Maya Markovich / Louis Goodman Podcast Interview

Louis Goodman

Hello, and welcome to Love Thy Lawyer where we talk to real lawyers about their lives in and out of the practice of law, how they got to be lawyers, and what their experiences have been. I’m Louis Goodman, the host of the show, and yes, I’m a lawyer. Nobody’s perfect. She uses tech focused innovation to support attorneys in their work. she delivers next generation technology, process and business growth services, she supports her firm in collaborating with legal communities and experts worldwide. She was named one of the five most influential women in tech. She serves on the board of the Alameda County Bar Associations Pro Bono Division and with a little bit of luck, she’ll be able to explain what all of this means. Maya Markovich, welcome.



Maya Markovich

Thank you so much, Louis. It’s great to be here.



Louis Goodman

I’m happy to have you. We don’t know each other personally. But I’ve been very impressed by your work and your resume and the kinds of things that you and your firm are doing. So I’d like to delve into that a little bit.



Maya Markovich

Yeah, you bet. Looking forward to it.



Louis Goodman

Where are you physically located these days?



Maya Markovich

I live and work in Oakland.



Louis Goodman

And how long have you been here in Oakland?



Maya Markovich

We moved to Oakland back in 2007 and I’ve been working, I was lucky enough to score a job with offices right on Lake Merritt, about six years ago.



Louis Goodman

Where are you from originally?



Maya Markovich

Palo Alto



Louis Goodman

What high school did you go to?



Maya Markovich

I went to a small girl school and then didn’t go very far from home.



Louis Goodman

Did you enjoy that experience?



Maya Markovich

Yeah, it was great. For me it was just the right environment for somebody who wanted to just play sports and figure out who she was.



Louis Goodman

What sports did you play?



Maya Markovich

I played mostly water polo and swimming, although I also did soccer.



Louis Goodman

Now, when you graduated, where’d you go to college?



Maya Markovich

I went to Stanford, which is why I really didn’t go very far. I was there for a Bachelor’s and Master’s. So I spent an extra year getting my Masters at Stanford after undergrad.



Louis Goodman

Well, Stanford’s a very good school, isn’t it?



Maya Markovich

Thank you.



Louis Goodman

What did you get your Masters in?



Maya Markovich

Psychology, Social and an Organizational Psychology.



Louis Goodman

Did you practice in that field at all?



Maya Markovich

No, initially, so I got my Bachelor’s and Master’s in those fields. And that led me originally to the field of Change Management Consulting in Technology, where I was really leveraging a lot of that how people make decisions, how hard it is for people to collaborate, how to get over kind of the humps of people not wanting to change but needing to and all that good people stuff.



Louis Goodman

At some point you decided,



Maya Markovich

Yes, I did.



Louis Goodman

When did that occur?



Maya Markovich

Well, you know, I was doing Change Management Consulting. And I was losing a lot of my background and was pretty high flying career. But I really, at that point, I realized that I wanted to have a broader social impact. And law seemed like the right way to do that. My plan was to go into Environmental Law. I wanted to be an attorney at Earth Justice.



Louis Goodman

Usually people do Environmental Law, they end up at Chevron. Right?



Maya Markovich

That’s not what I wanted to do.



Louis Goodman

So how long did you work between the time you got your Master’s at Stanford and the time you decided to go to law school?



Maya Markovich

Let’s see, it was probably about four years.



Louis Goodman

And where did you did you go to law school?



Maya Markovich

I went to Hastings and I was attending Hastings right in the middle of the first Silicon Valley tech boom.



Louis Goodman

How did you like being in Hastings?



Maya Markovich

You know, I thought it was, I mean, I didn’t love law school as much as some people did. But I mean, I was there for, I was trying to work through what I really wanted to do. And as it turned out, I changed my mind a few times. And so Hastings was a great place to kind of try out a lot of different avenues and see which one might fit. And so I loved it in that sense.

