Two South African women, Leah Molatseli and Naomi Thompson, have made the 2022 ILTA (International Legal Technology Association) Influential Women in Legal Tech list. Honorees are selected based on their history of mentorship and level of impact on legal technology.
Thompson is the Senior Vice President Legal Solutions at Exigent Group Limited. A non-practicing attorney, she utilises her business and legal experience to innovate the business of law. After serving as an in-house legal counsel, Thompson transitioned into a business and strategy role for an African investment company. In her current role she focuses on legal innovation, providing strategic insight and design solutions for clients to address law department challenges.
She says her transition to legal tech “was natural and seamless after completing my international MBA as it focused on innovation and ways to leverage disruptive technologies and the best ways to apply new technologies to existing businesses.
“The experience gained as in-house legal counsel, combined with strategy implementation and business operations experience has positioned me to be one of the sought after client advisers on strategies to incorporate technology, artificial intelligence and data analytics to improve business performance,” she said.
When asked if she thinks women bring something different to the tech space, Thompson replied that, “Diversity plays an important role in the development and implementation of technology. It has multiple benefits, promotes creative thinking in problem solving and it brings a different perspective which ultimately leads to improved business outcomes. Women are championing innovative initiatives and can identify specific challenges other female lawyers face. Increasing women's participation will drive more collaboration and aid in identifying and removing any gender biases that may exist in the development of algorithms and or in new technologies.”
Molatseli is Head of Business Development, Legal Interact, and was recently appointed as an Advisory Board Member for the Global LegalTech Hub with experts across the globe focused on the future tech development of the legal industry. She will be focused on the African continent.
Being recognised on the Influential Women in Legal Tech list is important to Molatseli because it’s “validation from my global peers to keep going, that the past six years in Legal Tech actually matter and that I made some form of impact in the industry. Even when times were tough, I am glad I kept going and pushing. It’s also a catalyst for me to push myself to my fullest potential and not be limited by my circumstances,” she said.
“For now my latest craze is my tiny Twitter Spaces that I host on Twitter called #legaltechwithleah. I host lawyers who like me have transitioned to Legal Tech or even tech instead, from the African continent. I do this because I genuinely don’t believe our career journeys are linear. You can shape your career into your passions. And I also believe in taking ownership of our own African stories, especially with legal tech being where it is, it’s the perfect time to create and shape our own narratives of what we are building on the continent.”
With regard to why it’s important for more women to be involved in tech, Molatseli said, “I think people tend to forget who they are building for, forgetting that some of their users are people who look like me, think like me. And when you build and ship products that cannot resonate to your market, particularly in the context of Africa, it doesn’t make sense. Because of our different backgrounds, knowledge and expertise, (women) also bring a different perspective to the table, not only from a business perspective, but also in terms of company culture.”
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