- How legal technology is enabling better process flow and greater efficiencies, especially for in-house counsel to manage workflow.
- How Xakia came to be and the key elements that enabled it’s growth and more broadly the adoption of legal tech:
- Cloud computing has allowed smaller teams to access more sophisticated software at a fraction of the price; and
- A “do more with less” mentality, especially post-GFC where companies retained a lot of work in-house. Companies today are continually striving for technology to enable efficiencies.
- Lessons learnt when taking a tech startup global, and the impact of privacy, culture and regulatory constraints. As well as, outsourcing elements of the business that are not core to your service.
- The growth and global perception of legal tech in Australia and how ALTA (Australian Legal Technology Association) was born out of a desire to build a ‘brand’ and recognition of dedicated legal technology companies in Australia.
- The future of ALTA and how legal tech companies can grow their network and business.
Connect with Jodie:
Paul Evans: Today’s guest is Jodie Baker. Jodie started her career as a corporate lawyer at MinterEllison. From there she moved into an in house role at JBWere before moving into a role as a financial analyst. After six and a half years at JBWere she joined a financial services startup based in Kansas. Upon returning back to Australia, she founded Hive legal, a law firm with a unique business model and approach to practicing, and served as the managing partner. About three and a half years ago, she founded Xakia a software as a service tool that helps in house counsel managers automate their workflow. On top of being the CEO of Xakia, Jodie is the chair of the Australian Legal Technology Association, commonly known as ALTA and is the advisory board co-chair of the College of Law Australia’s Center for Legal Innovation. Welcome to the show, Jodie.
Jodie Baker: Thank you, Paul. It’s lovely to be here.
Paul Evans: So my first question is really based on a conversation we had a few weeks ago just before an ALTA pricing event in Melbourne, and we were discussing that there’s no silver bullets in business. So my first question is simple, how do you possibly fit it all in?
Jodie Baker: Well, it’s tough, right? I mean you’re in a similar situation, Paul. We’re all trying to juggle family and a life outside of what is a startup and running your own business. And it is super tricky and challenging. Probably the most time consuming part of my job is looking for the silver bullet, forever in search of that one thing that’s just going to make everything else so much easier. But I think that, for me, I have always lived by the mantra, “Work hard, be nice.” And for me fitting it all in actually relies heavily on both of those two things. So I work, I figured that I can outwork anyone. It’s just a case of knuckling down and getting as much done as I possibly can in any given hour and making sure that I put in as many hours as I possibly can. But actually the be nice part is really the silver bullet that I have been able to find and that is by surrounding myself with amazing people doing things and giving back to the community, to my team members, my network, refers, clients as much as I can. Karma, for want of a better word, actually means that those things come back to three fold and that’s been very, very beneficial in the long run.
Jodie Baker: Sometimes the short term feels super hard to find the time to fit it all in, but when you give back, then you find that, especially here in Australia, we’ve got a very, very supportive community and ecosystem, it generally comes back to support you the other way too when you need it.
Paul Evans: Makes a lot of sense. All right, today we’d love to talk to you about two topics. The first, your journey as a startup founder and the lessons that you’ve learned along the way. And then the second really about your role as the chair of ALTA, so the current state of legal tech in Australia. And I was thinking about this and I guess there’s no reason we couldn’t talk about legal tech really in a worldwide sort of sense. I think a lot of software isn’t really tied to geographic boundaries, so we can talk about it a bit more broadly and what you foresee for ALTA in the future. Rob, do you want to jump in with some of the icebreakers perhaps?
Rob Patterson: Hey Jodie, really nice to meet you.
Jodie Baker: Great to meet you too, Rob.
Rob Patterson: Cool. So what was your first ever job?
Jodie Baker: Right. Well, my first ever job was as a young 12 year old charting stocks on the stock market with my father for $2 an hour. Well before software did this in an automated sense, or at least that we could afford. We used to sit with the newspapers and my dad would read out the open, the high, the low the close and the volume of each stock that he wanted to track. And I would draw them on a chart by hand and then he would take those charts and he would analyse them to try and pick trends for investing. And it was my first introduction to the financial markets, but it became a very useful background for my future life at what became Goldman Sachs Australia. So JBWere we was acquired by Goldman Sachs and it became a very useful background for that career.
