Click here to see the Fastcase 50 Class of 2023!
Honoring the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, & leaders. Lawyer or nonlawyer, techie or nontechie, anyone is eligible.
Created in 2011, each year the Fastcase 50 award honors a diverse group of lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, judges, law librarians, bar association executives, and people from all walks of life. In many cases, honorees are well known, but in many others, the award recognizes people who have made important, but unheralded contributions.
“When we look back at the pandemic era, we will see it as a great reset in our attitudes and assumptions about legal services,” said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. “Even if they have had to spend more time on Zoom this year than they had planned, the 2022 class of honorees is making profound changes for the next generation of law. We celebrate these impactful advocates and inspiring innovators who are shaping the future under incredibly challenging circumstances.”
Bobby Balachandran has been a trailblazer throughout his extensive career in IT architecture and the implementation of systems for financial services organizations. Originally from India, Bobby is now the founder, president, and CEO of Exterro, Inc., the influential government, risk and compliance (GRC) firm. Bobby started Exterro with the conviction that the legal industry was ripe with opportunities for process improvements inspired by lessons learned in other industries. With these founding principles in mind, Bobby now leads the company in building a comprehensive Legal GRC platform for thousands of corporations located across the globe to mitigate risks, control costs, and have greater visibility into their legal processes. Bobby’s innovative solutions address complex regulatory, data governance, risk, and compliance processes managed by in-house corporate counsels, legal departments, and law firms.
This May, Alvaro Bedoya was appointed commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission by President Biden, a new role that continues his work as a champion of individual rights and protections. Alvaro founded and formerly directed Georgetown’s Center on Privacy & Technology, which focuses on privacy and surveillance issues, using investigations, policy initiatives, and education. Alvaro’s work is especially related to issues of race, class, and power. To that end, he recently co-authored The Perpetual Line-Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America, which highlights how most American adults are captured in a police recognition network where vendor companies have not addressed race and gender biases in face scanning software. With an aim to give back, Alvaro also co-founded the Esperanza Education Fund, which provides scholarships to immigrant students in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
As a triple-board certified trial attorney with more than forty years of experience, John Blumberg knows a thing or two about effectively advocating before juries. This past year, John took a career’s worth of knowledge and consolidated it as a new methodology for the courtroom called: Persuasion Science for Trial Lawyers (Full Court Press 2022). The guide is easy to understand, yet novel and comprehensive. Persuasion Science for Trial Lawyers draws on psychology to explain what makes courtroom strategies successful and how to reach every type of juror with ease. John, who is a former radio host for an NPR affiliate station, recorded Full Court Press’s first ever audiobook version of his guide.
With the goal of reducing redundancy in contract reviews, Dan Broderick pulled from his deep domain expertise and engineering background to create BlackBoiler, an automated contract review system that uses AI to automatically review and markup inbound contracts in Microsoft Word’s Track Changes. The tech is transforming contract negotiation and giving document reviewers a fast-forward button, similar to the quantum leap from red pen-markup to Word. Dan and his team empower attorneys to perform contract review with greater accuracy and consistency in a fraction of the time. As CEO and co-founder, Dan leads strategic planning and operations and oversees a dedicated team of engineers, lawyers, researchers, and operators working to create solutions that are improving the delivery of legal services. BlackBoiler is exactly the kind of technology that removes rote comparison work so that lawyers can focus on higher-value activities such as risk assessment, strategy, and advising clients.
Amanda Brown is the Founder and Executive Director of Lagniappe Law Lab, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “narrow the Access to Justice Gap by ensuring the Louisiana civil justice system is operating at its full potential.” The lab streamlines the creation of new legal tech and access to justice initiatives through consulting on new projects, as well as providing maintenance and governance support to existing access to justice projects. Beyond her organization, Amanda serves as co-chair of the Louisiana Access to Justice Commission’s technology subcommittee, and also holds roles at the Legal Service Corporation and the American Bar Association. Amanda’s legal tech roots run deep – she formerly consulted for the Louisiana Bar Foundation on the state’s Civil Legal Navigator, which guides users through a question-and-answer process to get critical legal information on issues like landlord-tenant law and LGBT+ rights.
