Legal tech and new ways for working
After a long wait because of you-know-what, the inaugural Finnish edition of the Nordic Legal Tech Day finally took place at the Helsinki Music Centre this week, bringing together a sizeable crowd to discuss the state of play and exchange ideas on how to go about advancing their legal operations.
There has been a lot of buzz around legal technology for several years now, so much so that some refer to it as “tech washing”. Most customers, however, are not interested in any particular product but in performance and outcomes. As markets are becoming more fragmented and ecosystemic, increasing the number of potential partners, industries, deal types and countries, most speakers taking the floor emphasised the increased need for adaptable and proactive legal professionals capable of making good use of the tools on tap – and there is an abundance of them.
Standford Law School’s CodeX Techindex currently lists more than 1,800 companies purporting to change the way legal is done. And yet a technological solution alone can only do so much. Businesses try to maximise growth opportunities and digitise their business models whilst, at the same time, there is pressure to control costs and an increased focus on risk management. The strategic response is to drive transformation, but how?
Here are our key takeaways:
Change is inevitable. Lawyers need to become more collaborative and be able to embrace not only their traditional strength – legal reasoning – but bolster it with the best practices from visual, digital and design thinking.
A frightening majority of business professionals say they face challenges with their company’s contracting process. This needs not be so, and streamlining processes by self-service systems, document automation and virtual negotiation solutions can go a long way.
Most companies lack the skills needed to automate processes and struggle with or do not have time to focus on the successful adoption of improvements. A trusted advisor worth their salt and equipped with the right approach can help to get things done.
Paraphrasing Prof Vermeulen’s keynote speech, “‘I wish I could spend more time reviewing NDAs’, said no one ever.” Perhaps a somewhat underrated aspect of technology lies in its ability to help people to focus on things they get their rocks off (problem-solving and creativity) whilst reducing workload coming from the mechanistic and repetitive tasks that machines can do better.
In a software-driven world, with all its complexities, novel issues make new demands on lawyers and their competencies, pressing for a transformation into:
Legal engineers who use their legal knowledge and combine that with technological know-how to optimise existing products, services and processes
Digital compliance experts who can give compliance advice on data-driven and digital solutions and assist in the compliance supervision of IT departments
Legal technologists who assist organisations with implementing technology into their work to help make their processes more efficient
Digital policymakers who understand cybersecurity and can implement data policies in a user-friendly way
To the disappointment of some, legal tech does not mean the end of lawyers but is about doing law more smartly. Fondia’s newly minted Legal Tech and New Ways of Working team, combining legal expertise with the mindset of a technologist, is here to assist you in getting on the bandwagon and navigating through this landscape to start or continue reaping the benefits.
If you would like to to discuss the topic more, feel free to contact Pessi Honkasalo or Joonas Ilmasti.