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WALTA – Diversity in LegalTech – With Guest Speaker: Jo Stewart-Rattray

Written by Anastasia Misarvidis-Tyshing

This month WALTA hosted their second ThinkTank session. It featured a truly inspiring story shared by guest speaker Jo Stewart-Rattray. Of course, the event was hosted by our Legally Yours CEO, ALTA Vice President and Co-Founder of WALTA, Karen Finch with Co-Founder of WALTA and CEO of Zakia Technologies, Jodie Baker.

A big thank you also went out to the WALTA Working Group Leaders, Shamila Gopalan CEO and Founder of Herwit, Lisa Dowie COO of PEXA and Kathy Constan Founder and Chief Executive Officer at LodgeX.

To jump off Shamila Gopalan introduced the first group: Funders step-up!

According to Shamila when it comes to funding there is often a bias against female founders. There are a number of reasons why women face additional hurdles when it comes to funding, with a lot of these reasons coming down to confirmation bias. Shamila’s group outlined the following three action points:

  1. Education for both founders and funders – it is becoming of increasing importance that founders know exactly what investors are looking for, and, for investors to engage in greater discussion surrounding the legal tech space.
  2. The creation of a directory for WALTA members and founders with government grants and marketing; and
  3. A Legal Tech Accelerator, featuring a female-focused legal tech hub.

Next up was Lisa Dowie on behalf of: Female voices must be heard.

In coming together, Lisa’s group realised there was a real lack of women’s voices being heard in the legal tech space. To combat the group came up with the following action points:

  1. Using social media to elevate female voices, by creating an online community.
  2. Creating a resource Hub that centralises relevant content such as a careers springboard, and/or an ideas runway; and
  3. Create a directory for WALTA members and founders that applies a female lens to existing directories.

Overall, it is essential that the legal tech community use the tools available to us to elevate women’s voices.

The third group to present was Kathy Constan for: Visibility seek, and you shall find.

The final group sought to help founders create and accelerate their own profiles. For women in the legal tech space, it is essential that founders are actually able to get the recognition and notoriety they deserve. The following three action points were created to address this issue:

  1. Develop a coaching programme that teaches personal branding and social media.
  2. Create a directory of founders within legal tech, to raise visibility of the major players in the legal tech sphere; and
  3. Create a best practice guideline for personal marketing.

Jo Stewart-Rattray was then welcomed as the events guest speaker.

Jo has over 25 years of experience in the IT field. She specialises in consulting in risk and technology issues, with a particular emphasis on government and security. Jo shared her experience giving advice to the UN for the first time, and her journey to that opportunity.

Jo was born in a one-horse town in country Victoria, to blue-collar working parents. Despite this, she always had aspirations of going to the UN one day.

After a number of years working towards this goal, Jo was afforded the opportunity to be the technical representative and adviser to a UN delegation. Her primary role was to give advice on the theme of empowerment of rural women and girls through the use of technology. As an advisor Jo worked around the clock, giving the chief negotiator and diplomates advice. At the end of this period Jo was convinced that they would not get approval. Despite her worries, the proposal was eventually accepted unanimously.

While the condensed version of Jo’s story here highlights her fantastic accomplishments, her own telling of this achievement was truly moving.

To conclude Jo shared how she has been able to stay focused and committed:

“it’s about remembering that there is more to be done. If there is more to be done, then there is more to be committed to. It takes everybody to make these kinds of changes.”

Jodie Baker and Amanda Fajerman finished the session by outlining WALTA’s next action steps and proposed a strategy for how WALTA is going to create a big impact on diversity in legal tech in 2022!

A key message from Jodie was to preserve this energy! Take the time to distil these ideas and think strategically for the long term. From here, February will be the next jumping-off point!

If you would like to join WALTA and support and be part of the incredible movement, you can join ALTA – Australian Legal Technology Association (#ALTA) as either a member or advocate here – https://alta.law/plans

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