For years, dockets have been evolving from a table of contents in paper files to a quantitative dossier for litigation analytics. JoAnn Buss has seen this transformation, and has served as an architect for these changing docket management services for 44 years, making her one of the most experienced in the industry. JoAnn serves as the Senior Docket Analyst at Cooley, one of the nation’s most innovative law firms, but she has experience in some of the nation’s largest litigation firms, with 17 years at Sidley Austin as Director of Docketing Services and before that 18 years at Skadden Arps as Docket Manager. In the world of docket management and analytics, she has seen it all, from paper files and runners to big data and digital analytics. She is a founding member and former president of the Chicago Area Docket Association, active member of the NDA, and was former chairperson of the eCourts Advisory Committee for the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Always with an eye for service, Amanda Caffall has successfully leveraged technology and innovation to expand The Commons Law Center into a highly efficient operation. The Commons is a nonprofit law firm that assists those living at 400% below the federal poverty level. Based in Oregon, the Center offers sliding-scale legal services and has expanded its offerings year after year, nearly doubling the amount of matters it was able to take on in 2021. During a tumultuous time when the demand for affordable legal services is in high demand, Amanda’s leadership has not gone unrecognized. She has received the Oregon State Bar’s Oregon New Lawyers Division Public Service Award and Bar President’s Technology and Innovation Award. This model for “low-bono” legal services serves as an example for others finding ways to innovate in the “PeopleLaw” segment - representing people, not corporations, beyond volunteer legal services.
Lindsey Carpino is a leader in the world of emerging and transformative technologies. In her current role as Legal Content Services Supervisor at BakerHostetler, Lindsey has contributed towards the development of an innovative new tool called “Review-it”. This crowdsourced platform provides anonymous legal resource reviews to the law library community at large in an effort to save time and individual analysis. She has been recognized for this achievement with a sweeping win in all three of the award’s categories at the first-ever AALL Innovation Showcase. Lindsey is also at the forefront of helping litigators navigate the intersection of digital business, technology, and the law, through her regular support of BakerHostetler’s IncuBaker team, an in-house technology accelerator at the firm. Her work spotlights the importance of legal research services and content in data-centered projects.
In her new role as General Counsel of Wing Aviation, the drone delivery unit of Alphabet, Inc. (nee Google), Angela Chadwick is pushing the frontiers of drone law, delivery, and aviation compliance. With a M.B.A. from Wharton, a J.D. from Harvard, and experience as the Associate General Counsel at Tesla during its historic rise as the fastest growing global brand, Angela is accustomed to blazing new trails in corporate legal departments. Before she joined Tesla, she was a chief compliance officer for the Atlanta Housing Authority, Georgia’s largest housing agency, and served as a magistrate judge in Fulton County, where she was recognized as one of the “most powerful and influential women of Georgia.” We’re excited to watch what’s next as she creates a new frontier for deliveries – and corporate legal practice.
Danielle Citron is an accomplished scholar of digital privacy and protections. In addition to many law review articles, she is the author of Hate Crimes in Cyberspace and the upcoming The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age. Indeed, she is one of the most extensively cited professors in the nation on issues of law and technology. That work goes hand in hand with her role as the director of UVA’s LawTech Center. The Center is a hub of faculty research on issues of law and technology, as well as the host of numerous student organizations, fellowships, events, and courses. With Danielle at the helm, the LawTech Center is a vital player in the online privacy legal landscape, hosting and driving conversations that will shape policy for years to come.
As a law firm associate, Nicole Clark was frustrated by collecting anecdotal stories about judges to make strategic case recommendations. One night, after consulting a colleague at her firm about a complex motion for summary judgment, she discovered that he had a ruling from her judge on the exact same motion and type – and could not understand why litigation intelligence was seemingly so random. Nicole left the firm to start Trellis, to democratize this kind of legal intelligence information from trial courts. Today, Trellis boasts one of the largest searchable databases of state trial court records and includes data-based insights on judges, opposing counsel, motions, dockets, and legal issues.
Marla Crawford is an expert in legal technology, electronic discovery, and information governance, having practiced for 22 years at Jones Day, and as Associate General Counsel at Goldman Sachs for 11. She previously worked on the groundbreaking Enron litigation, a testament to her skill in electronic discovery. As a member of the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC)’s Education Advisory Council, Marla is now known as a teacher and mentor to three generations of legal professionals. Some of Marla’s most important work has come in the space of advocating for women and minority groups; she founded the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program at Cimplifi, her current employer, which specializes in eDiscovery and contract analysis technology.
Only a week ago, the Las Vegas Raiders announced Sandra Douglass Morgan as their new team president. The child of African-American and Korean parents, Sandra is the first Black woman and first Asian woman to serve as the president of a team in the National Football League. A native of Las Vegas, Sandra began her career as a defense attorney, served as an attorney for The Mirage resort and then as the city attorney for North Las Vegas. She later worked in the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the Nevada Gaming Commission, then as chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, where she had responsibility for first closing and then reopening casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sandra joined the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP as counsel in November 2021 before being named president of the Raiders organization.
