Changing Perceptions of Legal Tech – Ved Nathwani  – S8E6

In this episode of the Legally Speaking Podcast we were joined by third-year law student, Founder and Managing Director of Cataclysm Ventures Ved Nathwani to talk about his experiences as a young entrepreneur. He talked about his company, as well as his roles at the World Economic Forum, The Future Proof Project, Ada Ventures, BfB Labs and Stephenson Harwood. With so much experience already under his belt, Ved is an impressive next-generation lawyer and business person.  

𝐒𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧? 

You can catch Rob and Ved Discussing:  

  • Funding for legal tech companies 
  • Changing perceptions of AI in the legal industry  
  • Using social media to promote yourself and your firm  
  • Community building  
  • Educating investors and lawyers  



Robert Hanna 00:00 

Welcome to the legally speaking podcast. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m delighted to be joined by the incredible veteran Avani that is a third year law student at Queen Mary University of London and a future trainee solicitor at Stevenson Harvard. That is the founder and managing director of capitalism ventures, a legal tech community connecting startups and investor that is also the co founder of the future proof project and founder of the excellent Ori journey. He is a research consultant at BFB labs, a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum and adventure scalper adventures that has experience as a commercial litigation and knowledge paralegal, Polish vent fellow entrepreneur first head of community AI three investing an intern at the UK civil service that has featured in The Times Business Insider, an artificial lawyer, he is an experienced public speaker passionate about legal tech AI education and exploring the impact of AI on the labour market. So with that all said, a very big warm welcome bed. 

Ved Nathwani 01:00 

Thanks so much for having me. Rob. Great to be here. 

Robert Hanna 01:03 

Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you on before we dive into all your amazing projects experiences to date, we have a customary opening question here on the legally speaking podcast, which is on a scale of one to 1010 being very real. What would you rate the hit TV series suits in terms of its reality of the law? If you’ve seen it? 

Ved Nathwani 01:21 

Maybe 6.5 or 7? 

Robert Hanna 01:24 

Okay. Okay. I like that you went for a point five? What do you like about it just briefly. 

Ved Nathwani 01:28 

So I’m actually doing I’m actually doing a module at uni, quite a Rogue One called law stories. And we kind of explore how law is portrayed in literature. And in kind of the media, we’ve actually been looking at suits. And it’s quite, it’s quite interesting to see how kind of the atmosphere is set up like a law firm. If you walked into a building, which was set up like suits, it’d be very similar to a city firm. But then, of course, you have all the drama and all of the chaos in the actual kind of action, which probably is slightly more far fetched than traditional law firms.  

Robert Hanna 02:00 

Yeah, no, I think you summarised that very well. It’s interesting that you’re studying at university as well. But let’s go on to talk all about you than that. Because there’s a lot we need to get through. Would you mind before we dive into that telling our listeners just a bit about your background and career journey aspirations and what you getting up to currently? 

Ved Nathwani 02:17 

Yeah, for sure. So as you mentioned, I’m in my final year, got about two months left of my law degree at Queen Mary. But apart from that, I have kind of spent the past three ish years dabbling in the startup and VC landscape. I did my A levels and COVID, and ended up joining a startup freelancing for them off the back of that, and then spend some time at a couple of VC funds. So a slightly, I guess, unusual journey into into law. But I’ve really been fascinated by that kind of intersection between technology and kind of the early stage innovation, landscape and law. And so ended up building this community called capitalism ventures where our aim is to support early stage legal tech founders by connecting them with lawyers, innovation specialists, and law firms, investors to just help them grow and scale and have those conversations and create a, I guess, open landscape for them to do that. And then along the way, I’ve kind of spent time dabbling in, as you mentioned, kind of the intersection of AI and the labour market exploring the impact of AI on kind of the future of work, what it will do to kind of the next generation of graduates entering kind of the workplace and all of that, and it’s just more of a passion project on the side. 

Robert Hanna 03:38 

Yeah. And I have to say, it’s incredible. Everything that you do, it’s truly inspiring. But if we could just step with the university at the moment, you are, as you say, at Queen Mary, tell us about some of your modules. You mentioned one there, which is quite interesting. The law stories, do you have a favourite module? Give us a bit of an insight into a day of your life. 

Ved Nathwani 03:59 

Yeah, I mean, I one of my favourite modules was actually a module called equality in the law, particularly because the way it was examined is quite unusual for an undergraduate degree, we had to kind of put together a PhD proposal that just teaches you a very different set of skills to your traditional reading the black letter law. But I found it pretty interesting, because I could do my final project on what I wanted. So I was kind of exploring if we should regulate diversity in venture capital, and essentially how we can use the law to funnel money into more diverse groups, which is super interesting. And there’s not actually much research from the academic standpoint in the area. So yeah, that was probably my favourite module.  

