Each week of March, ILTA will highlight a 2021 Influential Women in Legal Tech List Honoree in celebration of the U.S. National Women’s History Month. Each Honoree has answered five questions and shared advice to get to know more about their accomplishments and initiatives. Make sure to follow ILTA on Instagram and/or Twitter to hear their advice.
Kristen Sonday is the co-founder and COO of Paladin, based in New York, NY and Chicago, IL, whose mission is to increase access to justice by helping legal teams run more efficient pro bono programs. In her role, she works with law firms and Fortune 500s to staff, manage, and track their pro bono programs, focusing on the organization's impact. In addition, Kristen currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Legal Services Corporation’s Emerging Leaders Council, working to highlight the value of legal aid in the United States. Let’s get to know more about her...
ILTA: Describe your role as if you are speaking with a child.
Kristen: At Paladin, our mission is to increase access to justice by helping teams run more efficient pro bono programs. Our pro bono platform makes it easy for attorneys to find, learn about, and sign up for pro bono cases that align with their backgrounds and interests with the click of a button, and track their impact.
What accomplishment in the legal space are you most proud of?
Paladin is the first Public Benefit Corporation in legal tech that's connecting the pro bono ecosystem through a common tech infrastructure. On average, our AmLaw250 and Fortune500 clients increase their pro bono engagement by over 30% in the first year while saving about 90 hours of administrative work, proving that a double bottom-line business can also significantly move the needle in increasing access to justice.
How do you make sure there are seats at the table for women in the industry?
Mentorship, amplification, and sponsorship are all ways that I actively support women in legal. I currently mentor about half a dozen female founders in legal tech on how to build their companies and brands, focusing in particular on Black/Latina founders. I also strive to continually increase visibility of fellow female founders by writing about their work (e.g. through my TR Legal Executive Institute column), recommending them for conference talks and panels, elevating their posts on social media, and introducing them to potential investors.
What is one challenge within legal technology you hope to help solve?
My entire personal and professional mission is to increase access to justice for those who need it most-- in particular, women, immigrants, and minorities. As a Latina founder, I feel an honor and responsibility to represent those most underrepresented, so I seek to be the voice to help build and deliver valuable justice tools to underserved communities.
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 what’s the one question you’d ask them?
Most of the people who have had a significant impact on our success are individuals with whom we speak regularly! I try to actively keep in touch with folks and am constantly asking a) how we can be better, and b) how we can help.
Connect with Kristen on LinkedIn here.
Read the Influential Women in Legal Tech press release which includes Kristen’s full bio here.
Rosemary Koech-Kimwatu // Andrea Markstrom // Farrah Pepper // Shannon Salter