When Sonja Ebron faced frustration navigating the civil court system without professional legal representation, she recognized a need for legal information among a neglected space in the market (pro se litigants) and decided to be the changemaker who could provide a solution. Sonja embarked on a mission to make the justice system accessible and equitable for everyone. Along with her partner Debra Slone (a fellow Fastcase 50 2022 winner), she created Courtroom5, a digital-and-artificial intelligence-based platform that provides pro se litigants with tools to represent themselves in court. The company breaks the barrier to access by offering animated video courses, workshops, legal forms and documents, and community forums to assist people where they can most effectively help themselves. Recognizing that some parts of the journey benefit from the advice of a lawyer, Courtroom5 recently expanded its services by partnering with Fastcase to offer users direct access to lawyers in Fastcase’s membership for help with specific questions regarding their cases.
The Virginia State Bar has been guided by the exemplary leadership of Karen Gould for nearly 15 years. Although she plans to retire this year, Karen’s commitment to the VSB and its members will have a long-lasting impact. Under her guidance, the VSB invested in evolving technology, including upgraded equipment and security systems. She also modernized enterprise content records management software that saved valuable resources by allowing some VSB departments to go paperless, and converted the Bar’s Rules and Regulations from a weighty print document to searchable HTML pages on the Bar website. Karen had previously served as the President of the VSB, and she was the first woman to serve as the Bar’s Executive Director and COO. During her tenure the VSB’s membership grew nearly 24% ushering the association into the modern age. She brought leadership to the Bar through the pandemic, steered the Bar through the 2008 financial crisis and budget cuts, and managed the relocation of Bar offices. Today she is a leader and mentor for bar association executives across the country.
As Founding Director and CEO of Open Law Library, David Greisen is working to ensure that our laws are easy to find and freely available to all. The Open Law Library is an open-access publisher that builds software to help governments collaborate, draft, and publish their laws directly to the public without going through a for-profit publisher. David and his team of technologists believe in the power of well-applied technology to bring about real change, which is why they have created software that allows civil servants to focus on serving their constituents in an affordable and efficient manner. David and his team at Open Law Library have worked with Washington, D.C. and several Native Nations to draft and publish their laws. The Open Law Library helps governments to build a foundation of open, accessible, timely, and accurate laws for their communities.
Jazz Hampton serves as the CEO and General Counsel for TurnSignl, a Minnesota-based tech company he co-founded in the wake of the deaths of Philando Castile and George Floyd. TurnSignl is a mobile app that provides real-time and on-demand legal guidance from an attorney to drivers during traffic stops, complete with a recording of the full interaction. The app works to keep drivers, regardless of race, safe and empowered while speaking with law enforcement. Under Jazz’s leadership, TurnSignl has won several major industry awards including Startup of the Year and BETA’s Inclusion Evolution. Before joining TurnSignl, Jazz was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion and a practicing attorney at Foley & Mansfield, as well as an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, an Emerging Leader within Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, and the Co-Chair of DRI’s Young Lawyer Diversity Committee.
In his role at LegalZoom, Chase Hertel is paving the way for the future of legal services, the latest step in a career dedicated to access to justice. He began at Lawfty, a D.C. personal injury firm designed to make it as easy as possible for those injured to be compensated, including through innovative use of the D.C. Bar’s rules governing legal practice. At the ABA Center for Innovation, Chase further explored how bar regulations can be reformed to better serve the country’s legal needs, especially in delivering legal services more broadly and liberally to reach more people. Chase’s latest role with LegalZoom is a perfect next step - he is able to benefit those in need of legal services by connecting them with lawyers easily and affordably, and he can serve lawyers by opening up new avenues of business.
Shawn Holahan is a leader and advocate for leveraging technology to achieve excellence in law practice management. As the long-time practice management advisor for the Louisiana State Bar Association, she works with attorneys across Louisiana and gives practical advice about how lawyers can improve their practices. Shawn is an active member of the ABA Law Practice Division, having served on the ABA TECHSHOW Board, on the Publishing Board, and as an editor of the Law Practice Today magazine. Nationwide, practice management advisors are known as sage advisors, and Shawn is considered a mentor even to this elite group of her peers across the country, serving as chair of the Practice Management Advisors of North America.
