#BakersDozen is a series of interviews with leading professionals in the fields of law, consulting, finance, tech, and more.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be in the legal business?
I worked in one of Canada’s largest law firms as a Director of Finance in mid 200s and went back to law school as a second career in 2008. I never wrote the bar and decided instead to start Traklight.com. We have a double sided market, selling to both small and medium businesses and trusted advisors, including legal.
What do you do for a living right now?
I run Traklight.com and also manage Evolve Law with my co-founder Jules Miller. I also write, recently finishing a book on Small Law KPIs published by Thomson Reuters.
What has been your greatest triumph and your greatest success in the legal services field and what did you learn from each?
Greatest triumph has to be the positive reaction to Evolve Law and the greatest success was finishing the book – I really had moments when I thought I could not do it! I have learned much about change management from starting Evolve Law and also it’s an interesting look at the industry. The book made me realize that I love the creative process.
Do you think the legal industry is headed in the right direction, the wrong direction – or which direction?
I think the legal industry is slowly heading in the right direction but way too slowly. My pet peeve is that legal not only resists change but insists on having special or legal only solutions. It’s actually about change and that should come from outside and within.
You’re known for innovation and have been an inspiration to many. Who inspires you – and why?
That is too kind. I am inspired by those who just do things and do not make excuses or apologize for moving fast. Sandra Day O’Connor is the namesake of my law school and meeting her was very inspirational to me as she overcame and has not slowed down in getting things done.
What advice would you give to the younger generation contemplating law as a career?
The advice that I give my college-age kids is that law is a difficult choice these days due to the market. I would suggest that they work a bit in a business first after undergrad and explore what a law career really looks like before starting law school. And also, take a business course in undergrad or law school.
How deep do you think will be the inroads of technology in the industry?
I think that technology has moved past research and e-discovery but with more than half of lawyers not even having websites, there is still much work to be done. Technology is change and most people resist change. My thoughts are that we need to resist custom or bespoke technology and use the best products on the general market for professional services.
My pet peeve is that legal not only resists change but insists on having special or legal only solutions.
In ten years, do you see an industry much as it is – or do you see new players, new technology and an altered state?
In ten years, there will not be as many big firms and there will be alternative providers and more technology. I am hopeful that there will be alternative options for clients to improve access to justice and efficient service delivery including LLLTs, legal plans, subscription models, outside inhouse counsel, legal operations and more.
Are consultants and lawyers looking increasingly similar? Should the distinction continue?
I am a firm believer in letting the market decide and if the market believes that the services are comparable, so be it. I think that legal operations and consultants that help with non-lawyer areas like marketing, sales, and technology will continue to be important but distinct from the practice of law.
What are your thoughts on the increasing availability of data to guide client-side procurement of legal services?
Again, the law needs to put the clients first, whoever the client is.
Lawyers have typically regulated to keep non-lawyer investors out but that’s a two-edged sword these days. What are your thoughts?
Aligning interests is important for success. Allowing outside investment and treating the law like the rest of the business world can only bring diversity and a new level of success. CEOs and other non-lawyer staff can potentially have a piece of the business and participate in the upside of success. Every other business runs in that same manner and I think it would be an excellent option for some.
What’s the one most significant factor that will drive change in your view?
People only change when they are pressured or forced. Some will never need to change and can retire safely. Consumers of the law (the general public and businesses) and the market will drive change. They will choose the alternative service over the traditional lawyer experience.
Are we seeing the demise of the “profession” and the real emergence of the “business” of law?
We are not yet seeing it but I am an advocate for the business of law. Starting a law firm is the same as starting a business and there are many other professional services that operate as businesses. As a client I wish to have the best representation at the lowest price.
What do you consider is the greatest challenge facing the industry?
The greatest challenge is admitting that there is a problem and change is required.
What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the sector looking forward?
There is a huge demand for legal services and the market is underserved. Those who can be nimble and efficient will be very successful. That does mean leveraging technology for improved delivery.
Do you think law can improve its track record on diversity and inclusion? How?
I think that the law will improve its track record by some creating firms that actively promote diversity and inclusion. However that is a slow road and it would be preferable for medium and large law to recognize the problem.
Will the current regulatory framework around law help or hinder it in the future?
The current or future regulatory framework matters when applied. Unfortunately we have been mired in unauthorized practice of law issues with respect to legal technology and alternative service providers.
Who do you think are the greatest influencers on the industry these days?
The leaders of the larger alternative providers who have been here over the years and created the opportunity for change are the influencers. Eddie Hartman and Bill Henderson come to mind.
There is a huge demand for legal services and the market is underserved. Those who can be nimble and efficient will be very successful.
If you had to do it all over again, would you? Or what would you do differently?
All of it? I would not have become a CPA first because I would have followed my passion to write earlier and I would have taken a year off after undergrad. I would have gone to law school earlier in life, not with teenagers! I would have still started my own business but would have had a co-founder for Traklight.
If a law firm was a startup pitching for investors, would you be an investor?
It depends, if they treated their firm as a startup or business and were using technology properly and KPIs, then yes.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Paying full attention to the current presenter at this conference.
What would you like to be known for?
Integrity and getting things done.
What would surprise everyone if they knew (they may now)?
I am an introvert.
What’s your favorite hobby or activity outside of law?
Hiking or skiing and spending time with my family.
What’s your favorite sports team?
Montreal Canadiens hockey team.
Whats your favorite city?
What’s your favorite food?
Cheese and Pinot Noir (the latter is a food group)
Whats your nickname – and why?
Mar – it’s slightly shorter.
Mary Juetten, JD, Founder and CEO of Traklight, has dedicated her more-than-30-year career to helping businesses achieve and protect their success. Mary recently co-founded Evolve Law, a community that is the catalyst for change in the legal industry. Using her extensive education including Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill and a Juris Doctorate from Arizona State, as well as her US and Canadian accounting certifications, Mary created the only self-guided software platform that creates your custom intellectual property (IP) strategy plus assesses business risk – Traklight.