by Joe Regalia, Write.law
In this special collaboration between Write.law and Thine, we explore the relationships between legal professionals and technology. Each piece will share a story about a professional and their tech. Our goal is to shine a light on how real folks rely on technology every day in the legal industry—and where they think we are heading next.
Lori Gonzalez is an entrepreneur in the realest sense of the word. She saw a need, she saw a way to fix it, and she made it happen. And now the legal world is better for it.
Today, Lori is CEO of the top-tier consultancy RayNa. Lori and her team show law firms how to leverage technology, processes, and simple workflows to improve their bottom line.
Lori’s love affair with technology started early. By 12, she was coding video games and exploring tech’s exciting possibilities. When she started her legal career, it seemed natural to use technology to make things better. For more than a decade, Lori worked as a paralegal. As she puts it, paralegals are the “unsung heroes” of technology and are regularly assigned with an endless stream of tasks by lawyers, often involving technology. Paralegals are constantly looking for the most efficient way to take care of it. Make it work. Organize it all.
Lori quickly learned that this sort of rote work—and the technology that goes along with it—is often devalued by legal organizations.
But Lori handled these tasks for years. She knew better than most that they can quickly add up to matter more than most might realize and —refining how they are tackled can mean major payoffs for an organization. Yes, it takes some effort to make those improvements. But after that initial investment, there is no need to manually stamp documents or hand-file emails. This gives law firm teams back a most precious resource: time.
Lori likens this type of work to, “cleaning the toilets.” We know that they need to be cleaned for the doors to stay open. We know that cleaning them takes up a lot of resources. We also know that most folks do not enjoy cleaning the toilets. So why wouldn’t we try to figure out easier and faster ways to clean them?
Lori learned some important lessons when she was keeping the place “clean.” First, that changing things is hard. The folks in the best position to invest in better systems and approaches often have the least incentive to do so. And the folks who understand the value proposition are usually not the decision makers.
She also learned that when you manage to convince people to invest in improving the small things, they are happy afterwards. Because by automating some of their simplest tasks, the benefits quickly add up. “It can just be about eliminating keystrokes. Less keystrokes means more freed-up time.” Many legal professionals have “created a space where time has little value” because they waste so much of it on small tasks that could have been easily automated. When they realize they do not have to live that way, “the lightbulb turns on.”
Most importantly, she learned that if she was creative enough and put in the time, there was a solution for just about any problem legal folks have.
“There are so many tools out there. If you find a big problem and have an idea how to fix it, there’s a path to make it happen.”
So, like any good entrepreneur, Lori built the solution herself, launching RayNa. RayNa is a top-tier consultancy that revolutionizes how firms handle those small tasks—like requesting records or emailing billing statements. Those pesky administrative bits that, for most firms, end up draining precious time and resources. RayNa has had extraordinary success, in part, because Lori and her team deeply understand lawyers’ needs. Lori’s years in the trenches showed her the pain points law firms face. Lori took stock of those barriers, created solutions, and grew a company that offers those solutions to others. As an outside observer, it is easy to discern another key factor to Lori’s success: She operates with an empathy that is sorely needed in our field. The legal industry has been learning that empathizing with clients and teams is key to creating effective solutions. That is why tools like design thinking—which focus on a user’s needs—have become popular with law firms. But Lori brings empathy into every interaction. And that empathy, that constant effort to understand others, gives her insight that others do not get. And that insight leads to better solutions for her clients.
And where does this titan of innovation think we are going? Good places if we stay the course. Lori offers advice that should resonate with all of us as we look to the future.
“If automation or technology is a threat to what you do, that should concern you. Because it’s not going away.”
So, in all her adventures with technology and innovation, what other bits of wisdom has Lori learned? Many, it turns out.
- Learn to appreciate the innovation process. Brainstorming. Experimenting. Improving. Adopting a mindset of always improving is how you get the most out of technology.
- Sometimes technology is not the answer. And there’s powerful wisdom in knowing when tools can help, and when they will hurt. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. It might be as simple as penning a new checklist to get more consistent.
- Cultivate relationships. Lori emphasized that relationships have been key to all the success she has had. Do not be transactional. Grow new relationships and nurture old ones because having relationships with good people is worth it.
- Do not just talk about diversity, take responsibility for bringing diversity into your teams. It is not about following a trend. It is about understanding the value of diversity to your organization and why it is the right investment.
Change and innovation will only increase, so embrace it now. There is a well of untapped legal opportunity that the legal industry could be serving. “We live in a country where 80% of people have unmet legal needs. But they either don’t know it or don’t understand how to get help.”
The legal industry can use this momentum to push forward and make up for lost time. But we all need to be in it together. Technology and reevaluating our workflows must be an everyday part of our habits. “Things may seem hard right now, but there is opportunity if you look for it.”
About Lori Gonzalez
Lori Gonzalez is the founder of RayNa. A seasoned legal professional with two decades of legal paralegal, legal software training, and administration experience, Lori Gonzalez and her team work to improve work accuracy and efficiency in just about any legal sector setting. She spends her free time volunteering with pro bono efforts and with family. She currently serves on the Tennessee Access For Justice Commission’s Pro Bono Committee and as a small business mentor with Score.
You can get in touch with Lori here.
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