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Accelerating change in the legal profession

Our Spring 2021 update

By Julia Wang

The continued online format of the Spring 2021 semester allowed LexLab to expand on existing programs and add new courses to the law school curriculum. We welcomed seven legal tech startups to our fourth (and first virtual!) accelerator cohort. To continue our mission of preparing business-savvy lawyers who will shape the future of the legal profession, we created the Legal Operations for Lawyers course and newest UC Hastings concentration in Technology, Innovation, and the Practice of Law. Lastly, we co-hosted a panel on creating diverse pipelines to legal and tech professions.

First All-Virtual Accelerator Cohort

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Due to the virtual format of this semester, we were able to bring together a group of legal tech founders from across the U.S. and Canada. The seven legal tech startups in our cohort were Anü, Jade, People Clerk, PwrSwitch, Rain Intelligence, Trokt, and YoTengoBot. Read more about each company on our website.

In January, we kicked off the accelerator with Meet the New Cohort. Each founder introduced their company and products to the Hastings community and answered audience questions in individual breakout rooms, opening doors to collaboration with the LexLab community. 

Over 13 weeks, startup founders attended Lunch & Learns with industry experts on topics like how to sell, messaging and marketing, and entrepreneurial mindsets. They also had access to several UC Hastings courses and events and hosted weekly office hours for law students to talk about internship opportunities or give advice on entering the legal tech sphere.

We wrapped up the program with Demo Day, with six of the startups presenting to judges, investors, and legal tech evangelists. Each company gave a 10-minute presentation, followed by a 10-minute Q&A session with the judges. All of the founders did a fantastic job explaining how their products target different issues in the legal space, and we want to especially congratulate YoTengoBot for Best Pitch and Anü for Most Compelling Idea. We can’t wait to see where they go from here! 

LexLab’s accelerator was recently featured in an episode of LawNext, one of the leading podcasts on the innovators and entrepreneurs who are driving the future of the legal industry. Host Bob Ambrogi interviewed Director Drew Amerson and Tiyani Majoko of Anü.

Pioneering Curriculum

After building out the course for six months, Drew and CEP Alice Armitage taught Legal Operations for Lawyers for the first time this semester! As far as we know, this was the first law school course in the country focusing on legal operations. The growth of legal operations has resulted in more detailed oversight of the work of outside counsel, better internal coordination of legal work, and more sophisticated use of technology in legal departments. In the face of changes in the delivery of legal services, we believe that our students should be familiar with legal ops as they begin their careers.

Each week, we brought in legal ops professionals from different companies to speak about a specific topic and share their expertise. Each expert presented their experiences in areas such as project management, data analysis, budgeting, change management, or technology implementation, and provided a hypothetical scenario for students to work on in groups and solve.

Along with this new course, Alice taught Building a Legal Tech Startup for the fourth time, again encouraging law students to think outside the box to address important issues in the legal industry. Students worked on teams of two to four to decide on an issue and create a new solution based on design thinking and lean startup principles. 

Throughout the course, students learned from other legal tech founders about different issues to consider when building a startup. Drew Amoroso, who was a part of LexLab’s inaugural accelerator cohort, shared his experiences on iterating, finding product-market fit, and pivoting with DueCourse. Justin MacFayden (‘20), a student in this class in Spring 2020, talked about how he and co-founder Karolina Dziadosz (‘21) built go-to-market and competition strategies for their company ProSe Claims. We later learned the exciting news that ProSe Claims was acquired by PainWorth in April.

The class culminated in a public Pitch Competition, where each student gave an individual pitch on the idea their team had developed throughout the course of the semester. Congratulations to Emma Geering (‘21) and Jagdeep Sekhon (‘21) for Best Pitch, as well as the Belonging team for Most Viable Idea! In addition to this recognition, the Belonging project was also a finalist in the 2021 UC Big Ideas Contest.

In order to focus our efforts on helping students understand the changing state of the legal industry, Alice and Drew created the newest J.D. concentration in Technology, Innovation, and the Practice of Law, which was approved by the Hastings faculty in April 2021. A knowledge of the way that technology impacts the delivery of legal services and an understanding of the business aspects of practicing law, whether in-house or at a firm, are crucial to the success of 21st century attorneys. Students who concentrate in Technology, Innovation, and the Practice of Law will be prepared for the future of the legal profession. We look forward to welcoming students to the concentration beginning Fall 2021.

Event Highlights

Along with Meet the New Cohort, Demo Day, and Pitch Competition, LexLab co-hosted Cultivating Diverse Pipelines to Legal & Tech Professions with Helena Sowah (‘21) in April. This panel addressed important questions surrounding diversity and inclusion, such as how companies and law firms could support and expand programs for students from underrepresented backgrounds. After the hour-long moderated panel, we moved over to Clubhouse to continue the conversation in a more informal environment.

A huge thank you to all of our supporters!

Thank you to everyone who joined our events this semester! We love creating virtual spaces for people to connect and learn about innovation in the legal profession, and we can’t wait to see you back at our physical space in LexLab soon!

We want to extend a special thank you to everyone who helped make our courses and events possible:

Speakers for the LexLab Accelerator: Derek Duarte (BlackStone Discovery), Jennifer McGlone (LawChamps), Karl Torke (Elevate Services); Valerie Chan (Plat4orm PR); Ed Diab (Dixon Diab and Chambers), Stephan Eberle (Scale Venture Partners), Basha Rubin (Priori Legal); Andy Wilson (Logikcull); Maya Markovich (Nextlaw Labs)

Speakers for Building a Legal Tech Startup: Drew Amoroso (DueCourse); Graham Ravdin (Strava); Justin MacFayden (PainWorth)

Speakers for Legal Operations for Lawyers: Emelita Hernandez-Bravo (Fitbit); Julie Lee (Compass); Elizabeth Miller (Dolby Laboratories); Lucy Bassli, Navin Mahavijiyan, and Victoria Matthie (InnoLaw Group); Jeff Ikijeri (Epiq Global), Juanita Luna (PG&E); Sheena Ferrari (Snap); Amy Halverson (Wilson Sonsini); Ashlee Best (Asana); Kunoor Chopra, Karl Torke, Jake Hills (Elevate Services); Akshay Verma (Facebook); Mary O’Carroll (Ironclad). 

Panelists for Cultivating Diverse Pipelines in Legal & Tech Professions, moderated by Helena Sowah: Avonte Campinha-Bacote (Oura), Angela McCray (Greenoaks Capital), Dawn Myers (THE MOST), Brian Patterson (Gunderson Dettmer), Sherry Truong (Twilio)

Judges for Demo Day: Paul Harmon (Travelers), Josh King (RealSelf), Angela McCray (Greenoaks Capital), Zach Posner (The LegalTech Fund)

Judges for the Pitch Competition: Simon Boehme (The LegalTech Fund), Kunoor Chopra (Elevate Services), Jon Kerry-Tyerman (Time by Ping)te