10 Lawyers-Turned-Entrepreneurs Creating a Revolution in Law
Lawyers are leaving the safe and well-paying world of law to build their own fast-growing, tech-first companies.
There is a traditional view of lawyers as the enemies of entrepreneurs.
The famously risk-averse attitude of lawyers often frustrates business leaders who complain of over-lawyering and objection-raising when receiving advice from their counsel.
There are a number of reasons for this lack of entrepreneurial sensitivity among lawyers. The U.S legal system rests on guidance from previous case law, and focuses heavily on precedent and risk-spotting — instead of breaking stuff and disruption associated with fast-growth companies.
It may even be in the legal genes. One study found that lawyers are in the 90th percentile for skepticism and have the lowest resilience (bouncing back or dealing with a setback) of any profession. These traits may be good for pouring over documents, but are less useful when powering fast-growth businesses.
However, very recently a curious phenomenon has swept through this traditional profession. Lawyers are leaving the safe and well-paying world of law to build their own fast-growing, tech-first companies. The driver: the need to fix problems and deep inefficiencies encountered in their first career of law. These lawyer-entrepreneurs are helping create what have been called “legaltech” companies, using major advances in technology, including artificial Intelligence, to solve archaic practices in the daily practice of law, which have remained unchanged for decades. This boom has helped create a slew of new companies disrupting the way legal services is delivered and a $16 billion legaltech market in the U.S alone.
In the research of my book, The In-House Counsel’s LegalTech Buyers Guide, carried out over several months analyzing more than 100 essential legal technology products, I have seen the rise of this “lawtrepreneur.” These unique lawyers are among those building companies revolutionizing the daily tasks of law, including contract review, intellectual property, due diligence, research and expertise automation.
Here are 10 lawyers who have made the (not-so well-trodden) path from lawyer to tech business leader, and their advice to others making the jump.
1. Haley Altman, CEO and founder, Doxly
Altman says her idea for an automated document and transaction management platform was born at 1 a.m. when, as partner at a law firm, she sat surrounded by hundreds of manila folders. Altman and her team were hunting through thousands of documents for one missing signature page holding up a multimillion dollar closing. Founded in 2016, Doxly has since raised $2.75 million in equity funding. Altman told Stanford Law’s Codex blog, “Do not dwell too much on things you cannot change. You have to constantly move forward. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow.”