By Nicole Moriniere • January 05, 2017•Writers in Residence, Careers, Other Career Issues
First things first, what is legal tech? Originally, the term referred to the technology and software tools, products, and services targeted at or created for the practice of law, namely law firms (such as e-discovery or matter and practice management, and including well-known companies such as Lexis Nexis and WestLaw). A new generation of companies is now changing this definition to include companies focusing on disrupting the practice of law and innovating in the legal industry, much like startups in other industries such as education or healthcare.
Why should law students or practicing lawyers care about legal tech? Legal tech companies are making changes today that will determine the way the legal industry operates in the future, and as a practicing lawyer, this is relevant. In fact, over half of U.S. states now have a technical competency requirement for lawyers. But also, these companies now offer an interesting alternative career path for those with a legal degree and legal experience. I only learned about this as a possibility after graduating from law school, practicing, and looking for other ways to use my law degree.
I really enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of law school and the variety provided by the different classes, activities, and internships that were available to me. In contrast, once I graduated, I felt limited by my career options within the legal industry: law firm, government agency, non-profit, potentially in-house. In my spare time, I found myself reading business magazines and articles, learning interesting stories about startups and their founders, and wishing I had studied something that would have allowed me to work for one of these new and exciting companies.
Soon enough, I was also reading about lawyers turned entrepreneurs, or other lawyers who had chosen the alternative career path of working for these companies. I also learned about the burgeoning field of legal tech, which now counts for a large number of new companies in the US and abroad, and offers a viable career path for lawyers interested in business. They also offer the added interest of contributing to innovating and disrupting the legal industry. This is how I found myself working for a legal tech startup a little over a year after graduating from law school and passing the bar.
If you’re looking to dive in deeper, here are a few great resources that I discovered and still refer to:
- For lists of existing legal tech startups and companies:
- Useful reading and other resources: