This week, I am diving into the law side and highlighting Candice S. Cook, founder of The Cook Law Group, a cutting edge law firm focused on the intersection of technology, “traditional business,” and entertainment. Candice and I were connected through The Li.st. a community founded by the dynamic duo Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNicol for women to come together to amplify and support strong, brilliant, capable, ground-breaking women.
I was very keen to get Candice on the series as I believe her legal perspective is a crucial one in the larger conversation around the future of technology. Candice was selected as a Super Lawyer in the New York Times and was selected to speak at SXSW numerous times. Her work is a great example of the increasing intersection of industries in the constantly evolving world that we are living in.
How/why did you get into tech?
My interest in tech started when I was brought on to serve as an advisor to two tech companies in the fields of music and fashion. My interest in tech grew from my sabbatical where I attended a program for entrepreneurs at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (after having practiced as a Corporate Litigator for eight years). It was through this program that I came to understand the differences between the New York investment landscape and the often talked about investors of Sand Hill Road. I experienced how iteration and product design work in real-time, the value of engineers, and witnessed where the legal and business communities were failing innovators and founders. I was able to take off my “attorney” hat and really step into the needs of entrepreneurs–specifically those in tech.
My understanding of what was missing and the business ramifications of not resolving these needs created an interest in tech, but also in using my skills as an attorney and business woman to drive change from both inside and outside of the industry. I could see it all–how and why the legal community was failing start-ups and how access to capital was stopping some of the best businesses from having the appropriate runway to iterate and scale.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem?
My role in the tech ecosystem is three-fold. First and foremost, I am an attorney and counselor. In truth, I won’t say that it is always the most “fun” hat, but it is definitely the most valuable one. I often play the General Counsel role for organizations so that I can assess their needs on both a macro and micro level looking at where they want their business to go and what they need to do to achieve those goals from both a legal and business angle. I am not there to answer just the questions a client thinks to ask. That’s the low hanging fruit. I am there to answer the questions a client didn’t know they needed to ask and to have them consider the options they didn’t know were considerations. It’s 2019. It’s not enough for the tech clients to be innovative–the lawyers should be innovative and strategic as well.
Secondly, I am an advisor to several tech companies and founders. I guide and advise as an Advisory Board member and am there to make certain that as the companies I work with (Paramusic Group, Story Blaster, Hurston House) are busy grinding and working as founders do–that I am identifying the proverbial icebergs that are ahead and giving them the insight to pivot as necessary–problem identification without a solution is a waste of everyone’s time.
Lastly, I work with Culture Shift Labs as an Advisory Board member to work with senior leaders in the finance sectors, cities, and philanthropists on creating growth through diversity and to address many of the issues within the technology industry as it relates to diversity and inclusion.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2019?
Identifying one tech trend is difficult, but the continuing use and application of Artificial Intelligence is at the top of my list. If I were to pick just one trend that would be it. The ownership of data, the assignment of rights, unconscious bias, privacy issues–all of these issues will come to a head as AI finds it’s way into more of our daily routines. There are doctors talking about their patients with Alexa in their offices. Alexa, can you play the possibility of HIPAA violations? 2019 will be a year of reckoning when it comes to data and privacy and AI will play a role in that development.
Who is a person in tech that inspires you? Why?
Today, the person in tech who inspires me is former Consensys engineer, Ashoka Finley. He was the first person to bring awareness of Opportunity Zones to my office and is the only person–to date–who has found a way to merge the financial incentives that investors will have with an actual tool to implement community development using blockchain technology with respect to OZs. His platform is brilliant and created a win/win so that when the dirt settles and people ask who benefited from OZ policy, those using his platform can truthfully assert–everyone did. He has a sincere desire to use technology to benefit the world from training our next generation of engineers to creating tangible solutions that solve problems now using technology.