Rob Patterson: How sensational. Did he give you a cut of the gains as well?
Jodie Baker: Well, I did have that discussion with him, but he said he would only share the gains if I was prepared to share the losses too. And as a young 12 year old I didn’t want that, so I just took my $2 an hour and I thought that that was pretty good profit at the time.
Rob Patterson: That’s magnificent. Magnificent. And just another quick one, what was your first car?
Jodie Baker: I had a Ford Escort, bright green, and its number plate was ARS. So for all your Australian listeners, you would appreciate that my boyfriend, now husband, used to call it the little green arse.
Rob Patterson: Magnificent. That’s tremendous. Over to you, Paul.
Paul Evans: All right, so going to talk a bit about Xakia now. As mentioned earlier, you were previously a managing partner of a law firm, albeit a non traditional one. You made the leap to founding a tech company that serves in house teams, which is obviously a very big career change. What inspired you to go down the route of software and why the Xakia business, I guess, specifically?
Jodie Baker: I guess the best answer to this lies in something that sits in my DNA from when I was a 12 year old. I love ideas. I love innovation. I love coming up with new things and new concepts and sometimes my brain feels a little crushed by how many ideas are in there. But when you’ve got that many ideas one thing that you realise very quickly is that there’s no place that can bring ideas to fruition as quickly as software. And I’ve always loved watching new things, I’ve always played with the new toys that were available with apps and anything that I could get my hands on.
Jodie Baker: When we launched Hive, one of the things that we wanted to do was iterate, was to keep playing, we used some platforms that were out there to try different things. And we ran a research project in 2015 with as many in house counsel as we could agree to help us and sat down with them and asked them very candidly what was missing from their suite of products. And through that process there were three things that came up consistently and they formed the basis of a prototype that we put together for three clients and they used the software, the prototype, just to test the idea really. We had a fantastic level of take up and they were really excited by it. But we were of course constrained by the platforms that we built them on, so we decided that we were going to build it ourselves. And the feedback from them was also fairly candid around it didn’t belong inside a law firm, it needed to be an artist that for them to be really comfortable about using it more extensively.
Jodie Baker: And so the moment came where we just had to choose where it was going to be and where it was going to grow. And so we spun it out of Hive and, and created its own entity. And now it doesn’t have any relationship to Hive these days, but it’s sort of an iterative journey I guess. But for me it’s a really good fit because I love the whole concept of, “Hey guys, I’ve got another idea.” And they all roll their eyes.
Paul Evans: Sounds like my team, yeah. “Hey, I’ve got another idea.” And my CFO just rolls her eyes.
Jodie Baker: But it is very good fun.
Paul Evans: Yeah. Cool. So I guess this sort of ties into my next question, I studied marketing at uni, but I also studied coding and I guess I can chat to developers relatively comfortably. I’m not a developer myself, but I did learn code a bit. But you come from a background of law. So I find this really, really interesting, is then to go into a software company. So how did you find that? Making that transition from a background in law and obviously business and finance to managing a team of technical staff? So [devs, engineers, a CTO, etc.
Jodie Baker: It is interesting, isn’t it? So I guess the first thing is that when you look across the ALTA group, there are a lot of ex-lawyers who are founders of legal technology companies.
Paul Evans: Yes, absolutely.
Jodie Baker: I think that there’s a reasonable parallel between the logical thinking of lawyers, “If this, then that.” That logical thinking allows for very similar way of approaching problems. So if we take this piece of data and we do this with it, then that will be the outcome. And so I think that there is a nice flow in terms of the way the brain works for lawyers as there is for coders. For me personally, I dabbled with coding when I was a kid. I think I built a clock and a pinpong and a few other bits and pieces from my old Commodore 64 initially.
Paul Evans: Love it.
