Pacheco (’20): ‘You don't know what you don't know’

Stephanie Pacheco arrived at Charleston School of Law in the Fall 2018 feeling certain that her days of using mathematics would be minimal.

“Math was the bane of my existence,” she told Charleston School of Law students. “I knew I wanted to go into litigation. I had an interest in criminal law.”

Pacheco, a North Myrtle Beach native, earned her Bachelor of Arts dual degree in Criminal Justice and Philosophy from the University of South Carolina. “I had the desire since ninth grade of high school. I joined the mock trial club and loved it.”

During her final summer at Charleston Law, Pacheco took a technology class where she was introduced to the world of analytics and legal analysis, and she was hooked.

“I took Dean Brown’s legal technology class, and I loved it,” she said. “That same summer I was working for South Carolina Legal Access creating online legal learning classrooms for people in need of legal services but perhaps could not afford it. I was already being introduced to that technology and then the class just really sealed the deal for me.”

BE CURIOUS

Pacheco encourages law school students to keep an open mind.

“Take the opportunity to explore different things, because you don’t know what you don’t know,” she said. “You have three years to explore. Those skills are all transferable into other areas of the law. It’s all about taking what you’re doing and perfecting your skills and developing those skills. Curiosity allows you to explore all the opportunities.”

It was that sense of curiosity that changed Pacheco’s career path. During her three years at Charleston Law she served as a member of the Moot Court Board, Women in Law, Executive Leadership Council, Orientation & Commencement Planning Committee, and Community Service Committee while bolstered her legal experience as a legal assistant/law clerk for Mullins Law Firm, P.A. (2017-2019) followed by an internship for The Honorable Bruce E. Hendricks (2019) at the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, a technology fellowship with South Carolina Legal Services (2020), and a clerkship at Chandler & Dudgeon, LLC (2019-2021).

The technology fellowship with South Carolina Access to Justice was the “game-changer” for Pacheco. Her work merged her two passions: technology and access to justice. Pacheco developed innovative and practical solutions to provide legal solutions to a large demographic via online legal classrooms.  “I had the opportunity to get into the legal tech field, learn to streamline workflows and improve access to justice, which has always been something very important to me,” she said.

“You come to law school and you’re learning all these general legal concepts and how they may work at large,” she said. “As an intern or extern, you see them play out in a specific jurisdiction. It gets more nuanced, more granular, but you’re still learning. Like the rule against perpetuities. I had a case my 1L year that involved that concept. I was like, ‘I know what that is!’ And immediately thought wow, Professor Malagrino would be so happy.”

While studying for the bar exam, Pacheco was searching for job opportunities when she stumbled onto a legal analyst position at Bloomberg Law. Again, curious, Pacheco applied for a legal research specialist with Bloomberg Industry Group. Today she serves as a legal analyst, working on the Bloomberg Law product.  

“It’s market research, seeing how the legal market is responding to different technologies, how they are utilizing them in their practice and then another subset was legal ethics. I focus on the intersection of the two,” she said. “Taking these emerging issues and doing the research on what sort of things attorneys should be thinking about and creating an overview so they could quickly digest big issues to use in their workflows to make them more streamlined and more efficient.”

 

THE EMERGING INFULENCE OF ARITIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)

Not a day goes by that Artificial Intelligence (AI) doesn’t become part of the conversation in Pacheco’s day-to-day workflow. She has embraced technology and its potential and is exploring new ways the legal industry can incorporate AI to their benefit.

“We are a tech centered society,” she said. “And, yes, the practice of law needs to be tech centered. This boom in AI in the industry has generated a lot of interest in how law can adapt and streamline workflows and processes that remove those redundancies. That gives attorneys the ability to focus on more complex things and maybe the reason why they went into practice in the first place.”

The emerging tech has also created new opportunities for Pacheco.

“This past year I’ve been going to conferences and speaking at events, talking about AI, and the legal ethics undertone because a lot of attorneys have questions about how using this technology implicates their duties of professional conduct,” she added. “I’ve really enjoyed it because it brings me back to that initial spark I had from technology class.”

In addition to serving as a legal analyst at Bloomberg Law, Pacheco joined a newly founded Content & Workflow Optimization team. Her expanded duties have combined her legal technology experience while developing solutions to optimize attorney workflows.

Pacheco earned a CALI Award and was recognized as a Presidential Honors Scholar and a member of the Dean’s List while at Charleston School of Law.