William Dougherty – Career Story (Co-Founder of Capacity)
I am an avid subscriber to the Alan Watts guide to life and so please excuse my use of some of his pearls of wisdom throughout.
“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”
I recently took the plunge and left my job as an associate in BigLaw. I enjoyed many things about my job, but found that I was often drawn to things that were not generally within the wheelhouse of the average lawyer – namely process improvement and app development.
I actually enjoyed these things so much that I started my own legal-tech business whilst I was working as a trainee, called Capacity. For two and a half years, I worked lots of evenings and weekends, but the ever-escalating and exciting demands of my own business eventually led me out of legal practice.
Capacity is a platform designed to make lawyers’ lives better. It does this by addressing law’s work-allocation problem, using technology to make sure work is distributed faster, and to the people who have the capacity to take it on. Driving efficiency, Capacity also has autonomy and equality at its core, which is why it’s my belief it can make employees across the hierarchy happier in their roles.
Reports consistently find lawyers to be unacceptably stressed, with BAME lawyers being driven out of their jobs. Much of this is down to outdated processes that have not kept pace with the modern workplace. Even putting our moral obligations aside, improved employee wellbeing and diversity are consistently associated with significantly better business performance. I feel that, in maintaining the status quo, some employers are neglecting their duty of care and dragging down the quality of work their employees can perform. This isn’t excusable when there’s so much scientific data highlighting the problems and an abundance of solutions out there.
As a founder, I’m involved in every aspect of the business. From product development to pitching, from payroll to reviewing legal documents. No two days are ever the same, I absolutely love it!
“Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way.”
I love creative problem solving and get excited by new technology and the possibilities it affords us. Technology provides the opportunity to expand the tool-kit we reach for when confronted with a problem, offering us a chance to approach a problem anew.
I’m now more able to express myself through my work than I ever felt possible when I was working as a lawyer. I have far, far more autonomy – something I think most junior lawyers are starved of at work. I’m already noticing the enormous benefits this is delivering for my mental and physical wellbeing.
“No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.”
People often congratulate me for “escaping” law. Does that surprise you? If not, please take a moment to ask yourself why.
As humans, we’re creatures of habit. In fact, not only are we hard-wired to resist change, lawyers are also specifically trained to be risk averse. It’s therefore no wonder that many can end up feeling stuck – in spite of being dissatisfied with their position. If this is you, then I invite you to try the following thought experiment: consider your boss. Do you want their job? If the answer is yes, fantastic, you’re in the right place! If not, perhaps a career change is in order.
If you want to pursue a similar path, please get in touch. I’m always happy to chat and share my experience. I’d also recommend you check out lawtomated for career guides and the Legaltech Hub for jobs and events – these some of the best resources in the space.
As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed many things about being a lawyer, but there are many problems that need to be addressed in order to modernise the practice. I’m now dedicating all of my time to solving some of them, and I’m relentlessly passionate about driving positive change in the industry – by using technology to solve problems we thought might never go away.
Co-Founder at Capacity