In the fourth round of interviews of “The Geek in Review” podcast’s mini-series “Love & Legal Tech,” hosts Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer chat with Chris Ford and Nikki Shaver, the dynamic couple behind the Legal Technology Hub. Their project, conceived out of necessity and frustration with the lack of a single source of truth for legal technology solutions, has grown into a thriving business that categorizes and reviews over 2000 legal tech products, aiding law firms and corporate legal departments in navigating the vast landscape of available technologies.

Their story begins in Australia, where Chris and Nikki first connected through a dating site, a testament to their adventurous spirits and willingness to embrace new technologies, even in their personal lives. This spirit of innovation and exploration carried over into their professional lives when they decided to tackle the challenge of creating a centralized platform for legal technology solutions during the pandemic. Their complementary skills in marketing, legal tech, and innovation have been crucial to their success, demonstrating the power of collaboration and mutual respect in both business and personal relationships.

Working together presents its challenges, notably in balancing professional demands with family life, as they navigate attending the same industry events while ensuring the wellbeing of their two children. Yet, it’s clear that their partnership strengthens both their business and their relationship, as they share a common goal and a deep understanding of each other’s strengths.

Chris and Nikki’s journey is a shining example for other couples in the legal tech industry, emphasizing the importance of shared vision, respect for each other’s expertise, and the willingness to support one another’s ideas, no matter how ambitious. Their advice for other couples looking to work together in the industry is to focus on their common goals and leverage their unique strengths, ensuring that their partnership is both professionally rewarding and personally fulfilling.

Their dedication to innovation, coupled with their strong relationship, showcases the potential for couples to make significant contributions to the legal tech industry while building a life together.


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Twitter: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@gebauerm⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, or ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠@glambert
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Music: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Jerry David DeCicca⁠⁠⁠⁠ and Eve Searls


Marlene Gebauer 0:00
Well welcome to The Geek in Review the podcast focused on innovative and creative ideas in the legal profession. I I’m Marlene Gebauer. And

Greg Lambert 0:10
I’m Greg Lambert. So Marlene, this is take two for this episode because yes, we thought yesterday we would be creative and try to record in the same room, which has never worked before. But you know, that doesn’t stop us from thinking that it will work this time.

Chris Ford 0:28
So it has worked on occasion. It has worked, but lately it has not worked.

Greg Lambert 0:34
Yeah, well, the biggest thing was we did we get into a room that none of the power outlets worked. So that was first thing and then we ran to another room. And then it turned out we there was a misspelling in the in poor Nikki’s email. So she didn’t have this on her calendar, and we still couldn’t get get things going. So

Chris Ford 0:55
She was such a good sport are trying.

Nikki Shaver 0:59
So thankfully, until today, we’re

Greg Lambert 1:02
absolutely so. So for our love and legal tech feature we have with us today. Nikki shaver is the CEO and co founder of legal technology hub, and Chris Ford, legal marketing advisor and co founder of the legal technology hubs. So Chris, and Nikki, welcome to The Geek in Review.

Nikki Shaver 1:24
Thank you.

Chris Ford 1:25
Pleasure to be here.

Greg Lambert 1:27
And as everyone knows, we’re using a pretty broad definition of legal tech. But I think our guest today kind of just fit right into that little niche of legal technology. So let me let me start off. Nikki, can you describe exactly what it is that you and you and Chris do in the legal tech field?

Nikki Shaver 1:51
Sure. So we, together with our co founder, founder you ruin plink and our team, we run legal tech hub, which is a one stop shop for law firms and corporate legal departments to get information about all of the legal technology solutions around the world as well as tools and resources to help them evaluate the market and run internal projects to procure and implement legal technology. And so that is a project that Chris and I initially started back in 2020 during the pandemic, but which is now a really viable and growing and thriving business, which we’re very excited about.

Greg Lambert 2:34
Chris, you got anything to add, add to that? That was pretty quick.

Chris Ford 2:38
It was pretty quick. But she’s she’s done that before. It started as a passion project, as Nicky said, as of you know, I won’t speak for her. But when she was a Paul Hastings in a in a senior innovation role. It was, you know, a constant source of frustration that she wasn’t able to go to one single source of truth for, for, you know, all the different legal technology solutions that were out there. And one day, one evening, after dinner after yet another day of zoom calls. She said why don’t we build this? And I said, why hasn’t someone else? And then we started building it. And we realized, this is why it’s really, really hard to find them all.

