What’s it like being a software engineer in legal technology and what more can the tech industry do to close the gender gap? We speak with India Dearlove, Software Engineer at Legl to get the inside track.
1. What’s your favourite part of your job?
I love having an impact and actually being able to see the results of my work – not just in terms of shipping products, but how it’s impacted Sales, Support and ultimately the end user. Working as a software engineer you can often find yourself lost in a big team – maybe working on one small aspect of a big project over months (if not years!). You don’t really get to see the results of your work. It couldn’t be more different at Legl. I work on projects and within a matter of weeks I get to see the impact.
I also love how I get to work closely with the Product team and Product Designer. Working at Legl really does involve “cross-functional” communications. I get to work with Sales and Customer Support in ways I might not normally get to do.
And of course, I love our team. Everyone is so friendly, supportive and collaborative. In the engineering team some have a formal computer science education and some of us went through coding bootcamps or are self taught. It means we bring different perspectives to solving problems and everyone is encouraged to share their views.
Finally, it is such a privilege to work in a company where everyone is so passionate about our mission. Legal rights are so important to a functioning society, and frankly the way things are now isn’t working. At Legl we’re working to help more people access the law and everyone is so passionate about this mission – it’s rare to be so aligned in this way and it’s one of the best parts about my job.
2. Why did you choose to join Legl?
I wanted to work for a company which is having a positive impact on society. The legal system doesn’t really work – it’s complicated, inaccessible and expensive. We’re working on helping to make the legal system work better for everyone and it’s so motivating to have such a powerful mission.
The second reason is that Legl has women in senior positions – you don’t often see that in a tech company.
The last, is that Python is one of our main languages in our stack and I’d always wanted to use it professionally.
3. What’s been your favourite case on CrowdJustice?
There have been so many important cases which have raised funds on CrowdJustice, but the two which stand out in my mind as ones I’ve cared a lot about are the Dubs Amendment case in relation to unaccompanied refugee children and the case which raised funds into the inquest of a girl who died due to air pollution.
I also loved watching the Free Periods campaign from start to finish – they raised funds and succeeded in getting free period products to every state-funded school, as previously 1 in 10 girls struggled to afford pads and tampons, and many missed school for a week every month.
4. The gender gap in tech is possibly one of the widest, how do you think we can help close this gap?
I think it’s hard to join a career where you don’t see anyone you relate to – as a woman you don’t often see women working in tech and that needs to change. There are so many sides to technology – from the creative to the problem solving to managing people and projects. It’s an industry which requires a diversity of skills and perspectives and it is a huge loss that there aren’t more women working in tech.
I think there are some really great initiatives out there helping introduce women into tech, like Code First: Girls. CFG is an organisation, that I and 100s of others volunteer as instructors at, that teaches evening coding course to woman and non-binary people, most whom have never coded before. They have taught more than 10,000 students so far.
The other thing to consider is how to keep women in tech and promote them to top positions. Mentoring is key in helping, regardless of gender. Personally I like to attend events that encourage gender minorities to connect, Woman Driven Development is an organisation that runs hackathons and conferences that I think are especially good at achieving this.
5. What are you reading right now?
Men explain things to me by Rebecca Solnit, one of the essays is sometimes credited with inspiring the word ‘mansplaining’. Also Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang which is a collection of fictional short stories through the eyes of Chinese American girls growing up in New York.