I can remember what I was doing when I realised I wanted to move from my traditional law firm to a legal tech startup. I was working in litigation and after months and months on the same case, I felt like we weren’t making progress: cycling through the same three tasks every day, looking for a needle in a haystack. We’d been talking about using new tech to automate some of the huge volumes of manual work, and I realised I was getting more excited about addressing the pain in the process than I was about my actual day job. As I researched and learned more about the new tech disrupting the legal industry, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
First I studied the Legal Geek Start Up Map to find out what types of company were outthere, and where I might fit in – I still knew nothing about what a non-coder could do at a tech company. I found Juro interesting, but the company wasn’t advertising for a role I was qualified for, so instead I found their most recent hire – the sales manager – on LinkedIn, and messaged her.
We chatted, she passed my CV to Richard (our CEO), and then things moved quickly – wehad a video call, and I quickly met Richard in person, and spoke to our other co-founder, Pavel Kovalevich. Richard offered me a role in the customer success team, managing communications with customers. I’d be working mainly with legal teams, and would be responsible for making sure they were successful with my product. I quit my job one week and started at Juro the next.
No risk, no reward
I knew it was a risk. I left a prestigious Magic Circle law firm and gave up practising law to join a startup, which involved tough conversations with colleagues and former bosses. But in the end, I felt that I’d grow much more as a person working in tech, learning and adapting, than I would be staying where I was.
My first week proved me right. On my third day, we met our now-customer Skyscanner in person, and I got a feel for how a huge enterprise deal comes about. I joined sales demos and customer meetings to learn about their pain points and frustrations. One big surprise for me, coming from a corporate environment, was how calm everyone is – even when things get stressful in such a pressurised, high-growth environment. The team were really welcoming and I went home on Friday knowing I’d made the right decision.
When I joined, we were four people; now we are nine in the London office with 11 in Riga. Getting involved in the hiring process has been rewarding, as we all have the opportunity to meet new hires before they join, which makes it easier for them to hit the ground running, and easier for me to cope with the pace of change. The only downside is that slowly – actually, increasingly quickly – we’re running out of room in the office.
My day-to-day role has felt critical to the company from the outset: on day one I was asked to set up a contract template in Juro for a sales meeting that afternoon. It was challenging, as I didn’t know the software yet, but it was great to know I’d really contributed to that meeting and could join in the conversation, as I’d set them up in the product myself.
The pace of learning is relentless, and there are lots of challenges: understanding and configuring our integrations with other software tools, and working out how best to talk customers through them, has been a big learning curve. Getting customers set up with integrations requires a lot of hand-holding, which is hard to do before you have the relevant experience. But our product team have been tremendous in enabling me to learn about setup and technical requirements, and they’re always on hand to answer tough questions.
Don’t sweat the jargon
There have been plenty of surprises so far. I’m always thrilled when customers report back to us about how much the software helps and enables them, and saves them time everyday. I’m also constantly surprised at how small the legal tech sector still is – as you attend events and meetups you encounter the same people, which helps build that community feeling. People are always so willing to help each other and share experiences too.
Perhaps less of a surprise, but significant nonetheless, is the extent to which there’s always more work to do than there are hours in the day – it’s a logical consequence of consistent high growth. While as a lawyer I was used to working hard and staying late until everything was finished, in this role it’s important to know how to prioritise and when to push back on tasks that aren’t urgent – particularly when it comes to managing customers’ expectations.
If I could go back in time and give myself some advice on making the move, I’d tell myself not to worry about things like not being able to code, or not having the tech jargon at my fingertips that flies around in meetings. I’d also have perhaps done more research on how software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies are run and the key numbers we monitor. But I’d still jump in with both feet – and I don’t miss looking for needles in haystacks.
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