Shilpa Bhandarkar is the CEO of Nakhoda, the Linklaters-backed technology start-up. She is responsible for the product portfolio of Nakhoda, including its flagship product ISDA Create, a document automation and digital negotiation platform built in collaboration with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) to automate and streamline high volumes of sensitive and complex contractual negotiations in the derivatives industry.
Shilpa started her career as a project finance lawyer but her interest in technology and entrepreneurship led her to found, build and sell a mobile app company as well as grow a legaltech start-up before re-joining Linklaters in 2018 as the Global Head of Innovation. She sits on the firm’s Innovation Steering Group which is responsible for the firm’s strategic approach to Innovation and Efficiency. She was listed as a leading ‘Disruptor’ in The Lawyer Hot 100, 2019 and an ‘Individual winner’ of the ‘TechWomen100 Awards, 2018’.
Contribution to Legal Tech
Shilpa is a self-proclaimed non-techie who nonetheless believes in the power of technology to generate value – whether that is by giving private practice lawyers a significantly different experience of the profession than was common a decade ago, delivering a world-class service to clients in new ways that increase quality and efficiency whilst reducing risk, or leveraging Nakhoda’s products to unlock valuable data in legal contracts to drive better business decisions across organisations.
This belief is reflected in her collaborative and user-centric approach to technology development. Some examples of recent work that reflect this approach include:
i) establishing a broad-based legal design programme that has been built alongside industry experts in legal design as well as clients (users) of the legal advice
ii) launching a free digital internship with Inside Sherpa to give UK students the opportunity to experience work at a global law firm through a digital platform. Linklaters was the first law firm and the first UK company to offer the platform and thousands of students from hundreds of universities applied, bringing much-needed diversity and access to the profession.
iii) creating and deploying a legaltech training programme in partnership with the computer and law department of Swansea University, aimed at trainees and junior associates, which covered everything from big data to ethics in AI to how LegalTech products are developed
Most recently, Shilpa has taken over leadership of Nakhoda, a Linklaters backed technology start-up that collaborates with clients to build bespoke tech solutions for lawyers who work alongside them to grow their businesses’.
Outside of work, she invests in start-ups and mentors founders and young professionals interested in LegalTech, including via the LegalGeek Women in LawTech programme.
In summary, even though responsible for a number of technology products, Shilpa’s contribution to LegalTech is most impressive in her approach to the space – bringing together various members of the Legaltech community into collaborative projects and initiatives so that we learn from each other, maximise our collective expertise and drive the legal industry forward together, for everyone.