Naomi Thompson, Senior Vice President of Legal Solutions at Exigent Group Limited, and Leah Molatseli, the Head of Business Development at Legal Interact and advisory board member for the Global LegalTech Hub, have shattered the proverbial glass ceiling. They are both featured by the International Legal Technology Association in this year's list of most influential women in legal tech.
Naomi and Leah shared their views in a wide ranging discussion on Africa and, in particular, South Africa’s advancement towards the use of legal tech solutions. Their main advocacy is for more women to be recognised in what is still considered to be a male-dominated sector in Africa.
Naomi says the legal tech ecosystem is a lot friendlier towards women, but Africa is still developing and so there are many challenges, even from the perspective of how many women are participating in the tech world. She says education, funding and support are key in making the legal community more open and accessible to female talent.
“Statistics say that Africa tech founders are one of the most mentored in the entire industry but they are the least funded. So it is really about ensuring that we get the funding for them, ensuring that we create ecosystems that can support them and that they have buyers for those technologies that they are busy developing,” Naomi said.
Leah believes in-house legal communities have a more forward thinking outlook compared to their counterparts in private practice.
“Maybe because of the space that in-house [counsel] are in or they understand the business side of optimising or creating efficiencies. So their appetite for legal tech solutions is a bit higher. They are interested in figuring out how we can do this better,” she commented, adding that private practice law firms not only had to consider their budgets but also still needed to be educated on legal tech.
“Law firms that really appreciate legal tech solutions are the ones that function like businesses which recognise that we are on a different playing field,” said Leah.
Both Naomi and Leah elaborated on how the legal tech community can be more accessible to women, what the future law firm would look like, and the pace of transformation.
The conversation wraps up with advice they would give to their younger selves and the T-shirt Tom hopes to have made.
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