Louis Goodman

One of the things that I’ve said a number of times on this podcast is that I went to Hastings and I really enjoyed the experience. Well, different people have different experiences, but mine was good. So I’m glad to hear yours was too.



Maya Markovich

Yeah, no, I mean, I loved learning but the stress was something I had to get used to so let’s put it that way.



Louis Goodman

So you think that having worked in a professional field between the time you left college and I say college, I’m kind of including the Master’s program, and the time you started law school that four year interim, do you think that that allowed you to focus more clearly once you got to law school?



Maya Markovich

Definitely, I think it’s a really good thing for people to try to do and I saw folks that came straight from their university undergrad career into law school, and I think that they struggled a little bit more because they hadn’t really given themselves the time to think about what they really wanted to do. There were a few, of course that were driven from, you know, the time they were in kindergarten, to be lawyers of some certain kind, but no real world experience for me, it made a lot of difference.



Louis Goodman

Yeah, I always thought that the people who did the best as law students in my class of Hastings were women, in their late 20s, who had had some kind of professional work experience between the time they graduate from college and the time they went to law school. They were all focused. They all really knew what they were there for.



Maya Markovich

That describes me to a tee.



Louis Goodman

What did your friends and family say when you told them that you wanted to go to law school?



Maya Markovich

Well, my siblings, who were both older than me and both attorneys, loved it. They thought it was just, you know, the normal course of events. And my parents were academics. I thought it was totally shocking that three of their kids would be lawyers. So it worked out.



Louis Goodman

When you got out of Hastings. What did you first do in terms of work?





Maya Markovich

Actually, before I decided to go to Hastings, so I was kind of trying out the legal industry. And I was a paralegal at Wilson Sonsini down in Palo Alto. So that was even before.



Louis Goodman

So did you go to work for them when you got out?



Maya Markovich

No, I didn’t. I actually, my first jobs. After that I worked at Lieff Cabraser. I worked for a couple of consumer plaintiff side solo practitioners. And I did some doctor view, of course, as well, like everyone was doing at the time.



Louis Goodman

You don’t actually practice law right now, but you’re involved in some very interesting work that supports attorneys in their practices. And I’m wondering if you could give us a brief overview of what it is that you and your firm do. And who is your first?



Maya Markovich

Yeah, sure. So I work for Dentons. Well, Nextlaw Labs, which was founded by Dentons, back in 2015. That was the first initiative of its kind, and being a legal tech focus, legal innovation catalyst.



Louis Goodman

What does that mean?



Maya Markovich

Oh, it can be, it could be there no two days that are the same. That’s for sure. I can be doing anything from you know, vetting legal tech startups for potential investment in our portfolio, we have an investment arm. Next law ventures. I also work a lot with a global practice leaders helping them define and prioritize and execute on their innovation strategies. I work a lot with the clients themselves, who are having their own kind of challenges and pressures being put on them around changing the way that they run their legal departments. And so I can, you know, basically, the common thread is, you know, bringing together psychology, change management, technology, marketing and law kind of in this in this unique role. And it’s a huge opportunity to be part of creating this meaningful and substantive change in the legal industry.



Louis Goodman

So when you say that you support the clients in like, tech focused innovation, and next generation technology and process? I mean, what specifically does that mean?



Maya Markovich

Well, when I’m talking about Dentons, clients themselves, they’re often under increasing pressure to deliver substantively different in substantively different ways to other departments, and to their boards, especially in large, multi regional organizations. So that can be anything from figuring out how they can automate contract review, to figuring out how they can collaborate with other areas within the organization, how they can deliver value, how they can stop being as much of a cost center and actually become revenue generating in some situations.



Louis Goodman

So the people that you deal with tend to be legal departments within other large corporations?



Maya Markovich

Yeah, usually, I mean, who we’re talking to are the Chief Legal Officers, General Counsel, their teams, legal operations teams, and that kind of thing. But that’s sort of just the one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is what we also call kind of our next law clients, which are people within Dentons, who are trying to also tap into a lot of the same.