Robert Hanna 04:40 

Yeah. And it’s absolutely important work as well. And I think, you know, it’s great that you know, if you identify something where there isn’t a lot and you’re actually trying to maybe work towards a solution, I love that, you know, if you can’t find it, build it and you know, you definitely have that entrepreneurial mindset. You definitely have that sort of go getter mentality. You’ve touched on it before and I touched on it in introduction, but let’s talk a bit a bit more about sort of Cataclysm ventures, what was the original inspiration behind it for you? And just tell us a little bit more about how it really bridges the gap between legal tech startups and investors? 

Ved Nathwani 05:11 

Yeah. So I guess initially, I was really curious about why there was a lack of funding going to early stage legal tech in comparison to other spaces, like health tech and fintech. And I started speaking with founders who I guess made it, quote unquote, kind of had gone on to raise their seed rounds, and series A’s and all of that, and was really curious as to where they were getting their initial funding, because that seemed to be a stumbling block for a lot of founders, particularly a lot of founders who were lawyers who quit private practice to start their own legal tech startups. And what I found in the process was, a lot of early stage legal tech founders were funded by angel investors, who are essentially individuals who pull their money and put them into startups. And a lot of these were kind of under the radar law firm partners, people who had, you had kind of an interest in the space. And so what I really wanted to build was what people might turn a syndicate where you kind of pulled together lots of individual investors and kind of give them access to deals. And in the process, it didn’t go any What, like I planned, I guess, slightly naive at 19, thinking, I could persuade lots of lots of angel investors to kind of pot with their money. But I also think, the month after launch, the market crashed. And of course, individuals are the first people to pull their money out of anything. And I just in the process, realised I was kind of jumping to step three, where I really wanted to kind of see greater investment into vehicle tech wanted to see growth in the space. But I hadn’t really done the groundwork, which was step one, and two, which is where we’re at analysis, step one is essentially kind of building a community around what I was trying to achieve. And that’s where we’re at, where we’re kind of essentially just putting legal tech founders in a room with investors with kind of lawyers who might use that product innovation specialists. And step two is kind of this educational element, which I think is particularly lacking in legal tech in comparison to other spaces where there’s a lack of conversation between the different stakeholders unless they’re kind of required to do so it’s no kind of like, genuine community, which I found which connects these dots. And from the investor from investor perspective, they are generally quite hesitant of investing legal tech, they don’t understand the space as much as other sectors on. And similarly, I guess, from lawyers, they’re generally quite sceptical of technology as it is, I think that’s changing, but quite slowly. And so I guess this community in this educational element combined was what I really need to just start with and which is what we’re currently building today. So we do this through several things. We have a WhatsApp group, we host events. Last month, we put out kind of a free open source database of resources for early stage legal tech founders, doing all sorts of kind of like, I guess, educational aspects. So we’re going to be hosting webinars, we’ve got a growing student team who kind of work on putting out newsletters and things like that. So all of its really just trying to build this community and build up the space. 

Robert Hanna 08:28 

Yeah, and I’m delighted to be part of your community. And I think it’s fantastic, what you’re what you’re doing and going above and beyond to really educate and inspire people, particularly in this space, which is, you know, you’ve got so much potential, and I want to talk a bit more about potential because in your medium article, a deep dive into legal tech Cataclysm ventures, my journey so far you share recently, I’ve seen more and more early stage VCs getting excited about the legal tech landscape. And if even they hadn’t invested in the space yet, they wanted to learn more. So could you share some of the factors driving excitement amongst VCs about investing in legal tech startups specifically? 

Ved Nathwani 09:10 

Yes. So as so much exciting stuff going on in legal tech, which I think people overlook, I think the generative AI boom is one. I’ve seen really well known established VC players who, you know, funds like your razor, which are Pan European private equity funds, who’ve been around for years, you’ve seen kind of the likes of Lightspeed in the US or put out kind of deep dives into legal tech, which is quite unusual for funds who haven’t really invested in the space before. And I think both from those funds and beyond, I’m seeing a lot of interest from investors because they think AI can massively transformed the way in which lawyers work and beyond that, I think the selling of legal services to clients and in house teams is a massive draw to them because it’s, it basically proves to them that the startups can kind of scale beyond selling to a handful of big city law firms. And actually, you will have large enterprises who will want to use your technology. So that’s why I think AI has all sorts of different use cases. And we’re seeing that across the board. I think the other thing is, from, from a lawyer perspective, I think you’ll see a new generation of lawyers and to enter the trainee pool and to kind of the legal market as associates. And they come with a different perspective, having kind of grown up with using technology. And I think that’s massively shifting the way in which law firms are being forced to operate. And that’s because the technology for a while I think, has been quite good. The issue gets to AI gets to the point where there’s an adoption problem, where firms will buy this technology, and then lawyers won’t use it. But actually, a lot of junior lawyers are now complaining to firms, that the technology is not good enough, actually, there are tools on the market, which will speed up kind of their doc review by three hours and then go home early, and things like that. And I think if these big firms want to retain talent, they’re going to have to kind of make these new ways and kind of really invest in technology. And I think that’s another really big exciting thing, which I think is also getting investors excited is because they’re seeing, you know, their own lawyers who work on their own deals get more interested in using technology, and then it becomes this kind of cyclical cycle. And so I think those are two major factors. I mean, there’s also I could go on for hours about kind of what else is getting investors excited. But I think those are the two big things that I’m hearing at the moment.  