Understanding that access to legal knowledge and opportunity is locked behind many walls of inequity, Diana Imbert set out to dismantle barriers from the bottom up when she helped found Defying Legal Gravity (DLG), a nonprofit based in Manhattan that connects students with a groundbreaking legal curriculum. The program is for students from 6th grade through high school who have currently or formerly incarcerated loved ones, empowering them to increase civic engagement within their communities through legal education. The idea came to Diana when she was a volunteer teacher during her first year of law school and began to review what she was learning with her students to both study and teach them about civics. As such, participants in DLG attend a sort of junior law school, where they learn in a manner that mirrors 1L courses, work on social action projects, compete in moot court, write for DLG’s law journal, and more. While students learn foundational and life-changing skills, they also work to spread legal knowledge throughout communities that have traditionally not had access, for instance through DLG’s Semiannual Intergenerational Student Symposium.
As CTO of JusticeText, Leslie Jones-Dove is changing the way criminal defense attorneys process data so they can better represent their clients. Along with fellow winner Devshi Mehrota, Leslie created valuable software that provides defense attorneys with a searchable transcript generated from video and audio files. They were inspired to create JusticeText while students at the University of Chicago, where they learned that public defenders didn’t have the resources to process an overwhelming increase in audio and video evidence. The duo focused on the disparity in resources between prosecutors and public defenders, in particular. Since then, JusticeText has been praised by public defenders nationwide and has received awards and recognition from Google and MIT, among others. Leveraging data collected from its users, JusticeText aims to provide 30 to 50% time savings for attorneys.
Somya Kaushik is providing big law resources to small and solo law firms by using technology to connect, collaborate, and advance the way we practice law. As the founder of Esq.Me, Somya has created a document marketplace for lawyers to buy and sell templates, motions, and contracts. This access allows small firms and solos to maximize their time, profits, and efficiencies without starting anew with each document. In addition to the document marketplace, Esq.Me provides members with a suite of legal services while providing affiliated legal professionals with a trusted community of experts and documents. Somya was inspired to start Esq.Me while working at a small firm; soon thereafter she decided to formalize the ways lawyers share documents and information. Outside of her work at Esq.Me, Somya is Senior Corporate Counsel of Mineral, President of South Asian Bar Association of Oregon, and an adjunct professor at Lewis & Clark Law School.
Cas Laskowski is the Head of Research, Data & Instruction at the University of Arizona’s Law Library, where she works with faculty, staff, and students to build legal technology skills. Cas is an advocate for free or low-cost resources, a critical element for practitioners setting out on their own. Cas also has set up virtual library experiences for students, adapting the student orientation experience to the pandemic era. A modernizing law librarian, she co-edited and published the open access textbook Introduction to Law Librarianship, which has been included in Spinelli’s Law Library Reference Shelf on HeinOnline. Cas is a founding fellow of the IDEA Institute on AI, an innovative, weeklong workshop to train the community of information science professionals. In addition to her past work as a Technology and Research Services librarian at Duke, she worked as a geospatial analyst in the U.S. Army, which included serving more than 15 months in Iraq. Her areas of interest and expertise include the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, privacy, censorship, A2J, and the intersection of national security and individual liberty.
Joe Lawson is creating technology tools that increase access to justice and legal information for thousands of patrons, self-represented litigants, and attorneys. As Director of the Harris County Robert W. Hainsworth Law Library in Houston, Texas, Joe has recognized the need to be more tech savvy in order to make justice and access to legal information more equitable. Joe established and directs the Legal Tech Institute, a series of free learning opportunities focused on legal technology, designed for everyone from tech novices to tech wizards, and has worked on initiatives to bring Law Library services to people in the nation’s third most populated county who could not otherwise access its physical location. During the pandemic, Joe engineered the James Werner Award-winning virtual presence device, Synchronous Touchless Assistive Node (STAN), which enabled library staff to interact with patrons unable to visit the library in person.
Colin Levy is a prominent and passionate voice in the effort to bridge the gap between the tech and legal world. With practice experience in eDiscovery, compliance, and corporate transactional work, Colin believes in this mission because he has seen technology as a key driver in improving how legal services are offered and executed. In his current role as Director of Legal and Evangelist at Malbek, he acts as a strategic advisor to their CEO and COO, taking charge of the company’s internal legal function with a focus on IP and contracting. Aside from his legal work, Colin has harnessed his passion for communication to become a leading blogger, writer, and evangelist for legal tech within the broader legal market. Colin launched his legal tech journey by interviewing legal tech leaders and publishing his insights on a blog, soon becoming an authority in his own right. Colin’s speaking engagements, legal tech newsletter, and blog aim to empower others in the tech and legal services industries, and his publications now serve as a hub to inspire and recharge the legal tech community.
