Technology advancements are altering how people work. Unfortunately, some legal professionals have been reluctant to adopt these innovations. However, legal tech’s benefits are impossible to ignore and this cannot be disputed. These developments have aided attorneys in developing profitable and effective legal practices, demonstrating that technology is unquestionably improving legal practice.
This week we’re super excited to be chatting with Flo Nicolas, Co-Founder and COO of DEI Directive, a game-changing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) technology firm that provides a comprehensive DEI Intelligence Platform. She is also the Founder and CEO of Get Tech Smart, a tech company focused on empowering the local community with the knowledge and resources needed to thrive in the ever-evolving world of technology.
She completed her junior doctorate at Massachusetts School of Law and has experience as a consulting legal counsel and litigation managing counsel and bankruptcy and real state counsel. She is also a director, producer, creator & host of a local TV show, “Get Tech Smart” & “Get Resource Smart”. She was a Former Chief Growth & Community Officer at How To Contact, was featured in Above The Law 2x, and is known as the #NonBoringLawyer.
Flo is captivated by the revolutionary technology of Artificial Intelligence and the endless possibilities it holds. She is driven to understand the intricacies of cyber attack crisis management and how organizations can harness technology to mitigate these risks and protect their assets.
𝐒𝐨, 𝐰𝐡𝐲 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧?
- You can catch Rob and Flo Nicolas talking about:
- The importance of self-accountability in your career
- Working with construction teams, outside attorneys, and outside consultants
- Mentorship programs and the importance of mentors
- What are some of the risks that lawyers should be aware of as technology progresses?How to be a non-boring lawyer?
- What is Get Tech Smart?
00:08 Rob Hanna:
Welcome to the Legally Speaking Podcast. You are now listening to Season 6 of the show. I’m your host Rob Hanna. This week I’m delighted to be joined by the amazing Flo Nicholas. Flo has a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature. She completed her Juris Doctorate at Massachusetts School of Law and has experience as a Consulting Legal Counsel in Litigation, Managing Counsel in Bankruptcy and Real Estate Counsel. She was previously the host of Contract Tech Showcase and Chief Growth and Community Officer at How to Contract. Flo is now the proud Founder and CEO of the Get Tech Smart TV show. She is a passionate advocate for women in tech and diversity. On social media she has the hashtag ‘nonboringlawyer’ and more broadly dubbed the ‘Contract Tech Queen’. Flo was recently also chosen to participate in the US LinkedIn Accelerator Program, focusing on technology and innovation as a creator. So very warm welcome Flo.
01:11 Flo Nicholas:
Wow. Wow, that was a great intro. I’m like, wow, I did all that.
01:17 Rob Hanna:
You did all that, you absolutely did all of that. And it’s our pleasure to be hosting you today. And before we dive in to all of that great stuff, and all the projects and experiences you’ve had to date, we do have a customary icebreaker question here, on the Legally Speaking Podcast which is, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being very real, what would you rate the hit TV series Suits in terms of its reality?
01:39 Flo Nicholas:
I honestly don’t watch that show. It’s funny you mentioned that because a couple of days ago my husband said, hey we should really start watching that show Suits. And I’m like, I don’t know, I’m a Viola Davis fan and my favourite show that, you know, incorporates like the legal world and lawyers is like How to Get Away with Murder.
02:00 Rob Hanna:
I would say stick to what you like, and we’ll give Suits of 0 because you’ve not seen it. And we’re gonna move swiftly on. So, let’s start at the beginning Flo. Would you mind telling our listeners a bit about your background and journey?
02:13 Flo Nicholas:
Yeah, so you know, I went to the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. So a shout out to Holy Cross, you know, and I, at the time, I was kind of like oh I want to be a medical doctor. And, you know, then, you know, I realised that there was a lot of math involved and, you know, math is not my favourite, so. But I loved debating, I was total, total debate nerd, I was part of the speech and debate team in high school and we would go to other schools and we would get a topic. And we would have to prepare for, for or against. And it’s not until you got there that you will realise, are you, you know, for or are you going to argue for again, so that that was kind of like the intro for me into the legal world. And I’ve always loved debating and negotiating. So, when I realised quickly that you know what perhaps the medical world is not what I want to do, law school was right there as the second-best option. So that’s how I started at Holy Cross doing I loved literature, I had an amazing English teacher in high school. And I just fell in love with, with reading, you know, various, you know, from Shakespeare to other novels. So I continued that passion when I went to College, but I also did a lot of philosophy as well, which is great for critical thinking.
03:44 Rob Hanna:
Yeah, and I love how you kind of talked about how you know, you like to debate and you sort of got that literature bug and you used the word passion there, which is awesome. So obviously following your studies you then went on to becoming a sort of Consulting Legal Counsel in Litigation. So tell us a bit about your role, when you’re there?
