The legal technologist behind the Designer & Builder Program

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The leap from law school to legaltech

Ali Cook is a legal technologist at Josef, having made her way from law school to legaltech startup via Josef’s Designer & Builder Program.

Now, somewhat serendipitously, Ali is one of the brains behind the revamped Designer & Builder Program 2.0.

Here, she shares why the course was so pivotal in her career journey so far, and what you can expect from the new and improved version.

Why did you originally register for the Designer & Builder Program?

I wanted to upskill. I was doing a clerkship at a firm, and I wanted to have something on my resume to differentiate me from a million other law students in Melbourne. I also knew that I was interested in legaltech and legal design.

I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with my degree – at that point, I was on the path to becoming a lawyer and working for a firm. I was interested in privacy and technology law, and had taken other tech-focused law courses. When the DBP popped up, it felt like another opportunity to explore that interest.


And what do you take away from it?

I honestly just loved building on the platform. It was so easy to use, and once you get the hang of it pretty quickly you start to feel like such a genius because you drop in a couple messages, and all of a sudden you’ve got like this living, automated tool.

I built a bot that gave legal guidance based on the Spam Act, such as whether or not an email that you were about to send is compliant with the Act.

It was really cool to break down legislation, analyse what it meant and what the outcome was, and translate it into something else.

Along the way you start to think about the legislation in a different way because you’re not just thinking about what the legal outcome is – you’re thinking about how it will be understood and what the business implications are, for example.

I remember doing a clerkship at the time of the DBP and I was at work, sitting there doing a lot of repetitive work, and all I could think was ‘Oh my god, Josef could automate this. I could build a bot to automate this.’

The DBP and Josef totally changes the way you think about the law and the way you approach it, and gives you the soft skills to think critically about pain points that you face in the legal profession.

What did you enjoy most about the DBP?

The best thing about doing the DBP was that I got a certification from this very cool, leading legaltech startup: Josef!

It also taught me to think about the many different things that I hadn’t considered as a lawyer, such as user-centred design. Legal design thinking is about putting the user – the person who’s actually going to use and receive the service – at the heart of the design.

Law is such a client-focused industry. It’s all about serving our clients as best we can and making them as happy and satisfied as they can possibly be. But there’s been this disconnect between the law and how we provide legal services.

In the DBP, when building a bot, I had to think about whether it was going to be an external-facing bot that the public could interact with, or whether it was internal, to be used by a company’s employees? I had never encountered these kinds of questions before. How was this tool going to make the most impact and be the most useful?

By applying design-thinking to the practice of law, not only does it make it more interesting, exciting and valuable for me, but it also makes legal services enjoyable for the client.


“By applying design-thinking to the practice of law, not only does it make it more interesting, exciting and valuable... it also makes legal services enjoyable for the client.”
– Ali Cook, Josef Legal Technologist

You’ve been one of the key people behind the new Designer & Builder Program. What’s new about it?

We’re a year on since we last ran the DBP.

From a product perspective, the platform is even better than ever. In the last year, Josef has introduced sophisticated functionality like smart forms, calculations and scoring. There are now so many different things that you can build on Josef, so we’ve collected all of that information, and rather than keeping it to ourselves, we’ve decided to share it with the broader legal community.

The design of the program has changed to make it even more practical. The theory is all still there, but it’s delivered in a faster and more hands-on way. We’ve also added in some new content, including service design principles and new automated tools to help you learn and make the right decision.

The best part is that, at the end, you come away with a fully-functioning bot that you can show off to your colleagues, and a certificate to add to your LinkedIn profile or your resume.

Who should sign up for the DBP?

We’ve had everyone from every corner of the legal profession participate from every corner of the globe. I did the program from Canada as well. It’s self-paced so it doesn’t matter what time zone you’re in.

We’ve tailored the DBP to take about an hour each week. It’s bite-sized. There’s some reading, explanatory videos and we’ve developed little activities throughout each module which are designed to guide participants through all the steps they’ll need to build a bot.

You’ll learn how to come up with an idea for a bot, how to validate it, assess whether it’s good, whether it needs work, and all the other things you need to consider.

The overarching philosophy at Josef is that no-code legal automation is not a one-off that you learn about once and then put it away. You’ll be learning skills that you can apply to your daily work again and again. You’ll learn how to identify other opportunities for automation.

It’s just the beginning. The legal industry is changing quite quickly, and automating Josef brings efficiency, joy and improvement to your work.

What’s your advice to legal professionals thinking about doing the DBP?

Make the most of this opportunity. This isn’t just a normal trial of a software platform. It’s not often that there are opportunities where someone’s going to guide you through every single thing you’ll need to make your project a success. It’s also really fun – so have fun with it!

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