Jodie Baker: I’m pretty old. So I did have a little bit of… I know nothing about coding these days, but I do have a bit of a sense of how it all hangs together. But it was a journey for sure. So I was very lucky in that I was supported by Hive Legal’s IT suppliers were TickBox and the guy who runs that, Luke McCarthy was very, very generous in helping me to talk about how you drum up a set of specifications and this is how specifications look and we outsourced our initial, not the prototype but the MVP, we outsource that to a group. So we spent a lot of time putting together specifications and wire frames and all of those sorts of things. I look back now and I think that they’re hilarious. We’ve kept them for posterity, but it’s nothing that you would want to model yourself off.
Jodie Baker: But then actually the big leap for me was when we brought our CTO on board and he was originally from TickBox, but he really took me on the journey and said, “This is the information that we need, this is how we need it structured.” And so while he’s been building up the team and they’re learning about legal and the legal industry and our clients, I’m learning about the tech and what they need and how we interact with each other and that’s been a journey. But I think that it hasn’t actually been as challenging as I expected it to be. The guys are very… I say the guys because the technical team has been all guys up until just very recently. We’ve been very excited to add Anetha to our team so that we’ve got a woman on the team now as well. But they’ve been very patient with me and helping me to learn and to do everything that I need to do so that the communication is smooth. But it’s a steep learning curve for sure.
Rob Patterson: Has there been a couple of sort of seismic shifts, I suppose, in corporate world and in technology that have aided the development of Xakia? I’m just wondering, it seems that certainly large companies are looking ahead to keep more work in house and also the technologies now enabling, I suppose, better process flow and greater efficiencies. That sort of what’s driving the take up on Xakia?
Jodie Baker: There has been. There are probably two big things I think that are driving Xakia and its growth, and both of them really precede Xakia’s existence. So if you like, Xakia was the result of the two things that I’m going to talk about. The first is cloud computing. As boring as it sounds, it actually allows for much smaller teams to be able to access much more sophisticated pieces of software. So the traditional pieces of software, particularly for in house teams are big pieces that require big implementations, on premise integration and adoption and what have you. And so very, very expensive. So really only available to the very, very large teams. Whereas cloud computing means that you can have sophisticated pieces of software and if you’re a team of one, you can access that software, because you’re only paying a fractional proportion of what it is that you’re using.
Jodie Baker: And that’s just a piece that opens up the market incredibly to anyone. So it’s a really boring thing to talk about. And when people say, “What do you think is the biggest shift in the next five years?” Everyone talks about AI and I talk about cloud computing. So, I’ve got this really boring answer that is “Actually, I just think that that means that more and more tools can be built by groups like Xakia because it’s inexpensive for us to build them, but it’s also making it accessible to everybody.” Whereas before it was so exclusive.
Jodie Baker: The second thing is the do more with less. So when we had the financial crisis in 2008 there was this big shift to bring work in house and that continued for a decade, really, close to a decade. What we’re seeing now is that that’s a one off gain, obviously financial gain. And so once that has been had, the question then is, “What do you do to keep getting more efficient?” And the pressure is on. And I think that we all know that we’re on the precipice of a slow down and the pressure is on to keep costs as contained as possible. But what do you do? How do you do that? And that’s why liquid technology is exploding because there are many, many things that can be done.
Jodie Baker: But for us, one of the things that our clients are looking to do is run themselves like a mini law firm. They want to be a little bit more professional in the way that they do things. They don’t want to run things off spreadsheets anymore. They want to be able to do more professional reporting so that they can articulate what they do, how they do it, who they’re doing it for, where the efficiency gains might be. So data plays a really key critical part of that. But some of it is just in work flow, it’s just, “Who is working on what and for whom? I have a team of 10 and I need to be able to operate that as a little mini law firm so that I can act as I should given that I’m trying to contain my costs.”
Jodie Baker: So those two big trends really preceded, most of the impact of that preceded Xakia’s birth. But it has been very impactful in terms of its adoption.
Paul Evans: Cool.
Paul Evans: Okay. So you have founded a successful business before, with Hive Legal. So I’m sure that there’s lots of things that you’ve learned from that venture. I’m still on my first business, so I feel like I’m learning something about business every single day. But second time around for you now, so what’s the biggest surprise or thing that you’ve learned this time around?