04:00 Flo Nicholas:
Yeah. So at that time, I was waiting for the bar result. And I was just like, okay well, what do I do while I wait, I, you know, I still want to, you know, kind of start getting my feet wet. And I had other lawyers that I had met who you know, and were like, hey you should start doing consulting and you can work with various law firms. You know, they hire lawyers to help them with their overflow of litigation cases or anything else that they’re working on. And, so I did that and I ended up landing a role at this law firm, which mainly focused on, you know, class action suits, and they had some really pretty big cases. And luckily, fortunately I was able to do it remotely, which I love. But, just, you know, that experience was really fantastic because I, at that time, I didn’t really know which practice area that I wanted to go into. So having done some consultation and worked on various cases, it was great exposure. It was a great exposure early on in my career. And I did that for a little over 2 years until the law firm kind of had like a restructuring. And, you know, I ended up having to move on to something else. But it was just really fascinating. Some of the cases that we worked on and trying to gather the evidence and finding stuff that I can go to the, the head attorney and say, oh, oh I think this is a good 1. I think that this is what you’re looking for. And that was definitely fun.
05:28 Rob Hanna:
The juicy stuff. I like it. I like it. So then, obviously, you had a broad experience. So you then went on to sort of being a Managing Counsel in Bankruptcy, you’ve also been a Real Estate Counsel as well. So again, what did your role entail as being sort of Managing Counsel?
05:42 Flo Nicholas:
Right? So it was, what I really loved about this role was it wasn’t the big firm life, I’ve never had that experience. And based what I, what I see from other people on LinkedIn, it seems like I’m like, I don’t know if I want that big firm experience. But it was a small setting. And this was great for me because the owner of the practice, I was able to get that hands on coaching, mentoring, and training. So when I first started, you know, his focus area was immigration. By he was just, this is around the 2008, kind of like housing crisis and people are filing for bankruptcy. And he started taking on cases, but he had never done bankruptcy. Well guess what I, I’ve never done bankruptcy either. So, he’s like, hey here’s some files for you. Here’s a bankruptcy book. And at the time, it was, you know, the CDs. I’m ageing myself here. It was the CDs that you can put in your computer. Here’s a bankruptcy book that has the CD, you can download the forms, go learn. And I’m like, what? I just came from doing litigation. And now you want me to do bankruptcy that I’ve, I’ve never done a case in my life. I don’t even know what I have to do. And, he said I don’t either. So, I’ll focus on immigration, you go learn. And, I did that, I went, I learned, I researched, you know, what we’re taught in law school, you know, you do your research, just started just really looking at the forms, you know, what the requirements were, and took on the first client, they were kind of like the guinea pig I guess. That’s how, how else was I supposed to learn I had, you know, to start the paperwork for the first client. But fortunately, at that time, you know, because of the software things were, you know, you can automate, you know, plug in the information and it calculated whether they qualify, you know, the preliminary tasks to verify whether they qualified or not, and I just loved it. It was like, I just fell in love with bankruptcy and going, you know, to court, you know, when I went to the first hearing in front of the trustee, it was, I was nervous, but at the same time I’m like, okay, slap, slap, slap, you’re here with a client. You’re gonna have to just throw those nerves out the window, because at the end of the day, this person needs your help.
08:11 Rob Hanna:
Yeah, real wisdom shared there. There’s 2 things that I want to pick up on. Firstly, you were just given something, and you had to run with it. And I think there’s a real, you know, accountability, you took self-accountability there, because some people might be like, well this is overwhelming, where’s my support? Where, why aren’t you going to help me? You know, where are you going to teach me and of course, you know, you will get all those assets. But at some point in your career, you need to make it happen for yourself. And I love the fact that you were given something and you went on, researched and just did it. So I tip my hat to you on that. And I just think it’s, it’s, so, so, so, so important and you know, we talk a lot about sort of being passionate and what you do clearly, that passion followed through and enabled you to be very successful in your role. I want to talk about some of the differences because obviously you did quite a few different things there. So, you had responsibility. So how did they differ from sort of Counsel in Litigation to Bankruptcy to Real Estate?