Robert Hanna 11:44 

Yeah, and absolutely. And it’s great that you are sort of got your finger very much on the pulse with where the puck is going. You know, I always talk about the Wayne Gretzky famous quote, you know, he doesn’t skate to where the puck is you skate to where the puck is going. And I think that’s where all the excitement absolutely is coming from. Let’s stick with VCs. Just quickly. You know, what challenges do early stage VCs encounter as they look to invest?  

Ved Nathwani 12:09 

Yeah, I guess, are you talking specifically about legal tech? Or? Or generally? 

Robert Hanna 12:14 

Yeah, exactly. Within the legal tech space. 

Ved Nathwani 12:17 

I think in terms of legal Tech, I think there are several things because a lot of early stage funds generally look at the team over anything else, because the product and the solution is likely to shift, particularly if you’re investing it kind of precede seed stage. I think the big challenge with with early stage VCs is actually scoping out the potential market where you’re going to be able to sell to a lot of really exciting little tech solutions on the market are very, very specific. And a lot of the time they’re built by former lawyers who’ve come out of practice. Take, for example, you know, you’ve been working in real estate in the city. And there’s a problem you’ve had, and you think tech can solve it. But there’s only a handful of real estate lawyers who are going to have the same problem as you. And so the ability to actually scale that product is quite limited. And so you actually find a lot of early stage VCs kind of say no. And a lot of these products are bought up by big players like laterra, quite early on, because they’re just kind of something you can add to a suite of kind of tech solutions. And I think that’s one of the big worries for early stage VCs is actually, are we going to make any returns of this? Or is this going to be a early exit? Kind of like post series? A, I think the other challenge is it as I mentioned earlier, the educational element. I think VCs in Europe, particularly are still quite hesitant of investing in spaces, they don’t fully understand. And so it means that if they’re kind of if they have a deck on their table, which is from a legal tech company, and they don’t understand anything about dock automation, for instance, then it just becomes another barrier that this startup has to get to to persuade them to invest in. But I think that’s changing. And I think over time, we’re seeing more and more kind of people who are willing to educate themselves, even if they don’t kind of make that initial investment.  

Robert Hanna 14:09 

Yeah, no. And absolutely. And well said, and thank you for articulating that super clearly, as well. So people get a good understanding of, you know, the challenges because everyone can look at the headlines and look at all of the good stuff that wants to talk about some of your wider pursuits you’re involved in, because you’re also the co founder of the future proof project. So would you mind explaining what the project is about and what you aim to do? 

Ved Nathwani 14:28 

Yeah, sure. So for a bit of context, I did a fellowship called Polaris with a tech incubator slash talent investor, called entrepreneur fast last year, and it was very much kind of a deep dive into kind of both kind of the entrepreneurial space but also kind of like why movements are formed and how things were just seen as quite fringe in the past become very mainstream. And in the process, we have lots of really interesting conversations and something kind of popped up to me to kind of been, I guess keeping track of kind of the AI booms and charge GPT 3.5 was released to the public, you know, had a few play around with it. I’ve always really been curious about kind of those predictions. And I guess like around 2017 18, where everyone was like, half the workforce is going to be laid off because of AI. And I never really kind of believed it. And then, you know, a lot of articles came out about lawyers being replaced by AI and things like that. And any lawyer you spoke to kind of up till about last year would say, That’s absolute nonsense is never going to happen. And I was really sceptical of that, because I think lawyers having having now spent time in kind of the tech space, I think lawyers are quite kind of set within their own bubble until something comes in hits them. And so what the future proof project actually does is essentially, we’re an education campaign slash, basically a project which explores the impact of AI, on and particularly generative AI on kind of the labour market, but what we’re focusing on in particular, is kind of Gen Z and that generation, who are, who are graduates who are about to enter kind of the workforce or have just entered the workforce, and people putting ego into really junior level wars, which have a lot of repetitive tasks involved, which can today be automated by a lot of Gen AI tools. And so what we do is essentially, and what we’re building out is a platform where we’re trying to kind of provide skills advice, and also provide resources to kind of the general public, particularly focus on university students. I know, as I say, graduates, I’m basically trying to help them be more employable. In a world where, I guess the traditional skills, a lot of people and University Career Services in particular are kind of advocating for no longer really required, and a lot of traditional technical skills can be automated. And so yeah, we’re trying to kind of explore this area, no one really knows the answers. But what we’re doing is kind of amalgamating lots of different information from different people from all the way up from kind of managing partners of law firms, to kind of those who are actually building the AI tools and understand what they do. 