Jodie Baker: Well actually, this might be a reassuring answer for you, Paul. It’s tough no matter when you do it. I mean, I think that first time was a professional services company, so it’s vastly different to a software company, so some of the learnings were not able to be repeated. But I think that actually maybe the hardest lesson was that it’s tough even the second time around, that it really does come back to that work hard, be nice piece that you just have to work hard. It’s one foot in front of the other. There are no silver bullets. You really just have to keep going. Probably one of the easier things is that you are prepared for how tough it is; so if you know that it’s not going to be easy for that first year, that the second year gets a little bit easier, and so on. But it does take a really long time to not be doing things for the first time. And that’s the hardest part is that if you have to build a policy, you have to build it for the first time, you’re not just revising it, or renewing it, or what have you. If you’re buying insurance for the first time, if you’re setting up GST, whatever it can be really tough.
Jodie Baker: The biggest surprise with Xakia, other than the obvious things about building a software company as opposed to a professional services company, has been the potential. So our global footprint is really starting to grow. That’s exciting, obviously, but also incredibly overwhelming. So where you realise, okay, this software has application all over the world, what does that actually mean? That’s a really big thing. And probably one of the toughest elements of that is no sleep. So, I’ve been getting up at five o’clock in the morning ever since we launched our U.S. operation nearly two years ago and that wears thin, but it wear even thinner when you start to take off in Europe and you realise that you’ve got to try and burn the candle at both ends of the day. And that’s really, really hard.
Jodie Baker: So managing that and making sure you’ve got the right team in place and that you have the right people that you can lean on, that’s an important element of that. But it’d be fair to say that the biggest lesson that I’m still learning is how to let go of certain things, how to just say, “I can’t be everywhere. I can’t be awake 24 hours a day.” So some things just have to be prioritised and, actually, I just have to let some things go. It’s just not going to be done.
Rob Patterson: That’s a really interesting answer and I think that just unpacking a few of the things you just raised, Jodie, talking about a silver bullet and about just it being hard work, I think even a lot of law firms think, “Oh, we’ll just develop an app and we’ll make a fortune and the world will be a wonderful place.”
Rob Patterson: It’s not that easy.
Jodie Baker: It’s really not. I wish it was.
Rob Patterson: We all do. We all do.
Jodie Baker: We all talk about the fact that ideas are quite cheap. I mean, 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration is absolutely true. If only it was the other way around, we can maybe move a lot faster on all sorts of things. But there’s no silver bullet and I think that that’s probably a good thing. It means that we have to slow down sometimes and it means that we iterate a little bit more carefully. And there’s been some interesting lessons and some interesting commentary in the last week about WeWork and the fact that it’s pulled its IPO for the moment.
Jodie Baker: There was a really interesting article that I read last week that talked about the fact that having constrained finances is really healthy for new businesses because it helps you focus on the most important things. And if we had a silver bullet, i.e., all the money in the world, to spend on whatever we want, then that’s not necessarily going to mean that we make the right decisions. So being a little bit slower about it can sometimes … “Slow down to get there faster,” I think, is the expression that people have sometimes thrown around on that front. But I think that there is pros and cons to having the silver bullet.
Rob Patterson: In terms of your global expansion, I’m interested to know whether … People think global and that’s totally scalable, it’s IT, but are there any constraints around confidentiality, like do you have to host the software in each country, and things like that?
Jodie Baker: There absolutely is. So I mean, JDPR plays a very big role in the way that we build these sorts of software. For me, sort of for Xakia, we have servers in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K., and soon to be a continental European location as well. So that has been a requisite for complying with all of the different privacy zones. And one of the things that we’re mindful of is that it’s not just regulatory. Some of it’s just perception. The U.S. clients want their data hosted in the U.S., and that’s not even necessarily a regulatory requirement for the clients that want that. But we also have clients who are based in Australia, government clients, et cetera, WHO and health organisations who must have their data hosted in Australia. So that is definitely a consideration.
Jodie Baker: And then there are other things that are not even software-related but actually just business requirements and policies of particular organisations that aren’t necessarily about the server location, but it’s related to the architecture that we have in place. And information security, as we know, is paramount for everybody. So for us, it’s a number one priority and it requires its own level of expertise and effort, and when you go global, that multiplies by however many different regions you’re operating in.