08:56 Flo Nicholas:
Right? So you know, once I kind of mastered you know, doing the bankruptcy and you know, started also picking up other things, I ended up really being responsible, kind of like for the day-to-day of the office, which is overseeing our paralegal and any other staff that we would hire when needed. But the other thing, you know, the day-to-day operations of the business. 1 thing that I just, you know, saw that I was really great at is, is making sure that the clients that you know, were coming in, that we were collecting the funds that were due to us, right, because at the end of the day, if the client doesn’t, you know, pay the bills, eventually you’re, you’re gonna run out of business. So I ended up actually being almost like a creditor as well for, for the office because we had a lot. 1 of the things I saw I was very, I’m highly organised person and the attorney I was working for his, he was really busy with immigration because around that time immigration was like, really hot. I mean it’s still a hot topic today, but it was really booming there. And, you know, there wasn’t any focus on, you know how we organised 1-hour file. That’s the other thing that I was able to go in there. And at the time, you know, we, you know, we know about all the fancy legal tech tools and contract management software’s, we had the metal file cabinets, right? And they were storing files in the attic. And I’m like, how are you keeping track of all that and, and maintaining a client database. So that’s the other thing that I was able to go in, and, and really organise all our, all our files, stored them, create a database, create a more realistic way of getting our clients to get their bills, receiving payments for those bills, and then also take an action when there was a lack of payment. So that’s 1 of the things I kind of liked about the, being able to go into this office and essentially, become a managing attorney, not because I own the office but because now I was in charge of overseeing the day-to-day because the attorney just recognised my business skills, as well as my organisation skills, and it was helping bring in and generating revenue for the offices as well.
11:15 Rob Hanna:
I love that. And I love that you talk about organisation because it’s so, so important. The more organised you can do, the more efficient you can be. And you touched on it there and of course we have to talk about tech because that is your, your thing. So you know, tech lawyer, sort of where did you get your initial interest in all things technology from?
11:32 Flo Nicholas:
Right, so after I did bankruptcy, you know, during the time we did, I was doing bankruptcy, you know, we were also dealing with clients that had to do loan modifications, you know, just real estate transactions and, and negotiating within the big banks, like, you know, Bank of America, for example. So that’s where the kind of like the real estate kind of came into play. But after a while, you know, started a family, you know, got married, and, and just, you know, bankruptcy is, is not just your file and you’re done. You gotta go to court and I’m going to court in various places because you know bankruptcy, they’re going to federal court, so I can be in New Hampshire 1 day, the next day, I’m in Boston, or the next day, I’m in like, Worcester Massachusetts, for example. And it just became time consuming. I wanted something different. So I saw a role at a big telecom company, and it said real estate manager, and I’m like, okay, this a little bit different and it said, remote, and I’m like ooh they caught my attention. I saw remote and I’m like, I can work from home, I have a young child that just got married, this is perfect. But, what I didn’t realise, in my mind I’m thinking, alright real estate manager, I’m going to be helping negotiate their retail stores. What I didn’t realise was there’s just a whole world in telecom and in the wireless industry, and went through the interview on everything right, I’m just like, oh, I’m going to be negotiating retail agreement. So when I’m interviewing, I’m like, I prepared for questions that were geared towards real estate lease agreements for retail stores, right? Like I’m noticing that I’m not getting asked those questions, right? And I’m like, okay. All right. So I just kind of brushed it off. So it wasn’t until I really fully started, and I got in that I’m like, oh my god, I’m in corporate technology operations at a big telecom company. And in that world, in telecom you’re working with engineers, you’re working with construction teams, you’re working with outside attorneys and outside consultants. And our team was responsible for the multimillion-dollar modifications to cell towers. So we’re dealing with equipment like remote radio heads, antennas, and I’m working with RF engineers, and I had to learn how to read like engineering drawings, structural analysis, mound analysis, become really proficient, because 1 of my jobs was negotiating license agreements, telecom license agreements, because cell towers are essentially real estate. Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, they pay rent, you know, on, on those cell towers. So my job as part of, you know, working with the engineers is, was multiple things. I wore many hats. The first thing was all right, once the engineers, you know, wanted to do a modification, well, what did that modification do? Well, customers want to be able to text, talk, and check their email at the same time. Well how is that done? Well, you’ve got to modify the existing equipment, and put on antennas and remote radio heads that have the capability to allow customers to do all those things. So that’s what the projects that I worked on and for me that was like my first introduction into this tech world. And I worked in CTO for over 7 and a half years.
15:02 Rob Hanna:
And what would you say like your greatest learn from that experience would be, obviously, you know, huge, huge brand, you know, wonderful experience, what would be like the key takeaway that really set you up for everything that we’re going to go on to talk about for your career in tech?