Robert Hanna 17:17 

And that’s what I love about everything you’re doing. And it’s a great synergy with our show, because we talk about everything in and around the legal industry that’s going to impact your career. And like you say, it’s right from the very top of the career right to the start to then the innovators, the disruptors and everything in between, it’s super, super interesting. And, you know, I’m like you, I think, you know, sometimes people can get very comfortable on the, on the cushion, and then sometimes, you know, something comes along, and then you become very uncomfortable. And that becomes like a resistant mechanism as well, it won’t affect us, you know, and I think that’s quite an outdated view. Now, the view needs to be okay, I’m going to be curious to ask questions, I’m gonna want to try to understand this, and see how maybe I can put myself in the best position possible to ensure I’m fit for purpose in terms of practising the law or whatever it may be linked to legal industry, in modern working. And with that, then let’s talk about some AI projects or tools that you’ve come across in the legal tech world that, you know, have really been a particular interest to you or just absolutely impressed you.  

Ved Nathwani 18:13 

Yeah, I mean, I’ve kept a track of kind of Harvey and their meteoric rise, if that’s what you want to call it, I was quite surprised that there are several firms in the city who just did a mass rollout quite early on, since kind of Harvey launched. And that’s quite unusual for a lot of city firms. Particularly because, you know, they’ll, they’ll, they’ll pilot, a tech product in one team. And if they like it, then they’ll roll it out to, you know, a department and it’ll take like a good three, four years until the whole firm has access to this product. And it’s kind of via a subscription model rather than a pilot. And so it’s quite unusual for some of these big firms to just say, Yes, we’re gonna roll it out to everyone. So I’ve not actually used it yet. But I think it’s something lawyers have said is, has its pros and cons. I think chat GPT is also just a pretty simple one. But I think it’s something a lot of people also underestimate. I think from a law student perspective, yes, it might hallucinate a bit might make up cases. But if you’re actually just trying to get get it to kind of summarise things for you. And if you’re trying to kind of get things done quicker and more efficient in terms of the tasks, maybe it’s new, your research and you’re putting in information and just trying to get bits out of it. It’s actually quite useful. The other thing I’m finding quite interesting is actually a lot of law firms are building their own in house generative AI tools. And I’m really interested to see where this goes, because law firms traditionally have not been kind of as tech savvy as the banks where the banks in in the past have kind of, you know, JP Morgan historically, has said, Oh, we’re a tech company. We’re not a bank. And I think I remember Jamie Dimon saying that law firms have never really said that they’ve ever called themselves tech companies. Um, but banks, you know, probably have more tech stuff than they do bankers today, law firms tend to outsource a lot of their, their tech, their tech to startups. But I think a lot of law firms are worried in terms of kind of data privacy in terms of kind of clients and things like that. But I wonder if it will be up to kind of the same standard as what some of these lawyers are used to with kind of startups, which are, you know, custom made to build this one tool, and they’ve grown around this one around this one tool. But that’s something which is really exciting and really interesting. And I’d be curious to see how many more how many more software engineers these firms start to hire?  

Robert Hanna 20:40 

Yeah. And I see it as just a massive growth area. I mean, I read lots of content around, you know, what future roles exist in legal and you know, that they are going to change that is just the reality. And so I guess let’s talk a little bit more about that. Obviously, we’ve talked a lot about, you know, the year of sort of generative AI, what can lawyers then do to prepare themselves as the legal industry definitely embraces advanced technology, and AI? And how should they go about future proofing their career? 