Once I realized that that’s what was going on, and having come from a place where I was working in tech before I even went to law school, it seems pretty, I couldn’t really. And so in at the same time, I kind of realized that I wanted to take my career in a different. I wanted to be involved in the law, but I wanted something kind of broader and more creative. And, you know, my post practice career in legal tech took off just as I had a newborn and a two year old. And so all of those things really came together and just the right timing.



Louis Goodman

What do you really like about the work that you do?



Maya Markovich

You know, I like to call law, the — of human society. It touches everyone on earth in some way that really love also being around very sharp people. Lawyers are almost without fail, incredibly astute and intelligent.



Louis Goodman

Yeah, I think so is one of the things I really liked about doing this podcast is I get to talk to lawyers. I’m serious about I’m very serious about that. Would you recommend law as a career to a young person just coming out of college?



Maya Markovich

You know, that’s an interesting question. Because I probably get different kinds of questions. And some of your other guests, I get a lot of outreach from law students, and young career professionals, they’re asking how they can leverage their legal education in different ways, like I have. And so I have to say, there’s a lot more opportunity now than there used to be to contribute meaningfully to organizations or efforts outside of you know, straight law practice. Things like legal operations, legal tech companies, just legal transformation, stuff that I’m doing and consulting. So if they’re interested in anything with a basis of law along those lines, then nice, then I do recommend it.



Louis Goodman

What advice would you give to a young person just starting out in legal?



Maya Markovich

You know, I would say a couple of things. The first I would say is take every opportunity that you’re offered, even if you don’t think you’re ready for it. And the other thing I would say is, you know, don’t feel as though you’ve locked yourself in any way. I mean, it’s hard to say, too, it’s hard to absorb that message. And I certainly didn’t feel that, I felt I had been locked in basically, by virtue of my student loans, that I was in a situation, I had to kind of make it work as a practicing attorney. And then things just started opening up a little bit more and more. So it’s hard to say it’s hard to tell people, you know, don’t feel locked in. But there are so many rewarding things about being part of the legal industry, and part of the kind of the legal community that I think it’s definitely worth it.



Louis Goodman

Is there anything that you know now that you really wish you had known before you had gotten started doing that?



Maya Markovich

Yeah, that’s a great question. I love that one. Because mine is probably more tactical and less kind of philosophical. But I would say, proactively cultivating your future network, starting in law school, with students and professors. And not kind of with a cold kind of, someday I might need you kind of way but actually, in a way that like, you’re building your community, and you never know what interesting things people will be going on to do. And it’s great to keep in touch with them.



Louis Goodman

Do you have any specific tactics or strategies for building your network?



Maya Markovich

Well, I would say, I spend time on LinkedIn, really trying to, and Twitter looking for mentoring, trying to keep abreast of the interesting things that are going on in my particular field. There’s just a lot of really cool stuff going on, pretty much all the time, and people doing a lot of very deep thinking about how to improve the legal industry and the practice of law in fundamental ways. And so I try to not go too deep. But whenever I see someone that’s talking about something interesting, I just go ahead and reach out to them, because I find that that’s the best way to kind of cultivate different perspectives.



Louis Goodman

What do you think’s the best advice you’ve ever received?









Maya Markovich

Oh, the best advice I’ve ever received is that day to day happiness in your work is part of the compensation package. And really, to look beyond the numbers, when evaluating if a position is right for you.



Louis Goodman

You have a slightly different perspective on the legal system than most of the people who I talked to for this podcast. So I’m wondering, what, if anything, would you change about the way the legal system works? From your perspective?



Maya Markovich

Oh, I can see a whole separate podcast. I mean, I spend my whole, all my work hours thinking about things like this. I would make it you know, first off, I would make it more users. I would make it obviously more easily understandable for those who are forced to navigate it on their own. And I think that there’s just a lot that can be done there. I also think that it would be an imperative to have it be more open and less insular.



Louis Goodman

Do you think that the legal system is fair?