Paul Evans: Okay. Are there any cultural nuances do you think that you’ve come across that you didn’t sort of expect?
Jodie Baker: Yeah, totally. I mean, there definitely is. One came up just recently, which I thought was fascinating. We’re just in the process of doing our scheduling for the summer break. So here in Australia, obviously, we’re coming into December and January, which is traditionally where many people take a big break. But we have quite a few clients in the Middle East and it’s not their break. We have a lot of clients in the U.S., and they take a week or so off for Christmas, maybe, or maybe not at all, like they take one day, which is Christmas Day. They don’t have Boxing Day. So how do we cover support in all of these different regions and also make sure that our team gets a break, and all of those different things?
Jodie Baker: So it’s a really interesting challenge to try and juggle all of those different things and make sure that we’re looking after the team who are now global. So we have got the capacity now to shift these things around but we didn’t take that into consideration when we started saying, “Yes, we’ll take that Hungarian client and that client in Bahrain.” It’s been quite a whirlwind around that.
Paul Evans: Yeah. Cool. Last question about Xakia, which was one of the things that you’ve said to me in the past is that you’re very fond of outsourcing things that aren’t part of your business’s core or core capabilities. And my understanding is that was your approach with Hive and now is your approach with Xakia, is that right?
Jodie Baker: That’s correct, yeah.
Paul Evans: So for anyone that’s listening that is thinking about starting a software business or is in those early stages, what do you see as core to a software business and what isn’t?
Jodie Baker: It’s a really, really good question, and a conversation that I have all the time with people who are starting software businesses is around the outsourcing of the tech itself. So can you outsource the building of the software? We did, initially. We’ve played with it twice, outsourcing. So once here in Australia we outsourced, and then the second time we outsourced to Vietnam. Both times were unsuccessful; a level of success, but to the extent that I would do it again, the answer is an emphatic no. This is obviously going to be different depending on which outsource team you get and what sort of a model you’re putting together, but for us, there’s a false economy in trying to outsource something that is your core business. We are building a software, and so this is what we do.
Jodie Baker: So once we brought our CTO on board, which is just coming up for two years ago now, it may even be two years today, we made a decision that we were building our team from there. That was a line in the sand, and that’s been very, very successful for us. The other thing about that, just in terms of keeping the software engineering core to the business, is that our team is critical to the direction that we’re taking the product. So they feel it, they see it. We have our team meetings every week, everybody knows who our client opportunities are, what they’re looking for, comments that they might have on our roadmap, on our software. They’re all privy to all of that information, which means of course that they can say, “Oh, I’ve got an idea on that,” or, “I think I could just knock that off pretty quickly,” or, “Hey, I’ve been working in such and such and I’ve had a separate idea.” And because it’s all integrated into the one team we’ve got a capacity to really move that forward quite quickly.
Jodie Baker: And I think that keeping that inside has been a really important element of our business model. Sales and customer care for us, by and large, is core to what we do. So they’re our customers. We look after them. We don’t do all sales in-house, though. We do have some partners and resellers in some of the far-flung parts of the world, and they’ve been a really interesting addition to our business model and actually a very enjoyable one, frankly.
Jodie Baker: Non-core for us is everything else: so accounting, marketing, obviously we’ve got the resellers, some legal, our website. Digital advertising and what have you is not something that we do. So we’re quite self-contained around some of that sort of stuff. So we take a much more gentle approach to our marketing, but it is something that we can outsource when we’ve got the resources or the inclination or the headspace or all of the above.
Paul Evans: Yep. Cool. All right. Let’s talk a little bit about legal tech now. So you founded ALTA with a small group of legal tech founders from other startups in the legal tech space. It now has over 50 members. I think it’s about, what, two years old?
Jodie Baker: So we kicked off in January last year. So what’s that, 20 months or so? Yeah, so it’s actually more than 70 members now.
Paul Evans: Oh wow. Geez, I need to check the website. What was the original goal of the group?