Ved Nathwani 21:08 

I think, yeah, there are several, several things. I think from from a junior lawyers perspective, I think there’s still too much focus on getting the technical skills. And that’s really, really important. And it’s really important to pass the s QE and the LPC or whatever exams you’re taking, and being able to, you know, understand that contract and everything. But I think beyond that, I think people just say, Oh, I’m going to be a great lawyer, I’m going to work my way up the ladder. And I think you forget the soft skills, I think building a network from day one is really important. Because more and more, you will have access to opportunities, which aren’t necessarily advertised on the market. And more and more, you’ll have access to a client base. And I think that’s becoming more and more of a selling point as you go up in firms. And as you move around the market, I think before it was a lot more about kind of, I guess, your PqV and the level you’re qualified at. Today, I’m from what I’m hearing, a lot of lawyers are saying if you have that network and those soft skills to build that network, then you’re in more demand. And you can kind of leverage that network to be able to push your way kind of past that traditional, I guess PqV hierarchy. I think the other thing you’ll seeing future proof yourself is actually a lot of lawyers need to just learn to understand tech better. And that’s not saying learn to code. I remember kind of, you know, your, a few years ago, everyone’s like, do lawyers need to learn to code otherwise, they’re going to be replaced, I’m being more, you need to just be open to using technology, learning what’s out there. And also understanding particularly as more and more of your clients become kind of tech, I guess, have tech elements to their business and a lot of kind of traditional conglomerates who wouldn’t see themselves as you know, Google and Facebook are now becoming more and more tech reliant. And so understanding kind of what they use, why they use it, and kind of how their business model is changing, is really important. And I think that again, goes back to the point where just knowing your technical understanding is not enough anymore as a lawyer. And I think the best lawyers in the future, those who are going to leverage AI. So we’re going to be the ones who are curious enough to want to jump on every new pilot that the firm offers them are going to be the ones who, in their free time, kind of read books about tech play around with new tools, which are available, because it just means that you kind of get a bigger grasp of what’s out there outside of kind of, you know, the traditional day to day black letter law.  

Robert Hanna 23:43 

Yeah. And remember, if nothing changes, nothing changes. And so you want to make sure that you are moving forward and moving with the times and like you say that curiosity, which talk a lot about on the show is so, so important. And let’s talk about some of your wider other roles and things you’re involved in as well, because as a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum, tell us about your role and what that involves.  

Ved Nathwani 24:05 

Yeah, so the World Economic Forum has this has this programme where they have called the Global Shapers, and they have hubs across basically every major city in the world. And within each hub, they have around 30 to 50, kind of really ambitious young people under the age of 30, who essentially are kind of driven by impact. And they come from all walks of life, you know, you’ll have consultants and bankers and doctors but you’ll also have people working in policy and people actually building tech products. And they’re all kind of driven by this desire to kind of want to have a wider impact outside of their job and the World Economic Forum, I guess. And the Global Shapers community gives you this platform where you work and get yourself involved in projects. And these projects are run by individual hubs. And so for instance, I’m in London hub too, and we’ll have London centric projects which essentially are aimed at making London a better city so I I’ve got involved in several projects. I mean, one is AI related. And essentially, we’re building a white paper kind of exploring the impact of AI, but particularly on young people in London, the other is a very, very, it’s a much smaller project. But something really important is about helping students kind of understand the entrepreneur world better, through kind of actually giving them access to networks and contacts. So as a hub, we basically go out to our networks on the way their community, and we’re creating a platform to basically give them networking opportunities, which is something which is quite rare. There’s all sorts of things related to sustainability. And essentially, Global Shapers kind of get involved within these hubs to work on these projects, volunteer their time to kind of make their cities a bit better. But what’s really exciting about global shapers, is, of course, it’s connected to WEF, and it’s connected to each other hubs. So you get to meet incredible people from across the world, you get to network, you’ll get to kind of see what other projects are going on. I mean, I met a shaper the other last year, who got invited to Davos to speak about her cybersecurity project. So there’s all sorts of really cool opportunities in the processes that  

Robert Hanna 26:13 

Yeah, and again, it’s just fantastic how you put yourself out there, get these meaningful roles, and they’re very impact driven, it has to be said, you know, they come from a place of trying to improve and, you know, improve efficiencies, improve quality, you know, whatever it may be, it comes from a really good place. And I just love your approach to getting busy. You know, I always use the, quote, get busy, you know, living, and you’re definitely doing that. And I guess sticking with getting busy, you know, what do your responsibilities involve as a venture scout for adventures?  

Ved Nathwani 26:42 

Yeah, so it is a interesting fund. So I actually spent a good, nearly two years freelancing for them, and kind of working on their social media. But as a venture Scout, you essentially just kind of bring them deals which align with their thesis, find founders and startups. And, you know, if you if you, I mean, if they invest as a fund, you kind of get a bit of upside on that. But to me, I think the big thing about Aida in that Scout programme is, I think it’s one of the biggest in Europe, it’s really the network and the learning opportunity, like you went to training, you get feedback on the deals, you get to meet all sorts of cool other scouts who are in all sorts of like random niches and tech. And it’s just a fun day really, really aligned with their thesis. You know, they invest in a lot of impact companies across climate, health and economic empowerment. And they’re very diversity focused, so very much investing in diverse founders. And it just was the right fit, I guess. And it’s just been a really great learning opportunity. And I think, for a lot of people who are looking to break into VC or learning more about VC is Scout programmes always tend to be good ways in because it’s very much a commit what you can kind of thing, and it’s you using your network and leveraging that to bring them deals. And it’s just a great learning opportunity.  

