Making Software for Hard CasesPrinter Friendly Version
Alma Asay ’05, founder and CEO of Allegory Law, says that her entry into the field of legal technology entrepreneurship came entirely by accident. As a litigator at Gibson Dunn for six years, Asay focused on large-scale commercial litigation that often required thousands of discovery documents. In order to manage such complex cases, Asay and her Gibson Dunn team would create Excel spreadsheets tracking all relevant information for every document being used.
Recognizing a need for better software to organize litigation data, Asay began collaborating on the side with a team of programmers to build a product that would help litigators categorize and cross-reference case information. Before she knew it, Asay had a project on her hands that demanded much of her attention. “I just started working with these guys and mapping out what I would want my dream software to look like as a litigator,” Asay says. Next thing she knew, “I just woke up and realized that I was an entrepreneur, with a startup in legal technology.”
“It doesn’t surprise me that she would have recognized the need to organize and manage data— because she was really very good at it,” Diane Zimmerman, Samuel Tilden Professor of Law Emerita, says of Asay, her former student and research assistant. “She was also always really gutsy,” says Zimmerman. “I remember she took a semester to study at the Sorbonne during law school and took classes in French. I asked her, before she went, ‘Is your French really that good?’ And she said, ‘Well, it’s going to get a lot better.’ It must have been an incredible amount of work, but she wasn’t daunted at all.”
Helming a startup is not without its challenges, from finding investors to courting clients. She wakes up every day not knowing what’s going to happen. But Asay, a travel enthusiast who has been to every continent, says that this element of surprise in her daily life and work now is “the closest thing I’ve found to traveling at home.”