Amy Wan of Bootstrap Legal Gives Students 10 Tips on Legal Tech

September 25, 2017

Amy Wan, Founder of Bootstrap Legal, focused on students in her presentation at BYU Law’s “Future of Law” series. Ms. Wan advised students regarding the future of technology as an important factor in the legal field. Ms. Wan’s advice stems from her own experience in the legal tech field. After obtaining her law degree at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, Ms. Wan worked in international regulatory and trade policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Upon leaving Washington, D.C., Ms. Wan started researching legal tech and blogged about her discoveries. This newfound interest ultimately led her to work for Patch of Land—a real estate marketplace lending and crowdfunding platform—and Trowbridge Sidoti LLP, where Ms. Wan practiced crowdfunding and syndication law. She ultimately founded Bootstrap Legal and became its Chief Legal Hacker. Ms. Wan drew on these varied experiences to share ten lessons to aid students in navigating the future of law.

First, Ms. Wan stated, “It’s never too late to pivot.” Ms. Wan went to law school with intentions to become a human rights attorney, but her willingness to change career plans was key to her current success. Second, Ms. Wan advised students to be early adopters in new areas. Though she lacked a tech background, Ms. Wan recognized an up-and-coming area of law and expressed an interest that led to her first legal tech job. Ms. Wan’s third lesson, that you do not need to know anything about technology to get into legal tech, might seem counterintuitive. While she finds it is  helpful to learn the basics of coding, she considers an interest in legal tech to be more important than understanding the inner workings of software programming. Fourth, Ms. Wan stressed that “there has never been a better time to get into legal tech or start a legal tech company.” Almost every area of the law is being influenced by legal tech and artificial intelligence software.

Though the role of artificial intelligence in the law is growing, Ms. Wan’s fifth lesson reassured students that they need not incessantly worry about their job security because, as she put it, “robots are not going to replace all lawyers.” When Ms. Wan founded Bootstrap Legal, she thought she could completely automate legal fundraising paperwork for real estate entrepreneurs. But she quickly realized that attorneys cannot be entirely replaced. Unlike machines, humans are good at context and emotional communication. Additionally, clients benefit from the reassurance that comes from human interaction. This connects nicely with another of her tips: being in legal tech forces you to really listen to your client.” Clients like the predictability and affordability of automated processes, but they still want to talk to an attorney and want their attorney to understand their personal needs. 

Seventh, Ms. Wan explained that there is a dearth of talent in legal tech that creates opportunities for new graduates. For those who pursue those opportunities, she gave her eighth lesson, “you will have to make a decision of what type of product is ‘good enough.’” In the rush of providing legal services, some tech entrepreneurs compromise quality. Ms. Wan invited students to consider the negative implications of providing such services to society. Ninth, Ms. Wan encouraged students to seek jobs at law firms who are trying to adopt legal tech. Lastly, “figure out what the limitations of technology are and pursue the gaps.” For the legal entrepreneur, there are all types of needs that are not being met, so identifying and setting out to fulfill those needs is an excellent strategy.