5 Ways to get Legal Tech Work Experience
Author: Nathan Corr - Future Trainee Solicitor at Addleshaw Goddard. Has worked at several legal tech companies – currently as a Student Analyst at leading no-code automation company BRYTER. (LinkedIn)
Reviewed by: Sam Moore - Lawyer and Innovation Manager at Burness Paull (LinkedIn)
If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in a career in law, or perhaps even in legal tech? Maybe you’re a student who has been researching law firms to apply to and are noticing a common theme amongst applications – “What skills does the lawyer of tomorrow need to possess?”, “How is technology changing the legal profession?”, “What Legal Tech skills can you bring to our firm?”. Increasingly, Legal Tech experience has become a very desirable aspect of a candidate’s application. Don’t just take my word for it – here is an article on why law students should seek out work experience in Legal Tech. Perhaps you are beyond that. Perhaps you are a lawyer already. You have made it through many years of university and training to become a lawyer, only to find that the requirements of a lawyer of today are different to the requirements of a lawyer just five years ago. Now you’re looking for ways to gain some experience in this ‘Legal Tech’ thing to stand out in your firm – perhaps even to make your firm stand out from all the others in the sea of Legal Tech press releases… Whoever you may be, you’ve found your way here to learn how to get some Legal Tech work experience. So, for the sake of the simplicity in lists, here are five ways you can get some Legal Tech work experience:
1. Traditional work experience placement
Perhaps anyone’s knee-jerk reaction to getting work experience in any area is a work experience placement. Good news! There are work experience placements in Legal Tech too… if you can find them. Given the Legal Tech market is still developing, there are limited opportunities for people to gain experience via a traditional work experience programme. However, the upside to the fact the Legal Tech market is developing is that these opportunities usually come with a lot of responsibility, and as the old Spiderman quote goes: “With great responsibility, comes great exposure to many different areas of the Legal Tech business!” I’m paraphrasing… but you get the point.
So, how do you actually find these opportunities? Well, the Law Society of Scotland has started listing legal tech internship opportunities on is website here; and the University of Aberdeen Legal Tech Society regularly posts open opportunities to get legal tech work experience here. You may also be able to find these opportunities directly from the company. Some companies to keep an eye on are: BRYTER, StructureFlow and SYKE. While many Legal Tech companies don’t actively advertise for work experience placements (some call these positions ‘Student Workers’), these three will post positions on their websites occasionally – follow them on social media to see when the positions open. If there is a Legal Tech companies who you find particularly interesting, you could try getting in touch with them and asking if they would be willing to pay for you to work as a Student Worker, Analyst or even just an extra pair of hands. This is rare but can happen. Just remember to make a good case for hiring you and be respectful of their time – they are busy! In the absence of these paid opportunities, another way of getting Legal Tech work experience is by offering to work for free.
2. Offer time for free to a Legal Tech start-up
I’ve noted start-ups specifically here for two reasons: 1 – money and time are particularly scarce resources for most start-ups – they need all the extra time they can get so offering yours for free is a no-brainer for them! 2 – start-ups tend to be far more diverse in the type of work you will be doing. One minute you could be researching a prospective client and the next you could be A/B testing version 2.1.31 of the start-up’s product. Working at a start-up is an exciting experience – even if it is remote, as we often find with things these days. I found this when working at Legal Tech start-up Office & Dragons. I joined just as they were emerging as a leader in Transaction Development. Joining a start-up at a time of fast growth can teach you a lot about the business of the legal services industry as a whole – in this setting the law firms are your clients!
So, how do you go about finding a Legal Tech start-up to offer your time to? A great place to look is LinkedIn. Ah yes, you didn’t think you’d get through an article on getting work experience without seeing LinkedIn somewhere, did you? Like many professionals, many start-up founders and staff are on LinkedIn and they are often posting about all the incredible things that are happening with their start-up. One way you could seek out work experience on LinkedIn is by following a few people who are working at Legal Tech start-ups and learn about developments in their business. If you see an update where they are talking about further growth, e.g. ‘We have just been accepted onto X accelerator programme!’ or ‘We are proud to announce we have received funding from Y!’ – why not send them a message offering your time. If they are expanding, chances are they need all hands-on deck, including all the extra hands they can get. Just remember, same as above, to state how you can help them and be respectful of their time – people working at start-ups are especially busy!
