Tackling unconscious bias is the key to engaging more women in the fast-growing field of 'lawtech', the second Legal Geek start-up conference heard today. The conference in London, sponsored by the Law Society, attracted more than 1,000 delegates - a sign of the surge in interest in the sector.
However, a panel on women in lawtech heard of the need to bring down barriers to diversity - the great majority of technology start-ups are headed by men. Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws, director of innovation at business and corporate firm Cripps, said that in order to move forward 'we need to overcome our unconscious bias - and recognise that we all have unconscious bias'.
Katherine Ainley, chief executive of legal software firm Tikit, advised women: 'Network, meet new people not like you and get stuck in!'
Welcoming participants, Legal Geek founder Jimmy Vestbirk urged entrepreneurs: 'Leave your job titles, your business cards and your predispositions behind.'
The opening sessions were indeed about breaking down barriers, with Freeserve founder Rob Wilmot introducing his social innovation platform Crowdicity, and Srin Madipalli, former lawyer and entrepreneur, whose start-up Accomable is effectively an Airbnb for accessible holiday accommodation.
Several speakers talked about how working as a lawyer, and legal tech, have changed beyond recognition during their careers.
At the event, the Law Society announced a partnership with equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs to connect members with innovative lawtech startups. Blacklaws said: 'Harnessing technology effectively can have a significant impact on how solicitors operate and engage with their clients. This partnership will help us bring solicitors and entrepreneurs together to support innovations which will benefit our members and their clients. We are excited about the opportunities this will create for our members as they develop and grow their businesses.'
Seedrs claims to be the most active investor into UK private companies with some £270m invested in over 530 deals.