Robert Hanna 28:07 

Yeah, no, absolutely. Well said. And that’s right, you put yourself out there, you acquire new skills, you learn new, interesting things, you build your network, and it’s so invaluable. And these are the skills that you mentioned before that is so so important, because what distinguishes you from someone else who has the same degree, or has the same exact job title as you, and these are the things that are going to get you noticed and get you ahead in your career. Okay, you also founded the exploratory journey in 2020, with the aim of aspiring the next generation. So as part of the medium platform, you created a podcast and I’ve had the privilege of featuring on the show, and what are the guests? Have you invited on the show? And just tell us a little bit more about it?  

Ved Nathwani 28:47 

Yeah, I’ve I’ve been I’ve had all sorts of really cool people had Dan, he’s the managing partner of Wilson, Sonsini, London had some really cool lawyers from kind of lights of a no down to really small kind of social impact focus firms. But I’ve also had kind of tech founders and young young startup founders who’ve kind of like, dropped out of their grad scheme, big banks to build startups. And I think the the idea really was, came from kind of me, not knowing what direction I wanted my career to go in. And I’m sure there were other people out there. And I wanted to kind of give, give a platform to people who’ve had kind of these unconventional career paths to kind of tell their story and inspire the next generation to not necessarily just kind of work up the ladder, but actually do lots of other things to kind of both make their life more interesting generally. But I guess, also that all sorts of really cool things were possible. And I guess I also linked partly Back to the Future Proof project and my interest in kind of how to future proof yourself and doing multiple things and having side hustles and I guess, you know, Building a really unique, what I like to call a unique skill stack. And it’s coined by one of my friends in Akita. And it’s basically, it’s basically having a unique skill set that no one else can replicate based on all of these different experiences. So you’re not just a another associate in the wheel, essentially. But you’re you and you have all of these different experiences, which basically make you unique and are able to make you do your job better. So I guess that actually experience I probably should have mentioned earlier about the future proof project probably stemmed a bit from this podcast. But it’s genuinely just inspiring the next generation.  

Robert Hanna 30:41 

You’re absolutely doing that it has to be said, you know, you’re inspiring, you’re looking after people you are educating. And I guess the question on everybody’s tongues will be, how do you balance it all that, you know, how do you balance your academic commitments, your projects, your roles and legal tech? What’s the secret sauce? 

Ved Nathwani 31:01 

I think prior to prioritisation, honestly, I think you you learn in the process. I like to think that if it becomes a priority, there’ll be time for it. And it’s always kind of worked out that way. I think there are points, you know, within my university career, where there’s exams and deadlines where things will just get pushed down the to do list. And it’s just, I think, planning ahead, I think a lot of people don’t realise how good a good calendar can be. And if everything is time, block, time blocked, and you’ll have your deadlines put in months in advance, it just makes life easier. And I think like time blocking has been an absolute lifesaver of a skill to have learned. I also just think making time for yourself is also really, really important. I think there have been points where I learned that the hard way. But it’s understanding that actually tonight, I don’t need to work any longer. i This can wait till tomorrow. And I can just take a couple of hours or just get some extra sleep or watch this new Netflix show. And I think that’s also like being kind to yourself. I think that there’s a lot of people who have really big ambitions and constantly doing stuff. And that’s incredible. But I think in the process, you don’t want to burn yourself out. And you also don’t want to kind of sacrifice, for instance, your health or other parts of kind of your lifestyle. And so understanding both where your priorities are at and also really just making time for yourself is two things, which I guess I’ve learned over the process, which helped me balance all of these many things.  

Robert Hanna 32:34 

Yeah, and I have to say, it’s really important what you say there, because absolutely everything we’ve discussed is super inspiring, is progressive, but the number one thing you have to look after as your health. And so it’s great that you mentioned that as well, because without that fundamental pillar, everything else cannot fall into place. So um, thank you for highlighting that as well. Another topic we must talk about, again, if people are listening to this is thinking wow, but you know, is there any impostor syndrome in there? So you know, you’re open about being a student attending legal tech events, meeting legal tech CEOs, founders? Have you experienced impostor syndrome before? And if so, how do you overcome that particular feeling? 