15:16 Flo Nicholas:
Yeah, you know, I had to learn how to work with techies. Because the engineers, these are RF engineers who are creating these designs, and I had to learn how to read those designs. And, you know, as a lawyer, I’m, you know, I’m like, why, I just want to do the negotiation part, can I just get the part, just sent me to do the negotiations and the drafting of the license agreements with my team. But no, I couldn’t do that. I went into an industry that I had zero experience with. And I went in working with people who have been in the industry like 15, 20 years. And again, just like I told you when I started bankruptcy, I knew 0. Now I’m in this corporate technology operations, being tasked with managing million-dollar modifications. And I had to learn, I had to learn quickly. And for me, that was the most challenging but more satisfying part because I had to push myself outside my comfort zone, to be able to, not just be just like, oh, negotiate redline. But no, I’m, need to know these transactions in terms of, what is this drawing say? What is this construction drawings say? And then be able to talk with the engineers and be able to talk with the construction teams and say hey I’ve reviewed these drawings, there’s some parts that are missing, we have left out some entitlements, you know, we have entitlements to a leased space of 20 by 20. But your drawing is showing a leased space of 9 by 9. What happened to the rest of our leased area that we’re paying rent for? Right? So those are the type of things that I had to do on a day to day.
17:19 Rob Hanna:
I like that, it’s a really simple example, to understand. I love that you’re sort of talking about meeting people where they’re at. And also, you’ve never been afraid to learn, right? And I think there’s something in terms of like your, your nature and sort of the traits that you have, you’re not afraid to start from 0 with something and get yourself up to speed. And it’s a great trait to have because we all have to start somewhere or we might have to take a career pivot or something might happen. So there’s some real gems in that. So thanks for sharing. So obviously following that you then also worked alongside a previous guest we’ve had on the show as well, Laura Frederick at How to Contract as their sort of Chief Growth and Community Officer. So, what skills did you acquire during your time there?
17:57 Flo Nicholas:
Wow, what did I not acquire right? Like, I mean, Laura Frederick is just amazing. And, and it wasn’t for me wasn’t just working alongside her, it was, you know, getting to be with a mentor, you know, someone who was like, okay. So 1 of my biggest challenges before I went to work with Laura was being an attorney that was on the business side of the house. If you looked at my day to day, I mentioned, I was drafting, negotiating contracts, but I also was doing other things, you know, overseeing vendors, you know, program management, project management, and doing all that stuff. Trying to transition back into the legal world was a challenge and having someone really take a look at my skill set from beginning, to, you know where I was before I started working for Laura, was a challenge. But 1 of the things I love about Laura, she’s like, oh my God, I see all your experience, I see your background and this is perfect. This is exactly what I need is somebody who is well rounded, right? Now doesn’t fit the quote unquote, traditional attorney, whatever that means. I’m still trying to figure out what that means. But what a fantastic opportunity and experience, because Laura, a lot of people don’t realise is very creative. She is like a Canva queen. I mean, seriously, like, she will create things in Canva, I thought I was great at Canva like Laura hands down, could teach a class about how to create in Canva. She herself I consider her like she’s a business mogul. She is highly intelligent, and to have the ability to work with someone who believes in you, right? She saw in me what I kind of doubted in myself the ability to be a leader, right? Yes, I you know, I managed a law office before but this is, this is now a whole new level. This is like really the executive the big title suite, right, you know, Chief Growth and Community Officer. And around this time, you know, I’m seeing like Alex Su, you know, you know, at the time he was at Evisort, you know, and then he’s now an Ironclad but I’m seeing his role. And I’m seeing, you know, also people like, like Kat and their roles as well as Chief Growth and Community Officers. And I’m just like, what do I do? Like, how can I match up with these fantastic people. And what I said to myself was like you know what, Laura sees something in you, she believes in you. And what you’re going to do is you’re going to be the hype person, you’re going to be the cheerleader, and you’re going to help put a spotlight on the benefits of attorneys, even contract professionals as well, keeping up to date, and upscaling or upskilling, I should say, with their negotiation and drafting skill, right? Because negotiating and drafting can be a challenge, you know, and trying to keep up with all the various terms and trying to keep up with, you know, for example, SLAs. I mean, there’s a lot that goes on, and trying to be the best negotiator possible, not only for yourself, but also for your organisation, you know, being able to see a contract and saying, yeah you know, we might want to rethink, you know, this agreement, this third-party agreement, and here’s some things that we need to be mindful of. And that’s why I loved working at How to Contract because 1, it was a great opportunity to work with the amazing Laura Frederick, but 2 was also a great opportunity to have access to the How to Contract training program, and the library of materials. So yes, I was working with her. But guess what, I took advantage of the training, I was listening to those trainings, you know, because how are you going to be a cheerleader for a program that you don’t even know like, what’s available, or you’re not even participating in the training program, right? Makes 0 sense. So 1 of the benefits that I got from there was being part of the training program and participating with other lawyers that were around the world. And 1 of the biggest successes for me was when Laura said hey we should create a mentorship program. And mind you now we have lawyers all over the world that are in different time zones and I’m like, oh my god, how do you? How do you do that? How do you? How do you group the various attorneys in different time zones, but you know what it worked. It worked and it was such a successful program. Created a toolkit, you know, that I would give to the least. So what we did was got senior attorneys to be the lead. And you know, they would meet with their groups, they would talk about various concepts, legal concepts, and just help, like, really train each other, and give each other tips and have discussions. So out of that experience, of course, besides working with Laura, I’m really proud of that mentorship program, the international mentorship program that was created out of the How to Contract, I think it was fantastic. And the second thing I’m really proud of as well that Laura created that launched earlier this year was in 2022 in January was Contracts Con. And that to me, was fantastic. And it was a huge success.