Jodie Baker: I guess it started as FOMO actually, so a bit of fear of missing out. When we looked at the fintech sector, we saw that it had a full ecosystem, really; there’s an association, obviously. It seemed to have a lot of support from all sorts of different places, whether it be government or banks or whatever. But we didn’t have the same thing in the legal tech space. And I was having lunch with James Odell, who’s at Elevate, and we talked about the fact that there seem to be a few people who are coming into the market, and we wanted to get together with other people who were rolling up their sleeves, was the description that we used, and actually building stuff. So we literally just got the half a dozen people that we knew together for drinks. And that was really the beginning of …
Jodie Baker: Initially, it was about sharing ideas and information. So, how do you find a CTO? How do you find clients? How do you register for overseas operation? Whatever it might be, there was just this dearth of: how do we find others like us and come together in a way that means that we’re not threatened by each other, but that we can learn from each other? So it was about building that ecosystem. Secondary to that, but very quickly discussed amongst the group, was the importance of building a brand of Australian legal tech. So actually saying the brand of Australian legal tech on the global stage is something that none of us can build that individually. We have to build that as a group. So actually saying if we all come together and there’s enough of us … At this point we’re thinking, “Oh look, there’s seven people who are doing similar sorts of things, not 70,” but if we all do it together, that’s a stronger voice than if you try and do it individually.
Jodie Baker: So that became a very clear target quite quickly. And those drinks or that sort of informal part of our journey lasted for about six to nine months. Then we decided to put together some sort of an event, and Macquarie Bank got behind it in a nanosecond. They were just brilliant, but of course they couldn’t sponsor it unless we were an entity. And so that’s when we formalised, and once we formalised and put the flag in the ground, then all of these other legal technologies that we didn’t know about came out of the woodwork. And then some have been born since then. So it’s been a very rapid growth.
Paul Evans: That’s awesome. All right, so you took on the chair role at the start of this year. What do you see as the future of ALTA? What do you think it will look like?
Jodie Baker: Yeah, we’ve still got some maturing to do, but I think the goals will remain broadly the same: supporting groups who are building their legal technology businesses; not just the tech itself, but the business that sits around it. So helping them to build and then grow and then, most importantly, scale. We all know that it’s hard, it’s really tough, we’ve talked about that today, but actually giving them as much support and as much help as possible so that they survive and thrive. So that’s a really, really important element of just making sure that they’ve got everything that they need to be making good decisions around how they move forward. So that’s the first and most important to me.
Jodie Baker: The second is to inform the market, so making sure that it’s easy for those who are interested in legal tech to find what they need and to realise just how strong the Australian options are here, right in their own backyard, because often companies want somebody, and want the support here, want the on the ground access to development teams or roadmaps or what have you, but assume that it’s actually not available here in the Australian market. So we want to make sure that that’s loud and clear. And then of course there’s the building the brand Australian Legal Tech Offshore and we know that we’ve done a good job on that. We get quite a lot of, quite a lot of reinforcement from the U.S. and the UK, particularly about strength of the Australian Legal Technology brands in the overseas market. So I think that we’re going in the right direction, but the vision is definitely to make sure that any of the Australian legal technologies that exist today are continuing to thrive and scale as they want to and do so sensibly. And on ward and upward.
Paul Evans: Yeah. Cool. What do you think Australia’s place in the global legal tech market is? You said that it’s well respected by the U.S. and the UK. But is it growing faster than other places? Or do you find that the market’s really kind of growing together? There’s obviously ILTA, there’s ELTA. I think I’ve said that right, the European one. Are they growing together? I don’t know, not sure what the word it. But yeah.
Jodie Baker: Yeah. Are we on market or ahead of market outperforming or underperforming? Or, I think that it’s a little bit tricky to tell and, and probably the better person to ask around that is Eric Chin at ELTA creates. But my sense is that, well, one thing that I do know is that Australian Legal Technology association is unique globally in so far as we have restricted membership to Australian Legal Technology companies. So law firms who do a little bit of tech or tech companies who do a bit of law are not members of ELTA. So we are the only organisation globally that restricts its membership to dedicated legal technology companies.
Jodie Baker: And so it makes it hard then when you look at ILTA or ELTA or any of these others, because of course what they do and there is a place for this as well. What they do is is bring together people who are interested in legal technology and so the memberships tend to be much broader and not restricted to people who are building and selling Lakewood technology that makes it quite unique but Australia Legal Technology Association is working on a research project with Eric Chin around trying to understand some of the statistics that lay around labor technology innovations themselves. So, hopefully in six to nine months we’ll have a slightly different answer to that with a little bit more information around it.
