I am a lawyer/stand-up comedian/teacher-turned-entrepreneur who is passionate about start-ups and new ideas, especially in the content space. I'm a co-founder of ReplyAll.me, the world's first Blogcasting platform that makes creating content as easy as emailing with friends. I'm a diehard Texans fan and a huge "60 Minutes" nerd.
Well, for one, it's a company where the legal department acts as a profit center instead of a cost center. Legal departments actually contribute immensely to the bottom line - they are the single biggest arbiters of risk for companies - but what's been stopping them from communicating their true value is access to data. We provide legal departments with critical information like how long it's taking to get deals done, where the blockers are, and what key contract terms look like in aggregate, as well as a variety of more advanced analytics that allow them to make better decisions and communicate their value.
Silicon Valley, and all companies really, crave access to data like this. I'd say one of the biggest surprises has actually been to see the collaborations that have been sparked between legal and other departments as a result of Ironclad. Everything from automated data getting sent to financial systems upon contract completion, to new communication channels between HR and legal, to pushing key data to account executives in Salesforce. That's really just the beginning of the "new type of company" that our customers have started to invent with Ironclad.
Yeah, the smart contract piece is what I find intriguing as well, even at a purely conceptual level.
You mentioned that Ironclad is "a way to run an entirely new type of company" which would explain how (in addition to being a YC-backed company) you've gained traction with a number of rapid growth start-ups -- I'm sure that pitch resonates with them. What's an easy real life example of the "new type of company?"
It's because they've tackled people so many times. And each time you tackle someone your nose takes a beating. But, fear not, after getting beaten up, your nose actually gets harder, you see. It forms a hard outer layer, a shell if you will, hence "hard nosed."
Yesterday during the Seahawks game they put up a graphic of how Seattle has all of its elite defensive players locked up for the next 2-4 years. Guys like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, et cetera et cetera.
My first thought was "Wow, that's a hard-nosed defense"
My second was "Exactly how much harder are those noses than your league-avg. defense? And why are their noses hard?"
It's been a great conversation. I think I'll be a little sad when it's over.
There are definitely some amazing women leading legal tech companies. I've had the pleasure of meeting Alma and Julia. It's been inspirational to me to see what they've accomplished. One similarity between all of us is our experience working as practicing attorneys at large law firms. I think there is a level of tenacity and drive required to work in Big Law. Many of the characteristics needed to thrive in large law practices provide a great foundation for leading a legal tech company. I also think that we've seen the problems and know what it takes to solve them, but our network through our legal practice gives us more confidence to take the leap into entrepreneurship.
People who know me know that gender is not something I focus on or care about. But, in a world that laments a lack of women founders or women in senior management, it's worth noting that legal innovation doesn't suffer from this issue. You, Alma (Allegory), Julia (Hire an Esquire), Laura Safdie (Casetext), Elkana Donio (new CEO of Axiom)...I could go on.
Any thought on why legal innovation in particular is flourishing with women at the forefront?
Technology is changing the way in which the industry works so we are always open to new ideas that make sense for our business. Vendors that can quickly demonstrate the business value of their offer will always be at an advantage. One smart way to do this can be to work together with law firms and present collaborative solutions that meet our needs. This allows the vendor to tap into an existing relationship and insights, whilst the panel firm can show that they are continuously finding new ways to add value to Shell.
Forums like CLOC and the ACC also provide great opportunities for vendors to connect with potential new clients. We participate in both groups and often ask vendors to present in this setting.
At the end of the day, we are always open to new working ideas that make sense to our business. We are even more excited when start-ups pitch an innovative way to work together – for example, partnering with Shell to break into the market as a tester of a solution.
eDiscovery, ELM and CLM and ALSP are being sold to legal departments in the Fortune 500. We have a lot of legal start-ups that read these conversation so how else can tech add value for people like you who are overhauling legal departments?