by Mary Rechtoris on January 22, 2020
For this episode, we got to chat to the 2019 Stellar Women Innovation Award winner, Stephanie Clerkin! Stephanie is well known for her vivacious social media presence as well as her deep industry knowledge and experience. We loved speaking with her, and we left feeling inspired and excited to see what she will do in 2020.
Director of Litigation Support
Mary Rechtoris: Hey Stellar Women fans. I'm your host Mary Rechtoris.
Mila Taylor: And I'm your co-host Mila Taylor. Stellar Women shines a light on female leaders making their mark in tech. For this episode, we have a lot of bases to cover. We're going to talk about our favorite memories from this year, bring in this year’s Stellar Women Innovation Award winner Stephanie Clerkin, and give an update on what's coming down the pipeline for 2020.
MR: This year has been really big for Stellar Woman. When the podcast really came to fruition two years ago, we were just really getting our feet wet in the podcasting arena. But now the podcast has gotten some upgrades. We have a co-host, Mila, here and really solidified what we want the podcast to hit on and the direction we want to take.
MT: We really want to talk to leaders in the field about empowerment and have candid conversations about how they got to where they are, any challenges they overcame, and why they believe it's important to mentor young professionals in the field.
MR: We want to thank all the women that we've had the privilege of featuring on the podcast. So big, big thank you to Chris Chalstrom, Joanne Chua-Robertson, Amanda Fennell, Kelly Friedman, Peg Gianuca, Rebecca Grant, Caitlin Gryzmala, Terra Ickes, Tricia Johnson, Jariya Laoriendee, Mary Mack, Khrys McKinney, Joy Murao, Jacy Schoen, Mimi Singh, and Judy Torres.
MT: We've loved building the Stellar Women community. These women represent a few of the many stellar women that make up our industry. Our nomination page is live! If you think of someone that you want to nominate, we're going to put the nomination link the show notes, so make sure to check that out and nominate someone over there.
MR: Cool. Heading into the third season of 2020 of Stellar Woman, we are super pumped to welcome Stephanie Clerkin. She won the Innovation Award for Stellar Woman this year at Relativity Fest. We're super excited about that!
MT: Hi, Stephanie!
Stephanie Clerkin: Hello! Thank you for having me.
MR: Of course. How's it going?
SC: Just getting back into the swing of things in this new year and trying to get things moving along.
MR: I know, I feel like it's been a real, real uphill battle getting in the swing of things post-break. So before diving into questions here, I want to give some background for listeners who might not know about Relativity Fest. It's our annual user conference and we've had people-centric Innovation Awards for the last two years. Joy Murao was our first-ever winner of the Stellar Women category, and Stephanie is our second winner. Stephanie, what did winning the Stellar Women award mean to you?
SC: First of all, I just want to say thank you both for coordinating this entire Stellar Women program. I've had so much fun getting to work with you guys. Honestly, the support I've received has been unbelievable and just very uplifting. I'm still blown away by the amount of emails, calls, messages, and social media shout outs that I have received and keep receiving from people across the world. In this industry, life can be consumed by fires and nonstop deadlines. Frankly, it can be a thankless job at times. Hearing all these positive comments from the community makes me feel appreciated and supported and more motivated than ever. One of my favorite messages I've received so far came from a female CEO that I've never met in a completely unrelated industry. She's in the fashion world—1,000 miles away in LA. She messaged me on LinkedIn to say, “I don't know you, but I love seeing incredible women just kick butt. Thanks for setting such a brilliant example for all women.” I thought that was just so cool showing the reach that this is getting. I constantly encounter women who I admire for their intelligence, tenacity, and leadership in the field. I don't think I've still fully grasped that thanks to this award and this program that I may be one of those women who people admire now. With that said, I'm determined to take full advantage of this exposure and platform to pay it forward and help other women, whether it's through technical training, mentorship, allyship, or being a sounding board to bounce ideas off of or just a psychiatrist that someone can vent to.
MT: That's so awesome!
MR: We're blown away, too.
MT: I'm like speechless for the first time ever.
MR: Someone in fashion!
SC: Yeah, I was really excited by that.
MT: I think what’s also nice – I do this a lot – when someone does a good job or someone does something cool, you just think in your head “wow, that was awesome!” But one of my new year's resolutions is to make sure I tell that person, whether I know them or not. So, if I see, especially women at Relativity or at another company, do something awesome instead of saying to myself “good job,” I'm going to make the effort to actually send them a message. Similar to that story, it's just so great when you just feel heard and seen by anyone else within the industry or not. That was a very cool story. Thanks for sharing.
SC: Of course.
MR: Building on this topic of paying it forward, what is something that you think this program can do, as well as the legal tech industry, and even other industries, to elevate each other, especially women in technology?
SC: Advocate and encourage. I know these words tend to get overused as buzzwords. But I think it is about really encouraging women in the industry or any industry to speak on webinars, present at conferences, post blogs, do these podcasts, and write white papers. That is one huge way to elevate women. My first-ever speaking engagement was at Relativity Fest 2017. That would not have happened but for a colleague encouraging me to submit my session idea and helping me overcome my fear that it wasn't a good enough idea. Overcoming this imposter syndrome is still something I work on today, and I'm sure I'll keep working on for years. Secondly, it is about continuing to highlight and support women in the industry. Stellar Women in e-Discovery is a perfect example of that. The career and industry advice I've learned from listening to the podcast has been incredibly valuable. I've also got to know the names of some of the big players in this industry. I’ve thought, “who can I reach out to that I want to get to know more and learn from?” Women in e-Discovery is another amazing resource. I direct people to the Women in e-Discovery groups all the time. While there is not an active St. Louis chapter, I know many ladies and chapters across the country and keep up to date on what they're accomplishing. It's also great to see how many men are a part of the Women in e-Discovery events too.
