Legal tech is complicated enough without a diversity problem, but there it is.
According to a new report, women and minorities are underrepresented in legal technology. Women fare the worst, making up 13.6 precent of legal tech founders.
It’s a puzzle, especially when women and minorities are making gains in the law. Here are some pieces, and maybe some solutions, to the puzzle.
The Profession Piece
Diversity has been a problem in the law forever, but times are changing. More firms and their clients are challenging the status quo.
BigLaw, for example, is promoting diversity as a matter of course. Some companies, like Facebook, Microsoft, and AT&T require it of their legal providers.
Tracy A. Thomas, a professor at the University of Akron School of Law, says gender-equity quotas could help, too. “A quota remedy would require gender parity — proportional representation of women in positions of power,” she says.
But Kristen Sonday, author of a new report on legal tech, says the diversity gap is more than a law firm issue. Co-founder of a legal tech platform, she says it is part of an increasing gap in access to justice.
The Pipeline Piece
In her study, she looked at 269 legal tech companies and 478 founders. Women made up 13.6 percent and people of color made up 26.5 percent of the founders.
“While much has been written about law firms’ struggles to reach gender parity and equity among their ranks, there has been scant recognition of the gender disparity in legaltech,” she said.
Sonday said it is a “pipeline issue,” and that minorities need more accelerator and mentorship opportunities. They also need “increased collaboration with institutes to promote minority founders and potential entrepreneurs.”
She noted that legal tech companies primarily serve a paying customer base. Some legal tech solutions, however, make “justice” less accessible to people who can’t pay.