The Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech initiative aims to promote diversity and celebrate women in legal technology. This initiative started in 2015 with a list of innovators and leaders in legal technology. With this year’s additions, this list now includes 132 talented and influential women leaders. Every Monday and Wednesday we will introduce a woman from our class from 2021. Today we have Camila Lopez!
Camila Lopez is the consumer advocate and co-founder of People Clerk. Find her on Twitter @camilopez.
What are three points that describe you?
- I went to law school to advocate for consumers.
- I am extremely passionate about making the law more accessible to everyone.
- I love spending time with my family including my dog Galileo.
How is teleworking / quarantine going for you?
Starting a business can be lonely and combine with quarantine, it’s even more lonely! My outlet was the wonderful accelerators we’ve been involved in since the quarantine began. People Clerk was part of the Duke Law Tech Lab, the LexisNexis Legal Tech Accelerator, and most recently the Lex Lab at UC Hastings. These low-touch accelerators provided weekly business growth, mentoring, and community sessions. It was nice to meet other founders who had or are having the same problems.
How did you get into legal engineering?
My family and friends kept contacting me about their bailouts and I kept telling them, “Go to the small claims court, it’s easy” (without really knowing how small claims work). My husband, a software engineer, kept telling me that if it were that easy, they wouldn’t keep calling. He kept pestering me to investigate the small claims hearings, so we left. What we saw was shocking. Many litigants did not follow the correct procedure and therefore did not have a day in court. As a result, we learned that many would give up altogether instead of solving the procedural problems with their case. We also saw that people were unprepared with their evidence and left money on the table. This is how People Clerk and my legal technology commitment came about.
What projects have you been focusing on lately?
I live and breathe People Clerk. People Clerk helps litigants in California manage small claims litigation. We have had to constantly adjust our processes as the courts have changed their procedures with the pandemic. California lacked a coherent response to virtual hearings and the courts suffered massive budget cuts. At the start of the pandemic, many courts closed their phone lines and self-help centers (some are even still closed at the time of this writing). Even represented litigants were left in the dark.
Is there a legal technical resource that really helped you when you started in the field?
Y Combinator’s startup school. It’s a free online program that founders can use to start and grow their business. When I got out of law school, I didn’t have that startup mentality. The StartUp School’s courses and materials helped me quickly get used to lean startup methodologies, starting an MVP, speaking to users, and so on.
What do you see as the most important emerging technology right now, legal or not?
What I currently see trending are tech-enabled services. In the past few years, technology has started working with people so businesses can serve more consumers with fewer people. In the legal industry, we are now seeing companies adopting technology for common legal services, such as: B. Easy Expunctions, Athena Collects, Simple Citizen, Hello Divorce, People Clerk. The list goes on. I see this trend will continue to help the legal industry provide legal services at a lower cost. In some areas, such as small claims, there is a large amount of work that a paralegal usually does to submit, serve, and prepare the litigant for the hearing. When we use technology to make a paralegal more efficient and automate other tasks, the paralegal becomes very efficient and can serve a large number of people.
What advice would you give other women interested in studying legal technology?
1. Just start. While you will hear the same advice from so many others, it is definitely true. Many of us in legal engineering have a legal background that shapes us into risk averse individuals (or increases our risk intolerance). We have to learn to break the mold and try. Starting an MVP and learning from your users is very valuable. User feedback from a live product is essential.
2. Participate in the Legal Tech Community. Every week or so, Nick Rishwain puts on a show called LegalTechLIVE where he interviews legal tech startup founders and other community members. You can follow it live via the LegalTech Community Facebook group and ask questions. You can also get a twitter. The legal tech community is extremely active on Twitter.
Greet another legal engineering woman who you admire or have learned from!
Kristen Sonday, co-founder of Paladin (software that connects businesses to pro bono work). Kristen was such a great role model as an advocate of access to justice and diversity in legal engineering. Thank you Kristen for all of your support!
Register for the Women of Legal Tech Summit 2021!
From March 3, 2021 to March 4, 2021, attend the ABA Women Rainmakers Committee’s two-day symposium to bridge the gender gap in legal technology. On both days, the 2021 Women of Legal Tech Honorees from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center will be recognized. Find inspiration in Ignite-style sessions with legal technology leaders, breakout sessions with executives in the field, and interactive workshops.