Greg Lambert 3:21
If it was easy, everyone would have done it wrong.

Chris Ford 3:24
Right? That’s right. Right. So how did the two of you meet?

Nikki Shaver 3:32
One? No, I know you want to take this one.

Chris Ford 3:35
Yeah, we met the old fashioned way through a dating site. This was in the water bout 13. And something years ago, back in Australia. It would the internet dating thing wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now. And it was sort of emerging from the shadows. And we were almost early adopters. We went on a very popular mainstream dating site and and found each other. There. Yeah,

Nikki Shaver 4:06
I a friend of mine told me I actually was thinking of moving from Australia to New York at the time. And she said well, before you leave, maybe just throw exactly what you’re looking for online. And I did so and within one week found Chris which was amazing.

Chris Ford 4:26
Yeah, I also Nikki was the first person I met through online dating.

Nikki Shaver 4:31
Untrue. He was the only person I met online.

Greg Lambert 4:39
But he said he said it was such a straight face.

Chris Ford 4:42
So Sincere. Wow.

Greg Lambert 4:45
So I know in the states we have, you know, like farmers Was this was this legal tech Is that what this was?

Nikki Shaver 4:54
Yeah, that’s right. The Australian legal tech dating site. No, actually at the time, neither of us were in legal Tech. Well, Chris actually had a line in his profile that it was a quote from the movie Anchorman. And he had written underneath it. Brownie points, anyone who can tell me where this quote is from, and he had connected with me or whatever, in a way that made it feasible for me to write back to him. And it just appealed to my competitive spirit. I knew the answer, so I had to tell him. So he got me that way.

Chris Ford 5:40
Yeah. And look, we connected, because we both have, like, extremely international upbringings. And, you know, we wanted to have a sense of compatibility in that way. And yeah, Nikki, was born in the Netherlands grew up in Germany, I grew up in Southeast Asia, we both have a strong North American background as well. So yeah, we, we clicked instantly.

Greg Lambert 6:08
So how did you guys end up working in the same area? Because I know you’ve been kind of I know, You’ve been doing this in the background, but you’ve kind of kind of been working together longer than that, right? Yeah, well, well, I’m saying,

Nikki Shaver 6:27
Yeah, I had. I have been a lawyer in Australia for many years. And and then when we decided the two of us decided to move to Canada, actually, initially, with our kids, because both of our brothers lived in North America, and both had kids and we wanted the cousins all to know each other. So we moved in, I kind of fell into the field of legal tech and cam and innovation, almost accidentally. It’s while I was re qualifying to be a lawyer. It’s the job I got as a contract gig was with one of the large firms in Canada. At a time when I didn’t know what legal tech even was. An amazingly I mean, I mean, I really met some of the people that I’m closest to now. In the world I met Carla swans Berg, who’s now that clear YECs. Simon warm Well, who’s that? Oh, sir Kate Simpson, who’s at Bennett Jones, worked with all of them work from the get go on an enterprise search project on an intranet project, and immediately just absolutely loved it. And so I’ve stayed in that field ever since. And Chris was in general marketing. And I always used to say, wouldn’t it be great if you were in one field and marketing instead of sort of marketing agnostic, which is what he used to say in terms of industries. And interestingly, over all the jobs you’ve had Chris in marketing, there was this weird even though he doesn’t come from a legal background, a theme of working for legal environments or lead legal companies in some way or another throughout his career. But it hadn’t you hadn’t actually decided on that, particularly Chris, right. until much later.

Chris Ford 8:19
Yeah, I worked on the periphery of legal technology in its various sales and marketing jobs, starting with LexisNexis in Sydney, actually. And then, when we moved to Canada, and Nikki’s half Canadian, that’s how we got a permanent residency. And the first job I had there was LexisNexis, Canada. And when we moved to New York with Nicki’s job, I was working with axiom. And then from there, I, you know, became the CMO at zero, which is a legal technology company. So, you know, I, I’ve not quite fell into it, but decided that you know, that this is a, an industry where I wanted to build a bit of a career and this is what brought me to this point.