Sam McAllister is working to find creative ways for litigation defense teams to communicate at Lightfoot, Franklin & White. The Alabama-based Director of Litigation Technology leads the firm in leveraging multimedia solutions to support Lightfoot lawyers in the courtroom. Around his firm, he’s the guy who can hear your communication problems and whip up a solution in-house by building proprietary software, custom platforms, and apps, which make the firm more efficient, cost-effective, and collaborative for clients. Sam’s aptitude for finding technology solutions extends beyond the courtroom. Rarely satisfied with off-the-shelf technology products, he has created several of his own proprietary tools that automate some of the most time-consuming and sensitive aspects of matters. Those include an app that aids in jury selection decisions, a workflow platform clients can access that provides a comprehensive case roadmap, and an interactive, continually-updated map showing Apex Doctrine precedent for federal and state courts across the country. The Fastcase 50 award celebrates makers, and Sam McAllister exemplifies the build-your-own spirit of the honor.
While studying criminal science at the University of Chicago, Devshi Mehrota and her classmate Leslie Jones-Dove (also a Fastcase 50 2022 honoree) built out JusticeText. The tech was developed after they learned that an incredible volume of admissible data is collected from police body camera footage, interrogation videos, jail calls, and more – but there was very little infrastructure in place to help public defenders use this material. Enter JusticeText, an audiovisual evidence management platform designed to produce fairer criminal justice outcomes by expediting the review of collected video and audio data. Its speech-to-text machine learning algorithms transcribe video footage evidence, speeding up pre-trial preparation and helping overburdened and under-resourced public defenders better defend their clients. Public defender agencies in several states are already noticing the impact of JusticeText on outcomes for indigent defendants. With grants and accolades already under their belt, including Forbes 30 Under 30 and winning the MIT SOLVE – Antiracist Technology in the U.S. challenge, the social entrepreneurs are strengthening the capacity of public institutions to provide criminal defense representation for all Americans, regardless of income.
Annie Mentkowsk is the Agency Librarian at the United States Railroad Retirement Board, an agency that oversees retirement, healthcare, and survivorship benefits for American railroad workers. Annie’s accomplishments go well beyond her work at the agency, however. She is one of the minds behind “Review-It”, a new legal tech tool that won the 2021 AALL Innovation Showcase Awards in three categories (government, law firm, and law school). The tool, which she co-created with Lindsey Carpino of BakerHostetler (also a Fastcase 50 2022 winner), serves as a “Yelp!” for law librarians - a crowdsourced review system that shares feedback on legal resources with the law library community in an anonymized way. Annie’s work is a great example of innovation being a rising tide that lifts all boats; Review-It is set to improve law libraries worldwide by encouraging the dissemination of critical feedback for the way legal data is organized and made available to legal professionals everywhere.
Many people know the pioneering work of CanLII publishing Canadian law online - but CanLII would not be possible without the engineering work done behind the scenes by Lexum, now a part of CanLII. For more than two decades, Ivan Mokanov has propelled electronic legal publishing and legal document management for Lexum (and by extension, for the Canadian Legal Information Institute), and he has been instrumental in building the framework that opens access to the law across Canada. Lexum is a founding member of the global Free Access to Law Movement (FALM) and, with Ivan’s leadership, Lexum is providing all design, development, and operation of the publishing platform for the CanLII website in addition to the SaaS products it develops for hundreds of legal institutions.
Sam Moore’s experience as a commercial lawyer, project manager, and computer scientist has given him a unique blend of skills and knowledge to leverage in his role at the Dutch legal tech marketplace Reynen Court, a secure platform for law firms and corporate legal departments to purchase legal apps. Sam leads the Vendor Relations team and focuses on finding the best candidates to participate in the Reynen Court ecosystem of tools and services. Prior to Reynen Court, Sam led the innovation team at Burness Paull LLP, a large UK law firm. Outside of his day to day duties he also sits on the Advisory Board of Lawscot Tech and is a Senior Tutor at Glasgow University School of Law, where he teaches the Legal Innovation & Technology module of the Diploma in Scots Law that he co-created.
Jason Morris is a Canadian lawyer pioneering research in “Rules as Code,” a new field seeking to create machine-understandable rules and law. Lawyers don’t scale well, so Jason and others in the field are seeking to make justice more easily distributed by making it easier for computers to process. This should in turn allow more people to build justice applications on the foundation of computable law. Jason is also the developer of Blawx, the 2020 runner-up in the American Legal Technology Awards Startup category. Blawx turns Jason’s Rules as Code expertise into an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop app that empowers those without a programming background to perform deductive legal reasoning tasks. He currently serves as CEO of LEXpedite, a company that further promotes Rules as Code through training, facilitation, and engineering.
