Flipping the Startup Accelerator Model On Its Head to Train Lawyers on Technology
It is difficult to get lawyers to use new technologies. This is not because they’re not interested, and it’s not because they’re not tech savvy. Yes, there is some degree of lawyerly risk aversion at play here, but the biggest pain point we see in our Evolve Law community is that attorneys want to use more technology but they don’t know where to start. Specifically, they don’t have the time or resources to do the research and implementation on their own.
Mary Juetten and I started tackling this problem formally in September 2015 after working informally on it for more than 18 months prior. We launched Evolve Law to be a catalyst for the accelerated adoption of technology and innovation in the legal industry, basically a change agent. Over the past 18 months, we’ve built a vibrant community of legal entrepreneurs and innovators, with more than one hundred active members. We’ve hosted more than 30 events around the US and Canada; published a wealth of content, podcasts, and videos; created the Legal Tech ToolKit to help attorneys select the right software product, and launched the Evolve Law Jobs page for career seekers.
This has yielded some incredible results. We have members who have met their biggest customers at our events, we’ve kickstarted legal tech communities in cities such as Austin and Atlanta, and one member company even acquired another member company! We have been asked to put on a Summit to match strategic partners and investors to our innovators. However, most of these successes are anecdotal and we continually strive to keep pushing our own boundaries to create an even more substantial, measurable impact on the legal industry.
After consulting with some of the smartest people in the legal industry, including our very own Advisory Council, we launched the Evolve Law Tech Fellowship. The four month program for in-house counsel and legal operations professionals focused on an ‘everything you need to know’ education on a specific legal technology, and facilitating the practical the implementation of this technology. Fellows will participate in a fast-paced accelerator-style program that includes educational content, product development and design thinking training, product demos, and hands-on implementation support. At the end of the Fellowship, participants will better understand the document automation landscape, have a framework for assessing other technologies and see tangible results from a pilot project implemented during the program.
The first Tech Fellowship focused on Document Automation and will take place in New York City from March through June 2017. We plan to replicate the program in different geographies and different technology verticals within the legal landscape.
This is not a new model, it’s just a different take on an existing model that we think will work great in the legal industry. As tech entrepreneurs, we of course looked to the tech world for inspiration. Specifically, we inverted the Accelerator model to focus on the actual user of technology, versus the company building the tech product.
The now ubiquitous Accelerator model was pioneered in 2005 by Y Combinator and TechStars, and quickly followed by a litany of others. These Accelerators are all short term crash courses in building and scaling a company for entrepreneurial teams. They include mentorship and educational components, and usually a high energy public pitch event or demo day at the end. Participants have included the likes of AirBnB, Dropbox, Reddit, and ClassPass and their portfolios are worth billions. The Accelerator model is a proven way to get a crash course in a new technology or process, and the practical experience of “just doing it” under the guidance of experts and mentors.
The Evolve Law Tech Fellowship derives inspiration from the Accelerator model but flips it on it’s head. Instead of training the Innovators, we’re training the users, and including the Innovators in the program as mentors and experts. This provides a new way to support the community and highlights the growing interest from in-house counsel and legal ops in legal tech. We can’t wait to see the results.
Nominate your favorite in-house counsel and legal operations professionals here.
Jules is an investor, 3-time entrepreneur, ‘intrapreneur’ and hands-on operations expert. She is co-founder of Evolve Law, a community of entrepreneurs and innovators dedicated to accelerating the adoption of technology and innovation in the legal industry. She is also a Venture Partner at LunaCap Ventures, an early stage venture debt fund that focuses on Veteran, women and minority founders, and interim COO of Brava Investments, a holding company investing in companies that economically benefit women. Jules was previously co-founder & COO of Hire an Esquire, a B2B labor marketplace providing an on-demand workforce of attorneys to law firms and in-house legal departments, and spent 7 years as an ‘intraprenuer’ helping companies including Ernst & Young, Salesforce.com and Tiffany & Co. to launch and grow new business units. She earned her BA from UCLA and her
MSc from The London School of Economics.
About Evolve Law
Evolve Law is a community of entrepreneurs and innovators in the legal industry. It was founded in 2015 by Jules Miller, co-founder of Hire an Esquire and investor at LunaCap Ventures, and Mary Juetten, founder and CEO of Traklight. Evolve Law is a community of 100+ legal entrepreneurs and early adopters dedicated to being a catalyst for the accelerated adoption of technology and innovation in the legal industry. Members include early stage startups (Alt Legal, Allegory, Doxly), larger tech companies (Avvo, Clio, LegalZoom), law firms (DWT, Dentons NextLaw Labs), and legal service providers (Thomson Reuters, Wolters Kluwer). For more information on Evolve Law, please visit www.evolvelawnow.com.