Last week I had the distinct pleasure of presenting at two different conferences while in Chicago: ABA TECHSHOW 2020 and The 2020 Women of Legal Tech Summit.
At TECHSHOW I spoke twice about two topics that fell well within my wheelhouse. My first talk (with my co-presenter Jim Calloway) was focused on cloud computing for lawyers, and my second presentation (with co-presenter Maria Phillips) addressed the cybersecurity risks — including phishing and malware — that law firms face in 2020.
But it’s my presentation at the Women of Legal Tech Summit that is the focus of today’s column. At that conference I spoke about a subject that diverged significantly from my usual talks on how and why lawyers should use legal technology. Because the goal of the Summit was to close the gender gap in legal tech, my presentation’s objective was to find a way to amplify the voices of women in legal tech.
It is my hope that sharing my ideas in today’s column will help to spread the word, create a tribe of women in legal tech, and perhaps even create a movement to encourage others to share the messages of women in legal tech and support their efforts to change legal tech for the better.
When I began to create my slide deck, my end goal was to come up with a dog whistle, if you will, that would be a call to action to those seeking to support women in legal tech online. But before sharing my plan for accomplishing this, I have to first set the stage.
As I explained in my talk, women in legal tech sometimes encounter difficulties online, for a number of reasons, when it comes to amplifying their voices. For starters, many women in legal tech not only work but also manage their families’ lives. Some have caregiving responsibilities as well.
This means that professional networking and more traditional socializing — both online and off — often fall by the wayside, since something has to give. That may not be the case for every woman, but that’s always been the case for me. And from anecdotal experience over the years, I’ve learned that it’s the case for many other women as well.
Because networking isn’t always a top priority for many women, they’re often left out of various online (and offline) “boys’ clubs.” The end result is many informal online legal tech networks that formed organically within a social media platform often tend to be made up mostly of men. These groups often primarily amplify only the voices of those who are part of the loosely formed online network. As a result, the voices of women in legal tech are sometimes inadvertently left out of the mix.
To solve this problem, I’ve proposed a hashtag that women in legal tech can use when they share something online that they wanted to amplify. This would help to create an online “tribe” of women on legal tech, and the hashtag itself would be a call to action of sorts. By using the hashtag, women would be asking their tribe and those seeking to support their message to retweet or share their post. This would make it easy for women in legal tech to support each other and for others who seek to support women in legal tech to amplify the messages of women in legal tech by sharing the messages with their respective online networks.
Notably, there is already a hashtag often used to identify women in legal tech: #womenoflegaltech. But in my experience, it’s typically used to highlight an accomplishment of a woman in legal tech by someone other than that woman. And it’s not a call to action; instead it’s simply a hashtag that acts as a classification of sorts. And to further confuse matters, a very similar hashtag, #womeninlegaltech, is often used for the same purpose.
So I decided to come up with a different call-to-action hashtag. As you can see from the slides in my deck below, I considered a few options. The first hashtag that I came up with, and then dismissed for the reasons discussed above, was #womeninlegaltech. I also rejected #legaltechXX for any number of reasons, not the least of which was the likelihood that it could be subject to … unintended misinterpretations.
I finally settled on #legaltechX2 because it represented a mathematical concept that embodied amplification, which was the very reason I sought to create this hashtag in the first place.
So how do I envision this working?
- Step 1: Use the hashtag. Women in legal tech and their supporters should use this hashtag whenever they’d like to call on their tribe to widely share particular social media post.
- Step 2: Follow the hashtag. If you’d like to support women in legal tech, follow the hashtag by running daily searches for it on your social media platforms of choice, or by creating a column on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite for this hashtag search.
- Step 3: Amplify the message: Retweet or share all posts that use this hashtag. This way the voices of women in legal tech are amplified far beyond their respective networks.
So that’s my proposal. Let’s start using the hashtag #legaltechX2 and see what happens when more diverse perspectives are added to online legal tech conversations!
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