The Path Less Taken: Careers in Legal-Tech with Senne Mennes

Contract Heroes
Contract Heroes
The Path Less Taken: Careers in Legal-Tech with Senne Mennes

Show notes

Contract Heroes
Contract Heroes
The Path Less Taken: Careers in Legal-Tech with Senne Mennes

In this episode of Contract Heroes, we sat down with Senne Mennes, co-founder at ClauseBase, and discussed the challenges many students face after graduating from law school. For decades the only real path coming out of college was to work for a firm. However recently other roles have started to become much more popular.  

Senne also had some great suggestions for pieces of software/websites law students and young lawyers can leverage early in their careers to work smarter, not harder. 

Senne’s journey to the tech space is a great story and one we recommend others check out. Whether you’ve been in the legal space for years or are fresh out of school it’s never too early or late to think about a career path that differs from the norm.

ClauseBase provides revolutionary and reliable contract drafting software and tools to law firms, lawyers, and legal departments around the world. The software allows lawyers and law departments to build their own unique intelligent clause library and manage their clauses and templates centrally while outsourcing contract creation to professional and commercial teams.


Challenges and Suggestions for People Starting their Career in Law

Senne worked as a lawyer for 2 years. This is why he still considers himself a junior lawyer. Senne thinks that junior lawyers are not fully prepared and ready for what their work will look like in the near future. 

He also feels that there is a pervasive feeling among lawyers that they are often left to their own devices because of a lack of investment in technologies and processes that support young lawyers. 

He thinks that a lot of work still needs to be done in knowledge management and knowledge deployment.  


Software or Websites Law Students and Young Lawyers can Use Before Working at a Law Firm

Senne believes that one of the most important software is MS Word. He thinks that a lot of lawyers simply assume that they know this software inside out just because they have used it for their college assignments, thesis, and papers. However, this is not true.

The reality is that many lawyers are not well trained and familiar with working on MS Word. For example, they don’t know how styling and cross-referencing work in the software.

He thinks that lawyers can offer more value to their firms with a thorough grounding in specific technologies, such as word processing software, contract management tool, and document management tool.


Next Step: How to Choose a Tool

You have to understand the problem you are trying to solve and then look for a tool suitable for that purpose. People should refrain from choosing or selecting the trendiest technology and focus more on the problem they are trying to solve.

For example, if you are a litigation lawyer, you will be confronted with different issues, and problems and these issues would be different from, say, those faced by a transactional lawyer.

Some essential tools that should be considered are document automation tools, decision tree builders, and contract review tools. Also, note that many tools on the market offer a free trial for students and young lawyers.


Your Path from Legal to Legal-Tech 

From a young age, Senne wanted to become a lawyer. He feels that a lot of his time was spent on understanding MS Word, and that was not offering any value. And once you face those types of issues, they start to affect you and make you feel guilty. He worked together with his co-founder, Martin Truyens, as Martin was an external consultant for the law firm Senne was working for.

They worked closely for more than a year. And Senne discussed some of his concerns with Martin, and Martin agreed with Senne on these issues. In fact, that was one of the reasons Martin started developing the tool. The tipping point for Senne that made him realize that legal tech was something he wanted to get into was when Martin presented the software to him.

When Senne saw what the software could do, he was impressed. After that, he started exploring document automation on his own and saw the fantastic results that these tools could deliver. Those results inspired Senne to pursue a career in legal tech.        

Do You Think Coding is Important for Someone Looking to Pursue a Career in Legal Tech?

While coding can be very useful for a person looking to pursue a career in legal tech, Senne also recognizes that an average lawyer is quite busy and has limited spare time. He knows that many lawyers are not willing to make a huge commitment to learning coding.

However, he believes that basic knowledge of coding and programming alters your brain for the better. This is because it helps you consider the ways in which you need to change certain legal texts as well. And there are some similarities between how a lawyer works and how a developer works, such as what-if thinking and scenario analysis. Despite that, Senne thinks that learning coding is a good investment of your time.


Online Language Courses

Senne believes that lawyers and students can get started with some basic or beginner languages, such as Python and JavaScript. These are some of the popular computer languages. However, note that you have to consider what you are trying to achieve. This is because different computer languages may be suited to different things that you would like to achieve.

He also thinks that it pays to consider specific tools and software that already exists. It would help if you kept in mind that there are a lot of low-code and no-code tools in the market that you can take advantage of.

The benefit of no-code tools is that the learning curve is much lower, which is excellent. However, it is worth noting that these tools have more limitations as well. On the other hand, low-code tools have a steeper learning curve, but they offer more opportunists and choices.  

You will be pleased to know that there are other ways to get into legal tech, and coding is not the only one. If you would like to pursue legal tech and are coming from a legal background, it is crucial to find a problem that excites and frustrates you. This is because you will be interested in solving that problem. And then, you have to consider the role that you would like to pursue, such as a role in sales and marketing or business development.