It’s time for another round of “Ask an Entrepreneur,” where we receive questions from our Legal Innovation Zone community members and an entrepreneur in our space answers the question. Our first post was kicked off by Clausehound CEO Rajah Lehal. This time, GetQuorum co-founder JJ Hiew answers a question posed by Quincy James, a Ryerson student who was also a participant in the inaugural Legal Tech Bootcamp. He asks, “How does a (future) new grad get a job in legal tech without going to law school?” Here’s how JJ responded.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned running a “legal tech” company and being around other “legal tech” companies, it’s that legal tech companies all need the same skills and positions as every other tech company.
What is a “legal tech” company if not a tech company with some legal components to it? Every tech company still needs to have people with skills in engineering, marketing, sales, and even legal.
I also have a theory that every successful tech company eventually becomes a “legal tech” company because there will be legal components that become critical to the company’s operations. Take Uber and Airbnb as examples – these companies now need to deal with legal and regulatory issues on a daily basis.
So how do you get into legal tech without going to law school?
I’m not a lawyer, I never went to law school, and I never took a law course in university. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Computer Science and went to work as a software developer for 10 years. I never would have dreamed of co-founding a legal tech startup, yet somehow here I am, a co-founder of GetQuorum – a software service that’s modernizing condominium governance.
It was almost entirely by accident.
I joined my condominium’s board of directors back in 2011 because I thought I could help to improve my community by volunteering my time. Our condo struggled to reach quorum every year I was on the board, so one year, as a side project, I decided to spend a few weeks coding up a simple proxy voting tool. The tool worked so well that my property manager asked if they could use it at another one of their condos. Then at another, and another, and before we knew it, we had a startup.
At the time, I had no idea that my dinky little side project would end up turning into GetQuorum.
My advice is to find something you enjoy doing and get really good at it. You may not know what it is yet, and that’s OK. Your 20-ish year-old self may not know what your 30-ish year-old self will want to do. Last year, CNN reported that the average 32-year-old will have changed jobs four times. And those changes might be full-on career switches too (i.e. going from a lawyer to Emmy award TV writer like David Shore). Whether you went to law school or not, every step you take in your journey will help shape your future career and could point you towards a future in legal tech.