Nikki Shaver 9:04
Yeah, it was when we moved to New York that really, when Chris then started working in legal Tech, I think we realized there were great benefits to us both being in the field and he loved it. And I loved it. And it made sense for both of us to stay in.

Greg Lambert 9:25
Well, I asked him about being in the same profession.

Chris Ford 9:28
Oh, you did already? I’m sorry. I thought well, I fell off because I lost connection. So sorry. So what, what’s been the most challenging thing about being in the same profession? I mean, obviously, there’s really lots of really good things. But you know, Chris, you know, what do you think is the most challenging thing?

Childcare? We have a 10 year old and a 12 year old now and you know, it’s necessary that both of us go to iltacon It’s but necessary the both of us you know, are have a legal week. And then, you know, at social events they’re in. And we’ll both be going to clock. And while we took the kids to Orlando last year to alter, and, you know, that worked out beautifully. It’s it’s a bit of a challenge for us. When we have, we have to go to the same events, and especially overnight. So it’s tough. You know, we we have a really close family, the four of us, and we hate leaving them alone, but the kids understand they know that mama and daddy are building something for the family. And they and they’re, they’re terrific with it. But yeah, it’s tough to it’s tough to leave them.

Yeah, I mean, go ahead Nikki.

Nikki Shaver 10:43
Yeah, no, I that’s exactly the same answer as I have. I mean, I think it’s interesting. A lot of people would think it’s really difficult to work together, we because of the way I mean, being in legal tech, in the same field, I think is fine. If you’re in different companies, working as we do for now, the same company. I think a lot of people were kind of surprised and thought that might be a significant challenge. But because we started building legal tech hub initially together, and it was during the pandemic when everyone was home. And it was that kind of strange time, you know, we spent weekends and evenings doing this work together of doing all of this research. And that worked really, really well and really nicely between us. And we had developed a really nice sort of rhythm and cadence to working together. And I actually think I, Chris, I don’t know whether you’ll disagree with this. I feel as though it has been better for our relationship to work together than when we were not working together. Like I actually like it more. What have you say, boss? Well, when No, when it came properly into legal tech hub this past year, full time, we made sure that reporting lines were not such that I would be this as boss because that would not work at all, that

Chris Ford 12:09
It doesn’t explain why when she requests, like a cup of coffee by text in the morning, finds that she signs the tech, the the the text, legal tech hub CEO. Why? No, no, that

Greg Lambert 12:26
sounds right to me. Yeah.

Chris Ford 12:29
Marlene and, Greg, what we really are into and what you know, has driven our passion is the fact that we are building what we call Sweat Equity, for the first time in our careers into something of our own, you know, before legal tech hub, neither of us had really run our own business. And this time, we are building something where we are building the entire thing. And we did it genuinely from scratch, we can show you that. Yeah, we’ve got it. We’ve got a fantastic team, now we’re building which is, which is great. But we can show you the paper napkin where we sketched out the first wireframe of the legal Tech Hub website. At a pub on the street during the pandemic, while we were marking up and sipping beers, it was, it’s been a great journey, and we love that we are building this thing together.

It’s interesting, because we’ve had a couple of guests, you know, two of which worked at the same company for a period of time, and then two of which started their own company. And, you know, both had, you know, very different but positive, you know, experiences with with that. And I know, the the folks that started their own company, you know, it’s like kind of 24/7 like they they just sort of live and breathe it and it just sort of bleeds, you know, personal and professional kind of bleed into one another. And they have to like schedule time to be like, Okay, well, one or the other. So like, I’m wondering how you guys approach that?

