In 2013, KJK hired Jennifer Hart as an associate. Now eight years later, she is one of the youngest CEOs in legal tech – leading the firm’s innovation arm called Connective Counsel, a recent finalist of start-up alley at the 2019 American Bar Association Techshow.
At Connective Counsel, Hart’s team creates legal software that connects clients and law firms, including a client-facing mobile app. Before connective counsel, Hart helped create the winning bid that brought the 2016 Republican National Convention to Cleveland.
According to Hart, her law journey started at home.
“Both of my parents were attorneys and I grew up with that, and I liked the idea of being able to solve problems all day,” she said. “I was always taught that just because you go to law school, that doesn’t mean you have to continue practicing. I took that to heart and moved towards something that blended my experiences and interests.”
CJN: How did you choose your path at KJK?
Hart: KJK is a small firm that does a lot. I ended up working with a lot of different lawyers in a lot of areas but never focused on a specific one. But every single case I worked on, we had the opportunity to improve our processes and procedures through technology. So, I identified that I felt I had a unique skill set. That became an opportunity for me to help a firm that I cared very deeply about becoming the law firm of the future.
CJN: What career milestone are you most proud of?
Hart: Being part of the team that brought the RNC to Cleveland. I worked for three weeks with almost no sleep to write the bid, which was about 347 pages. It was a huge effort between us, the city, the county and Destination Cleveland to make that happen. I loved having the opportunity to do something great for Cleveland.
CJN: Who has been your strongest personal influence?
Hart: Three people come to mind. My mother was a partner at Jones Day for almost my whole life until she retired. Her perspective on work and the importance of getting it right has driven me. John Pinney, KJK’s managing partner, has also been a huge influence. The faith he has put in me has been tremendous, and what he has taught me about servicing clients, getting them what they need and how they need it has been important to me. Lastly, David Posteraro, who passed away Dec. 30, taught me how to be a great co-worker, colleague and how to practice law and prioritize clients, all while having fun.
CJN: What excites you most about the future?
Hart: The adoption of technology and the way we can implement it in legal and non-legal tools. Also, the use of technology is going to free up a lot of resources to enable people with low-income access to justice. If we can leverage tech tools to help make the playing field a little fairer, I think that is something I will really be proud of. I think a lot of people go to law school to change the world, and I think technology is going to help do that.