It’s a common fact pattern – a member of the public needs help with a civil legal matter, but can’t afford professional services, so they turn to Google and a labyrinth of competing and untested information. BookLawyer was founded by Neal Nagely in 2006 to alleviate that problem, by providing free resources to help everyone find an affordable lawyer if they need it, read curated and trusted legal sources, as well as legal news. The site works like a virtual encyclopedia, where users can either run a search or browse through nearly 1,700 common legal topics to find answers written by real attorneys, among caselaw, and relevant statutes. Information is crowdsourced so everyone can access what they need, and lawyers can also participate in forum discussions and listings to find new clients.
Over his long career, Igor Olenich has worked in human resources, records management, and even law enforcement. As one of the original founders of the National Docketing Association (NDA), Igor has already served as NDA Secretary and Vice President. In his new capacity as President, Igor will lead the global conversation on docketing standards. When Igor is not working with the NDA, he is the Firmwide Patent Docket Manager at Morrison & Foerster (MoFo), with over 20 years of experience supporting attorneys with all aspects of IP docketing.
In her current role as Knowledge Manager for WilmerHale, Miranda Perkins is the subject-matter expert for the firm’s technology stack, acting as a conduit between people and systems across practice areas and departments. In her support of various legal departments, Miranda has created knowledge assets from the firm’s expertise. According to lawyers at the firm, Miranda has developed a sense for delivering the right insight at the right time, a timing skill perhaps honed during her studies of wine at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Throughout this last year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miranda not only adjusted to a new work paradigm, but was ahead of the curve in proactively solving small problems before they became large ones. Her work to automate Audit Letter Responses led to WilmerHale being recognized for Best Use of Technology at the The American Lawyer Industry Awards and a finalist nod for ITLA’s “Transformative Project of the Year” award.
It’s no secret that law firms have under-invested in technology, but they are rapidly catching up. That’s why in 2020, Zach Posner co-founded The LegalTech Fund, the first venture capital firm laser-focused on law and legal technology. Zach announced last month that he has closed his first fund, which was oversubscribed, at $28.5 million. The fund typically invests less than $1 million and has invested in 30 companies even before the fund closed. Zach takes a broad approach, looking for startups that have “legal in the middle,” but which may also span fintech, govtech, or consumer tech. A three-time entrepreneur and already a major connector in the legal tech community, Zach will have an inside track to the next generation of legal tech startups on behalf of the fund.
Warren Postman is a legal pioneer, using the strategy of “mass arbitrations” to help consumers assert their rights en masse. Warren met his co-founding partner Ashley Keller nearly 15 years ago while clerking for Justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, respectively. Over the past few years they have created new techniques in class action and arbitration to enforce rights for consumers who have signed contracts waiving rights to civil trials. Warren has turned the tables on companies that draft arbitration clauses in click-wrap and other asymmetrical contracts, bringing large-scale arbitrations more akin to a class-action lawsuit. His firm has won precedent-setting victories against Intuit, Postmates, and DoorDash, among others. In less than a year in practice, his firm has achieved settlements and litigation victories for more than 500,000 consumers, and his firm is currently pursuing high-stakes antitrust and consumer-rights cases against tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
As the founder and principal of Modern Juris, Anne-Marie Rabágo works to provide tools, training, and support to help lawyers and other legal professionals build sustainable businesses designed to serve the latent legal market. Through the cultivation of a more collaborative learning community, she seeks to break down barriers to legal access, build new business models in law, and create systematic change. Before Anne-Marie began her work with Modern Juris, she was Director of the Texas Opportunity & Justice Incubator (TOJI), which acted as a flagship access to justice gap program sponsored by the State Bar of Texas. Under her leadership, TOJI quickly grew to become the largest legal incubator in the country and eventually the first fully virtual legal incubator. Prior to this role, Anne-Marie directed the Access to Law Initiative, a legal incubator at the California Western School of Law. Her extensive resume demonstrates her commitment to not only training new and transitioning lawyers, but also to exploring market-based solutions to the country’s access to justice crisis overall.
