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Henna Tolvanen

Legal Tech Specialist, KPMG

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Quick Key Points

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The legal industry is facing an inevitable but necessary transformation much quicker than anticipated.

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Many clients are starting to pay attention to how and what lawyers deliver, not only the result.

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Legal design combines legal expertise with a human-centric and design-thinking approach, which puts human nature back into law.

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Many lawyers may fear for their jobs or a loss of profit if more efficient ways of working are found.

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Instead of only focusing on legal advice, lawyers should focus on how they might help clients solve problems.

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Legal tech alone is not enough 

Legal services have a reputation for being very slow to change. We have seen almost all other industries undergo a process of digitalization and lean business design in recent years, yet legal has been keen on doing business the traditional way. When choosing a provider for legal services, legal expertise is, of course, the priority. But many clients are starting to pay attention to how and what we deliver, not only the result. Traditional methods for delivering these services are simply outdated. 

Legal Tech has taken giant leaps throughout these last few months. Working remotely and delivering legal services virtually have set a precedent for many lawyers. We meet our clients on Skype, Teams or Zoom. We organize workshops via collaborative tools, we can sign documents online, and even courts are organizing their hearings virtually. For example, my colleague, KPMG UK Partner Angela Savin, represented a client in the Supreme Court of England and Wales in its first fully virtual Supreme Court hearing in March. Many district courts and courts of appeal in Finland have also offered virtual options for court hearings. 

Unfortunately, this is not enough. Technology alone does not and cannot fix the problems we are facing within the legal industryThe much-needed transformation is not only about using technology. If we still work the traditional and outdated way, and if we offer services and documents that are not understandable or usable to our clients, technology will not change that. We simply cannot glue technology on top of a process or hope that our services are more understandable if they are delivered with technology. We need to do more. 

Listening and empathy 

Before we start fixing anything, it is worth knowing what to fix and how to do it. This is where legal design comes to our rescue. Legal design combines legal expertise with human-centric and designthinking approach, which puts human nature back into law. It focuses on the end-user of law, and it can be used from designing better documents to redesigning the entire legal system.  

The thought of the legal industry changing and going through a transformation can be quite scaryMany lawyers may fear for their jobs or for a loss of profit if more efficient ways of working are found. However, we will be the ones in the driver’s seat when we all participate in the process. We will have a direct impact on the transformation and the future of our work. This all might feel a little overwhelming, but it really comes down to two things: 

  1. Redesigning legal processes 
  2. Redesigning legal services and legal products 

Both start with listening and empathy. It will be beneficial to go through all legal processes with everyone who has a role. What works? What doesn’t? Are we wasting time on copying and pasting text from one document to another? Do we all understand our roles in the process? Do we have the best people in the correct roles? Are we delivering our services on time? Only after having viewed our processes and finding out the pain points, we can start to think about how to make them better and more efficient. 

Maybe we need to focus on communication. Maybe we need to involve other team members in the process. Maybe we need to clarify our roles to make sure we don’t do twice the amount of work. And finally, maybe there is technology that can complete the boring, manual work for us, which will let us focus on the complex legal issues that require human brains to be solved. 

Becoming client-centric 

Redesigning our services and products really needs to start with our clients. Do we know exactly what they need? Do we know enough about their businesses? Are we offering advice that will be a part of their business, and are we helping them to strengthen itAre we offering solutions instead of possibly creating obstacles to their innovations? 

Instead of just focusing on the legal advice, we should focus on how might we help our client solve the problem they are facing and go beyond traditional legal advice. Our advice should support their business and help them move forward holisticallyThis may require new ideas and new ways of working, and even some nudging to help our client see the right solution. We need to deliver more than just a piece of advice delivered in legalese.  

Some lawyers will probably argue that we are lawyers, not designers. But fortunately we really don’t have to be designers to become more client-centric. We can learn from the design process and ensure that we include the human perspective in all steps of our processes. When we focus on the client, we will focus on making the legal context more understandable. And when the legal context is understandable to the user, law and legal advice will be more usable and useful. Only then will it make a difference for our clients. In addition to our client work, legal design can also help our own businesses. Making the law and legal contexts more understandable can help us communicate more effectively internally, such as with our sales and marketing or IT departments. At its best, this innovative approach has the potential to accelerate growth and innovation.

Henna’s bio:

Henna joined KPMG as a Legal Tech Specialist at the beginning of 2020 after working several years in Legal Publishing. Her goal at KPMG is to recognize legal processes that can be automated with matching technology. She is Co-Producer and Board Member at Legal Design Summit, and she believes that technology is a tool, not an end. Legal Tech should be used to solve challenges worth solving. 

KPMG Finland is a member firm of KPMG International – one of the world’s leading expert organizations. We are a global network of professional service firms providing audit and assurance, tax and legal, and advisory services. KPMG firms work together with the client to help ensure that strategies and projects are fully implemented and are successful going forward. With 2,700 multidisciplinary legal professionals, powered by technology embedded solutions, in 80 jurisdictions around the world, we go beyond providing traditional legal advice.

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