10 people disrupting the legal industry with everything from AI research to new pricing models

Connie Brenton, Vincent Cordo, Laura Safdie, and Bryon Bratcher on an orange background with lightbulbs, cogwheels, and gavels..

Brenton, Vincent Cordo, Laura Safdie, and Bryon

Courtesy of Connie Brenton;
Holland & Knight; Courtesy of Laura Safdie; Reed Smith;
Shayanne Gal/Insider

Summary List Placement

Lawyers can be cynical when it comes to innovation. 

But things are changing. Between the pandemic, regulatory
changes, intense
 for talented lawyers, and client pressure on
law firms to cut costs, speed up work, and diversify their ranks,
everything is being rethought.

Law firms in recent years have developed new products in-house to
help clients revise thousands of contracts in one go, complete
nondisclosure agreements faster, and conduct routine corporate
transactions with the assistance of automation.

And legal tech has had a surge of investor
interest. Private-equity firms pumped
more than $3.6 billion
into legal-technology companies in the
first quarter of 2021, according to the market-intelligence
platform Bodhala. LegalZoom and Intapp together raised nearly $1
billion in initial public offerings this year.

Insider interviewed dozens of legal-industry consultants,
investors, lawyers, and law-firm staff about people they thought
were making real changes in the
industry. These are some of the names that came up most often,
but this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Subscribers can read the full list here:

Connie Brenton, chief of staff
and senior director of legal operations, NetApp

Connie Brenton of NetApp

Brenton, chief of staff and senior director of legal operations
at NetApp


Brenton is an early figure in the rise of “legal operations,” or
legal ops, a growing area of the industry in which lawyers apply
business practices to their work to enable them to deliver legal
services more efficiently.

“She put legal ops on the map,” Killer Whale Strategies’
Abramowitz said.

A former litigator, Brenton went in-house at Sun Microsystems and
Oracle before joining NetApp, a cloud-data-management company, in
2010. During her 11-year tenure, Brenton helped automate the way
NetApp handled contracts, saving the company’s legal team
thousands of hours a year, Brenton told Insider.

In 2016, Brenton also founded the Corporate Legal Operations
Consortium, which has since grown into one of the largest
networks of legal-ops professionals across the industry. Bobbi
Basile, who runs the legal-transformation and -innovation
practice at HBR Consulting, said CLOC has been one of the main
ways corporate law departments influence the legal industry.