Ved Nathwani 33:13 

Yeah, all the time. I think like, even when I started the podcast, I remember like, minutes reaching out to some of these partners, I must have been 18. When I started, I was like, why would they want to talk to me? And then they’ll get back to you on LinkedIn and say, Yeah, I’d love to, I’d love to share my journey. And then I’m kind of like, even when you get to the Zoom meeting, I’m like, Wow, I’m actually speaking to someone like this. But I think it’s like, you have to remember that everyone is human. And so like, when you’re young and trying to kind of start off your career, I think a lot of people put kind of partners on pedestals, you put CEOs and founders and investors kind of these are incredible people who’ve done incredible things. And yeah, they have, but they’re also just human. And they were like you one day wanting to kind of work their way up and you realise like everyone experiences imposter syndrome. And so that just in itself kind of reduces impostor syndrome by just thinking that they’re just another person who also just has hobbies on the side and has a life and, you know, you’re just having another conversation with them. And I think that really reduces impostor syndrome. I think the other thing is just realising that if you’re in a room, and I think I found this, particularly once, I was getting to a point where I speaking at events and conferences where everyone was, you know, 1015 years older than me on these panels. And you realise that if you’re in a room and you’ve been asked to be in that room, you’re there for a reason. And so don’t kind of doubt yourself because other people probably see a lot more in you than you do. And I think somewhat one of one of my mentors said this to me that like if they, if they’ve asked you, you take that as kind of a compliment if the if you’ve been asked to kind of speak at these events, and in that process, I guess, like, if you’re meant to be there, you’re meant to be there. So just do it to your has to do it to the best of your ability. And I guess that also kind of reduces the imposter syndrome. Because, you know, it’s not like you’re not meant to be that. And I think you just need to take it one step at a time.  

Robert Hanna 35:14 

Yeah, really good advice. I always say, you know, the neck just to take that next step. Absolutely. Because that is a way a way forward, you talk a lot about the human connection, which again, I talk a lot about on the show, it’s no longer b2b. b2c, it’s H to H, human to human connection, it’s just another person you’re having a conversation with. Absolutely. And you also talk about mentors, which again, is something we absolutely advocate for here and how they can help you navigate because if you have a seat at the table, you’re invited to it, own it, you know, like you say, absolutely own that seat, because you have deserved the right to be there. So really good sage tips, really appreciate that. Okay, let’s talk a little bit about social media, without the sort of 10,000 followers on LinkedIn, and having grown Instagram accounts with over 110,000 followers, and I’m really sort of understanding social media, how have you built your personal brand on social media and, you know, maybe in person events, but specifically, probably more social media?  

Ved Nathwani 36:06 

Yeah, I think social media is actually a really, really useful tool, if you use it, right. And I think a lot of people, but from a legal perspective, underestimate the power of social media, and you’re seeing more and more, some really small law firms getting incredible clients and doing incredibly well just from marketing themselves, particularly on LinkedIn. And a lot of it’s being authentic, I think a lot of people are like, oh, there’s a perception that I need to give advice. And I need to say this, and I need to say that. And actually, it’s quite the opposite. I think if you try to mould yourself into what everyone else is talking about, you’re not going to, you’re not going to build that brand, because your brand is something you need to own and it needs to be about you. And so if it’s not authentic, it’s not about you. And you’re not going to be recognised because you’re just kind of playing to the crowd. And so a lot of the time on LinkedIn, you know, the initial, the initial brand came to the podcast, but over time, there was a lot I was experiencing, in kind of building these different projects in kind of, you know, going up my training contract and a bit of an unconventional route. And I was just sharing that journey through posts and people resonated with it. I think there’s so much which can be done with social media. I mean, I a lot of my roles have come from it. You know, I’ve freelance for funds and startups on social media having built a brand. And I think a lot of it, as I say it’s being authentic. But the other thing is just being consistent. And a lot of people kind of, oh, this post didn’t do well, I’m just gonna stop now. But sometimes the posts were particularly on LinkedIn, where the algorithm is quite an interesting one. Sometimes a post you put loads of time and effort into think are going to do really well don’t go anywhere, and the post where you’ve written it on the train, and five minutes, because it’s a thought that’s popped into your head, and you’re like, I’ll just post it now. And then you open the app, like five hours a turn, it’s blown up. And that’s kind of proof to kind of consistency, because you never really know what post is going to do well, and what posts on. And so what I’ve realised is the posts that do really well, which I found the post where I’m actually kind of telling something which I’ve experienced a part of my journey. So I think I did a post on impostor syndrome a few years ago, and I got like 34,000 views. And I was just like, Who are all these people viewing this post. But it was just a very short, snappy pose, which had come from a conversation I was having with a friend who was who had just won some money from the mayor’s entrepreneurial award. And she was like 21, building a deep tech, deep tech startup. And she was just like, I don’t feel like I don’t feel like I’m massively under qualified for this. And that posters came from that inspiration. So yeah, I would say branding is becoming more and more important if the other thing in a market which is really, really saturated, both full of lawyers, but also just full of kind of, you know, different startups, doing all sorts of things. And branding can really, really accelerate your career if you do it well.  

