Sofia S. Lingos, Executive Attorney at Trident Legal and Professor at Northeastern University School of Law. Courtesy photo
There is a shortage of women in science, technology, engineering, and math. But within the legal tech community, there are many women with thriving careers. Legaltech News presents our current “STEM Cell” profile, in which Alma Asay recently interviewed Sofia Lingos, Executive Attorney at Trident Legal and Professor at Northeastern University School of Law. This profile is a continuation of the Women of Legal Tech Series originally published by editor Monica Bay, “To inspire girls, women (and men).”
Between April and the end of June 2021, six 2015 winners will be listed on the “Women of Legal Tech” list of the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center. This was the list’s opening year, and there was a tremendous group of women now part of a six-year (and counting!) Tradition of honoring women in legal engineering. 2015 was also the year Monica Bay pulled out of ALM, so it seems appropriate that we pick up where she left off.
Legaltech News: What’s your name and what’s your name?
Sofia Lingos, executive attorney at Trident Legal. You can call me a professor on Tuesdays as I teach legal practice management and access to justice at Northeastern University School of Law.
Often newcomers to the industry wonder how to get their work recognized. As far as you know, how did you become one of the first LTRC Women of Legal Tech in 2015?
In law school, I realized there was extreme access to justice and was passionate about developing a way to do things differently. I started my own law firm to provide legal services to small businesses and startups and use technology to ensure efficiency and accuracy. I knew my waviness wasn’t going to be enough, so I created a law degree on Legal Practice Management and Access to Justice that I have taught for over 10 years.
I believe the best way to make a wave is by empowering others. In addition, I speak and write on the subjects of legal technology, entrepreneurship and practice management. It was through this that I met Heidi Alexander, the founder of the WOLT list. Getting actively involved and showing people your passion is a great way to get recognized.
With that in mind, please reach out to a prospective LTRC woman at Legal Tech – someone who has currently been in the industry for less than ten years.
Alicia Aquino (LinkedIn). I had the pleasure of working with Alicia at the Women of Legal Tech Summit this year. She was the woman behind the scenes responsible for making the virtual conference run seamlessly. She is the founder of Aquino Trial Services and is passionate about advocacy in the online courtroom.
What was your “first place at the table”?
Immediately after my graduation, a former internship manager and sponsor of mine resigned prematurely from the board of directors of the law faculty. She said the board needed some young insight and suggested that I fill the remainder of her tenure. I was so nervous all year round that I took the opportunity and hoped they would consider me for my own place. A few years later I was Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Describe an experience in which you or someone you observed served as a role model on how to counter sexism in the workplace.
As the director of our law school’s Transaction Clinic, we ran a project to create comprehensive on-the-job training to ensure a safe, inclusive and open workplace. We recognize that training to ensure everyone understands their rights and responsibilities is critical for this large workforce. It’s been a privilege to work with a client who cares so much.
What would you like people to talk about less and what would you like people to talk more about legal technology?
I wish people would stop citing rules of legal ethics as insurmountable hurdles in legal technology. I think a lot of lawyers are just scared of being replaced.
Lawyers need to start getting involved in the conversation, understanding what is already available, putting these tools into practice, and realizing their value. These are the conversations I would like to see more of. You cannot regulate legal technology away. It would be great to hear colleagues discuss what you’re using for document automation. and “What is your favorite AI tool for legal research?”
From your seat, what has been the most innovative change you’ve seen in the legal industry over the past year?
Applications of AI in legal technology, from responsive bots to legal research and predictive adjudicators. As a lawyer, I believe the future of AI will disrupt the legal industry more than most practitioners realize.
In your opinion, what has changed most for women in legal engineering in the last six years since you were included on the first LTRC list in 2015?
Female founders. In the last 6 years the number of women founders in the legal technology sector has increased by approx. 5%. We’re still working at around 15%, which makes this growth even more significant, and we still have a lot to do.
What does a day in your WFH / pandemic work life look like?
I currently work from home with a 3 year old and a kindergarten teacher (who decided on Zoom school days that MY home office was the best place to work). My husband is a doctor, so we were quarantined by him for a period of time, but thanks to vaccines he can come back home at night and we finally have help again (which I think is important because I do the months that I did that completely blacked out it was just me). A fish is our quarantine pet purchase to put into perspective the maximum amount of additional material we could accept.
My way through the city was shortened to two flights of stairs. As an early zoom adapter with a paperless office, the transition was pretty seamless. Now my clients are more familiar with video conferencing. The increase in zooms that might have been an email is certainly there, but it’s nice to see people’s faces without masks. I represent small businesses, so this has been an incredibly challenging year for my clients. From applying for PPP to meeting city-specific COVID compliance issues, to renegotiating leases and, in some cases, helping customers close their doors. There was a lot of devastation, but also a lot of perseverance, and it was a privilege to play a small part in their survival. There were also some exciting phoenixes born from the ashes.
If the legal industry wasn’t an option (imagine a world without lawyers!) And there were no limits to your options, what would your dream job be?
Ideas person. Every time I came across something and thought, “This is good, but you know what would make it so much better?” I had a magic phone with a direct line to the decision maker and was compensated.
Who is someone famous (dead or alive) that you would like to meet? Why?
I’d love to be friends with Michelle Obama (not just shaking hands, I want to hang out with her). I would love to talk about parenting and guidelines and hear all of their amazing stories.
What was the best advice you have ever received?
Think before you act. After you act, go ahead.
If you had a week just to binge, what movies, TV shows, podcasts, books, or video games would you watch / listen / read / play?
I loved reading. I was the boy who got into trouble after the light went out because he snuck a flashlight just to finish one chapter. Then I became a lawyer who reads hundreds of pages of contracts every day. I’ve started to appreciate audiobooks and thankfully discovered Libby because my Audibles bill was a little over the top. I’ve heard over a hundred books in the past year and would like to have a week off to add to that. I like everything from award-winning non-fiction books like Caste to the Harry Potter series.
If a book were written about your life, what would the title be?
Break plates. I’m Greek, so a little game with the solemn tradition, together with the idea of breaking the mold and doing things differently.
What’s your favorite dessert?
Melted Chocolate Lava Cake. Unfortunately it doesn’t deliver well and I still have to successfully recreate it during the pandemic bake.
For the next quarter, we will focus on legal technology women in large law firms. What question would you like to ask them?
What’s a valuable legal technology that you only see in big law because the cost makes it inaccessible to small businesses?