Logikcull’s employees don’t just come from legal or technical backgrounds, but from a wide range of industries and professions. One of these people is Robert Hilson, Logikcull’s Senior Director of Marketing, who turned his journalism degree into a career in legal technology. Robert joined Logikcull two and a half years ago.. In that time, the marketing team has grown into a versatile group whose purpose is to evangelize Logikcull’s mission to democratize discovery. Earlier this month, the marketing team published its first “Views from the Bench,” which compiles more than a dozen interviews with leading federal judges conducted over the course of two years. We caught up with Robert during a rare free moment to ask him about himself and his team and what it is about Logikcull that keeps his job exciting.
Tell me a bit about your background.
I got my undergrad degree in Political Science from the University of Florida — a.k.a. “The Princeton of the South” — and figured out pretty quickly that there are basically no jobs in polisci unless you want to be a politician or a lawyer, neither of which appealed to me. So from there I decided to double down and get another semi-useless degree—a Master’s in Journalism.
Do you think your journalism degree has helped you in your career?
Joking aside, yes, absolutely. I developed a lot of skills that are important for my current position: how to distill fairly complicated concepts into ideas that are easily digestible, to write concisely, to talk to people, to listen and ask the right questions. I wrote about rock ‘n roll music, which is my first love, and local news for a variety of low-paying newspapers and magazines after college before taking a job at an organization called the Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists (ACEDS).
Even five to six years ago, before the launch of Logikcull.com, they were doing something different.
ACEDS focuses on legal technology issues. any How did you get into that line of work?
It was kind of a fluke. The economy had just fallen off a cliff, and I was scrambling around for something more stable. I applied to a Craigslist ad for a company that was looking for an editorial director, knowing literally nothing about what they did or what eDiscovery was. I get a call from the guy who owned the company about three hours later and he tells me to come down from Gainesville for an interview in Miami the next day. I started the following month.
ACEDS provides training around eDiscovery and offers the industry standard eDiscovery certification. At the beginning, my job was to report on important developments in legal technology, and, particularly, to draw attention to the risks — sanctions, malpractice, etc. — arising from eDiscovery, which was a pretty new thing at the time. I was basically muckraking, but I had the opportunity to do a lot of different things in the company — develop webinars, work with the group that developed the certification, talk to really smart people — and eventually moved up to become the Executive Director. As the Executive Director, I was responsible for the content of all their conferences, maintaining the integrity of the certification, and mobilizing our members and partners to contribute to the development of training materials and best practices.
That was where you got your conference experience?
Yes, and that’s actually how I met Todd and Andy! Logikcull was (and still is) an ACEDS partner, and the first time I met them both was either at an ACEDS event or crossing paths on the conference circuit. Even five to six years ago, before the launch of Logikcull.com, they were doing something different.
What was different about Logikcull?
Even then Logikcull was known as a more forward-thinking company, and they seemed to be doing things differently from everyone else and asking a lot of “what ifs.” What if you just took the vendor out of the equation entirely, automated all the really complicated stuff, and turned over the keys to the end user? That’s a pretty radical idea. Also, they wore pink t-shirts.
What convinced you to make the jump to Logikcull?
I had moved to San Francisco for my wife’s job, but was still working for ACEDS, which had just been acquired. At some point, Andy and I were trading emails and we ended up getting together for coffee. I was trying to pitch Logikcull on buying more conference passes or something, and he said something like, “Hey, you’re in San Francisco now? You should come work for us.” And I thought, “Yeah, you know, I should!” I didn’t even know what the role was. I was just excited to work with the guys who were on their own trip and really trying to make a difference.
Your marketing team is only as good as your product, your engineering team, your customers, etc.
How has Logikcull changed since you started two and a half years ago?
It's been really cool. The company has grown very quickly, but we’ve been able to retain our quirky, pioneering character as well as our values — do the right thing, put the customer first — even as so many more people have joined and the user base has exploded. I think that’s a testament to all the people — the amazing engineering team, Todd, John and Colin, Andy and Sheng — who’ve been with the company for so long, for more than 10 years in some cases. They’ve built a sound foundation for growth and a culture that attracts high-character people.
And, of course, the legal industry itself is changing, which presents a lot of new opportunities for the company. I think legal practitioners, who are known for being very skeptical and averse to big to taking chances, are starting to think more seriously about how technology and information are profoundly changing the profession, and about what they can do to adapt.
It was just you for a while, but that’s been changing quickly.
Well, not really. I may have been the only person with a marketing title for a while, but Andy has always been very involved on the marketing side and encouraging of creative ideas. And, of course, your marketing team is only as good as your product, your engineering team, your customers, etc. So it’s always been a team effort. But yes, the official marketing team is growing fast. Michael Clegg, one of our directors, started last year and we’ve added Casey Sullivan, who now heads all of our content efforts. Dylan Curt, who fields all of our inbound leads and also comes up with most of our best t-shirt ideas, rounds out the team for now. But we’re still growing! One of the fun parts of this job is that we have the space to freewheel a little bit and do stuff that no one else in legaltech is doing. But, even as we tweet about our “Better Cull Saul” swag, we’re trying to bring to light very serious issues — access to justice, data breach, career-threatening risks — we think people need to know about it, and convince them Logikcull can help.
I enjoy working with people who are hard working, self-aware and creative. Every person on our team is each of those things, and they’re also hilarious, which is an added bonus.
What do you look for in members of your team? Coworkers?
I enjoy working with people who are hard working, self-aware and creative. Every person on our team is each of those things, and they’re also hilarious, which is an added bonus. We also have a “no a-holes” rule across the company, and that goes double for our team. And then, obviously, you need people who are articulate communicators and able to convey ideas in a way that resonates with our audience.
So, you also make beer. Tell me about that.
I’ve been brewing since I got out of college. I really got into it to impress a girl who was working at a craft beer bar when I was in grad school. She’s my wife now, so that worked out pretty well. And the beer’s pretty good, too. Andy recently got a Logikcull brewery logo designed for us and splurged for a kegerator, so the whole team is benefiting now. As far as work goes, I really can’t think of anything cooler than that!
Robert is our Senior Director of Marketing at Logikcull. You can follow the Logikcull blog, Closing The Loop, at http://blog.logikcull.com/.