Farrah Pepper Speaks on Leadership and Innovation in Legal Tech

Farrah Pepper, lifelong New Yorker and double-NYU graduate (College of Arts & Science, B.A. and NYU School of Law, J.D.) is passionate about using legal technology to solve business challenges, create enterprise value, and reduce risk. The BYU Law community was recently privileged to hear from Pepper at the Future of Law Forum where she shared insights on navigating the rapidly changing world of legal technology. “You’ll be most successful in today’s legal market by finding ways to develop and connect with [core legal competencies] now,” she advised students. “That is the differentiator that a lot of employers are looking for.”

Pepper hasn’t always considered herself a tech-evangelist. Motivated by the “twin impulses” of storytelling and the law, Pepper originally planned to specialize in First Amendment Law. “I wanted to advocate for truth telling and fact finding in journalism,” she recalls.  However, as a newly-hired junior associate at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Pepper found herself “thrown head first into general litigation,” and she quickly became immersed in the pre-trial process of legal discovery. “Many cases don’t make it to trial,” she says. “You can live your whole career in the discovery phase—finding information, analyzing it, and using to to support your case.” In 2006, when amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure formally introduced electronically stored information as a new category of discoverable information, Pepper recognized an opportunity to become an expert in the emerging space.  “I saw a gap,” she says. “It was a vacuum I was happy to fill.” Pepper proposed and ultimately founded an official practice group dedicated to e-discovery, a decision that she says opened up future opportunities. I was a midlevel associate, but I wanted to bring value to everything I touched,”  Pepper says. “You have to be the one driving activities for yourself.”

After a decade with Gibson Dunn, Pepper was recruited by GE as the company’s first dedicated legal expert on discovery. She created and led GE’s Discovery Center of Excellence, redefining the company’s approach to global discovery and data management. As Chief Legal Innovation Counsel at Marsh & McLennan, Pepper is founder and leader of the company’s Legal Innovation and Technology (LIT) team which includes the LIT innovation lab and discovery program. Pepper and her team focus on uncovering technologies that solve the problems of law in areas that are “ripe for disruption” including litigation, investigations, mergers and acquisitions, and contract artificial intelligence (AI).  “One of my key ‘aha’ moments as a discovery expert is that so much of what is done in the space of discovery has application outside of it,” she says. “If you learn how to create good workflows for people, processes, and technology, it’s imprintable throughout the practice of law.”

Pepper encouraged students to “stay on the pulse” of promising legal technologies. “In today’s environment you need to hit the ground running,” she noted. “Be familiar with the ecosystem of tools that are out there and familiar with what those tools can do. Create a section on your resume that talks about your technology skill and competencies. Highlight and showcase your connectivity with technology. This will make you incredibly valuable to any organization. You really never know what’s going to be in your future journey.”


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