Maya Markovich

Well, I think that there are two systems of justice and there are in that depends very much on racial and socio economic status.



Louis Goodman

Tell us a little bit about the work you do with your pro bono.



Maya Markovich

Yeah, sure. So I you know, as you mentioned at the beginning, I am on the Board of the Legal Access Alameda, which is the pro bono arm of the Alameda County Bar Association, although unfortunately it’s been on hiatus for COVID there are a wonderful organization that supports about 40 Legal Aid clinics a month in different categories. Right now are 75 out of things are virtual and kind of doing some kind of building at the moment and waiting for the green light to start the clinics again, I am on the strategic counsel for One Justice, which is a wonderful nonprofit organization that actually supports legal service provider nonprofits within the State of California. So in a lot of different kind of infrastructure and framework and leadership development ways, and then I do a lot of work on mentoring. Early career professionals are law students that are trying to kind of find their way into a kind of a broader type ,they’re utilizing their legal degrees in different ways. And then if that’s official and unofficial, then I also met the mentor and advisor for Lex Lab, which is the UC Hastings, legal tech incubator.



Louis Goodman

Do most of your mentees find you through the Lex Lab?



Maya Markovich

I don’t know how they find me, I think people are just getting really good at doing searches for this kind of thing. I mean, search. Sure. I mean, there are various programs that I’m a mentor for. There’s a Legal Unique Women in Law Tech. There’s the Law Tech in a Fellows Program at University of Arizona. There’s also organizations as far flung as Australia and Spain that I work with. And I think, honestly, I think that the community, so for those that aren’t within a program of any kind, I think people just there aren’t very many of us yet the legal innovation community is still pretty small. So it doesn’t take long to find someone who’s like doing a podcast or reading an article about thinking differently about, you know, where the professional needs to.



Louis Goodman

Yeah, I mean, that’s one of the reasons that I was really interested in talking to you, because I do think the profession is going to be headed in some wildly different directions. And it’s going to be going there very. I think all of us have a certain obligation to pay attention.



Maya Markovich

Yeah, I would totally agree with that.



Louis Goodman

Well, to that end, you mentioned that you’re active on Twitter, and you’re active on LinkedIn. Are there any other social media platforms or any other places online where you think attorney should really be and really have a presence and really have some, I don’t know, an ear out for what’s going on in these places?



Maya Markovich

Yeah, I mean, you know, I try to keep it very simple. So those are kind of my two main platforms.



Louis Goodman

I’m gonna shift gears here a little bit. Maya, tell me about your family life and how working in the legal industry and as an attorney has impacted that?



Maya Markovich

Well, you know, I mean, like I said, I realized, while I was practicing that I know I really wanted to have an impact in the world of law, but the partner track was just, you know, not the path forward for me. So, as my family, my husband and I built our family and our life together, just different priorities came into sharper focus. And like I said, my post practice career took off just as we had very young babies. My husband became the primary caregiver to our young sons while he was managing his own freelance career. My path empowered him to be a fully engaged parent, something that was really critical for my career, our kids development, his own career, and really what we both came to see as an important step towards greater consciousness of shifting roles across our culture. So I spend a lot more time with my family than I did when I was practicing law.



Louis Goodman

How about recreational pursuits. What do you do to keep your body and your mind together when you’re not involved in next generation, legal matters?



Maya Markovich

Well, you know, I spend, I mean, COVID, before COVID grounded us, one of the main things that we do is travel as much as we possibly can. Well, my father’s French, so when I was younger, when I was a child, we spent a few years living abroad, both as a child and then I was studying and working abroad in France and Russia and Mexico. And now where we travel, I mean, all over the place. You know, I kind of took a nine month trip by myself around the world to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And that’s how I decided to go to law school. So we’re taking our kids now, everywhere we possibly can. We want them to understand that there are different perspectives and different ways of leading your life and different challenges that happen and also how many commonalities there are among the human race, no matter where you are.



Louis Goodman

Where’d you go on the nine month?



