Equitech Scholar talks about how the Equitech Scholars program helped him understand how AI and data science applies to real world problems.
The fear that Artificial Intelligence will replace lawyers might be a little overblown. However, AI is certainly changing what lawyers do and how they spend their time. In college, Equitech Scholar Vedang Tarare read a lot of thought pieces about how AI is going to disrupt the legal profession, but didn’t quite understand the exact ways in which AI can be applied in law. “Entering law school at the University of Mumbai I thought I would follow the usual path: attend classes, cram for exams, do a set of internships, and sign onto a law firm”, he says. “But I was really itching to learn more. Particularly how technology is going to transform law in the future.”
Despite his interest in the field of legal tech, Vedang found limited opportunities to learn technical tools in data science and AI because he did not have a background in STEM. When he read about the Equitech Scholars program he applied because the program accepted applications from all disciplines. “I was not expecting to be selected. I had never coded in my life and did not have any background in math or computer science. But the structure of the Equitech Scholars program, especially its focus on applications of AI was fascinating to me.”
“But I was really itching to learn more. Particularly how technology is going to transform law in the future.”- Vedang Tarare
During the GSI, like other tech newbies, Vedang struggled in the data science classes and had to put in extra work to master the content. However, with determination and support from fellow scholars and the faculty he was able to make significant progress in just 4 weeks of time. “From learning to print “hello world” in the first week to figuring out how to make Sankey diagrams towards the end of the GSI, it's been a thrilling ride,” said Vedang.
Transitioning From Law School to a Legal Tech Startup
Vedang believes that AI is going to make many existing legal processes obsolete. After the Global Summer Institute he joined SpotDraft, a legal tech startup in India. It is an AI-driven, end-to-end contract automation platform. While contracts are central to all economic systems, the process of negotiating and finalising a contract continues to be a painful and tedious process. By streamlining the lifecycle of a contract for organisations, SpotDraft aims to significantly reduce the hours and money spent on these processes.
Vedang’s role at Spotdraft currently involves market and customer research. Vedang says his experience through the Equitech Scholars program has given him the capacity to understand the product deeply. “While my current role is focussed on sales and marketing, because of my experience with Equitech Futures I have started contributing to the designing and refining of the product as well. In fact, I believe the skills I have developed as an Equitech Scholar might be more useful in my current role than my legal skills!”
Using Technology to Solve Societal Challenges
Vedang grew up in Gadchiroli, a small town in eastern Maharashtra in India. While law seemed like a lucrative professional career path, his secret passion has been to build technology for solving the societal challenges he saw up close in his hometown. Vedang hopes to use his training in technology and law to work on these societal challenges that are often overlooked by technologists. He has worked with the Mumbai chapter of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access, a non-profit organization that works for providing access to quality legal education for the underrepresented communities. As a part of the Applied AI class during the Equitech Scholars program, he started working on a project to use AI to detect decline in cognitive health in older adults. He hopes this will help formulate preventative interventions for older adults, an urgent problem in India which will see hundreds of millions of people ageing in the coming decades.
When asked what was his favourite part about becoming an Equitech Scholar, Vedang says it was the supportive community of scholars and faculty that simultaneously challenged and supported him. “I enjoyed the program so much that I would work on the data science assignments till 4am and love doing it. The biggest draw for me is the Equitech community. I am so grateful to have met such a diverse and passionate group of people, from all around the world, who became a tight knit community in just 6 weeks. I genuinely felt supported by the faculty and I appreciated how the community values were reinforced constantly. The structure of learning in this community is unlike anything I have experienced before - it’s going to stay with me for life.”
“I’m still exploring how I want to use my training in technology and law to work on interesting, impactful problems,” says Vedang. “I never really saw myself as a technology entrepreneur or data scientist. But Equitech Futures gave me the confidence to pursue a career in tech. I’m really excited to continue working with my fellow scholars and collaborate with them on new projects in the future.”