The May 12, 2022 meeting was attended by about 60 people via Zoom. Incoming President Scott Vanderlin welcomed everyone as outgoing President Jamie Sommer was ill. There were a couple of guests to celebrate Nancy Henry’s retirement. Scott thanked Lexis for providing the door prizes. Also thanks to Eugene Giudice for donating copies of his book for additional raffle projects. There will also be a virtual hangout after the meeting for socializing. Scott then introduced the two speakers.
Presentation: Our speakers for the meeting were Kristen Sonday, co-founder and CEO of Paladin and Devshi Mehrotra, founder and CEO of Justice Text. They spoke about their experiences as female LegalTech founders and CEOs, the importance of technology in the push for access to justice and increased accessibility of legal information, as well as the importance of legal professionals in their work.
Biographical information about the speakers:
Devshi Mehrotra is a founder and the CEO of JusticeText, an audiovisual evidence management system for public defenders. JusticeText automates transcripts for videos, including body camera footage, interrogations, and courtroom proceedings — speeding up pre-trial preparation and helping defense attorneys to give better counsel to their clients. Devshi founded JusticeText in 2019 with a classmate at the University of Chicago. In 2020, they secured funding from multiple investors to scale their solution and improve the criminal justice system nationwide. They were recently named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for social impact.
Kristen Sonday is the Co-Founder and CEO of Paladin, a service that aims to increase access to justice by helping legal teams run more efficient pro bono programs. After graduating from Princeton, Kristen joined the U.S. Department of Justice, where she worked on international criminal affairs in Mexico and Central America. After the DOJ, she joined the founding team of Grouper (Y Combinator W’12), learning how to build startups and use technology to scale networks. Kristen is a Fellow for Stanford’s Latino Entrepreneur Leaders Program, and a Google for Entrepreneurs Code2040 Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Kristen is also a 2017 ABA Woman in Tech to Watch as a result of her access to justice work through Paladin.
Kristen started out giving a little more on her background and additional information on Paladin and her work with the DOJ in Mexico City. She realized how difficult it was to navigate the US justice system. There is a huge gap between needs for services and the pro bono community. There is a lot of room for innovation in this area. Decided to tackle the micro-problem of how to hook up those in need with the pro bono attorneys who are willing to assist. Paladin works with firms to use tech to help hook up the attorneys in those firms with those in need. This helps the firms improve their pro bono programs as well.
Devshi then took over to talk about JusticeText. Talked to CPD and tried to figure out how to use technology to assist them. There is a lot of data out there in terms of body cam footage, jailhouse recordings, etc. How can all of this data be better used by Public Defenders and others in the legal community. Decided to work on this as a project full time. Have 6 people in the company and things are moving along.
The program then shifted to a Q&A program moderated by Scott.
- What were some of the most surprising things you found entering into the legal profession coming from a tech background. Devshi said as being a younger person, but being open and willing to learn was helpful and she found that many PD’s were an open community that was willing to work with them and saw the value in technology.
- Kristen what is it like being a CEO for a tech company focusing in the legal community. Kristen said that she saw her role as a translator between the general populace and the legal community and being outside the legal community was helpful in this regard. Realized that in the legal community it is better to move slower and not just throw something at the wall and see if it sticks.
- How do the two of you collaborate on projects? You have related products, but are individual. Devshi said that she views Kristen as a mentor. Kristen said she thinks there is a big need for collaboration and that this is not happening as well as it could in the legal tech space. Many opportunities coming up as the tech evolves to coordinate and democratizes access to legal resources.
- Eugene asked Devshi how she broke down any resistance from the prosecutors. There has actually been some interest from the prosecutor’s offices as well and they can use the data also. So far have not had to adjust their values and have people on both sides who see the value in their services.
- Have either of you hired new law school grads or what kind of training do you think law students should have to be successful in this space. Kristen says most of the hires are those with tech backgrounds or associates for the legal need. There might be a call for law students later, but as yet there is not a need for them. Devshi said most of their hires are also in tech, but they recently hired someone who is planning on going to law school. Scott followed up with a comment that there are some tech incubators in some of the law schools and this will be more of a thing in the future.
- How do Paladin and JusticeText make legal information more accessible to the general populace and how can librarians help. Kristen says that librarians can help by making the legal navigators and online guides available and to provide resources to help them navigate the systems more effectively. Devshi said they primarily deal with audio and video, not text. There are tools now to get materials transcribed and this is coming, but it is not there yet. This is the area in which to start – getting this data more accessible and easier to catalog.
- If you want to follow up with either of them you can reach Kristen at email@example.com and Devshi at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prizes and Awards:
The CALL Grants and Chapter Awards Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s CALL awards. Scott Vanderlin announced all of the awards in place of Lindsey Carpino and stated please join me in congratulating our honorees:
- Lifetime Achievement in Law Librarianship Award: Nancy Henry
- Agnes and Harvey Reid Award for Outstanding Contribution to Law Librarianship: Joe Mitzenmacher
- Award for Outstanding In-House Publication – tied between Emily Byrne and Emily Barney
- Community Service – Lisa Winkler: Join us on Saturday, May 14, 2022, from 10 am – 12 pm at the River Trail Nature Center (RTNC, 3120 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook, IL 60062) to help clean-up the forest preserve. Work typically involves removing buckthorn or other invasive species, mulching, planting, clearing brush, or clearing trails of debris. Tasks will be given by Forest Preserve staff on the day of service. All volunteers should dress for working outdoors, including full-length pants, layers, sun protection, and closed toe work shoes that can get muddy. Water and snacks will be provided, but bringing your own water bottles and snacks is recommended. All family members or friends ages 10 & up are welcome
- Mentorship – Stacia Stein – The Mentorship page on the CALL website has been updated and there are now links to CALL members and their publications. Also asking for help in identifying mentors in CALL
- 75th Anniversary – Claire Willis – Save the Date – June 23rd from 5 pm – 7pm at the Columbia Yacht Club.
- Grants – Please apply for a grant for AALL – the application date has been extended to May 20th.
Community Service: In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing humanitarian crisis it is creating for Ukrainians everywhere, the Community Service Committee encourages CALL members to make monetary donations to the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America. Established in 1925, the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA) is the longest-running and largest Ukrainian women’s organization in the US. Their mission is to promote and develop educational and cultural efforts and provide humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians worldwide. They have been very active in response to the attack on Ukraine and have six local Chicago branches. They accept online donations through PayPal and Facebook as well as checks: https://unwla.org/#donate
Door prizes: LexisNexis has supplied two gift cards that were raffled off and went to:
Jill Meyer used a random name generator
- Lyonette Louis-Jacques – Lexis git card
- Maribel Nash – Lexis gift card
- Pat Sayer McCoy – Copy of Book
- Judy Gaskill – Copy of Book
Transition of Board:
- Tom Keefe is outgoing as Treasure and Todd Hillman is replacing him in the role.
- Mandy is moving from being a director and is taking over as Vice President/President Elect and Jill Myer is replacing her as director.
- Lindsey Carpino is going off the board after 5 years and we thank her for an excellent job and her years of service.
- Scott thanks Jamie Sommers for all her hard work.
Networking Event followed the meeting.