When Alex Su graduated from law school, he planned on becoming, as he puts it, “a big shot trial lawyer.” But when he began working at one of the nation’s biggest firms, instead of sitting second chair at trial, he found himself handling large document review cases. A few years and a career change later, the tasks he handled as an associate—creating privilege logs, binders, and productions—remain immensely valuable experiences. Now an Account Executive at Logikcull, Alex uses his past Big Law discovery experience everyday, helping improve the discovery process for other attorneys.
The Logikcull team is full of people from varied backgrounds and experiences. While we all believe in our mission of democratizing discovery, many of us have had first hand experience with its day-to-day applications. We sat down with Alex to talk about his career, his move from legal practice to legal technology, and his experience at Logikcull so far.
So why did you decide to go law school?
I’ve always known that I wanted to go to law school. My parents are immigrants and they always had me or my sister translate things for them so I understood the importance of having a strong command of the English language. I’ve always wanted to communicate well and be super articulate, so I thought, who’s the best at that? Trial lawyers! And that’s what I decided to be when I grew up.
That's awesome. And then you got into Northwestern Law, correct?
Yeah that’s right. I got into Northwestern, off the waitlist, actually, so it took some hustling to get admitted. But I got in! And had a really great time there.
I bet it was great to see all your hard work paying off! So you graduate from law school, what did you do from there?
I ended up doing pretty well in law school. I got good grades, made law review, and ended up clerking for a fantastic federal judge after graduation. After that, I went to work for an Am Law 100 firm in New York. As it turns out, in Big Law, most litigation associates don’t do any trial work. Instead, we do a ton of eDiscovery or document review type work and I really hated it. I told all of my friends, I told my family, I told everyone about how much I hated it. That kind of work just didn't feel like what I had signed up for—I wanted to be a trial lawyer! But, like most new law grads, I had student loans to pay. Once I paid them off, I was out of there.
"When we went up against [Big Law], my smaller firm had fewer attorneys working on the case, but would leverage technology to level the playing field. That was the first time I ever thought, hey this legal tech stuff is pretty interesting."
Is that when you decided to switch career paths?
That’s right—after that I joined a smaller plaintiff’s law firm that had a reputation for beating Big Law firms. I mean, they were great at the legal work, but what gave them an enormous competitive advantage was that they were early adopters of technology.
This was particularly true when it came to eDiscovery tools. In litigation, who wins usually is decided by who can find the most important documents quickly. The bigger firms tend to rely on legacy eDiscovery software, because as an organization, they are risk averse and less forward-looking. So Big Law is generally slow when searching for and finding documents during fact discovery. When we went up against them, my smaller firm had fewer attorneys working on the case, but would leverage technology to level the playing field. That was the first time I ever thought, hey this legal tech stuff is pretty interesting.
Got it. And is that how you found Logikcull?
Yup! I started reading all I could about the legal tech industry, and it wasn’t long until Logikcull popped up on my radar. I remember that one of the the first things I did was Google "Logikcull Reviews." Especially since I remembered how terrible most eDiscovery software was. I mean, it's just a fact of law firm life that litigators simply accepted. But when I saw those Logikcull reviews—how many there were and how strong they were, I was like "Wow, this is kind of crazy!" An eDiscovery platform that has a ton of people who leave positive reviews and have become cheerleaders for it? That’s just not something you ever see in the space. So that was when I decided, well, this is a company to watch.
"An eDiscovery platform that has a ton of people who leave positive reviews and have become cheerleaders for it? Back then it felt unprecedented."
Back then it felt unprecedented. So when I was making a career transition, I knew I wanted to be on the Logikcull team. At the time, I knew they were hiring for SDRs—entry level sales—and I figured, well, I like to work with people and I know all about the problems users have when it comes to eDiscovery. Sales sounded like a way to do that—not from a pure “let me pitch this to you” way, but more of a “let me understand your problems, and see how technology can help solve them.”
So a problem solver.
Yeah, a problem solver! And I know this is something a lot of lawyers want to do—work with people and solve important problems. They don’t get to do that in their legal jobs—and yet they don’t know what else to do. Part of that comes from the belief that it’s a huge risk to leave the practice of law. But there’s less risk than you think. From where I sit, I can see enormous demand, a huge need in the legal tech space for lawyers—especially for those who have experience in the practice areas where legal tech companies operate. In retrospect, leaving law was far less of a risk than it originally seemed.
"SDRs really are the tip of the spear. They have the responsibility of delivering a strong first impression to potential users and buyers. [...]The great news is—there is a clear and direct relationship between work ethic and results in the SDR role—which eventually leads to promotion opportunities."
So after joining the team as an Sales Development Representative, what was your day-to-day like and what were your responsibilities?
