Here at Legal Geek we’re committed to the advancement of women in LawTech, and in legal in general. Our Women in LawTech events are part of that, and we caught up with our sponsors over at Tikit to hear more about how gender equality can benefit the whole profession. Katherine Ainley is the CEO at Tikit.
LG: Hi Katherine! Tell us a bit about Tikit.
KA: We’re a specialist technology provider in the legal and professional services space. Our vision is to be the leading provider of technology to the legal and professional services sector. We only operate in that space, and it’s a mix of our own products, and partnering with others. The products ones that people will know include Carpe Diem, eMarketing, Partner for Windows, and document management, including TMS and NetDocuments. We’ve been going for over 20 years, and owned by BT for almost five years, where we operate as a standalone unit.
How did you first get involved with Legal Geek?
The industry is small, and we heard of Legal Geek and became more involved with them over time. It fits really nicely with what we do – getting that conversation going around technology, whether it’s our products or others, is important to drive innovation across the industry.
What does your involvement entail?
We are a thought leader and sponsor, looking at how technology can have a positive impact on changing culture and rebalancing the number of women in senior positions in legal and in legal technology. It’s something we feel really passionate about, and we do a huge amount of work in women in tech – firstly, there aren’t a lot of female CEOs out there in legal tech, and secondly I sponsor things like the global BT tech women programme, which is focused on how can we help women develop, grow, and stay in the workforce.
It’s really important because it isn’t an area that women tend to see as attractive or stay in. Diversity as a whole is better for the individual, better for the team, better for clients (who aren’t one size fits all) and better for the organisation. There is research to show that diverse organisations perform better.
Technology enables that diversity because it frees people up from that ‘I must be at my desk’ culture. It changes the way we work and the skillset required, and with that comes a big opportunity – the types of roles are changing, and that subtly changes the skills we need to fulfil those roles.
Do you think technology can improve things in the legal profession, for women in particular?
Enabling clients to have organisational changes through technology is a goal for us. With technology, logically the way the skills people have and the way in which they think are going to change. For example, with machine learning and AI it becomes an analytical, problem-solving conversation, rather than necessarily being about simply putting in the hours.
Do you think the legal profession is doing enough to pursue gender equality, particularly in the top law firms?
My impression is really mixed. I think the vast majority of firms recognise the need to change, and they want to change. But the reality of transforming what you want to do into action is hard, as it’s a big cultural change. You need to do some quite specific things to drive change, that break the normal way of working. I think the will and the understanding is there to some extent, but practical results are very mixed.
Driving change means taking a really hard look at your organisation and asking what the cultural norms are, and some things aren’t immediately obvious. The number of hours that people work in legal is a challenge, and often for those with children (men and women), that can be difficult to deal with. Generally your career hits that critical point in your mid-thirties, but at the same time that’s when you have young children, and something has to give. Certainly in some law firms I see a massive change, but it is mixed. It comes back to outcomes – we need to have faith and more research that looks law specifically, showing the link between those cultural changes and financial performance.