Women of Legal Tech: Nicole Clark Explains That, If You Want a Seat at the Table, You Might Have to Make the Table Yourself

There’s a shortage of women in science, technology, engineering and math. But within the legal tech community, there are many women with thriving careers. Legaltech News presents our latest “STEM Cell” profile. Alma Asay recently interviewed Nicole Clark.

This profile is a continuation of the Women of Legal Tech series originally published by Editor Monica Bay “in order to inspire girls, women (and men).” From July through September, we’ll feature women who have founded legal tech companies.

What is your name and role?

Nicole Clark, CEO of Trellis

What is your company’s origin story?

I was a litigator practicing in state trial courts and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to access information on state trial court judges or get better insights on opposing counsel’s prior cases. I began aggregating data in the courts across California in which I was appearing. Armed with this data, my motion win rate improved dramatically. It became obvious that I had stumbled upon a massive opportunity. I jumped from practice in 2018 to devote my full-time effort to building Trellis—a single, structured, unified system to search and gather insights across the US State Trial Courts.

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Bruce’s Beach: A Case Study for Judicial Analytics Best Practices

There’s a narrow strip of land nestled in the South Bay of Los Angeles. The three-acre parcel overlooks the Pacific Ocean, sitting as the last remaining remnant of Bruce’s Lodge, the first African American beach resort on the West Coast. Bruce’s Lodge was built by Charles and Willa Bruce in 1912. It was the only beachfront destination in Los Angeles County where non-White members of the community could relax and unwind. That is, until 1924, when the City of Manhattan Beach seized the property and closed the resort, utilizing the power of eminent domain with plans to redevelop the land into a public park.

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How New York Attorneys Are Riding the Waves of Legal Technologies

Attorneys across the state of New York are already finding innovative ways to utilize AI-powered legal analytics to develop data-driven forecasts about virtually every aspect of the legal industry.

Across the state of New York, new legal technologies continue to transform the legal sector, provoking waves of anxiety about the future of the legal profession. These waves were felt at the New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting in New York City earlier this year. The forum hosted a session titled “Emerging Technologies in Litigation,” the purpose of which was to discuss the changing role of technology in the courtroom—particularly the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Participants learned that AI is already a fairly well-established phenomenon in the legal sector, even if attorneys have never interfaced with a legal tech product directly. Consider the Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) program. According to one participant, the Hon. Melissa Crane of the New York City Civil Court, COMPAS uses AI in a risk assessment program, a tool that makes decisions about the kind of supervision an offender will receive. These decisions are based on an AI-algorithm that weighs the personal characteristics of an offender as well as their responses to specific questions. There is just one small problem. Algorithms don’t always work. Right?