The Legal Technology Resource Center’s Women of Legal Tech initiative is intended to encourage diversity and celebrate women in legal technology. This initiative launched in 2015 with a list of innovators and leaders in legal technology and with this year’s additions, that list now includes 141 talented and influential women leaders.
Every Monday and Wednesday, we have featured a woman from our class of 2022. Today we have Jacqueline Schafer!
Jacqueline Schafer is Founder & CEO of Clearbrief.
Three points to summarize you and your work in legal tech.
Jacqueline is the founder and CEO of Clearbrief (2022 New Law Company of the Year, Legalweek; 2021 Startup of the Year, American Legal Tech Awards). She also received the 2021 APEX Legal Innovation Award from the WA State Bar Association for her work founding Clearbrief and for her 2020 law review article, Harnessing AI for Struggling Families.
Jacqueline’s research for the law review article and a formative experience representing a young woman and her son in a pro bono asylum case ultimately inspired her to found Clearbrief. She realized that she could leverage a form of AI, natural language processing, to solve the tedious pain points involved with writing and filing briefs that she had experienced throughout her career as an appellate and trial court litigator (former Paul Weiss and AAG in AK and WA State) and in-house attorney.
Clearbrief, an Add-In for Microsoft Word that instantly finds and displays the legal AND factual source documents cited, is now used by hundreds of firms across the country as well as a dozen government agencies and several court systems.
What projects have you been focused on recently?
When the Supreme Court issued its final opinion in the Dobbs (abortion) case, I knew we could help the people across the country, and the world, who were trying to understand the basis for the court’s reasoning. I pulled together a tracked changes version of the opinion as compared to the leaked version, which was widely shared on Twitter and resulted in thousands of people visiting our website to learn more. I also used Clearbrief to quickly create an interactive version of the Dobbs opinion that advocates and non-lawyers are using to better understand the legal reasoning. (Available at https://clearbrief.com/opinion/dobbs-v-jackson)
What do you see as the biggest challenge in legal tech today?
Getting lawyers and legal teams to actually use the tech they pay for is difficult. You’re competing against longstanding, entrenched habits. We’ve been able to overcome this at Clearbrief by working closely with our users to give them hands-on training that’s super relevant to what they’re actually working on and their existing workflows in Microsoft Word. I’m so proud that we have senior judges and attorneys using Clearbrief as well as new law students!
What do you see as the most important emerging tech, legal or not, right now?
I truly believe that litigation technology like Clearbrief and other tools that help bring transparency to the facts are going to change the face of the law. The visibility into the facts impacts every step of the legal system from initial case consultation, to discovery, to collaboration while writing, to the court’s perception and decision in the case. This area has been neglected for far too long and we’re seeing a sea change in how litigators and courts function as a result.
What advice would you give to other women who want to get involved in legal tech?
Don’t hesitate to send cold emails to the people you want to talk with and learn from. Taking that step–sending cold emails to impressive and senior people I admire–has changed the course of my business and my life. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. You belong in legal tech and at the forefront of change in our justice system!
Give a shout-out to another woman in legal tech who you admire or have learned something from!
Judge Karen Ashby – She is a brilliant, retired Judge (retired from the CO Court of Appeals) who has helped us so much in developing a realistic, truly visionary approach to how judges can take advantage of emerging technology.