The final lawyer-to-legal-tech entry in our What’s Next Solo? lineup is Chad Bruton, CEO of CuroLegal. Although Chad had ten years of biglaw legal experience under his belt by the time he turned solo, as a still-newer attorney, he enjoyed the benefits of the technology advances like virtual law offices and distributed firms which he adopted in his practice. His experience proved valuable to other attorneys, and initially, Curo began as a way to consult with other attorneys on similar business models. But with the rise of legal tech startups, Curo’s business has now transitioned to tech development. Chad is a great example of someone with his eye on where the puck will be, and figuring out how to get there first.
Name: Chad Burton
Current Position, company and what your company does.
Official description: CuroLegal is a strategy, design and development firm focused exclusively on innovation in the legal industry. Run by lawyers, we help legal industry clients develop new solutions to legal industry problems. We work with clients to design and build digital products aimed at making the law more accessible and making lawyers more efficient.
Prior to your current position at your company, how long did you practice law and where? What was your area of practice?
I practiced law for 11 or so years. I started out in the big firm world doing complex business litigation. After that, I started my own solo practice and grew a multi-lawyer, multi-jurisdiction virtual law firm model focusing on business law and litigation work — primarily representing tech companies.
Why did you decide to move from practicing law to your position at your current company, and how did you find your current position?
We founded CuroLegal while I was still practicing. A lot of the original consulting work for other law firms came out of people hearing about our virtual law firm model. Curo has grown quickly and our focus has shifted to tech development, so the concept of practicing law was not feasible with the amount of time it takes to grow a tech company.
So, as far as how I found my current position…I created it.
What is your title at your company, and what are some of your responsibilities? Can you describe a typical day (if there is such a thing)?
CEO. We are a small organization, and I tend to have my hands in a bit of everything. I work on strategy and product development with our team. We have a strong focus on creating solutions that will have a wide-reaching impact on the legal profession. We have a lot of partners that we work with both from a client perspective and those who are also working to change the industry and increase access to legal services. This prompts a lot of time on phone calls scheming and executing with our partners/clients.
I’m also traveling often for speaking engagements, conferences and meetings.
There’s definitely no “typical” day.
How does your training and experience as a lawyer help you in your current position?
Having worked to create innovative law firm models, this was a natural lead into our current work. I think having the background of actually practicing law in forward-thinking environments was helpful.
What are some of the differences working for a technology company in contrast to working as a lawyer, either at a firm for others or in your own practice?
I get to spend my time on solutions that are broader reaching within the profession, as opposed to focusing on the clients in one law firm.
What was the biggest challenge for you in transitioning from law practice to your current position?
I really didn’t have one. It just happened.
Do you miss practicing law? What have you done, if anything, to keep your law license and legal skills intact?
Nope. I continue to get CLE credit for mentoring and speaking engagements, so my license remains active at this point.
Do you have any formal training in technology or “hot” technical skills (e.g., programming, product development, data science) and are these skills necessary for your current position?
If a solo lawyer was interested in following your career path, what advice would you have?
Make sure you attend events like ABA Techshow and conferences focused on innovation in the profession. Get to know the folks involved. It is a relatively small, smart and engaging group. Social media is also a good way to track them down.
Also, if you have an idea to help innovate in the practice of law, do it. Stop talking or thinking about it and go execute.
What excites you most about the future of legal technology?
There’s so much opportunity to help the profession and the public get access to legal services through the use of technology. Technology is not the answer to everything, but it is a driving factor. It is exciting to see new ideas popping up almost on a daily basis.