ABA Journal

Meet 16 women on the legal technology cutting edge

  • Print.

When Alison Monahan, founder of the Girl’s Guide to Law School website, went to a high-profile legal technology conference last year in Silicon Valley, she noticed something missing on the roster of speakers: women.

“There was really only one woman speaking the entire day,” she says. “I thought, ‘Really? That’s the best you can do?’ “

That day she and some other female audience members decided to form an online group called Law Tech Ladies to cater to the small-but-growing number of women in the blossoming field where law and technology intersect.

“Within a day we had 60 or 70 women in this group—all very interesting, totally legit and doing things in the legal technology space,” Monahan recalls.

Women have long been underrepresented in technical fields such as math, science and engineering, and the tech boom saw a continuation of this tradition. Women are founders at only 3 percent of technology firms, while women-owned high-tech firms receive only 5 percent of all venture capital investments, according to the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University.

Today the even narrower field of legal technology is no exception. It’s not that women aren’t interested in the law; women make up nearly half of first-year law students, according to data from the American Bar Association. And it’s not that women aren’t interested in technology. A growing number of venture capital firms focus on funding female-led groups—and more tech groups, such as Girls Who Code, are focused on women in the field. The problem is partly that the field of legal technology is already lagging compared to other industries that have wholeheartedly embraced technology. Lawyers have shunned some time-saving technologies that challenge the supremacy of the billable hour. Also, law is often perceived as esoteric, which can make it a harder sell to venture capitalists.

That leaves a small cadre of females confronting headwinds from both an industry-specific and a gender-specific standpoint. “There really weren’t women lawyers in tech when I started,” says Michele Colucci, founder of Justiquity, a Woodside, Calif., company that operates a series of legal websites including PatentReview.com, LawyerIQ.com and MyLawsuit.com, which connects attorneys with clients on a contingency-fee basis. “There were women lawyers and then women who had gone into business or tech.” Typically not both.

Today, however, more women are leading some of the most interesting and influential companies and concepts in legal technology, from electronic discovery and online patent management to computational law and cloud-based workflow management for attorneys.

Click here to read the rest of “{Self//Starters}” from the April issue of the ABA Journal.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.