Jodie Baker: My gut feel is actually that we are growing ahead of the market, that building this ecosystem and really supporting these companies is encouraging new legal technology companies to come onto the market. We’re seeing some of them have have not persisted. Some of them have moved in other directions. We all know what the pivot looks like and some of them have pivoted away from legal. But by and large these organisations are thriving and they are doing very well and we’re seeing more and more of the move offshore, which again supports the Australian Legal Technology branch on the global stage.
Jodie Baker: I think that long term, we are a great test market here. Like amazingly good. we’ve got a very sophisticated, relatively forward-thinking market. So whether that be in house or law firms, it’s a good market to be tasting in and because it’s small it really allows you to build quite quickly. So all of the clients talk to each other of course. And you know that one lawyer is going to talk to another lawyer and you’re only as good as your product and the referrals that you get. So it’s a great market for creating noise and that noise reverberating. You do need to care for the echo chamber of course, and just surrounding yourself with information that is beneficial to your own ears or confirmation bias. But once you have managed to get you to market right, then it does allow you to move off shore with confidence. And I think that that’s one of the great beauties of Australia is that it prepares you for the big wide world.
Paul Evans: Jodie, you say that you restrict membership to, let’s call them genuine technology companies. How do you avoid that technology by press release? I’d like a dollar for every person that developed legal technology in Australia, because it seems to be a lot. But really on the ground that doesn’t same as voluminous.
Jodie Baker: Yeah. It’s interesting because well, it’s caused some angst along the way. It would be fair to say there have definitely been groups who feel as though they should be members. But in our constitution, we cite very clearly who the members of ALTA can be. And that’s something that we’ve reviewed at the board level a number of times now and really tried to make sure that we’re stress testing it and making sure that we’re sticking to our original goals, which is to support legal technology companies. We’ve got a law firm that releases legal technology. Obviously we want our relationship with those groups. We now have a membership category, which is for, gosh, I’m going to get this wrong now, but it’s the law firms who are interested in building their own legal technologies, but it’s a different category of membership. So when I talk about the 70 I’m not including that group in my numbers, but there is a place for law firms who are interested in building legal technologies.
Jodie Baker: But for us the original goal was to really support those companies that are dedicated to building legal tech. And so we have to stay focused on that and focused on our purpose. And it’s served us well to day, it means that we stay focused on building that are beneficial to the members building events that are beneficial to people who want to understand the legal technologies that are available in the market. And it’s a different thing to having an app on the side, which could be spun out into a different entity. And we’ve seen that from law firms who then go on to become members of ALTA. But having a separate entities is part of the gig for being a member.
Paul Evans: Cool. So that’s a nice segue into this where we found that there’s obviously a growing legal tech sector in Australia. And that’s very beneficial to obviously that market as well, sort of law firms, in house lawyers and barristers. How do you think software companies can best work with these people given that they’re obviously a very time poor kind of person? And you said that you did this with Xakia originally you were can weave as many in house counselors. How’d you do that?
Jodie Baker: Well this is a very self saving answer. But obviously being involved with Australian Legal Technology Association. One of the thing that we do at ALTA is put together events so that people can come and get their hands on software. So we have something called Sandbox Series, which we’ve just run a couple of so far, but extraordinarily popular. They fell out within a day or two. And we now have a program of those going forward. We have the ALTA con. But the idea is that by bringing together both the Australian Legal Technology companies and those who are interested in Australian Legal Technology, then both parties benefit from that. So the legal technology companies who are looking to engage with their potential market can get involved that way.
Jodie Baker: But ALTA is not the only one. The Centre for Legal Innovation, which you mentioned at the beginning is another and there are truckloads of law firms who are prepared to and interested in bringing technologies together so that clients can get their hands on it.
Jodie Baker: Certainly some of our sponsors at ALTA themselves are putting together events and those sorts of things are really interesting. Law and Order, Macquarie bank, which I’ve mentioned, global X, now they’re all interested in making sure that their clients and their client base have lots of opportunities to experience legal technologies.