MT: Kind of moving along, but on the same sort of tangent. At Relativity Fest, Women in e-Discovery and RelWoW put on a luncheon. You were on the panel with the other Stellar Women finalists. You talked about how you and fellow ILTA committee members work to bring more female speakers on board at conferences. Can you talk about that process and ILTA’s plans for next year?
SC: Sure. For some background—I was on the Litigation Support Conference planning committee for ILTACON for 2018 and 2019. As I mentioned on the panel, the majority of litigation support session speakers were female. We're still proud of that accomplishment. While I’m not on the planning committee for 2020, I still know quite a few people that are. Having a mix of speakers, especially a male/female breakdown, is still a top priority. Within ILTA, there's also a group called Women Who Lead. They are planning for what looks like to be their busiest year yet in 2020. There are more details coming out about programming next month, so be on the lookout for webinars, podcasts, and half-day events. I'm currently working on a half-day Women Who Lead event in St. Louis this summer. We are still working on the speakers, but we did it last year. It was so well received, not just by the ILTA community that wanted to do it, but by our whole legal community in St. Louis. There is also going to be a Women Who Lead session at Legaltech next month if anybody is in New York for that conference.
MR: What's that session going to be on?
SC: It's going to be on Tuesday, at I want to say at 11:30 a.m. It going to be on how to turn it off. How do you separate work and life, work/life balance tips and trick? “How Do You Unplug?” I think that's the title.
MT: You also mentioned while you were on the panel at Relativity Fest, that increasing the number of female speakers wasn't done by excluding men. I think that's a really interesting point and something to look at. Stellar Women is about including female leaders and allies, both male and female. For our male listeners out there who want to be an ally for women in the field, what advice would you give them to start the journey?
SC: On my ILTACON committee, we had a majority of female speakers. That is because the best applicants we received were female. It was not by intentionally excluding men by any means. That's a big point. You don't have to exclude somebody to include somebody else. For advice, begin the conversation. Make it known that you want to help, and if men reach out, then ladies, let's help them understand the disparities in the workplace. Let’s explain how they can help. They may not know how to help yet, but you can help them understand. Also, a big point is avoid criticizing men, or anyone for that matter who make an effort to be an ally. Don’t discourage them when they're trying to help.
MT: I love that! There were a couple quotes in there that I want to get tattooed on my face. That was cool.
MR: So, looking into the new year, Stephanie, what's something you're stoked about?
SC: This is one of those great questions that are always tough to answer. Especially because 2019 is going to be a hard year to beat between winning this award and that I've received the ILTA Young Professional to Watch Award as well. It's a tough one. In the short term, I'm looking forward to attending, as I mentioned, Legaltech next month in New York and finally getting to meet some of my legal industry friends and colleagues in person—some of which I've spoken to for five years and we've never formally met, so I'm looking forward to meeting some of them. Some other 2020 goals – ultimately, I'm planning to complete two more Relativity certifications to get my Master’s certification. It may be crazy, but it's on my radar depending how forgiving my work schedule is in 2020. Personally, I'm helping plan, potentially a big family trip for my mom's milestone birthday. We've never gone on a family vacation outside of Missouri. I'm really looking forward to that!
MT: That's so awesome.
MR: Where are you thinking of going?
SC: Most likely somewhere with a beach, so thinking Florida at the moment, but TBD.
SC: We've talked about it forever. One of those “let's make it happen” things.
MR: Happy birthday to your mom!
SC: It’s in May so we’ve got a couple months.
MT: I want to go off script. Mary, I'm going to ask you a question. What are some of your New Year’s resolutions?
MR: I knew you were going to ask me that.
MT: I want personal and professional.
MR: Personally, I have a couple. I want to learn how to do crow pose. I think I know the technical nature of it, but I'm too scared.
MT: What is that?
MR: It's a yoga pose. You kind of balance on your triceps. One, I don't think I'm strong enough, but two, I fell three years ago trying and haven't tried since.
MT: Wow. Right.
MR: I also want to write outside of work, more creatively.
MT: It’s hard to do anything that uses work skills outside of work.
MR: Exactly. When I get home, there's so much to do. I have so many TV shows to watch.
MT: Same! I've got a lot of shows.
MR: Then on a professional basis, I'm really excited to take on more of a producer role, which is my new role here on the creative team. [It entails] really thinking through the different programs that we put on, like the Stellar Woman podcast. We're also doing a docuseries on social justice called “On the Merits.” So really starting to build those programs and strengthen them as we head into 2020.
MR: 2020 is going to be great. We want to thank Stephanie, so much for joining us.
MT: Thank you, Stephanie!
MR: We have some news I want to talk about. For 2020, we're opening the nomination form that you can access in our show notes on The Relativity Blog. These nominations are two-fold—candidates will be eligible to be podcast guests on Stellar Women, and they will also be eligible to be a finalist at the Relativity Innovation Awards in the Stellar Women category.
MT: Nominations will be open through early spring. We will announce the finalists leading up to Relativity Fest 2020 in September. Then at Fest, we will announce the winner at the Innovation Awards ceremony.
MR: And with that for Stellar Women, I'm Mary Rechtoris.
MT: And I'm Mila Taylor.
Both: Signing off.