The Sales Development Representative or SDR position is an entry level position for most tech sales. Your job is to get the attention of prospects and potential customers through e-mail and phone outreach. You set appointments for the closers—the Account Executives. So SDRs really are the tip of the spear. They have the responsibility of delivering a strong first impression to potential users and buyers. My time as an SDR was heavily concentrated on finding ideal customers for Logikcull, researching them, and then trying to get in touch with them. Much of my day was filled with phone calls and conversations with lawyers. Straight talk: there’s a huge amount of rejection involved in this job. Most lawyers are too busy to pick up the phone or speak with you—but many absolutely need Logikcull’s technology. So the ability to keep moving on despite being rejected is critical here. The great news is—there is a clear and direct relationship between work ethic and results in the SDR role—which eventually leads to promotion opportunities.
What are some of the challenges you have faced since you made that transition?
Taking a step back, about my time here at Logikcull, both as an SDR and as an Account Executive, I think the biggest challenge has been the pace of change. A lot of these law firms are mature companies that are hundreds of years old and they have done things the same way for a long time. At a place like Logikcull, things move quickly. Very quickly. I’ve always viewed that as a good thing. Here’s an example: as any senior associate knows, it’s extraordinarily hard to make equity partner. Part of this comes from senior partners never leaving due to comfortable, static environments. At Logikcull, things are constantly changing so there are countless opportunities to take on bigger and better things—which then leads to faster promotions.
"My experience at Logikcull has been to just focus on doing what’s best for the company, and do what’s best for customers, and the senior executives will take notice. That to me is the greatest part about working at Logikcull."
Well, it's good to hear you like change since you have had a ton of that here! You have been able to take on more challenges and, as you mentioned, were promoted very quickly into an Account Executive role and already made a huge impact here. So through all this change, where do you think you have grown the most?
I’ve probably grown most through my work in sales. As a junior lawyer, your primary value comes from having the right answer for your superiors. But in sales, you really learn about the importance of actively listening to people, and responding directly to what they’re saying. You learn how to get to the heart of the problem. I’ve grown most developing these kinds of skills over the past year, and I see it as something I’m going to continue developing for years to come.
That's right you are coming up on your 1 year here! Have you had any true "wow" moments so far?
Absolutely! The biggest one is how much of a meritocracy it is here. If you work hard and get stuff done, it really does get recognized here at Logikcull. One of the things I hated about working in Big Law was that you had to do good work for the right people, or have the right powerful partners backing you in order to move up. My experience at Logikcull has been to just focus on doing what’s best for the company, and do what’s best for customers, and the senior executives will take notice. That to me is the greatest part about working at Logikcull.
"You get a small win, and then it gets recognized by your manager, and then that inspires you to work harder to get a bigger win, and then that gets recognized by a senior executive, and then you get assigned even more important projects."
Hard work will always get you ahead here!
I can’t agree with this more. The recognition for a job well done has compounding effects. You get a small win, and then it gets recognized by your manager, and then that inspires you to work harder to get a bigger win, and then that gets recognized by a senior executive, and then you get assigned even more important projects. That’s how you get ahead. And it’s so different than in Big Law where I felt like I was just billing hours. I now no longer suffer from—what do they call it? The Sunday night blues?
Sunday night scaries?
Yeah that's it! And that had always been a part of my weekly routine when I was in Big Law. I know a lot of other lawyers and people in the legal industry feel that, and just accept it as a part of working life. I just wish that more people knew it really doesn't have to be that way. There is so much more opportunity for you out there, especially at a company like Logikcull. Here I still very much feel like a part of the legal profession, but I have found a role that truly plays to my strengths and allows me to help an entire industry I’m passionate about.
Do you have any advice to someone then who has been a lawyer or in the legal profession who may be looking to transition out?
Don’t try to emulate someone else’s successful career. Instead, the most important thing to do is actually look inward and say ok, where do I have strengths and weakness? Where are the opportunities around me? Where will my strengths have tremendous value? Where will my weaknesses be unimportant? For example, if you’re like me and you’re not particularly good at doing a lot of detail oriented work, don’t try to emulate a successful Big Law attorney’s career path. But if you're good at active listening and problem solving, then something like legaltech sales could be an extraordinary opportunity for you. Even if … especially if you don’t know anyone else who’s done that before. So my advice would be, really look at where you excel and focus on where that strength is needed.
Well, I am glad you took that time to reflect inwardly, because we are very thankful to have you on the team!
Thanks Laura, it’s been a great year.
As told to Laura Goldberg, Head of Talent and Retention at Logikcull.
Alex is based in our San Francisco office and was recently awarded as one of our Values Leaders for the past quarter. Feel free to connect with him at [email protected] or on LinkedIn. He’s always happy to chat about Logikcull, the company or our software.