3. Ask your network
As well as actively looking for opportunities on social media, you could put yourself out there and ask your network if they know of any opportunities open in legal tech. The legal tech community is incredibly friendly and encouraging to anyone interested in the space – especially if you are looking to help out and get experience! The legal tech community is especially active on Twitter and LinkedIn. Given LinkedIn’s favourable algorithm, it is highly likely your post will be seen by tens if not hundreds of people working in legal tech – and there is always someone looking for a hand! Some good groups to join to get involved with the community are: The O Shaped Lawyer group, Legal Tech group, and Legal Tech Talent Network group.
When you post be sure to keep it short. State who you are, what your interest is, what you hope to get out of the experience and what you can bring to the team. If you have some experience in legal tech, be sure to mention it. But if this is your first dive into the world of legal tech, don’t worry! Show you are enthusiastic about the industry and eager to learn. Mentioning any prior transferable skills/experience will go a long way. Especially if it is research or content-producing related. Researching and writing articles / producing content for a legal tech company would be a great way to get started!
4. Contribute to an open-source project
Open-source projects are common in the tech world but can be somewhat alien to law students and those working in the legal profession. While open-source projects tend to require coding, there are some in the Legal Tech space that don’t. One example is ‘openTenancy’. openTenancy is an initiative which seeks to help protect tenants’ rights by providing a simple way for tenants to find out what their rights are in any given situation. For law students, openTenancy is like the silver bullet of work experience today: legal tech + legal research + pro-bono initiative, all in one project! When it comes to writing applications, these are three major points firms look for and to get all three in one is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss! openTenancy is currently looking for contributors to help grow their platform by conducting legal research on tenancy rights and producing decision trees which will then be coded into the platform (don’t worry, you don’t have to code them). I could write several thousand words on why you should contribute to the openTenancy project but, quite frankly, this article is long enough. So, in the words of Shia LaBeouf, “Just DO IT!”. Seriously though, it is a no-brainer for law students and even legal professionals, so check out the openTenancy project and if you have any questions about the project and how you can get involved, email: email@example.com
openTenancy project: https://www.linkedin.com/company/opentenancy/
5. Start your own Legal Tech project
If you are the ambitious entrepreneurial type, why not start your own Legal Tech project? That is exactly what Jozef Maruščák did while he was studying law at Cambridge back in 2017. Jozef is one of the co-founders of the Legal Tech company CourtQuant (formerly Case Crunch). CourtQuant sought to predict the outcome of your case: how long it would take, how expensive it would be to litigate, would you be more likely to win with W or X judge and Y or Z lawyer. The best thing was – it worked! When one of the early versions of CQ was pitched against 100 lawyers from some of the top firms in London to predict the outcome of PPI claims, the lawyers scored a success rate of 66.3%, while CQ scored 86.6%! Unfortunately, due to a lack of data and lawyers being too cautious of the platform, CourtQuant closed its doors. However, just because CourtQuant was ahead of its time, that doesn’t mean starting your own Legal Tech project isn’t a great way to get experience. Not only will you learn more about the legal services industry, you will also learn everything from project management, to people management, marketing, business management and a whole host of other related skills. You don’t even need to know how to code now that no-code platforms like BRYTER exist.
Despite my obvious bias working for BRYTER, the BRYTER Open initiative is a seriously good opportunity for students to get access to an incredibly powerful platform - for free! And hey – no coding required! Quick aside, law students do NOT need to learn how to code if they have no interest to – this article explains why. If, however, you have a genuine interest in learning how to code, go for it! There is no downside and a lot of up-sides that come from being a coding lawyer. If that’s you, check out thecodinglawyer.com for a growing community of, well, coding lawyers.
Anyway, back to business. BRYTER Open is a new initiative which gives free access to the BRYTER platform to help students build their ideas in a simple and intuitive way. Check it out here to see what you can do with BRYTER.
Well, there you go. Five ways to get Legal Tech work experience. Now there are many more ways to get involved in legal tech – from reading articles and listening to podcasts, to attending events hosted by Legal Geek, Legal Hackers, law firms and Legal Tech companies. If you’re a law student, get involved with the Legal Tech society at your university – if you don’t have one yet, why not start one! Even taking the time to learn how to properly use MS Word, Office and Excel can put you head and shoulders above many lawyers today when it comes to being tech proficient. Yes, really… But that’s for another article. For now, follow just one of the routes to Legal Tech work experience above and you’ll be on your way to becoming a lawyer of tomorrow!
5 Ways to get Legal Tech Work Experience:
Traditional work experience placement
Offer time for free to a Legal Tech start-up
Ask your network
Contribute to an open-source project
Start your own legal tech project
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