These founders left the legal industry to launch their tech startups. They found Silicon Valley even more sexist than Big Law.

Women in Legal Tech

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Basha Rubin was in labor when she negotiated the term sheet for her Series A.

In May last year, Rubin hashed out investment details for Priori Legal, an attorney hiring platform for companies, clutching her phone as her partner drove them to the hospital.

“They were on these curvy roads and she had the phone like this,” said her co-founder Mirra Levitt, holding her palms out in front of her face. “It was like watching a video game.”

Experiences like Rubin’s are not uncommon among working women, who often face hurdles that their male colleagues don’t. This is especially the case in law and tech — two industries that have historically struggled with diversity. Women make up only 31% of nonequity partners and 20% of equity partners in the 200 largest law firms, per data from the American Bar Association. In the tech world, just 28% of startups have a female founder, according to a 2019 Silicon Valley Bank report.

The numbers are bleaker when you look at the intersection of the two industries: There are only 14.5% female founders of legal tech companies, according to a study by Kristen Sonday, cofounder of the legal tech platform Paladin.

Female legal tech founders receive less funding 

Although venture capital investments in startups increased by 13% last year, women-founded companies received only 2.2% of funding in 2020, according to data from Pitchbook.

“The tech world seems so male-dominated not necessarily because there are so many more male founders. It’s because the male founders are so much more well-funded than the female founders,” said Rubin.

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Priori Legal, which raised $6.3 million in its Series A, was “tremendously lucky” to have the backing of the female-founded accelerator HearstLab, according to Levitt.

Many female lawyers who left law firms to launch their own legal tech companies said they were surprised to meet resistance in the supposedly more forward-thinking tech world. 

“It’s odd because the legal industry still felt like more of a safe space for me, where I felt like people were more open to treating me as a professional as a woman,” said Alma Asay, founder of Allegory Law. “When I was raising money, I remember one investor saying, ‘You’re new to Palo Alto. You’ll meet a lot of great guys out here.’ And I thought, why are we talking about this? I’m trying to pitch you.”

Three founders told Insider that investors asked them about their family plans during pitch meetings.

Hearing comments like these made Asay feel deflated. “I could take all the advice in the world and change my pitch deck, the way that I presented, but the one thing I couldn’t change is that I’m a woman,” she said.

Erin Levine said she held off on raising money when she first launched Hello Divorce because she expected to face this kind of bias from investors. Instead, she did a lot more bootstrapping, “partly because we had to, since women don’t get funded as much as men do.”

Laura Safdie, a lawyer who founded Casetext, said she didn’t encounter sexism while pitching …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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