23:42 Rob Hanna:
Yeah. And everything you seem to touch turns into a huge success. And I love you talk a lot about because I bang on about this as well around the importance of mentors, and you had a mentor in Laura in terms of when you’re working with her, but also, again, taking self-accountability and upskilling yourself learning being proactive. Fantastic. So from there, then, you know, let’s talk a bit about some other ventures because you are now the Director, Producer, Creator and Host of local TV show that I mentioned in the introduction Get Tech Smart. So what topics do you cover in the program? And do you have a favourite episode which you posted thus far?
24:12 Flo Nicholas:
Yeah. So you know 1 of the things that I did when I was with Laura, before I get into Get Tech Smart real quick, is we also launched the show where we were inviting contract tech vendors and we were kind of doing a demo of all the various CLM tools that were out there. So I really kind of dove deep into the legal technology world, really focused on the various tech tools that were available for lawyers and really promoting why lawyers should leverage technology. From there 1 of the things I noticed was I started looking in my market and I said well what’s going on in the New Hampshire tech sector. Well 1 thing that I ruled out right away was there really is not that big legal technology market in New Hampshire. So for those people listening, great market to try to tap into, right for the picket but the other thing I said okay, you know, Laura at this time was like you can create your own thing. She was really pushing me to, hey, you can create your own thing. And I was like, well what can that be, but I really love the show that we had. And I’m like, well, I want to create a show. But I don’t want, I don’t want to focus just on legal technology. So I started doing research and looking into the New Hampshire technology market. And I saw that there, there was a boom in market, but there really was no spotlight on the market. So I created Get Tech Smart to explore the emerging technologies that were happening right here in my state. And what I do is I have tech experts that are tech founders and CEOs of million-dollar companies and billion-dollar companies, and they come on the show, when we, we focused on those emerging technologies that are happening from artificial intelligence, traffic light management systems for example. I had BAE who headquartered right in London, but they’re all over the world. BAE came on the show, I had their community lead, who came to talk about the STEM programs that they offer for high school students. There’s, there’s 1 that I really love, which is focused on women in tech, and they, you know, get high school females to participate in the program. And they’re matched with mentors. And they’re doing things like from electrical engineering, to mechanical, to RF, just that really hands-on training and exploring and meeting, showing up in a room and being with other women in tech. And that for me was actually 1 of my favourite shows because, I’m a huge advocate, advocate for STEM, especially in early childhood curriculum. And for me, the best way for kids to get hands on and early exposure is when you have these big companies like BAE, who are invested money in this programs that are allow students to come in and learn. And the other great part about it is these students come in, they learn, they get this hands on training. They’re a potential future employee of that company. The other thing that I’ve been able to do with the show was, I live in New Hampshire and there’s not a lot of diversity, especially in the tech sector. When I go to events I’m usually the only black person there. And 1 of the things that I looked at that and I said well what can I do to get more exposure of the tech scene, and to get more women and minorities, under-represented tech professionals to come to these tech events. So I’m not walking in and just looking and seeing myself, I want to walk in and see a variety of people. So I actually ended up launching a DEI New Hampshire tech networking event, which was sponsored by, you know, Get Tech Smart. And also I got sponsorships from local colleges like Franklin Pierce University, Manchester Community College. I had an organisation called Black in Technology that also sponsored and it was successful. I had various organisations, tech companies like Raytheon, Velcro, and other tech recruiters that showed up. And it was so successful, that I’m going to actually be doing another 1 and more details of that to come. I haven’t finalised everything but, I had a pretty big player in, in New Hampshire who said, and they were there at the event, and they said we want to do the next 1 with you.
29:00 Rob Hanna:
Well watch this space, folks. It sounds super, super exciting. And yeah, thanks again for sharing that, that sort of whole aspect of the journey from, from your side. And it’s very clear, just listening to you that you are passionate about tech, but also AI and cybersecurity. So, what are some of the risks lawyers should be aware of as technology progresses, because we’re in this sort of whole Web3, tech advancement that things are moving super, super quick. So what would you say to that?