Robert Hanna 39:04 

Yeah, I absolutely plus one to everything you just said. And you know, I always say Teach For reach, right? If you want to get sort of really noticed, like you say, share that thought share that experience you’ve had educate your audience in your teacher reach, just remember that. And it’s really sage advice, because people aren’t looking for for copycats. They’re looking for that authentic voice, everything that you’ve just shared. So really, really appreciate you diving into that. Maybe before we look to wrap up there three quick tips for students who are aspiring solicitors wanting to build their brands, specifically perhaps on LinkedIn.  

Ved Nathwani 39:36 

I would say I’ve never really underestimate your experiences, because every experience is a good experience. I think a lot of people focus on just giving kind of the generic how to get a training contract or advice. But I think the best thing about you know, building a brand on LinkedIn is actually if you’ve, you know, a lot of what I talk about is kind of my experience from startups and how that links to me You haven’t got my training contract. And so like, as I say, be authentic about your journey and kind of tell a story, then the other two things is, really just make sure, make sure if you’re going to want to focus on kind of building that brand, kind of actually dedicate a bit of time towards it. So as I say, consistency, like, what I have is just a little table notion. And anytime I have an idea for a LinkedIn post, it just drops into that table. And then at some point, I’ll sit down and kind of strategize when I want to put out content. And I think content is a bit of a game, you can’t just kind of, you can’t just kind of go at it from a whim, if you really want to build that brand, it’s so it does involve a bit of planning as much as it can be quite spontaneous, too. And I think the third thing is also don’t kind of get intimidated by the fact that, you know, you think other employers gonna see, or you’re gonna see it, or you think like someone in the future might see and it might come to bite you in the back. Because you’re literally seeing managing partners of law firms putting out content with, you know, pictures of them in shorts on a beach, and you’re seeing partners talk about all sorts of things on LinkedIn. And so if they’re doing it, why can’t you do it? So yeah, keep going is also the final piece of advice, I’d say.  

Robert Hanna 41:16 

Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely a journey, and embrace starting that journey, just start and like you say, the more that you can be consistent and just be yourself, the more you’re attract the type of people that you’re looking to attract. Okay, finally, that this has been fantastic. What are your plans to encourage Gen Z and the next generation of lawyers to embrace legal tech? 

Ved Nathwani 41:37 

Honestly, I think I, it’s a massive mindset shift, you just need people to play around with it, and be a bit more open minded. I think, law schools and kind of the traditional, like application cycles, and the way in which HR works at these big firms hasn’t really helped, because it’s very much, many points in the process, a tick box exercise of being able to prove yourself and prove you’ve got these skills, but you kind of push out any level of authenticity. So I would say, be really curious about technology, if you genuinely care about it, at some point, where you’re going to enter the legal industry, be that through applying for a training contract, or be that as a trainee working on a deal, it will come to, you know, be in your favour. There are there are trainees who I’ve met who genuinely have just like, you know, been interested in tech, I’ve never really kind of, you know, jumped on the legal tech bandwagon. But it got to a point where they were working on a deal or a case. And they knew that there must be something out there on the market, which would make their life so much easier. They go out to the firm, the firm says, Yeah, we actually have this tool, no one actually really uses it, but you can try and use it. And it saves them a good, you know, three days going through kind of documents. So I think curiosity is number one. And I think the other thing is, what I really want to do is just encourage people to have a go, because there’s no harm in trying out technology, there’s no harm in kind of exploring what’s out there, the only thing you’re you’re kind of gaining is learning you might not enjoy, you know, using that technology. And you don’t have to use it again. But a know it exists. And be you actually kind of have a better grasp of what other technologies might be out there. Because you’ve played around with this one tool. So yeah, I guess that’s, that’s what I really want to try and encourage over the next, I guess, five to 10 years and get more people just playing around with tech and using it to make their lives easier. 

Robert Hanna 43:37 

Yeah, and you’re absolutely doing that you’re doing a phenomenal job of playing around and making people’s lives a lot easier. So if our listeners would like to learn more about your career journey, or indeed all of your projects that you’re involved in, where can they find out more? 

Ved Nathwani 43:53 

You can find me on LinkedIn, and also on Twitter and Instagram. Yeah, particularly on LinkedIn, but also post a lot on Instagram about kind of the events and things like that. So that might be another place to check out. Absolutely. 

Robert Hanna 44:05 

Well, I just want to say thank you so so much, but it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the legally speaking podcast, wishing you lots of continued success with your future career and indeed all your pursuits and projects but from now, from all of us on the legally speaking podcast over and out.

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