Maya Markovich

Oh, let’s see, mostly I spent three months in Australia, month in New Zealand. Then I went over to Russia, where I had a lot of friends from my semester abroad, and I was there for a while and then I went down to Turkey and then just made my way west across Europe.



Louis Goodman

I took two fairly long trips, one was about nine months one was about six months when I was in law school, and then shortly after. I found out, let me Just see if you agree with me on this, and I’ve said this on the podcast before too, but it’s worth repeating. I’ve always felt that those travel experiences, were the most educational things that I’ve ever done in my life. I mean, I’ve had a lot of formal education. But those travel experiences taught me more than anything else.



Maya Markovich

I completely agree. I couldn’t agree more. It’s the express train traveling by yourself. Particularly, I think it’s sort of an express strain to self actualization. And I think it’s also a very eye opening in so many ways. And I spent several months in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. And you know, I was visiting people here and there, but a lot of the time I was minute to minute figuring out what to do. And you get to know yourself very well. And you also, you know, again, it’s a great way for your priorities and the way you want to live to come into sharper focus.



Louis Goodman

What things keep you up at night?





Maya Markovich

What keeps me up at night, beyond the frustration of getting lawyers to embrace change, my family, of course, my elderly parents, my kids, just like everyone else, climate change, where we’re going to go in the next few years in this country. How do we turn things around for the better.



Louis Goodman

Let’s say, you and your husband came into some real money, $3 or $4 billion? What, if anything, would you do differently in your life?



Maya Markovich

I mean, the thing I would love to do most with my life is give away money to worthy social impact efforts. So that’s probably the first thing I would do after I took a really nice long vacation, I would come back and I would set up a philanthropic organization to do just that.



Louis Goodman

Would you take a trip into space?



Maya Markovich

I don’t think so. There’s too many places on earth that I still want to see.



Louis Goodman

Let’s say you had a opportunity to make a really big statement, like someone said, Hey, we’ll give you a full 60 seconds on the Superbowl. What would you want to say to the world?



Maya Markovich

You know, I’m a people person at heart. And I think and I’m also a social scientist at heart. And I think that so much of what I see that breaks my heart in the world is this as a complete lack of understanding of other people’s perspectives. So if I could wave a magic wand and get people to listen to me in the megaphone at the Superbowl ad, I would say, you know, that without that we’re not going to have the future that we all want.



Louis Goodman

Is there something that you think you could improve in terms of the legal system?



Maya Markovich

Well, I think it’s going to take more than just me, certainly, but I have a lot of frustration around the way that the system is really set up to disincentivize efficiency, client centricity or really long term thinking about the business and also how the industry still seems largely oblivious to this.



Louis Goodman

How about leaving us with a final thought?



Maya Markovich

Sure. You know, I definitely am doing things that are quite different day to day than a lot of your other guests. And I have so much respect for people that are in the trenches. I am gratified, honestly, right now to see that conversations about changing the way and modernizing law are really happening all over the map right across the whole continuum. And so I’m really optimistic. I think that there’s a lot that we’re capable of, and that we’re going to get there.



Louis Goodman

Maya Markovich, Thank you so much for joining me today on the Love Thy Lawyer podcast. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, and a really interesting perspective.



Maya Markovich

Thank you so much. It’s been a real pleasure. I’m a big fan.



Louis Goodman

That’s it for today’s episode of Love Thy Lawyer. If you enjoyed listening, please share it with a friend and subscribe to the podcast. If you have comments or suggestions, send me an email. I promise I’ll respond. Take a look at our website at lovethylawyer.com, where you can find all of our episodes, transcripts, photographs, and information. Thanks as always, to my guests who share their wisdom. And to Joel Katz for music, Brian Matheson for technical support, and Tracey Harvey. I’m Louis Goodman.



Maya Markovich

I think I would want to do that this is the classic kind of legal transformation answer but you don’t know the answers until you do the research. Not really. I should have given that one a bit more thought. Don’t include that part.



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