Legal Tech Careers and ABA TECHSHOW

By R. Amani Smathers

Special thank you to our guest, R. Amani Smathers (@R_Amani), for her brilliant insight into careers in legal tech!

Amani is a Legal Solutions Architect at DWT De Novo.  She works on the cutting edge of legal technology helping legal teams find better and faster ways to accomplish their tasks through process improvement and new workflows; document automation; tracking, visualizing, and analyzing data. She’s a graduate of the law lab at Michigan State University College of Law (now Legal RnD) and a former Legal Solutions Architect at Seyfarth Lean, recognized as a leader in law firm innovation. Amani will be a speaker at #ABATECHSHOW occurring March 15-18, 2017, in Chicago.

Check out the recap below or on twitter by looking up the hashtag #LegalCareerChat. She shares her career path, tips for setting yourself up for incorporating technology into your career, gives us a taste of what she’ll be discussing at #ABATECHSHOW, and answers a few questions from chat participants.

For exposure to more legal practice areas, check out the ABA Career Center's free Career Choice Series webinars.

Q1: What was your career path into legal tech?

#LegalCareerChat A1.1: My #legaltech path started as a @MSULaw 2L, when @computational & @reneeknake started @ReInventLaw (now @LegalRnD)

#LegalCareerChat A1.2: @ReInventLaw was about bringing #data, #tech, #design & delivery (new biz models) ideas to legal. #legaltech

#LegalCareerChat A1.3: I went on their London summer program, read @richardsusskind, learned about the UK Legal Services Act w/ @JohnAFlood…

#LegalCareerChat A1.4: Became convinced big changes coming to practice of law in next 20 yrs (i.e. my career) & I wanted to be part of them

#LegalCareerChat A1.5: Took quant methods for lawyers (#legaldata), #ediscovery, #cyberlaw courses with @computational & Adam Candeub

# LegalCareerChat A1.6: Also got to audit @legaljeeves [course title?] & @stephkimbro #virtuallaw course

#LegalCareerChat A1.7: Best thing I ever did for my career was help @computational & @reneeknake organize the @ReInventLaw conferences

#LegalCareerChat A1.8: @ReInventLaw was #TEDTalks for legal; helped form a community of #legaltech, legal entrepreneurs & #newlaw thinkers

#LegalCareerChat A1.9: As a conf coordinator, I got to build a network w/our amazing speakers, incl. #legaltech founders & #biglaw leaders

#LegalCareerChat A1.10: Also got amazing opp to be fellow speaker, as law student & early grad. Make & take any opportunity you can to speak!!

#LegalCareerChat A1.11: Met @LDamon & @AndrewMBaker through @ReInventLaw, & started career as Legal Solutions Architect with #SeyfarthLean

#LegalCareerChat A1.12: I’ve continued to be involved in #legaltech events. Met Jay Hull at a #legalhack event & later joined @DWTDeNovo

#LegalCareerChat A1.13: As Legal Solution Architect, have used tools e.g client portals, #documentassembly, @NeotaLogic as part of solutions

#LegalCareerChat A1.14: Other hats = client relationship management, biz dev, design thinking, process improvement, project management

Q2: What are some areas of law or skills most useful to learn and develop? 

#LegalCareerChat A2.1: @LegalRnD #SeyfarthLean & @DWTDeNovo all know that #legaltech is just 1 part of successful #solutiondesign

#LegalCareerChat A2.2: Often talk about three-legged stool of People + Process + Tech. Need to get all 3 right for best solution. #legaltech

#LegalCareerChat A2.3: (also sometimes called “Golden Triangle” of People + Process + Tech)

#LegalCareerChat A2.4: Legal #solutiondesign thus involves #staffing, #processimprovement, #projectmanagement & #legaltech expertise

#LegalCareerChat A2.5: I’ve been lucky in my career so far to work with experts in each area

#LegalCareerChat A2.6: I’ve also talked about #tshapedlawyers: lawyers need to be deep in legal expertise + conversant in data, design, biz

#LegalCareerChat A2.7: #tshaped professionals are better collaborators & problem solvers; @IDEO & @IBM seek #tshaped people

#LegalCareerChat A2.8: Along w CLEs, become #intellectuallycurious about #legaltech, as we’ll all need to continually learn as tech evolves

#LegalCareerChat A2.9: @theflabar is 1st to institute #legaltech CLE & MRPC 1.1 Cmt 8 also supports continuous #legaltech learning for competency

#LegalCareerChat A2.10: @bobambrogi & good places to start; @computational for #legalanalytics

Q3: What advice would you give an aspiring legal tech?

#LegalCareerChat A3.1: If in lawschool, go beyond #legaltech classes. Look into #bschool & data courses if at large univ; also free MOOCs

#LegalCareerChat A3.2: At @MSULaw, took advantage of across the street & took proj management course

#LegalCareerChat A3.3: If pre-law, check out @LegalRnD, @LegalDesignLab, @SuffolkLawTech, @VTLawSchool, @ChicagoKentLaw

#LegalCareerChat A3.4: And as mentioned, make & take opportunities to grow your network & build your brand ASAP

#LegalCareerChat A3.5: …which applies to any career, not just #legaltech

Q4:  What effect has social media had on legal tech careers?

#LegalCareerChat A4.1: Twitter & LinkedIn are both great places to learn, demonstrate interest/knowledge in subject area + build network

# LegalCareerChat A4.2: Even in law school! @pmellis @briancpike @A_Ninhja & I all built name recognition on Twitter as students

#LegalCareerChat A4.2: A while ago I was included on a list of 50 lawyers to follow on twitter. Another great list:

#LegalCareerChat A4.3: Speaking, blogging, and being engaged on social media can all help you build your brand. CC @KevinOKeefe

#LegalCareerChat A4.4: I have colleagues who have gotten job interviews through networking on Twitter & got the jobs. @pmellis @briancpike

#LegalCareerChat A4.5: There are active #legaltech #newlaw #altlaw communities on Twitter; you can start by following & learning

#LegalCareerChat A4.6: One of coolest things about Twitter is conversations; busy folk seem more accessible on Twitter & open to talking

#LegalCareerChat A4.7: Here is a list of #legaltech & innovation thinkers that I follow:

Q5: What are you going to be doing at tech show?

#LegalCareerChat A5.1: It’s a busy week! Speaking at #abatechshow on (1) process mapping w/ @LawyerGina

#LegalCareerChat A5.2: Also presenting on #SixSigma for legal w/ Debbie Foster, @affinitylegal. #abatechshow

# LegalCareerChat A5.3: Notice those topics aren’t specifically about tech, but they can be important parts of #legaltech projects!

#LegalCareerChat A5.4: Finally, gonna ask some big questions at @legalhackCHI meetup 3/16

#LegalCareerChat A5.5: Really looking forward to catching up with #legaltech colleagues and friends at #abatechshow!