Report from Tech Academy 2019

The potential of legaltech is clear to almost all*, but one of the main challenges is to find, keep and train the right talent that is tech-savvy and leverages the solutions. There is already a war for these talents going on, and it’s challenging to get talent. Technology isn’t an integral part of most lawyers’ education, which creates a hurdle. Most law schools still do not teach students the technology skills they’ll need in their practice.** That is why initiatives like Tech Academy Lund are so important. This two-day program is offered by the Law Faculty at Lund University, the Law Students Association (Sw. Juridiska Föreningen Lund) and Julian Nowag, Director of the European Business Law Master Program, on the initiative of Linn Alfredsson.

We are happy and honored to have been invited to be a part of this program and to get to spend two exciting days in Lund, talking with so many bright law students, listening to the other experienced and visionary speakers and discussing our favorite topic all day long, and to meet up with former colleagues at the evening event hosted by Vinge.

During these two days we have received so much inspiration and exchange of ideas. We have discussed the combination of artificial intelligence and humans, explored big data, AI and competition, gotten an overview of blockchain technologies, seen a privacy policy AI-checker in action, learned about intellectual property rights issues involving AI, how AI can augment the customer meeting and the big gap regarding AI between the hype and the reality. Read about all the speakers and topics here: Tech Academy Lund Program

The lesson from all these presentations and discussions was inter alia that technology is creating a lot of new possibilities, but also a lot of new dilemmas from a moral and ethical aspect (who gets to decide who or what is most worth protecting for a self-driving car – the driver, an unprotected pedestrian or the car?), that there definitely is a hype right now around AI, but that digitalization and tech developments are transforming the legal market and that some tasks and jobs will disappear (predictably as many as half of all jobs today will be gone by 2039), but that new roles and new opportunities will emerge, and that the future belongs to humans and machines working together. There were also many interesting questions raised about how AI affect society, if authorities should be able to use automatic decision-making, how much AI tools really understand, or if they are just simulating tacit knowledge without a real understanding, why you cannot rely on AI (at least not in the foreseeable future) for scenarios out of the box as it will not be able to resolve problems based on facts outside its trained scope.

One of the highlights was the start up evening event hosted by Vinge. Kristoffer Frankzeit, who evidently is as passionate about legaltech as we are, gave a very interesting overview of the developments and use of technology at Vinge, then opened up the floor to startup companies Swiftcourt, GreenCounsel and Donna Legal, as well as to Andrea Lindblom on the topic of Legal Design.

We met Swiftcourt’s CEO Johan Hedén Hultgren at the very beginning of his startup journey in 2013 and it was so impressive to see how his idea has grown into such a successful business providing a digital infrastructure that to date has helped 68,000 customers making safe transactions online. During his startup journey, the idea to provide easy and cheap dispute resolution online has evolved into more of dispute prevention and to help people sell and buy things online by providing them with smart digital sales contracts, e-signing and payment solutions in a such a safe and good way that disputes can be avoided all together.

The agile process and the need to adapt your ideas along the way is typical for startups. Similarly, the founding partner at GreenCounsel Christina Blomkvist, started her startup journey with launching an early online dispute resolution for companies, but has switched to providing an online platform. The platform, David, can handle everything from simple to complex workflows to automate legal and other matters from start to end. It comes with modules such as document generation, integrated video conferencing, digital signing, approvals, custom integration etc. And it already has an AI-powered multilingual chatbot answering questions about the platform. So, if you wonder what David is or can do, you can just ask the chatbot!

Rik Nauta, CEO and Co-founder, Donna Legal, presented the drafting tool Donna, which is a Microsoft Word add-in that speeds up and improves the contract drafting process by helping you find important issues, quickly navigate oceans of text, and understand agreements faster. Or as the company slogan says, “Donna is an AI assistant that brings joy to lawyers.” The startup has recently received funding to keep developing the tool and it was easy to see why, it was a very impressive presentation and we will be sure to follow the developments of this solution closely.

Andrea Lindblom, administrative chief at the Helsingborg court, shared her Legal Design visions and talked about her experience from the recent workshop on Legal+TechDesign under the theme “The Future Court” inspired by Stanford University’s Legal Design Lab.

VQ then gave the opening presentation the second day, and we were so happy for the amazing response by the students, despite the late night at Vinge before. We gave a background to the changes that has occurred on the legal market the past 20 years and our views on the future ahead. We described the development of the legal landscape from the traditional practice of law to the different legal services now provided internationally. We believe the traditional practice of law will only become a smaller part of the legal services market and that traditional law firms need to decide which strategy to choose; to either differentiate the delivery offer similar to that of Allen & Overy’s “Advanced delivery” or to stay focused on bespoke legal advice.

This change in the delivery mechanisms makes it clear that legal services for the future will focus less on the lawyers and more on how to create business value. Client do not want lawyers per se, what they want is their legal issues to be managed.

The role of the lawyer will diversify depending on what kind of legal service you would like to work with and if you would like to support the development of new solutions. No matter if you would like to work with the development of new legaltech tools or work with advanced delivery using the applicable advanced tools, you need to embrace legaltech, learn about technology solutions and work together with the machines. It is only that way you can become the enhanced lawyer for the future, empowered by tech.

Afterwards, there was so much positive feedback and discussions, that gave us new ideas to bring back home. One of the questions was if lawyers need to learn how to code. Our standard answer to this is ‘No’. Sure, if you are interested and think it would be fun to learn to code, why not. It’s always good to get a better understanding and learn new things, but generally we think it’s better to understand the scope and possibilities to be applied to your business but let the real experts do the actual programming. But Rasmus Hansen Jagrelius disagreed with us and explained his view that lawyers are often not interested in math and logic, which makes it more difficult to support the development of IT tools when talking to IT developers that need lawyers to describe legal rules that can be transferred to IT. In these situations, it is not good enough to say “it depends”. Legal rules transferred to IT solutions need to follow clear logic rules with a clear yes or no. But if lawyers learn to code, they are forced to understand the rules of logic. And with that, we completely agree, and have thus changed our view somewhat. Now, we would say that ‘Yes, learning to code is a good thing if you do it to understand more about technology and the rules of logic, or if you are curious and want to challenge yourself.’

Sadly, we missed the last part of the day, with a case work competition and award ceremony, but we are sure the students presented marvelous solutions.


Photos @Tech Academy Lund

(One of the speakers from the day, Daniel Akenine, is a very interesting and inspiring speaker that we have had the pleasure to listen to before. If you want to learn more about his topic, humans and AI, please read our two previous posts from seminars with Daniel Akenine in Swedish here: Seminarium om AI och människan and Rapport från AddAI 2018 – AI idag och imorgon)


* 85% of the responding legal professionals according to the recent Legal Tech Trends Report 2019 by ayfie

** Jeroen Zweers, Innovation Director for Kennedy Van der Laan, interviewed in Wolters Kluwers Future Ready Lawyer Report 2019