Career Story – India Preston (Lupl)
I’m the User Adoption Lead in the Customer Success team at Lupl. What does that mean?! Lupl is the collaboration platform for legal. The platform makes it easy for lawyers, clients and business professionals to work together by providing a shared workspace for all the documents, communications and project management functionality needed by legal teams. We recently launched Lupl to the public (for free!) and we have ambitious plans for its future. At its highest level, it’s my job to make sure that our customers understand what Lupl is and how it compliments their workflows, as well as to vouch for their business needs as we develop our platform. I was one of the first four employees at Lupl. Building our company has been the most exciting year in my career to date!
I grew up assuming that I had three career choices – medicine, finance and law. Law made sense to me – I was ambitious, and English, History and Latin were my best subjects. I could never have predicted then that I’d be where I am now – building a legal tech startup from the ground up with a mission to change the way that legal professionals work together. I love my job, and I am constantly inspired by the deeply talented people that I work with. What we’re doing is creative and brave, but it’s also fundamental to the progressive change that is storming the legal industry.
My unusual career story definitely celebrates the things that haven’t gone to plan! Following a Classics degree at Bristol University, I completed my GDL and LPC at BPP. Despite the highest grades and some close calls, I didn’t secure a training contract with my chosen law firms. So I began by walking straight into a paralegal role at Linklaters. I worked incredibly hard and built up trust amongst my peers and the lawyers I worked with. Then I was asked to provide some one-off project management holiday cover for a small team that wasn’t yet fully established, but would later become the Business Improvement team.
Despite being put forward for training contract interviews at Linklaters, I found myself accepting an opportunity to join this new group and embark on my first team building project. Over the next five years, we built a Legal Project Management (LPM) team from two people to twenty five. We founded the concept for the firm, proved its success and made ourselves indispensable. It was here that my interest in legal technology began. I was tasked to find out everything I could about advanced technology solutions, such as AI, to solve some of the core problems that I encountered each day. I interviewed a number of companies, and selected RAVN to sit with us to get to grips with the day to day struggles of document management, review and analysis. It was RAVN’s first foray into legal, and the first step in their incredible success with iManage.
I left Linklaters when I relocated back to Bristol. My husband and I were looking for a change. From Bristol, I began to take on consultancy projects for law firms. It was the steepest learning curve of my career. I was totally alone, with no consultancy experience, but I loved it. I had to unpick some very complex and systemic problems in order to solve them, but it didn’t take long to realise that I was building some amazing relationships, creating value and enjoying it. I consulted for nearly three years before taking maternity leave – and before Covid hit. When I was ready to come back to consulting, the world had changed. So I networked, I researched, I dug deep and reflected on the best bits of my career. Then, one day, I came across Lupl on LinkedIn. And despite an offer from another magic circle law firm, I took a leap of faith for something that I fervently believe in.
Looking back, there are three pieces of advice that I wish I’d been given when I was just starting out:
First – you don’t need a professional qualification and a large pay check to be successful. Every person’s version of success is different, and what it really boils down to is fulfilment. I was ‘successful’ working incredibly hard and barely eating a meal at home for years. But I’m much more successful now that I can exercise my creativity, mould my working hours to my family life and know I provide value to my team.
Second – opportunities will present themselves to you if you muscle into the right position to see, and have access to, them. Don’t hesitate to take opportunities and see where they lead. I spent years berating myself for not pursuing my dream job as a qualified lawyer. But now I understand that I made tough, unconventional decisions that led me to where I am today. I’m all the happier – and more fulfilled – for it.
Third – if you fancy an alternative career in legal, you don’t need to be a problem solver. You just need to identify where problems exist. And they’re everywhere! Understand why there’s a problem, examine it, talk to everyone you know about it. Then go back to my second piece of advice, and make the most of it.