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Celebrating gender equality and removing barriers for women in the legal field

Celebrating gender equality and removing barriers for women in the legal field

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Litera offers marketing and business development solutions purpose-built for law firms. The American company is the result of more than 25 years of experience delivering innovative document technology solutions to thousands of legal, corporate and life sciences organisations across the globe. Sheryl Hoskins, CEO at Litera, speaks to Intelligent CXO about gender equality within Litera and in the law profession. She also speaks about her own career path and her hopes for the law industry.

Tell me more about Litera and the clients it serves.

Litera transforms the way legal teams collaborate and has been a leader in legal technology innovation for nearly three decades, working with over 99% of the AmLaw 100 and 90% of global large firms. Litera’s legal software empowers global firms to amplify their impact and maximise efficiency.
With an ecosystem of solutions crafted by the best minds in legal technology, Litera simplifies the way modern firms manage core legal workflows, secure collaboration and organise firm knowledge and experience.

How does Litera celebrate diversity?

Diversity is very important to myself and the Litera team. We actively invest in building an inclusive culture where we have diversity, equity & inclusion as a lens across the work we do.

Are there plans to improve gender equality within Litera?

We are proud that we have a C-Suite that is 40% female and strong representation across our senior leadership team in gender, orientation and racial diversity. I am consistently proud of the investment I have seen in leaders across the organisation in support of our DEI strategy. There is always room for improvement, but I’m pleased with the progress we have made and continue to bring diverse voices to the table, and that gender parity is a differentiator for our company.

Why, historically, has the legal profession lacked diverse female role models?

The legal profession has also historically been male-dominated, much like STEM industries. Women make up 50% of the UK workforce, yet in tech that number is half with just 24% of roles filled by women. Women have faced a number of barriers to fight for equality and are slowly breaking them down bit by bit. But to continue this journey we need allies and mentors, and women in leadership positions need to take the initiative to give the next generation of female leaders a seat at the table.

Do characters like Lawyer Barbie in the Barbie film help in the drive for gender equality?

While it’s fun to visit Barbie’s matriarchy utopia, the film as a whole empowers women and girls to feel like they can be anything and should strive for their goals without fear of judgement (which is inevitable). It’s inspiring to see more mono culture that’s focused on the elevation of women in leadership roles, and at Litera we’re always happy to see lawyers in the mix.

What would you say to a teenage girl who is considering going into the law profession?

Girls all over the world – including my 16-year-old daughter – should believe they can do anything they put their mind to. I know it is easier said than done, but hard work and inspirational mentors, role models and a range of opportunities will set you up for a prosperous journey into the law industry – or any industry.

Personally, I always look for opportunities to mentor women early on in their career to help them find their voice and get their foot in the door sooner rather than later.

Tell me more about your career path.

I grew up in Chicago, having gained a degree in electrical engineering as well as an MBA. I started my career as an active-duty officer in the US Army, and the decade after that I worked at General Electric and McKesson Corp in domestic and international leadership roles.

I have 20 years of experience in the global technology industry, at Fortune 15 companies from small- to mid-sized PE-backed companies, building an established track record managing global teams. I held multiple roles from marketing to product management to running sales, support & profit and losses.
I was interested in the opportunity of working at Litera, because of the strength of its products.

ltimately, lawyers are our first line of defence when it comes to true justice in the world, so it was appealing to me to have an impact on the industry and how this important work gets done.

How have you dealt with a lack of gender equality during your career?

Before I worked in technology I was in the military, which was more male-dominated than maybe any other industry I’ve worked in since. I’ve always been able to hold my own and grow and succeed based on hard work and dedication. I’ve also always sought out mentorship so I could learn from those above me while identifying the best opportunities for my career to move forward.

What are your hopes for the future for the legal profession?

My main goal as CEO is to continue to grow Litera, creating the best products in the legal technology market that are not only innovative but also easy to use, while staying laser-focused on our customer experience and how we deliver value to our firms every day. We’re also excited about the potential for new legal tools like Litera Foundation to remove bias in the legal world by ensuring diverse lawyers get access to more interesting cases and clients and that documents are being reviewed without bias. I am constantly inspired by how our clients use our tools to make the world a more just and equitable place.

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