Judge Carlton Reeves serves as a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and is slated to become the first Black person to chair the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The seven-member bipartisan independent agency has lacked enough members to operate since 2019. This has been a challenge for federal courts, who rely on sentencing guidelines for their criminal cases. Nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2010 to serve on the federal bench, Carlton became the second Black judge appointed to the federal bench in Mississippi. His elevation to the bench was poignant for Judge Reeves. As a teenager, he filled in for a friend to clean the office of U.S. District Judge William Barbour, who years later would swear in Carlton to replace him. As a federal judge, Reeves made a notable pre-sentencing speech about racial injustice and the “scars of America’s history” that has been read more than 1 million times. Judges, prosecutors, and public defenders alike have asked for more consistency in federal sentencing guidelines, and although it is a daunting task, Judge Reeves may be uniquely situated to usher in a new era for federal sentencing.
Jacqueline Schafer is the Founder and CEO of Clearbrief, named 2022 New Law Company of the Year (Legalweek) and 2021 Legal Tech Startup of the Year (American Legal Technology Awards). Clearbrief is an AI platform in Microsoft Word used by hundreds of law firms, and numerous government agencies and courts across the country to instantly locate factual support for any concept while writing, saving them hours of tedious work each week. The platform also leverages AI to help writers check citations, generate a 1-Click Table of Authorities, and share interactive versions of documents with just a click from Word (for example, the Clearbrief version of the SCOTUS Dobbs opinion was widely shared on social media by lawyers and journalists). Jacqueline received the 2021 APEX Legal Innovation Award from the WA State Bar Association and is a member of the 2022 ABA Women of Legal Tech List. Jacqueline began her career as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, & Garrison, and spent the majority of her career serving as an Assistant Attorney General in the Washington and Alaska Attorney General’s Offices, where she specialized in appellate practice and complex litigation.
When Judge Scott Schlegel was elected to the bench in 2013, he quickly earned a reputation as a modern judge, using technology to bring the court up to speed with the digital age. So by the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the court was prepared to do everything necessary to move his docket and reduce the population in jails via video hearings on motions to reduce bond. He also proactively partnered with legal tech CEOs, such as LawDroid’s Tom Martin and Documate’s Dorna Moini, to develop efficiency tools like chat bots and online form software. But Judge Schlegel’s work didn’t stop there, he launched courtonline.us and onlinejudge.us to consolidate his processes for the public. While many were panicking in early 2020, Judge Schlegel was a steady hand, acting proactively and tying in technology solutions to keep vital court services running.
Throughout her career, Elaine Screechfield has worked double-time as a leader in the docket management space. Not only was she the Firmwide Litigation Docket Manager at Morrison & Foerster (MoFo) from 1983 until her retirement this month, she is the past president and a current executive board member of the National Docketing Association (NDA). Throughout her long and impressive stint at MoFo, Elaine has overseen centralized litigation docketing, including training, court resource management, and database support. She oversaw the firmwide litigation docket function across six domestic offices, all while managing litigation docket training, resources, and personnel matters.
With the pandemic and economic forces pushing many into legal difficulties such as eviction or foreclosure, Debra Slone and her business partner (fellow Fastcase 50 2022 winner Sonja Ebron) decided to tackle the access to justice gap head on, founding Courtroom5. The move came after both Debra and Sonja faced difficulty in civil court, despite their savvy research skills – both hold PhDs and have taught as college professors. The site, founded in 2017, offers members access to courses, workshops, and other case-tracking tools for pro se litigants that make the legal process less daunting. Debra brought a complimentary skillset to their partnership, armed with twelve years of experience as a public services librarian, she was well-equipped to communicate complex information to the public. In addition to Courtroom5, Debra also created Spectrum, a tool that standardizes visual displays of qualitative data.
Mary Smith, an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, is the first female Native American president-elect nominee of the American Bar Association, nominated for the 2022-2023 term. Her eclectic legal career spans from private practice, corporate litigation counsel, and roles in state and federal government, to serving as a former president of the National Native American Bar Association. Mary envisions a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. She has worked on policy and legal issues involving Native Americans, homelessness, and violence against women for the White House during the Clinton administration, and has served as principal deputy director of the Indian Health Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Most recently, she has helped draft resolutions considered by the ABA’s House of Delegates that urged all governments to acknowledge and prioritize responding to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis. A former math and computer science major in college, she is also the founder of the Caroline and Ora Smith Foundation that promotes Native American girls in the STEM fields.
Amy Stein teaches energy and environmental law at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, but Amy also explores the frontiers of legal doctrines applied to artificial intelligence. Her recent work addresses the President’s authority to address energy emergencies, demonstrates how artificial intelligence can help with decarbonization across the electric grid, and provides legal strategies for decarbonizing fleets of light-duty trucks. Her most recent article (forthcoming in Boston University Law Review) explores how assumption of risk may be a strong defense to tort claims brought when artificial intelligence causes harms. Amy’s pioneering look at AI-informed strategies to address climate change are pushing the boundaries of both legal strategy and climate science.