Nikki Shaver 14:03
I mean, definitely, you’re right, that they bleed into one another. And in fact, one of the reasons why it also works, I think, for us to be in the same business and in the same industry is because we are international and we’re not from New York, but we live here and not our whole social life. But a very significant portion of our social life is in legal tech. It’s the people that we spend time with at conferences or we now have a crowd of people who live in Brooklyn who are in legal tech, where we arrange meetups we have. Chris arranges this Commonwealth orphans meetup, which is people who are Australian and from the UK and now live in New York and are illegal tech. And it’s actually a big part of our social network. So that works really nicely. But I don’t know I feel like because of the kids, maybe we’re pretty good at also having times where we Don’t talk about that. And we have a lot of other interests in common luckily. So we could watch, you know, TV shows and, and have conversations that don’t revolve around it. But I would be lying if I said we didn’t also sometimes just segue into what what about this feature? And what about, you know, that work conversation at the dinner table from time to time? It’s really hard not to I mean, it’s, but I don’t find that problematic. It doesn’t dominate. Except I imagine, we are a startup. So it dominates our lives anyway. Because that’s just the life.

Chris Ford 15:40
Yeah, let’s put up a quick poll, a quick quiz for the for the audience, which out of Chris and Nikki dreams in legal tech, do you think?

Greg Lambert 15:53
I’m gonna say, Nikki,

Chris Ford 15:56
To be to be fair. And I mean, you know, Greg and I both come from families who had their own businesses. And, you know, it’s, you know, I think that, you know, at least from my perspective, there’s a total understanding, I mean, you live and breathe, that, you know, that job because that’s, you know, your, it’s yours. Like you said, you know, you guys created this, and there’s that passion for it.

Nikki Shaver 16:18
Right, exactly. And our kids understand that too. And they feel a sense of pride about it as well. And you rune is such a close partner, and we know his family well, as well. You know, I mean, it is it feels, there’s something close about it, that’s different than working for a large, established company.

Chris Ford 16:38

Greg Lambert 16:40
But I know when we put out a call in back in January, that we were going to do this series that we had you two were mentioned by multiple people that we had to had to talk to the two of you. And it sounds like you’ve got a good community there in the Brooklyn area. But when you run into people at Ulta or o’clock that don’t know that you too, are a couple. What’s What’s the reaction that you get Typically?

Nikki Shaver 17:14
Chris, you have to tell them what you do at our conferences, Chris, Chris, we run some events and Chris’s, one of Chris’s favorite things, is to embarrass me. He’s only allowed to do it once during each event.

Chris Ford 17:25
I mean that that’s not only at the events, I mean, day to day, I’m far I have far more leeway to embarrass her. But I usually wait until the very last emcee this one day event, I usually wait until the very last session, which is invariably a conference wrap up and a q&a with urine and Nicky, and I’ll introduce you ruin by you know, CEO of lead co founder, legal tech hub. And I will always say something wildly inappropriate and romantic about Nikki, to introduce her. Because I know that many people in the audience don’t know that we’re a couple. They’re all like, yeah, I love the awkward looks that are exchanged around the room as they, as I say something like Nikki shaver, CEO, co founder legal tech hub, and what was it? The gate gatekeeper of the four chambers of my heart? Yeah, something like that. Or the other one I did was the mayor of love town population, me.

You can’t be upset about that.

Just make it as cheesy as I can. And I just relish in the awkwardness around the room of the 40 to 50% of people that don’t know were together until Nikki invariably everybody just so you know.

Nikki Shaver 18:56
It is weird when we’re at conferences, though, and I you know, we introduce you know, I say this is Chris, our head of marketing. And then you know, it’s like an also by the way, he’s my husband. I don’t I never know what to lead with. at a social event at a conference obviously in a professional setting. It’s clear what to lead with.

Chris Ford 19:16
Most of the time when Nikki’s not with me, and I say I’m Nikki, showbiz husband, they say something like, You got Nikki I mean, it’s, there’s no need to pull a face

Marlene Gebauer 19:29
You’re like well, yes I did.

Chris Ford 19:32

All right. So I’m going to enjoy asking this question because you too, both have have very distinct and strong personality. So I’m really curious to see how you answer this. How do you guys handle situations where you may not agree on how to handle it? What do you you know, what are your What are your approaches?

Nikki Shaver 20:00
Yeah, I feel as though that hasn’t come up a lot. Weirdly, in the company, I think we’re pretty good at talking through things. I think we’re pretty good at talking through things, I can’t really think of a situation where there’s been a very strong disagreement between us, can you, Chris, on on something to do with a company?

