Not long after, our conversation shifts towards being a non-lawyer in the legal tech world.
“I never thought I would be working with lawyers,” Ali laughs. I joke that we switched career paths (I ducked out of law, he opted into it) and he tells me his non-traditional background has, contrary to my expectations, worked to his advantage when it comes to distribution.
“I’m like that annoying kid who sits at the front of the classroom and raises his hand all the time. I don’t have any biases and I don’t know how things are done.” This ‘baby viewpoint,’ as Ali calls it, lets him poke holes in the status quo, leaving room for new solutions to fill the gaps.
Ali is far from the only non-lawyer to break into the legaltech space; cross-pollination between computer science grads and the legal tech industry is becoming increasingly commonplace.
Jack Newton, the CEO of Clio, studied computer science in university - as did Josh Treon, the CEO of Nomio
, the startup I work at. There’s much to be said about the similarities between coding and contracts - just take a look at Stanford’s computable contracts initiative
- but I’ll unpack this in another issue.
For now, it suffices to say that innovation in law is ripe. Ali and I agree that services like LegalMate will infiltrate the legal industry from the bottom-up. The elite band of top firms are too focused on profit: “the more they can charge, the more paintings they can put up in their offices, the better they are.”
As a result, buzzwords like ‘AI’ and ‘data’ get tossed around with little weight; it feels like eating a meal made up entirely of empty calories. It’s usually the smaller law firms, Ali says, that adapt to change quicker and more substantially.
At this point in the conversation, I realize I’ve been throwing questions at Ali for almost forty-five minutes and begin to slightly panic at the thought of being the reason he goes through the rest of his Tuesday suffering from Zoom fatigue. So I leave him with one final question: what’s next for LegalMate?
“We’re a very early stage company,” answers Ali, “so right now we’re just building and giving out loans and helping people.”
Sounds good to me. LegalMate already embodies Ali’s DNA of a successful startup: product, distribution, and a mission-driven founder obsessed with improving humanity one tech tool at a time.