November 17, 2021 6 min read
Karen Finch is an inspirational person who wears many, many hats and wears them well.
Legally Yours, an online legal marketplace that connects clients to lawyers who price their services upfront, is like Karen’s 5th child (in addition to being a #bosslady, Karen has 4 children, 14, 12 and 10 year old twins)!
Excited and energised about innovation, Karen creates and connects businesses that serve under the same theme. She is passionate about accessibility to legal services and progressive law practices, not willing to settle for the adage “it’s just the way it is”.
Karen works tirelessly on shifting the paradigm and educating the market and the legal industry, using legal tech to highlight the varied ways to assess legal needs and access legal services.
We sat down for a chat with Karen to find out what’s in her bag for business success and were completely blown away by her insight and enthusiasm...
I am passionate about legal tech because that’s the toolkit to be able to deliver legal services efficiently and effectively and create greater accessibility for all Australians to good quality legal services and advice.
In addition to Legally Yours, we have just launchedPro-Help Legal Australia - a purpose-built ‘telehealth for legal’ video platform that connects clients to lawyers 24/7. It’s like having a lawyer in your pocket as it’s accessible on smartphones, and it is a complete game-changer for the legal industry, both in paid legal services (and the conversion of leads), and also in the pro bono legal services space where lawyers and clients will no longer have to travel to physical spaces and wait long hours to connect with a legal advisor.
I am also the VP of the Australian Legal Technology Association (ALTA) and a co-leader of WALTA - theWomen of the Australian Legal Technology Association. Through WALTA and the recent release of ourwhite paper on ‘Diversity in Legal Tech - It’s Time for Action,’ we have formed 3 working groups on how we are going to create change and impact on making legal tech, and the broader legal industry, more diverse.
It has been very interesting as I’ve been 100% flex and remote since 2015, so it’s been business as usual for me. However, I keep having to emphasise to people (clients and colleagues) that remote working in a pandemicisn't remote working in a BAU environment.
Having kids at home changes everything! They require more attention than I’m able to give them as well as full-time work, so some things have just had to give. It was super hard and chaotic and I am so glad that they have returned to face to face learning. I am a serial co-working space person too and I love to be amongst other innovators, so I am thrilled to be back there too!
I speak a lot with new lawyers and perform QA and onboarding online. Every day I film a video with new lawyer members and business partners. I’m very much about showing the human behind the technology and helping build relationships between clients and lawyers, especially in a remote situation.
Build relationships. It is key. I love taking the many conversations I have and building strong and diverse relationships.
For example I put out a blanket invitation to law students to have a virtual coffee during the long lockdown in Melbourne last year. I wanted to begin breaking down the traditional hierarchies that exist between law students and the legal profession,, and really make sure they felt supported and listened to during the pandemic.
Have a good group of people around you. Surround yourself with people who champion you, but also make the time to relish the conversations with those who challenge you.
In context: I speak with old-school lawyers who are fearful of tech and reject any change in regards to their billable hour pricing model. I love talking to them to try and understand where those fears are really coming from and how I can make change and progress less fearful for them. An extension of this is theroom I co-created on Clubhouse called ‘Fight Club for Lawyers’ which is devoted to providing a safe space for lawyers around the world to have really open conversations on controversial topics in the legal industry, such as billable hours vs upfront pricing, legal regulation and lawyer wellbeing.
Get involved.Seek out other initiatives, as I have with WALTA. I am also a legal tech editor forIdea Spies, sharing positive legal tech ideas around the globe, and I sit on a University Law Reference Committee Board for CQ University Law School as they offer a fully virtual online law degree that supports a lot of indigenous people and mums getting into law.
Be constantly curious. The minute you stop asking questions is the minute you stop progressing.
Two people lately:
Legal: John Chisholm. John is a legendary 3rd generation (reformed) lawyer who was part of the movement that introduced billable hours into law firms in the 1980s, but since 2005, has devoted his career to ‘killing’ the billable hour in the profession.
He had a huge impact on me when I started at Legally Yours. I was naive and didn’t realise how much the billable hour system was tied into lawyers psyche. John gave me confidence when he said “I believe in you and I’ll back you and I’ll support you on disrupting the system”.
I thought I’d be a career lawyer anddie in a courtroom, but I left the legal profession as I couldn't operate in the billable hour environment - there was not much room for creativity, innovation or building strong client relationships when I was billing them every 6 minutes. This experience and insight though gave me the passion and drive to take Legally Yours to where it is today.
Entrepreneurial: Kate Dillon. Not only is Kate business savvy and entrepreneurially brilliant, but she leads with her passion and that really resonates with me. She’s managed to link passion and purpose with products, and I believe that is the ultimate goal we should all be trying to achieve.
When my ‘Actually, I Can’ sweater came along I was so enthusiastic to wear it because there’s something about wearing a garment with a purpose behind it. Though it’s a small gesture in the scheme of things, the meaning behind it is so inspiring and motivating to me.
I live like an office nomad and before my She Lion bags came along, I carried an old ugly Adidas bag because it had all the pockets and size I needed! I rocked up to work once and my business partner exclaimed about how manky that bag was and I knew I needed to do something about it. I’m a CEO haha!
3 days later I saw She Lion online. I won’t lie, I still carry the same amount of potential trash and clutter in them as my old manky bag, but on the outside, I look perfectly chic.
You’ll always find my MacBook Pro and Lanolips rhubarb lip-gloss in my bag. I always carry a pair of dangly earrings because it doesn’t matter if you look like crap, big earrings make it look like you’ve put the effort in. I carry a ring light and charger, as good lighting is key to online meetings and I’m always set up in a co-working space. A pair of flats is always in my bag too. I persist in wearing heels for power and confidence, but no one wants to run for the train in stilettos!
As you can tell, Karen is a delight to speak with and is extremely generous with her expertise. We love Karen’s passion for making access to Legal Services available to all, and her championship of women in the industry.
You can connect with Karen on Linkedin.
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