In celebration of 2020 Women’s History Month, ILTA was pleased to announce a list of Influential Women in Legal Technology. Each Tuesday in March, readers will learn more about the women who were selected.María Jesús González-Espejo
Vice President at European Legal Technology Association (ELTA) and Managing Partner at Instituto de Innovación Legal
María is a lawyer, innovator, and evangelist who is working to transform the legal sector in Spain and throughout Europe. She introduced Spain to Legal Design Thinking, was named an official ambassador of the Madrid City Council for attracting the 2019 European LegalTech Congress to Madrid, and is supporting the internationalization of Spanish LegalTech through her leadership of the European LegalTech Association (ELTA).
She started her career as a solicitor specialising in IP, data protection and contracts, evolved into a corporate counsel, and is now a consultant for firms and consultancies where she advises her clients in marketing and communication, business development, people and knowledge management. Some of her clients include the Registrars of Spain and several law schools, to whom she helps to foster innovation within law studies and academics to understand the trends affecting the legal sector and Legal Tech.
She has also trained hundreds of lawyers in innovation, digital transformation and legal tech through her courses and workshops, designed and imparted by herself. Many of her accomplishments support providing access to tools and technology for lawyers and others in the legal community. She has created the app ConflictMapp, which helps to unblock the courts and supports people in resolving their conflicts, as well as the comparador-legaltech.com, a complete inventory and comparison tool, with over 300 software applications useful for lawyers.
Let’s get to know María a little more...
How do you define an influential woman?
An influential woman must listen to be heard; must study to speak on a real knowledge base, and must above all be a good person. The world needs role models and if one has the power to influence, one’s influence should (strive to) be positive.
I also believe that she must be resilient because if she is influential, sometimes she will not be wanted, or she will be wanted to influence as she will not want to influence. Therefore, an influential woman needs to have very strong values and always act consistently with them.
If you could spend one hour with someone who you feel has had a significant impact on your success (directly or indirectly), who would you spend it with, and how would you prepare for that meeting?
I would enjoy this time with my two daughters. They have always been by my side and support me unconditionally. They also listen to me and criticize me when necessary.
It is not always easy to live with a creative, curious, and very active person like I am. Without being loved, admired, and sometimes questioned by these two young women to walk a different path would have probably even been more difficult. In 2013, I decided to turn my career around and focus on a field that at that time, here in Spain, did not have a name yet. They inspire me in many ways with their openness, their fresh spirits and their compromise to make the world more sustainable.
As you can imagine, I do not normally prepare meetings with my daughters but it is true that whenever I have decided that an issue had to be discussed and sat with them, the results have been amazing. I always think that I should hold official “solving problem meetings” with them, but it is true that now the “Legal Tech virus” and in the past other sorts of very aggressive viruses have not allowed me to be the ideal mother. For somebody so passionate for her profession as I am, being a perfect mother is difficult. Luckily enough, long ago I decided that being not perfect was also fine.
What advice would you like to share with other women that are either working in or aspiring to work in Legal Technology?
I would tell them that they have been right when choosing to devote their careers to a sector where there is work, where doctrine can still be created and creativity exploited to the fullest.
I would tell them to always have an active critical spirit; to not believe everything they hear; to think that if they want to they can be active changemakers, leaders of a sector that needs people with a desire to study, reflect, write and develop projects to become a solid scientific discipline and a strong economic sector.
What is one challenge within legal technology you hope to help solve? How can people help you?
I would like to make sure that when we talk about Legal Tech we all talk about the same thing. I would also like us all to talk about it understanding what we are talking about and making it comprehensible, so that those who do not know anything yet understand us, do not get scared and assume the implications of the deep changes that are taking place in the legal sector and the world in general.
I have many dreams and in all of them, the support of others is necessary. But if I had to choose the three most important ones, they would be, first of all, to create an online school aimed at training Spanish-speaking lawyers in the fields of innovation, digital transformation and Legal Tech. Secondly, to ensure that the bar associations throughout Spain, 83 in total, have an area aimed to transmit to their members knowledge and skills on innovation, entrepreneurship, digital transformation and Legal Technology. Finally, I would like citizens to see the law as something close to them, understandable and accessible. The common thread to my dreams is my belief in education as a tool to empower others and achieve real societal changes.
To stay in the know of Maria’s work in legal tech, follow her on Twitter at @chusage and LinkedIn here.
View the entire list of Influential Women in Legal Tech here.