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Nordic Legal Tech Day: the new wave

Strange as it may seem coming from the founder of a lawtech company, for some time now we’ve been underlining the message that software alone isn’t a panacea.

In our legal software guide and our legal design work, we emphasise the value of framing the problem you need to solve before diving in with a solution. I spoke at Nordic Legal Tech Day yesterday in Stockholm - an event full of innovators beginning to shift the narrative from broad discovery of the tools available, to a more profound and customer-centric approach where the needs of the end-user come first, and define everything else that follows.

This was the substance of the first panel on legal design, which included Heidi Merikalla-Teir, the General Secretary of the Finnish Arbitration Institute, and Marie Potel-Saville, Meera Klemola and Emma Hertzberg from legal design consultancy Dot.

In her previous role, Marie used Juro to solve legal design challenges as an in-house lawyer; at Dot, the team helps to design beautiful solutions for legal UX problems - including creating the mobile-optimised process map that guides users through arbitration in Finland.

Try it yourself on the FAI website. Particularly exciting to be speaking about legal design in the Nordics, which seems to be leading the way in this emerging field.

Throughout the day we jumped into breakout sessions covering contract management - where we know a thing or two about user-centric design - as well as future applications of machine learning; and other hot topics like privacy policies - again, an area that’s close to our hearts. As we prepare for the launch of our legal operations eBook, it was rewarding to chair a panel with LegalWorks Nordic’s Leif Frykman, Spotify’s Amy Jacoby, ThoughtRiver’s Martin Davidson and Axiom’s Ken Clanton on how to reimagine legal operations. Common themes began to emerge in the key messages around legal operations: building dashboards and using data to prove legal’s results; being a sophisticated buyer when it comes to vendor management; avoiding hourly fees and keeping a laser focus on better results for your internal clients. We have some superb contributors writing chapters on each of these areas in our eBook - don’t forget to download your copy for free today.

"51% of the GCs surveyed undertook some level of automation this year, but the tools they select tend to be at the more basic end of the spectrum"

Finally the CEO of LegalWorks Nordic, Anna Lensmar Friedman, presented the results of their Nordic General Counsel survey, available on their site. More than 100 GCs, mainly based in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, took part in the survey, and the results paint a complex picture of the Nordic region’s in-house attitudes. 51% of the GCs surveyed undertook some level of automation this year, but the tools they select tend to be at the more basic end of the spectrum: shared drives and intranets, as opposed to AI-enabled contract archives, or even e-discovery.

The good news is that attitudes are changing - GCs accept the need to digitise the legal department, and realise that technology will liberate them from low-value work - not from their jobs. The difficulty is keeping up, or knowing where to begin; in the context of a challenging business and regulatory environment that most think will lead to increase external spend, it can be hard to know where to focus. This is perhaps why the openness to instructing ALSPs has almost trebled in a year - from 12% in 2017 to 34% in 2018. Check out the full report and commentary on LegalWorks’ website.

Nordic Legal Tech Day was a reminder that legal departments across Europe, and beyond, are stacked with people ready to redesign their services for their internal clients, often under tough constraints. It’s our job to make sure they have the tools they need - and that those tools are designed not to simply show off the latest algorithmic advance, but to fit effortlessly in a legal workflow - and ultimately make life easier for the end user.

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