Incubator Blogs – Maya Markovich: Exploring Legal Tech, Justice Tech, and the Future for Women in Social Entrepreneurship

The future in legal tech and justice tech holds significant opportunities, especially for women-led ventures. The TREMOR mentor sits down with us and provides a great insight into the potential trends in this landscape.

Hello, and welcome to another addition of our series of blog posts introducing the mentors behind our incubator programmes. This post was made to promote the 2nd call of our social impact incubator programme, TREMOR. Today, we're speaking with Maya Markovich.

Maya Markovich offers a range of services worldwide that focus on technology, business growth, and process improvement. With her diverse background in venture capital, law, behavioural science, and change design, she brings a unique perspective to her work. The TREMOR mentor previously served as the chief growth officer at Nextlaw Labs/Nextlaw Ventures, a division of the world's largest law firm, for more than five years. Currently, she is the justice tech executive in residence at Village Capital and the executive director of the Justice Technology Association, a non-profit organization that supports technology solutions that promote self-empowerment, independence, and contribute to a more equitable legal system. In addition, she provides guidance to several startups, venture funds, and investors and offers consulting services related to innovation and transformation projects.

What is legal technology? and why is it different than justice technology?

Markovich worked for some time in Change Management Consulting before deciding to pursue a career in law. The motivation behind this career shift was a desire to make broader social impact. As a lawyer, she was interested in leveraging technology to improve legal practices, believing that it could lead to more fair results. Through the experience of working in the legal tech industry, she gained a deep understanding of the challenges involved in building and refining tech products.  Then, Markovich joined Next Law Labs, the first innovation catalyst with a primary focus on technology within the legal field.

So, we go ahead and ask Markovich to break it down for us – what exactly is this legal technology thing all about?

As the TREMOR mentor explains, legal tech is all about using technology to make lawyers' work easier through the use of software to improve the business or practice of law. Legal tech is usually aimed at making lawyers more efficient, more insightful through data analytics, and able to provide better services to their clients.

“While legal tech is about using different tools for managing documents, researching laws and making legal processes more efficient and cost-effective, justice tech, on the other hand, takes legal tech a step further,” Markovich points out.

Justice tech fights for equality and gives a voice to marginalized communities

In addition to her work, Markovich played a significant role in the establishment of the Justice Technology Association, a non-profit trade association specifically created to support and promote justice tech startups with a mission-oriented approach. These startups aim to bring about positive changes in the lives of individuals who have faced adverse experiences within the justice system.

 “Justice Tech Association is mission focused legal technology. And most of our members are B2C, so they are helping the people who cannot afford a lawyer, for example.”

Justice tech uses technology to tackle social justice issues and make the legal system fairer. It aims to help those who have been treated unfairly or don’t have easy access to legal services. The TREMOR mentor works with justice tech to bring positive change to the legal system, as well as supporting impact-driven, seed-stage startups leveraging entrepreneurship to create widespread impact.

“Now, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out good ways to help mission focused early-stage companies increase both their impact and their ability to raise capital and figure out different ways for strategic growth. I’m most interested in helping social impact focused ventures and, because I have a broad understanding of what is like to be a startup, I am able to mentor companies that are well outside of the narrow legal industry.  There are a lot of similarities in the challenges of the mission focused startups regardless of the industry they are in.”              

Tech trailblazers: Women shaping the future of legal tech

Recognised as a prominent figure in legal innovation, Markovich has been honoured for her contributions to the field by several organizations. In 2020, the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) included her among the five "Influential Women of Legal Tech." The Technolawgist also acknowledged her as a "Woman Leading Legal Tech" in 2019, and the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center named her a "Woman of Legal Tech 2018" in recognition of her efforts to promote, design, and implement the future of the legal profession.

The TREMOR mentor discusses how the situation of women in the startup world has seen progress in recent years, but challenges and disparities still exist. Women are still underrepresented in the startup ecosystem, particularly in the technical and leadership positions, as Markovich states, the lack of diverse perspectives and experiences limit opportunities female entrepreneurs. So, we ask Markovich how does the future look like for female leaders:

“I think that the future is considerably more equitable in terms of gender, even though I don’t know how long it will take, and it will depend on the diversification of funding. For real change to happen in terms of true diversity, it is incredibly important to take the solutions that have the potential to be more successful in the market and get more money to underrepresented female founders across the world.”

Female-led social enterprises have demonstrated a strong commitment to addressing social and environmental issues. Markovich believes that mentoring programmes like TREMOR aim to empower women and provide them with resources, creating a more inclusive ecosystem. These efforts include networking platforms and funding opportunities specifically for female-led ventures and from now on we can strive for gender parity and make sure that women have equal opportunities to contribute to the ongoing social and environmental changes.