29:26 Flo Nicholas:
Yeah, so you know, 1 of the things like right now I’m actually working on a project. I can’t share too much details yet, but it’s focused on artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. And 1 of the things as you know, technology is going to continue to accelerate. We, you know, companies are investing millions of dollars in, in tech innovation and because, you know, companies are competitive with each other, right? Everybody wants to have the AI embedded software or, you know, the next big AI invention. But, 1 of the things that, as you mentioned, you know, we’re now in this world where we have these other emerging technologies like blockchain and Web3. The best thing attorneys can do and, and as part of my LinkedIn accelerator program, I did feature several women in tech who are working in this space, the Web3 and blockchain, we’ve got to understand this technology. Because 1 of the things that’s coming up, as we see with, for example, the FTX scandal that’s happening right now is, how did this happen in the first place. And 1 of the things I’m, I’m, I’m seeing is that there is a lack of understanding of some of this technology. And attorneys are going to have clients that work in blockchain world, in the Web3 world, with AI, and it is critical and imperative that lawyers start getting a good understanding of the implications of these technologies, the risks, the, the regulation, like right now we’re seeing, especially in the EU, this attempt to want to regulate AI, categorising AI in various categories, like unacceptable AI for example, or high risk AI, low risk AI, and then for like software, you know, marking it like, hey, check, this has a green mark, it has a green mark because this AI has been vetted, it’s been approved, and it’s safe to use. So, clients are going to be coming to law firms and attorneys and, and saying, hey I have this AI software, you know, and I’m going to be launching it not only in the US market, but I’m going to be launching it in, in, in the EU as well. Well clients are going to want to understand how to be compliant, right? They’re going to be looking for that assistance. Well, how am I going to be compliant, there’s talk in the United States as well about how to properly regulate AI, because there’s some risks with AI. AI is great. It’s great, right? It helps manage loads of data quickly, automation. I mean, there’s so many benefits, that’s like a whole show that we can have, just talking about the benefits of AI. But AI has risks too. And especially with cybersecurity, 1 of the things as lawyers we need to be careful of because we now have all these great contract management tools, right, that are easily accessible in the Cloud, and you can access it from anywhere, which is great for teams working remotely. But for cybersecurity perspective, you know who else thinks that’s great? Cyber criminals. They’re like, oh perfect now it’s in the Cloud, let’s find a backdoor. How can we now access that contract data? And that contract data, let’s be honest, it usually has a lot of information on it, right? And so, as lawyers, we’ve got to be conscious of what’s going on with technology, the risks that are, that are there, the impact of regulation, not just in the United States but globally. And we also have to be aware of the cybersecurity risks that are there, as we continue to become a technology world, right? We continue to want tech, we want more of it, we want more advancements. And there’s a lot of future tech out there that’s going to be coming out. But as lawyers we need to be prepared, to be able to advise our clients. 1 thing I want to say is, I might not be like, you know, a GC or in-house attorney at a firm somewhere or a company. But I will tell you as part of being what I consider myself an emerging technology thought leader is I pay attention to the regulation, right? I have pay attention to the risks, because part of the work that I’m doing now and, and that I’m working on is, to be able to teach others, about technology, not just how you can use it, how cute and fun it is, but also buyer beware, here are the risks, here the compliance issues and the regulations issues. And 1 of the books that I’m actually reading right now, which is right next to me is that, if you can see it, it’s artificial intelligence, governance and cybersecurity. So, I’m not only a tech nerd, but I read on tech books, so I can keep up to date, where I can advise the clients that I work with, to have a better understanding of technology.
34:40 Rob Hanna:
Love it. And you know you’re talking there about sort of continuous education, keeping your finger on the pulse and really paying attention and not making any assumptions you can be best in class in your field. Time for a short break from the show. Are you looking for a way to get your firm working more efficiently and profitably, while ensuring a better work life balance for your team? Well, if you haven’t considered our sponsor Clio, I’m here to strongly recommend that you do. I absolutely love working with Clio. Not only is it the world’s leading legal practice management and legal client relationship management software, it also has a really solid core mission, to transform the legal experience for all. Something I personally support. What sets Clio apart for me, it’s their dedication to customer success and support. There are lots of legal software’s out there, but I know from talking to Clio users that their support offering is miles ahead of the rest with their 24-5 availability by email, in app chat and over the phone. Yes, you can actually call in and speak to someone. Clio is also the G2 Crowd leader in legal practice management in comparison to 130 legal practice management software’s and has been for the last 14 consecutive quarters. G2 Crowd is the world’s leading business solutions review website. You can check Clio’s full list of features and pricing at www dot Clio dot com forward slash Legally dash Speaking. That’s www dot C L I O dot com forward slash Legally dash Speaking. Now back to the show. So I wanted to switch to, because I mentioned in the introduction social media because you are on social media, you’re very active, and you have your hashtag ‘nonboringlawyer’. So how did that name come about? And then how do you use social media to promote women in tech and diversity?