Jodie Baker: If you’re doing it yourself. And certainly the way that we did it at Xakia, it was just all about the network. So it goes back to that work hard, be nice piece. We really worked hard at making sure that whenever we were asking the network to step up, and even now when we talk to our clients, if we’re asking them to step up and give us feedback on features or software or ideas, then it has to be beneficial to them. So what are we giving them in return? Is it access to particular features in the future? Is it making sure that they being connected with people they want to be connected with? Is it understanding their particular needs and connecting them with other legal technologies? So there’s a whole piece around just making sure that you’re giving back to that network in a way that is beneficial to them.
Paul Evans: Fantastic. All right. Rob, did you want to did the lightning round?
Rob Patterson: I certainly don’t go.
Jodie Baker: Cool.
Paul Evans: Hey Jodie. So we finished up each podcast for the lightning round of questions. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Rob Patterson: For me, that would be done is better than perfect, which has kept me moving forward. It does mean that you make a lot of mistakes and sometimes you have to go back and keep fixing those mistakes. But done is better than perfect or the permission to choose that path means that we keep moving forward and we keep moving forward at a rapid rate. Needs to be done carefully. It doesn’t necessarily need to be done perfectly.
Paul Evans: Which would kind of go against the grain of your legal training in some respects.
Paul Evans: Yeah. Well I was only a lawyer for about 10 seconds.
Rob Patterson: But I totally agree. I Love it. That’s a great sentiment. If someone knew you really well, what’s the one thing that they would know about you that others might not?
Jodie Baker: I don’t drink coffee, but I do drink wine.
Rob Patterson: You nearly lost me there for a second. .
Jodie Baker: I’m not vice free.
Paul Evans: Okay, so given you were actually the first answer to this question comes from Thomas Free Range Lawyers recommended that we speak to you. Can you nominate another legal industry leader that you hold in great respect that you think we should have on this podcast?
Jodie Baker: Yes, I can. So Mitzi Gilligan was one of the other founders of Hive Legal. She was a partner MinterEllison and for, a gazillion years. I don’t got to remember exactly the number. She’s possibly one of the smartest women I’ve ever worked with and she has a very diverse backgrounds. So law firm partner, but she also holds a couple of masters in intellectual property more. She does not practice intellectual property more because of course she’s one of the most celebrated energy law lawyers in the country. One of the founders of Hive. She’s involved with Xakia and also a number of other legal technologies.
Jodie Baker: So she has a really interesting perspective in that she has done in house traditional warfare firm, alternative law firm, legal technology, she sits on a couple of boards. So she’s got a fabulous array of experiences in the legal industry and a who perspective accordingly is very unique.
Rob Patterson: Sounds perfect. Sounds absolutely perfect. If you could lead any company in the world other than Xakia, which would that be?
Jodie Baker: I’m just having too much fun right now to answer that. I can’t think of any other company I would want to lead. I mean we’ve got an amazing team. We’ve got a client base we really like. We are literally having fun. We have three mantra that we live by at Xakia and that is, “Dream big, have fun and get S-H-I-T done,” I don’t know your tolerance for me swearing on your podcast.
Rob Patterson: I don’t know that we’ve got an explicit rating just yet, but happy to add it.
Jodie Baker: So with those three, we do, we have a lot of fun with a lot of laughter and we certainly make sure that we party and do the the work hard and be nice piece as well which is keeping me very happy. So I don’t look around at anything else and say, “I wish I was there.”
Rob Patterson: Brilliant, brilliant.
Jodie Baker: Maybe the beach.
Rob Patterson: I get that. All right and finally, if our listeners wanted to connect with you, what’s the best way to get in touch?
Jodie Baker: Probably by email and given that Xakia is often spelled correctly, I will spell my email address. So, it’s Jodie with I-E. Jodie.baker@xakiatech, which is spelled X-A-K-I-A, T-E-C-H.com. email@example.com.
Rob Patterson: Brilliant, brilliant thank you so much for being on the show, Jodie. It’s been tremendous.
Jodie Baker: Thank you so much for having me. I had fun.