Clanitra Stewart Nejdl’s enthusiasm for law librarianship, both nationally and in her home program at Vanderbilt Law, is self-evident. Clanitra started her career practicing in Georgia and South Carolina, where she worked for the public interest, representing indigent clients and advocating for policy change on behalf of low-income communities. In her second career as a librarian, Clanitra coordinates Vanderbilt’s Prepare to Practice series, which connects students with members of the surrounding legal community. She has held several leadership positions in the American Association of Law Librarians (AALL), and she is currently a member of the AALL Spectrum Editorial Board and a member of the AALL Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Awareness Special Committee. In fact, much of Clanitra’s scholarly writing and speaking is done on the topic of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA), which her nominator relayed is “a key tenet of [Clanitra’s] pedagogical philosophy, and she has taken every opportunity to promote it within the profession.”
Many companies talk about using artificial intelligence to automate repetitive legal tasks, but LegalMation may be the best example of companies actually doing it. Thomas Suh is a co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of LegalMation, a software company that scans complaints, identifies causes of action and key facts, then dynamically produces responsive pleadings, discovery requests and responses, and related documents tailored to the claims. Thomas understands the workflow well - before founding LegalMation, he was a lawyer and managing partner of LTL Attorneys, where he prepared those repetitive pleadings manually. Today, LegalMation offers to complete the first draft of these responsive pleadings automatically, doing (as the company’s site says) “a day’s work in two minutes.”
Sarah Sutherland leads the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), the authoritative (and free) online resource for Canadian law. CanLII is a founding member of the Free Access to Law Movement and a global leader in the Legal Information Institute movement. This year, in addition to serving as President and CEO, Sarah published her first book - Legal Data and Information in Practice: How Data and the Law Interact, a pragmatic guide on how to acquire, manage, and use legal data in various contexts, from libraries to startups. The book is essential reading for information professionals in the legal space, as it evangelizes data-driven decision making, with clear steps on how to improve processes from an international perspective.
Tony Thai climbed ladders to elite rungs of Big Law, but when he got frustrated spending significant hours on tedious tasks that he knew he could write software to automate, or at the very least streamline, he tapped into his pre-legal career skillset as an enterprise software developer and created HyperDraft. Tony set out on a mission to deliver the modern technology and no-code solutions that people need to create legal documents more efficiently. HyperDraft builds software that help legal professionals draft and analyze documents better, faster, and smarter. He’s appreciated by legal tech influencers for being charismatic, pragmatic, realistic, and forthright about technology and its relationship with the delivery of legal services. HyperDraft focuses on document automation, but Tony isn’t stopping there. The company promises that diligence, editing, and more tools are in the works next.
When you think of America’s most innovative companies, you don’t normally include law firms on the list. But that’s exactly where you’ll find Wilson Sonsini, who this year made Fast Company’s list of Most Innovative Companies. That’s in large part due to the work of the firm’s Chief Innovation Officer, David Wang. During David’s tenure, Wilson Sonsini has spun out a software legal services arm called Six Fifty, and it has recently launched a tech-enabled legal services business for entrepreneurs called Neuron. The spinoff will digitize common legal processes along a startup’s journey, including matters such as incorporation, capitalization management, corporate maintenance, and financings. Why might a global powerhouse provide such services to startups? Because the firm’s future powerhouse clients might just be the startups of today. Prior to David’s work with Wilson Sonsini, he practiced corporate and securities law for more than 10 years, working with private and public companies on general corporate and transactional matters, including at Wilson Sonsini and Davis, Polk & Wardwell. As the traditional model for legal services is increasingly tested, it is innovators like David who will create the future of law firms.
Mike Zouhri is the founder of legal technology company PainWorth, a tool that disrupts personal injury lawsuits by automating the settlement process and providing new insights from highly customizable settlement data. The project is a personal one for Mike. He suffered physical injuries as the victim of a speeding drunk driver, and his experience, not only recovering from his injuries, but dealing with the resulting legal settlement process, exposed the vulnerabilities and ineffectiveness of that system. Having to face the process without a legal education, Mike was motivated to change the system. Less than a year after the accident, he started his company, collaborating with legal and technology experts to create the award-winning PainWorth. PainWorth represents serious innovation to a key area of law, one that serves individuals who have been injured and need compensation.
Winner of the prestigious American Association of Law Libraries (New Product) Award, Fastcase for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone is used by more attorneys than any other legal app according to the ABA. Anyone may use the app for free to access Fastcase's comprehensive legal research database on the go.