Jodie Hosmer

Jodie is our head of legal operations, a transactional lawyer and agile project manager with a very strong technical background. She works on projects focused on transforming legal service delivery. Here, Jodie talks about her greatest achievements and her involvement within the firm’s staff networks.

Can you tell us about your route into law and how you moved into legal technology? 

I describe my transition into legal technology as entirely by accident and not by design. I took the conventional route into law, through a dual honours degree in law and criminology followed by law school in Nottingham. I then secured a training contract at Eversheds and was a real estate lawyer for a number of years at Mills & Reeve. I had my first child when I was 3 years qualified and then came back part time. Classic me wanted to be all things for all people, but I quickly realised that coming back part-time I had less of me to throw around. I’d always advocated to work smarter and not harder, but I think it took having my first child to actually make me do that. I started adapting my approach to legal services delivery through disaggregating my matters and ensuring the right people were doing the right things at the right time, and I started to notice that I was getting an awful lot of work done. When my performance review came around, my line manager at the time, asked me how I’d managed to keep my realisation and profitability where it was, given I was only part time and had a standing start that year. I reflected on the reasons I was doing so well and it was all around effectively process mapping my transactions and only touching the things that needed me, not wanted me. After that I was asked to lead on an operating efficiency project for the real estate team. As part of that, I started thinking about how I could optimise these processes further with software. 

My first step into legal technology, and I wasn’t really a techie at the time, was when I looked at all the technology we had at Mills & Reeve and worked out the functionality and where I could use it. I then looked at how I could leverage the technology for the delivery of legal services and optimise the triangle of people, process and technology. 

I proceeded to move into managing the legal services team, as it was at the time, and there I had a willing group of people who could help me. At that point I was already starting to see quite a lot of processed activity for the business, such as large-scale disclosures or property transactions. We then started working with some of the IT team to look at other technology and think about how we could plug the gaps and make it more efficient. Working smarter, not harder. That was my first step into legal tech, and I haven’t looked back since.  

What would you say your greatest achievement at work is?  

I would say when we created Life Questions during the Covid pandemic (a free online tool for front line NHS workers to help them get their affairs in order should the worst happen). I’ve always been a transactional lawyer, so I’ve never done anything where I really felt I’d made a difference to mankind. People get their property or buy a company which is great, but doing Life Questions I felt there was a real human connection, and that people would really benefit from it, not only employees but also people on the front line.  

Everybody pulled together and it was completed in 7 days. It was one of those things where we got to the end and even though we were all incredibly tired, we were just elated that we’d done something really worthwhile. Most people would probably say their proudest achievement was completing a massive transaction and up until that point I would’ve said the same, but that was definitely a turning point. I think it’s a unique situation that I probably won’t get to replicate but it really showed me how effective technology was at solving a real problem. Overall, it just gave me a warm fuzzy feeling thinking, ‘I was a part of that.’ 

Have you got any top tips for people coming into the legal tech profession? 

For those who are looking for a legal technology or legal engineering career I would say be curious. Go look around, do some interning, or speak to people in law firms about what the career looks like, because the job specifications from multiple firms can be vastly different. It’s definitely an alternative route but it’s becoming more apparent. Universities are incorporating legal technology or law in practice within their syllabus because they recognise how important it is to be tech savvy as a lawyer of the future. In fact, I've been a guest lecturer on the Lawyer of the Future at the UEA on their Law in Practice module for the last four years. 

Can you tell us about your involvement in the staff networks at Mills & Reeve? 

I’m involved in PACT (parents and carers network) and Spectrum (LGBTQIA+ network) and am also a mental health first aider, maternity mentor, wellbeing supporter, menopause champion and respect at work champion. For me, it’s important that people can be their true self at work and it all stems from my friends who are in a same sex marriage. One of them had a very positive experience in the workplace and the other had a very negative experience and I was really upset by it. It’s very hard to reconcile how anybody could be so unkind, but equally if I can help somebody be supported at work then it’s important for me to get involved.  

From the PACT side, nobody tells you how hard being a parent and a working mum is going to be. In fact, I asked somebody who worked at Mills & Reeve what it was like when you have your baby, and they said to me, think of the hardest thing you’ve ever done and times it by 100 and it won’t even be close. At the time I probably didn’t believe them, but it’s true. I remember giving a tip to PACT and although it might’ve seemed silly it made such a difference to me, and I’ve had people e-mail me saying they’ve taken the tip onboard and it’s worked well for them.  

What I’ve realised during my involvement in these networks and in my champion roles is that it’s these small things that actually make a real difference to people. It’s so important to hear somebody else say they get it, to be there and provide a safe space to simply be heard.

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