36:45 Flo Nicholas:
So, ‘nonboringlawyer’ lawyer, I’ll have to say is probably came from Lisa Lang and Laura Frederick. Because, what happened was Lisa Lang, when I met her back in 2021. She said, hey I bet you can create a intro video. And pretty much what would happen is when somebody would connect with me on LinkedIn, it’ll be like not just saying, oh hey thanks for connecting. But I would have like a video, that would just be like, hey this is Flo or whatever, right? So I was like, oh okay, that’s cute. So, what I ended up doing was I took the challenge. I’m like, I, Lisa Lang challenged me I got this, I went on Canva and I created this intro video, which so anytime somebody would connect with me on LinkedIn, they would get this like, video like, like, not like long, like probably like a 30 second video with like, this is who I am. And it was like really cute. And so I connected with somebody 1 day and they were like, oh my god, wow, this is fantastic. And then they followed up with wow, you are, you’re like, essentially like, not like the traditional lawyer that I’m used to like, wow, you are not boring at all. And I laughed at it. But I don’t know a couple of days later I just thought about that message is like, I’m like damn, you said I wasn’t boring. Like, what are they saying, like lawyers are boring or something? Would do they mean by that? And that’s when, that’s when the ‘nonboringlawyer’ was born because I’m like, nah, I am far from boring at all. I’m fun. I like to joke. I just like to live life to the fullest in terms of just, you know, not really taking myself seriously. And, and you know, just being a lovable person, right? And I bring the energy, right? So, so that’s where hashtag ‘nonboringlawyer’ essentially came from is just, you know, this big push from Lisa Lang to really continuously tap into my creative side. And essentially I ended up writing co-writing an article with her that talked about how lawyers should be creative.
38:57 Rob Hanna:
I love that. And basically, I take from that just being human, being authentic, being yourself. And absolutely energy is everything. And I completely relate to that. And you’ve been dubbed the ‘contract tech queen’. So last year you were chosen to participate in the US LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program. So technology and innovation very much your, your bag as a creator. So how have you utilised that program to build engagement from your online community and any tips you would share for people that are maybe looking to try and get more active on LinkedIn?
39:34 Flo Nicholas:
Yeah, you know, that program, I, I almost didn’t apply. I kind of almost had that self-doubt. That was like, oh, you’ll never been picked. What do you think you are? And I ended up you know, saying you know what, silence the voices in the head and I applied and you know, 1 of the reasons why I applied and what I pretty much said essentially was like, I want to take this opportunity to put a spotlight on tech underdogs. I consider myself a tech underdog. You know, there’s so many wonderful people out there who are just tech disruptors and globally and they’re doing amazing things and just not getting the credit or the recognition that they deserve. So I’m so fortunate for having the opportunity to be a part of that program, you know, for multiple reasons. 1 it was a challenge. And I love challenges. If it’s boring, and if I’m not feeling challenged and I’m flatlining it’s a no for me. This program was very challenging in terms of creating technology and innovation content. I really pushed myself to the utmost limit, like really dig deep to find my inner creative warrior. And I came out like rah, you know, just, I’m like watch out world. And I used that program to create a mini version of my local show. And I made a global version often, I call the Get Tech Smart Global Explosion. And I went around the world interviewing various people, legal technology, you know, in Africa, in Australia, in Dubai, talking to someone in Spain who’s focusing on future technology, kind of like the blockchain and Web3 stuff, we talked about, just really meeting incredible, diverse women who are killing it, and what a motivation it was for me. But to me the biggest thing was, the feedback from the community, the feedback from the people I was talking to, like, wow Flo, this is incredible what you’re doing. And when you’re creating content, half the time you don’t really fully comprehend the impact that you’re going to have on your community whether local or globally. And, for me when I create, it’s not a thing of, look at me I’m so wonderful everybody, I’m perfect. You know, my thing is, how am I making an impact in technology? What information am I sharing that others can learn from, be motivated and be inspired? And, for me that program showed me that, I sometimes limit myself because of fear, of oh my god people are gonna think it’s so silly. Oh, I don’t know if I want to. But now I’m like, and I was talking to Laura Frederick. And I was like, I believe I can fly now. You know, I believe I can fly, you know, I can do whatever I want to do, so long as I believe in myself, and because some of the stuff that I created honestly, when I would post, I would go back and read the stuff and I’m like, I wrote that. Like, I’m like, wow. So, I think what I’ve seen in myself is a sense of belonging. And this, this tech sector, and this, I felt for a while like I didn’t belong, right? I wasn’t that in-house lawyer. I didn’t have that GC title, like how do I fit in as a lawyer, but a lawyer who’s passionate about technology? You know, where do I belong? And what I have learned is, I belong anywhere where I’m welcome.