Chris Ford 20:23
No, really not. And look, even non company issues, we’re both passionate people, and we’re not, we’re not the type that will, you know, let something similar or smaller, we’re like, let’s just get it out there. If we need to, you know, get get stuff on the table, let’s get it out there. Because we know we want to move on. Because we just, we like each other too much. And we don’t want to wallow in this. So if it ever comes up, I imagine in a professional sense, I imagine we’ll adopt the same sort of attitude, we both want the same thing. We both want to move on for this. So let’s just get it out there and sort it out.

Nikki Shaver 21:04
I will say it probably helps enormously that, you know, you ruin as a co founder as well. And so typically, you know, he and I will talk things through and then Chris and Jeroen, and I will talk things through and I think that it helps it’s not just the two of us making big decisions. It’s very much you know, Jeroen is part of that as well. And so that having three means it’s it’s different. It’s I can’t reach a situation where there’s a tie that needs to be broken somehow, between the two of us

Greg Lambert 21:36
So, do the two of you ever gang up on Jeroen?

Nikki Shaver 21:42

Chris Ford 21:43
Not, as far as you know, Greg.

Greg Lambert 21:50
So, I think we went ahead and answered the kind of how you balance the work and life together. So Marlene, if you want to jump to the next one. Yeah.

Chris Ford 21:59
So, you know, let’s let’s talk about some of the interesting things. I mean, you know, we know that you both are working on legal technology hubs. So you know, what are some interesting things that are happening now in your business.

Nikki Shaver 22:15
So we launched our subscription platform at the beginning of last year, and we have over 90 enterprise wide subscribers now. So that has moved very quickly. Which is wonderful for us. Obviously, the whole evolution of generative AI has put us in a really good position with firms and companies needing to know about what is happening on the tech side and which companies are adopting generative AI and kind of mapping that has been an area where we’ve been able to be really valuable. We’re excited about some of the growth areas for this year. So growing a lot of content growing the team to be able to support a lot more growth on the content side, really supporting more on the corporate legal side and extending into mid sized firms, and providing some additional features around really the details of security and data hosting locations for products, things that it’s really difficult for people to find out on their own from websites and so on. So, and some other features that are coming that are on the roadmap, which we’ll talk about at a later stage, but we’re yeah, there’s there’s real growth at the moment. And that’s, for me, the exciting thing about the company right now.

Chris Ford 23:32
And one of the cool side effects I think we’ve we’ve had from building legal tech hub is we Nikki and I have a fairly unique insight into the legal technology ecosystem like globally. You know, when we built legal tech hub, we were hoping to launch with 500 tools. And now we have just, we’re closing in on 2400 commercially viable legal technology solutions globally. And what we’ve learned is, you know, we’ve learned that certain parts of the world are strong incubators of legal technology, we’ve learned that there are legal tech deserts in certain countries where we’re like, Hey, you should move what’s going on? Italy? Why aren’t you Why aren’t there a bunch more liberal technology providers there, where there are so heavily concentrated in you know, Finland and, and places like that. So it has been really, really interesting. And not only geographically but to see the growth of the legal technology functions, from the legacy systems like your practice management and Doc automation, through to the AI chatbots and things like that. It’s been a really fascinating journey for us to learn about the world of legal tech.

Greg Lambert 24:43
Yeah. I’m wondering about is you’re talking about culture or different countries, different societies. How are you saying I would say Who do you think is the most eager to change and adapt With with AI tools, and who’s probably t he most reluctant?

Nikki Shaver 25:04
So, you know, it’s so interesting, I would have said up until the beginning of last year, I would have said that the US actually fell behind. In this regard. The US market being such a large legal market, and so strong meant that there was less pressure on firms to adopt technology or new ways of working. And the UK has been ahead of the game in a lot of ways. The Nordic I mean, in terms of other parts of the world, the Nordic Region is a real hotbed for innovation. Australia and Canada are both regions where, I guess because of small markets, they’re quite similar to one another. And again, there’s been real high adoption of technology. And they’re quite innovative markets. But interestingly, last year, things change. And I had this perception during most of the year. And then we ran a survey at the end of the year across a number of different regions, which really confirmed this, which is, last year, the US raced ahead of most other parts of the world, in terms of Gen AI, traction, especially when it comes to legal. And I think there are a number of reasons for that one of which is CaseText availability in the US, and the fact that the content set that CaseText had for CoCounsel was a US data set. And the fact that CaseText, as a company already had a significant measure of trust in the US meant it was easier to adopt. But it’s really interesting to see. So for the first time, I would say the US has actually crept ahead there.

