As Women’s History Month wraps up, we’re taking a moment to recognize the hard work, dedication, and challenges—which go well beyond a month—of women in tech, especially those here at Casetext.
Breaking barriers and bringing an edge
The accomplishments of women in tech are all the more striking when you consider the context in which they occur. The underrepresentation of women in STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—is well-documented. As the American Association of University Women reports, women make up just 28% of the STEM workforce.
Legal tech sits at the intersection of law and technology, two fields disproportionately made up of men. It’s no surprise, then, that the gender gap is even wider in legal tech: research shows just 17% of legal tech founders are women.
Part of the ability of these women to bring an edge to legal technology stems from working in this environment. For one, just to have a presence, let alone success, requires defying the odds. By doing so, women in legal tech help set new norms and inspire other women to pursue careers in the field. Additionally, women in legal tech often bring new perspectives and fresh ideas, driving innovation and leading to better products and services that address the needs of more people. Data even suggests that gender diversity in the sciences can foster fresh perspectives and encourage exploration in new areas.
Leading women in legal tech
Women whose legal tech accomplishments stand out include Leila Banijamali, co-founder and CEO of Symbium, a visionary building legal tech to help solve the housing crisis; Nicola Shaver, co-founder and CEO of LegalTechnologyHub, which seeks to democratize legal tech; and our very own Laura Safdie, co-founder and COO of Casetext.
Laura launched a successful career in law following training at Yale Law. She served in the Senate Judiciary Committee, clerked for Judge Paul Engelmayer in the Southern District of New York, and then went on to represent clients in civil matters as a litigator at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
During her clerkship Laura began to realize just how connected access to legal research and access to justice are. At the same time she realized both could be significantly increased by better legal tech, which was sorely lacking innovation.
Laura left traditional practice to co-found Casetext—whose original headquarters was in CEO Jake Heller’s living room—with the mission of building tools that expand access to legal research. Safdie’s influence in legal tech has been significant enough to earn her a place among the Top Women Leaders in Tech Law in California.
Casetext has since expanded (beyond legal research and that living room) to take the lead position in legal AI, but the mission and approach remain the same: empower lawyers to increase the quality and amount of work they’re able to do, for more people, by being bold, working quickly, and trying new things.
“Casetext is a diverse, driven team of smart people who bring their best to the table,” said Safdie, who also provided insight on the women driving Casetext forward. “We’re strengthened by the many women who contribute their talent and expertise. Women make up about half of our team and work across every department,” continued Safdie. “Many lead teams in developing cutting-edge AI tools, such as CoCounsel, and in providing the best possible support to Casetext customers.”
One of these leaders is Valerie McConnell, our Vice President of Customer Success. McConnell discovered Casetext in 2018 while looking for an alternative to Westlaw for her firm’s litigation practice. After using our CARA AI tool to find a critical case needed to win a motion, Valerie decided to join Casetext as an attorney product specialist in March 2019. Her goal was to build a best-in-class team to provide excellent training, support, and legal research expertise to Casetext’s customers.
Today, our customer success team includes top attorneys, software experts, and experienced customer support personnel—70% of whom are women— dedicated to ensuring our customers have a seamless experience. McConnell’s team consistently receives high customer satisfaction scores and is routinely cited as a key reason why customers use Casetext’s software products.
Valerie and her team are often the literal face of Casetext, supporting, training, and educating customers day-to-day. We’re also fortunate to have several women heading teams and leading development behind the scenes.
Stefanie Ambrosch, principal platforms and ops engineer, is a veteran front-end developer with a background in applied mathematics and computer science. She brought her extensive expertise in user interface design and a strong desire to make Casetext an intuitive, easy-to-use application.
And she’s done just that. Stefanie has helped transform the user experience over the course of nearly a decade at Casetext, where she kicked off her tenure as a frontend software engineer, moving to senior engineer and technical lead before reaching her current role.
We’re incredibly proud of the exceptional women on our team who are leading the way in legal tech. Their accomplishments are all the more impressive given the challenges they encounter in a field where women are underrepresented. As we continue to work toward a day when it’s no longer remarkable to have women leaders in this field, we appreciate those who are paving the way.