43:24 Rob Hanna:
Absolutely my friend, and you are flying high. I just want to say we talked about this a lot, fear kills more dreams than failure ever will. And I’m so glad that you did apply. And I’m so glad for everything you’ve been doing and how you are helping promote more women in tech and pushing diversity. And I just want to sort of echo what you said, what when someone said to me before, if you believe it and you take massive action, you can achieve it. And again, you’re a great testament to that. And before we finish up Flo, because it’s been a fascinating conversation, I want to get your last pearls of wisdom for people listening to this, who might be interested at breaking into legal technology, but finding it challenging to get that break into the sector. What top tip would you give?
44:04 Flo Nicholas:
My top tip would be, you know, when I broke into the legal tech sector, and you know, sort of branching off to emerging technology, 1 of the things like I really focused on was finding mentors or, or, or joining networks of people who you can align with. And for me it was like Colin Levy, love him. And it was like Alex Su. And when I looked at them, I saw they were not afraid to just be themselves. You know, Alex is so authentic. He just shows up like, hey I’m Alex, this is who I am. And Colin is the same thing like, hey this is who I am. I’m real. And my biggest advice is that, you might want to get into legal tech and that’s great. But make sure you find a component, because legal tech is, is massive, right? There’s like e-discovery, knowledge management, CLM tools. I mean, there’s a lot forensic, there’s a lot. You’ve got to find what you connect with, what aligns with you. What, if you’re going to create content, you’re going to be excited, right? You’re going to be energised to share what you’ve learned, you know, for me, you know, because I’ve dealt with a lot of contracts, you know, my preference is, you know, the CLM tools and contract management tools, right? But when I talk about that stuff, you know, and I learned people about that stuff, I’m energised about it, right? I’m like, oh my god, can you believe like this tool can red line and then spit out ABCD. And that’s what you want. If you’re going to be a thought leader, you want to show some, some level of passion, right? Hence, why hashtag ‘nonboringlawyer’ is when I’m talking about, you know, the stuff that I’m passionate about, I’m energised. And you know what happens when you’re energised, your community’s energised to and you know, what happens after that, they want more, they want to learn more, they’re going to, they’re going to be looking out for you posts, they’re going to come and they’re going to be engaged, and they’re going to ask questions. And to me that’s the best part about being a content creator, is when you have an engaged community, that wants more and more of what you have to share. So that’s the first thing that you got to figure out is, what do you want to share? What do you want your community to know? And are you excited about that?
46:27 Rob Hanna:
I love that and it reminds me of when I did a LinkedIn Live Audio with Gary Vee and I asked him you know, some, some tips and he just said post what you care about, you know exactly what you’re saying there you know, connection, you know, and then if you bring the energy you’re going to inspire, you’re gonna lift others, you’re going to encourage more conversation, more community, more thought leadership. And you’ve mentioned mentoring throughout the discussion. You’ve mentioned lots of rockstar previous guests like yourself, check out definitely Lisa Lang. She’s been on the show. Colin Levy’s also been on the show. Alex Su’s been on the show. And of course Laura Frederick, who we’ve had before, so check out their episodes, but this has been an absolute thrilling discussion, I knew it would be from the start. And if our listeners, which I’m sure they will, want to learn more about your journey, or Get Tech Smart, what’s the best way for them to contact you? Feel free to shout out any of your social media handles and web links, and we’ll also share them with this episode for you too.
47:18 Flo Nicholas:
Yeah, hashtag ‘nonboringlawyer’ that’s what I use on LinkedIn, on Twitter. I’m on Instagram. I’m on TikTok, doing TikTok videos too. So, I’m essentially everywhere you just type in hashtag ‘nonboringlawyer’ Flo Nicolas, of course, you will find me, happy to connect.
47:40 Rob Hanna:
Well, thank you. So, so much Flo. It’s been an absolute pleasure finally having you on the Legally Speaking Podcast. So from all of us on the show, wishing you lots of continued success with your career and future pursuits, but for now, from all of us, over and out. Thank you for listening to this week’s episode. If you liked the content here, why not check out our world leading content and collaboration hub, the Legally Speaking Club over on Discord. Go to our website www dot Legally Speaking Podcast dot com for the link to join our community there. Over and out.