On the sofa with Nicole Bradick

Nicole Bradick is founder and CEO of legal and justice technology product design and development firm Theory and Principle and a well-known speaker on the legal tech circuit. Her company works with clients globally to create custom web and mobile applications. Here she speaks to Legal IT Insider about her top priorities, legal sector progress (or lack of) and who she would most like to hang out with, dead or alive.

What’s on your high priority to-do list at the moment that you can share with us?

Right now, we’re working on scaling. We’ve had huge demand and we’re growing to meet that demand.  Scaling while maintaining the incredible culture we have at T&P is my main goal. As a result, high on my to-do list are recruiting activities, new employee training, and making sure everyone understands that they are part of a team that is playing a vital role in the evolution of the legal experience. 

What have you accomplished lately that you’re really proud of?

Our team rolled out five large end-to-end products in 2019 with universally happy clients. That’s quite an accomplishment given the size and scope of our typical projects. 

And anything you’re not proud of?

Most products that we roll out have some element that I feel uneasy about.  Our clients trust us to give them the best advice possible based on our deep experience, but sometimes stakeholder opinions win out and we have to implement things we don’t think would be best for the user.  In the end, our clients control the product, but it can be challenging when you roll something out with pieces you don’t think are prudent. 

Can you identify two or possibly three areas of real progress you see in the legal sector, being as specific as possible.

I like seeing the Big Four coming into this space, honestly.  I think anything that challenges the status quo for the law firm business model will only help to improve the client experience.  

On the product side, I’ve definitely seen firms creating some very valuable digital products for their clients.  There certainly are still a lot the “build a sexy thing and get a headline” products that aren’t really useful for anyone, but more and more we’re hearing from clients who are being much more thoughtful in their approach to building client-facing applications. 

And where do you see the most extreme examples of lack of progress – extra points if you can say how you would change them!

My biggest concern is the lack of progress in the access to justice movement.  So much money is being poured into technology, experiments, etc., but we’re not really moving the needle in the US. I love seeing great initiatives coming out of the Ministry of Justice — we don’t have anything like that in the US.  I think we need to think more about passively helping people through systemic and process changes in the system. I don’t see enough big pushes on that side, and I think that’s where the industry needs to direct funding and attention. 

If you have to pick one of these words as an agent of change what would it be and why? Process, mindset, or passion.

It would have to be mindset.  In order to effect change, you need to be open to ambiguity and willing to experiment. 

What is your career highlight to date?

The launch and success of this company. I’ve had two companies prior, and they never felt quite right to me.  This company is the culmination of all the things I’ve learned to date, and everything is just…. right.  From team to clients to growth, I spend every day doing work I’m excited to do with people I love to work with. 

Who is your biggest influencer and why?

I like looking at other leaders who grow successful companies but maintain humility, authenticity, and a strong sense of team.  In the legal tech space, I keep my eye on people like Ed Walters of Fastcase and Jack Newton from Clio — there’s a lot to learn from other successful leaders.  

What’s your favourite tipple?

Italian reds. 

If you could hang out in a bar with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

Well, I’m known for my impressive karaoke skills (or at least my passion for it), so it would have to be someone who can up our karaoke game. I’ve admired Lizzo for some time, and she’d obviously crush it in Karaoke, so I’d choose her.  Plus, I’ve always preached uncompromising authenticity to other female entrepreneurs as a key to success, and Lizzo embodies that.