International Women’s Day Special Series (01)
Written by Deborah Jesus
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are excited to launch a special blog series, featuring our female founders: women whose innovation and leadership in legal technology has inspired people around the world. Historically, women have faced more barriers than men in the tech industry, including lack of female mentors/role models and gender bias in the workplace, just to mention a few. Navigating these realities takes ongoing courage and strength. So get inspired! Until the end of March we’ll bring you stories, introduce brilliant female role models, and encourage women everywhere to make their mark in the technology industry.
Our blog series begins with Renata Menezes. Renata is the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Legalbox. Her startup is developing a legal workflow platform that simplifies the way lawyers get legal tasks done. The goal is to help lawyers better organize their workflow for what, when and how things should be done for each case.
We have prepared a few questions to share her journey through the industry with you.
LIZ: What brought you into legal tech? Do you have a background in technology and/or law?
R: My background is in law, but I was always interested in the application of the law in the digital space. Back in 2006, my final University paper was about the Civil Responsibility of Internet content providers: a theme not often discussed at the time. I was working in a Big Law firm in Sao Paulo with a mass litigation client. I saw clearly the need for an easy to use web application to manage the volume of lawsuits. At that time I helped to develop the first version of Legalbox.
LIZ: What are the main challenges you faced as a woman in your field? How did you overcome them?
R: Luckily I’ve never been discriminated against for my gender, but I did experience a situation where a client had not fully trusted what was said by a female tech colleague in a meeting and had searched for the man in the room to seek his confirmation and approval.
I’ve heard it said that women tend to underestimate their skills and undersell their achievements, but that men usually overestimate their skills and inflate their qualifications even when they don’t have experience. I see these tendencies confirmed in my experience. Over time, I discovered that for many women, the main challenge is to boost confidence. Once they are convinced of their own abilities, others will naturally recognize their value and situations like the one I described above will stop happening. To overcome this “lack of trust”, I believe women need to train themselves to own their achievements, be more confident when talking about their abilities and use more direct language to communicate effectively.
LIZ: What is the main idea behind your business? What drives you and why is it so important?
R: The main idea of Legalbox is to simplify the way lawyers complete legal tasks. Through a visually-pleasing and minimalist web-based platform, lawyers gain more productivity by organizing their workflows using kanban-style boards.
My drive is to create innovations that transform the way people work, improving their productivity, and freeing up time for a healthier work-life balance.
LIZ: What piece of advice would you share with someone starting in this field or thinking of starting their own business in legal tech?
R: Surround yourself with inspiring women. There are lots of communities for women entrepreneurs nowadays; I would encourage women to join such networks. They offer a system for support among equals and can even bring about business opportunities in a natural way.
You can read more about Legalbox at www.legalbox.io. They are also active on Facebook and Twitter.