Greg Lambert 26:49
Well, the typically we ask our crystal ball question at this point, but we’re we’ve morphed it into what we’re calling our Valentine’s question in that, with the with the two of you, being a couple working in the same industry working in the same company. If you had another couple come up and ask you, you know, what, what’s the secret? How do you make this work? Chris, I guess we’ll start with you. What what’s some advice that you would give a couple that’s looking to work in the same industry

Chris Ford 27:29
Focus on the fact that you both want the same thing. At the at the end of the day, that you’re both driven towards the same goal. And there may be different paths to get there and different opinions on how to get there. But ultimately, the end goal is the same. For Nikki and I, we are building something for our family. And we always we always frame it that way. This is something for all four of us. And it keeps us you know, it keeps all the outside noise to work to a minimum, when we’re when we’re thinking about which way to go forward.

Nikki Shaver 28:09
For I would say, both of you, whoever you are, bring different skill sets to play. And it’s a matter of really respecting the skills that your partner has, and recognizing where your expertise lies and where their expertise lies. So one of the reasons I think that Chris and I do work so well together is because if something is around marketing, or sales, I would defer to him because his knowledge and experience is much more significant there than mine. But if something came down to legal tech, specifically or innovation, he would defer to my expertise. And so having that professional respect for one another, and remembering that at at its core, you also have a relationship and you like one another. It’s important to remember those things. But if you can really respect one another professionally, I think that that makes it a world of difference.

Chris Ford 29:11
See, I changed my answer now to that. That was way better.

Greg Lambert 29:17
You’re the second one that has done that

Chris Ford 29:21
Little insight to the dynamic of our relationship there. I just also something Nichols Nikki also something way better and smarter. And then I’ll be like, Yep, I can change my mind what she said,

You gotta respect the skill set.

Greg Lambert 29:35
Willingness to be able to shift your opinion. So

Nikki Shaver 29:40
I will just also just quickly say, I mean, Chris is an always has been such an amazing supporter of mine. And he’s, you know, when I said let’s build this. He is the sort of person who instead of saying, that’s crazy talk, we both have jobs. He said, Yeah, let’s do it. And also have the jobs, you know, and that kind of support. I mean, there’s no way this would work unless that existed in the relationship. So I guess having the personalities, the right personalities are is key as well. But I’m very lucky that Chris is so supportive of all of my crazy ideas.

Greg Lambert 30:21
Very cool. Well, Nikki and Chris, thank you very much for coming on The Geek in Review and sharing your love and legal tech story.

Nikki Shaver 30:29
Thank you so much for having us.

Chris Ford 30:31
Thank you, Greg. Thank you, Molly.

And of course, thanks to all of you, our listeners for taking the time to listen to The Geek in Review podcast. If you enjoy the show, share it with a colleague. We’d love to hear from you. So reach out to us on social media. I can be found on LinkedIn or on X at @gebauerm or on Threads at @mgebauer66

Greg Lambert 30:51
And I can be reached on LinkedIn or on X at @glambert and Threads you can reach me at @glambertpod. Nikki and Chris, where can listeners reach out and find out more about you and about legal technology hub?

Nikki Shaver 31:08
Certainly Find us on LinkedIn under my name Nicola Shaver, and legal technology And on LinkedIn legal tech hub legal tech that’s on Twitter, I think anyway, find us on LinkedIn.

Greg Lambert 31:24
They’ll find you

Chris Ford 31:25
You can’t find me because my name is Chris Ford. And it’s just last week, there were two Chris Ford’s at ABA Tech show in the same hotel

that’s funny. And and the love and legal tech music that you hear for this series is from Jerry David DeCicca and Eve Searls. So thank you, Jerry and Eve.

Greg Lambert 31:53
Yeah, thanks, Jerry and Eve. All right. Thank you, everyone.