profession to help others.

What do you see as Paladin’s biggest opportunity within the access to justice space?

I believe Paladin’s biggest opportunity in the access to justice space is in helping large organizations streamline the way they’re finding and staffing pro bono matters. When attorneys are donating time to volunteer work, you want to ensure they’re spending as little time as possible on finding matters and maximizing their time on the actual work for clients. Beyond that, if Paladin can help law firms and in-house counsel understand the nature of pro bono work they’re doing, which communities and causes they’re helping, what skills their attorneys are developing through their work, etc, they’ll provide tremendous value.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

I’m most looking forward to exploring with firms their pain points in managing their pro bono programs, how they’re evaluating which attorneys want to do pro bono, how to get them opportunities, understanding the impact of those programs on their communities, and how innovation in those processes can help with that.

Which GIF best represents how you feel about pro bono innovation?

That’s a wrap!

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story Sameena, we’re thrilled to welcome you to the Paladin team!

For anyone interested in connecting with Sameena about her new role at Paladin, or to learn more about how Paladin works, she can be reached at sameena@joinpaladin.com or @SameenaKluck on Twitter!