Jackie Nagtegaal - 2020 Influential Women in Legal Technology

By ILTA Membership posted 03-31-2020 11:52

Jackie Nagtegaal

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.

Jackie Nagtegaal
Futurist & Managing Director, Law for All
Cape Town, South Africa

Jackie runs Law for All, the leading Alternative Legal Service provider on the continent of Africa, which resolves approximately 100,000 cases annually on a subscription basis. Not only are they using technology to ease the way people interact and access the law, they're championing women in legal tech by having 78% of the employees be women. She was shortlisted for the Pinnacle Award from the WOZA Women in Law, is a jury member of the HiiL International Innovating Justice Challenge in the Hague ,and runs a law firm funding program where she donates financially and mentors young African firms.

How do you define an influential woman?

I believe an influential woman drives her industry forward by imagining better futures and taking those around her along the path, using available opportunities to teach, share, listen, and co-create. 

Of course, there is no difference between influential men and women, and these categories have always been challenging to me as I am mindful that they could create more separation than unity. Saying that however, the landscape is still unequal and any highlight on a woman following her own path, big or small, becomes influential and inspiring to girls hungry for stories of what is possible in a society riddled with confusing and contradictory messages. 

A woman sharing her passion and being recognised for it, I believe, creates more hope than disparity. 

I am honoured to be counted among these women and to be able to share what I have learned with those around me and help anyone I can achieve their ambitions. For now, there rests an onus on us to lift others, inspire others, and help equal the field.

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?

With my mother, who was part Ruth Bader Ginsburg, part Alice in Wonderland, part Simone de Beauvoir. She challenged my mind and personal dogmas, she raised me without gender roles, and inspired me to follow justice. 

She was always my greatest supporter and critic and shaped so much of who I am. She witnessed the start of my career with such joy, and I would love an hour meeting with her, as we did often, to soundboard a few ideas. She was the smartest human there was, with such a keen sense of balance.

To prepare, I'd buy a bottle of champagne, as she celebrated every day, and then I would open my mind. She challenged all my “little darling” ideas with vigour, leading me to more robust plans and greater heights. A session with her would give me so much perspective at the moment. 

What advice would you like to share with other women that are either working in or aspiring to work in Legal Technology?

To keep at it, the world of Legal Tech is packed with possibility. The industry has so many changes that are lying in wait, we need as many minds to imagine a new future and to recreate the industry collectively. 

On a practical note, I’d be careful of hype and remember that technology is just a tool. It is an enabler of an idea. The core is solving the problem in the legal system, whatever you might think that is, and then to see how technology can aid you in that solution. 

What is one challenge within legal technology you hope to help solve? How can people help you?

Greater cooperation. In many parts of the space people are still protective of their ideas, scared to collaborate, wanting to ‘own' the space. The legal tech space cannot be owned, we need openness and easy integration.

I also wish more entrepreneurs would dive into the Access to Justice space, than simply enhancing current legal practice. There lies so much scope in the missing middle, but people seem frightful of venturing there, believing its government’s role. I wish more people would brave it and solve the tremendous challenge of giving justice to the 5.1 billion who aren’t able to access it currently. If anyone is willing to venture there, or have ideas, I am open to collaborate and see how we can help and learn from one another.

Follow Jackie's work on Twitter.