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.
Ivy B. Grey
Vice President, Wordrake
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Ivy is a legal tech entrepreneur, writer, and former practicing lawyer. Her work on technology competence, ethics, and innovation has made her a respected thought leader in the legal technology community. She is a regular speaker on technology competence and law office technology -- recent events include ABA TechShow 2019 and the Chicago Legal Hackers Meet Up -- and is spearheading a new wave of vendor-stakeholder collaborations that will help bring change to the legal profession. Other accomplishments include: creating the American Legal Style for PerfectIt, being named a Rising Star in the New York Metro Area for five consecutive years (2014-2018), and authoring more than 40 pieces for industry publications.
How do you define an influential woman?
An influential woman has the power to motivate others to question the status quo—and remain open to exploring uncomfortable truths and even more uncomfortable, yet necessary, change. She does this through a nuanced understanding of the current state of the ecosystem, a willingness to imagine a new normal, and the ability to build enduring relationships across categories and roles to make that change happen. People in the orbit of an influential woman feel compelled to join her in the journey to creating a better legal ecosystem.
But influence isn’t just about what a person can do on their own, it’s about how a person can help others. An influential woman uses her power to support others and open the doors of opportunity. She privately and publicly supports other women and minorities, amplifies their voices, and mentors them. A powerful person seeks to grow their own dominance; an influential woman expands the expectation of who may have a voice, then elevates others to fill the newly expanded space.
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’d spend the hour with my former paralegal, Marcie Butler. We worked together when I was a summer associate and my first three years of practice at Davis Wright Tremaine. She taught me the practical aspects of bankruptcy law and helped me to understand how firms worked, how we contributed to firm revenue, and how to serve clients. She gave me a fundamental understanding of the business of law that many don’t have until they reach partner level.
I would spend half of our time thanking her for the early success she brought to the life of this young lawyer. I’d spend the other half of the time trying to convince her to come out of retirement so we could show the world how powerful the partnership between lawyer, paralegal, and technology could be.
I would prepare for the meeting by gathering evidence to show how much her voice is needed and how much she could contribute to developing the tools and procedures we need for the legal world of tomorrow. Then I’d build a coalition of supporters to prove to her we are, in fact, ready to listen.
What advice would you like to share with other women that are either working in or aspiring to work in Legal Technology?
You can create your own path to success. Don’t wait for an invitation and don’t worry about whether you fit in. You need not work at an elite law firm or develop the sexiest technology to be a valuable contributor to the legal technology world. Draw from experiences that make you uniquely positioned to drive change. The sooner you stop apologizing for how you are different, the sooner you can capitalize on it. All people in the legal ecosystem have the potential to play a role in improving it; speaking with your authentic voice, you will discover who will be working with you to make it happen.
For me, I’d worked in law, public relations, information technology, and non-profit community organizing. As a lawyer, I had been embarrassed about my indirect path and humble roots. But in this new world, these experiences meant that I knew how to build coalitions, communicate complex ideas, and create buy-in. These past lives helped me focus my writing on arguing for palatable, practical, and powerful next steps we could take to make law better. My writing is my vehicle for driving change.
What is one challenge within legal technology you hope to help solve? How can people help you?
It’s a challenge to get people to invest in incremental change. Instead, most people seeking change are hoping for sweeping change or disruption. But this blind hope for revolutionary ideas leads to disenchantment as these moonshot experiments fail time and again. People lose faith when they’re continuously promised the world, but we never deliver on that promise. To have the fortitude to endure the depth and duration of change that the legal ecosystem needs, we need a stash of small wins to sustain us while we experiment (and probably fail). I want people to focus on small, accessible, affordable ways to improve law and legal practice, rather than chasing the next shiny, untested tech toy.
People can help overcome this challenge by doing two things: (1) elevate the importance of training to use the tech tools we already have, which would increase technology competence and reduce inadvertent duplicative technology purchases and waste; and (2) create separate innovation and technology budgets for disruptive and incremental innovation, which would cause stakeholders to consider (and invest in) both kinds of innovation.
Follow Ivy’s work in legal tech on Twitter at @IvyBGrey and LinkedIn at @IvyBGrey.
Read about the 2020 Influential Women in Legal Technology List here.