Our ongoing series of online events continues on August 3 2020 with ‘An Evening with Julia Salasky’. We caught up with the legal-tech entrepreneur and CEO of CrowdJustice ahead of the event to learn more about her career progression from her training contract with Linklaters through to founding a crowdfunding platform for projects aimed at improving access to the legal system.
I was always quite assertive (as Sheryl Sandberg would say, never call a girl ‘bossy’), competitive and interested in people, writing and politics. Law seemed like a natural course.
I had a training contract with Linklaters and they had selected ULaw as the learning partner of choice for its trainees. I really enjoyed the practical aspects of learning and I met some really close friends on the course. I was interested in politics and international relations; working as a lawyer at the UN was a dream job.
I’m the CEO of CrowdJustice and Legl. My job involves setting the strategic direction of the companies, managing the overall resources and operations, and communicating with our investors and board of directors. Being the CEO of a high-growth start-up means the biggest part of my job is prioritising. I’m constantly working with our product and sales teams to better understand the needs of our users and prioritise how to allocate our resources to deliver the most value to them.
My role revolves around understanding the company’s needs, our clients’ needs and how the legal market is evolving. A typical day may involve collaborating with our product team to plan our roadmap, speaking to our clients (typically managing partners, heads of IT or finance at law firms), liaising with investors and key partners or stakeholders, representing the company externally at a conference. In a remote-first world, there’s also a bit more scope for lunch with my kids, too.
I qualified while at Linklaters, into the litigation department. I worked on a lot of derivatives cases and a few international arbitrations. I did a secondment to the Mary Ward Legal Centre, acting pro bono for people in need. I think Linklaters gave me a varied experience and exposed me to both the legal and commercial aspects of being a lawyer.
The UN was originally my dream job but after I got it I felt unsettled. I’d always been driven to helping make a legal system which worked for everyone. Before I joined the UN I had done pro bono work in a legal aid centre where I had seen first-hand how many of the UK’s most vulnerable citizens were denied access to justice due to legal aid cuts. After joining the UN I began to feel like I wasn’t in the right role to help tackle this problem. So (and much to the surprise of my friends and family) I left my job at the UN and founded CrowdJustice; the only crowdfunding platform for legal costs, and it’s why I launched our parent brand, Legl.
Our mission is to make it easier for everyone to use the law. To help achieve this we give law firms the tools to succeed in a digital-first world, from digital client onboarding to more convenient payment methods. By modernising some of these cumbersome and time-consuming processes, not only do we help make it easier for people to access and use legal services, but we help law firms adopt better business practices and increase profitability.
Following the Covid-19 crisis I think we’ll see a radical shift to digitisation in legal services - we’re already seeing this and our technology enables this to happen.
When I qualified the legal system was very much the world of lawyers. A big change I’ve seen over the last ten years, which I find exciting, is the increase of alternative legal service providers and how, by taking learnings from other industries, they’re able to create more cost efficient solutions for consumers. For example, what Farewill is doing with wills and probate. When I qualified there weren’t any tech-enabled legal solutions.
I founded CrowdJustice and Legl, because I wanted to make the legal system easier for everyone to use, but we’re not there yet. For consumers of legal services, accessing those services is expensive time-consuming and untransparent. For those providing legal services, it is a fiercely competitive market with a relentless cost pressure from clients. I would love, through Legl, to make an impact on this.
I’d advise anyone considering a legal career to keep an open mind. Increasingly, the job of a lawyer is not just giving legal advice but working out how to deliver the best value to their clients, including through the use of technology. Be inquisitive, ask questions. Just because things have always been done one way doesn’t mean they have to continue to be done that way.
If you are a ULaw alumni, you can book your place at An Evening with Julia Salasky by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.