How to Transform Legal Space – Start with You

How do you feel about being a lawyer these days? Contradictory maybe? Confused? At the same time appreciated and criticized. At the same time an important, sometimes even crucial part of big projects, big negotiations and on the other hand a somehow different and distant co-worker and part of the work community. To whom people have a small threshold to come to or to whom it takes an hour to send an email where to another co-worker it takes five minutes. One that is part of almost everything a company does, but still a little outside, looking from the outside in.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Promise. Details of the experience vary, naturally, and some consider it desirable to remain as a distinct lawyer in separation from others, but the most common wish what I have heard and experienced also myself during the last twenty years is that we would like to be part of the business, and that the we as lawyers would be taken into projects at an earlier stage in more meaningful role. Too often you may be the last gatekeeper who hears about a project at a point when it is supposed to start already. At that point you are asked to read the papers and give your blessing, because after all, we don’t have time to open the negotiations anymore, and what would the client say. But if you could anyway make sure that there are no risks associated with the project. And if there are and those risks are sometimes realized, you have looked through those papers, so who is to blame?

The change train

Then there is this big change in legal space that everyone is talking about. What should you think about it? What should be done? What is it even about? Conferences and the legal media are fulfilled by prophecies about the future, how first automation and then artificial intelligence will handle much of the work that lawyers do today. Legal services are provided by bots and giants from outside the industry. But how does all this relate to what’s happening on your own desktop every day? The change may seem distant when viewed from your own office chair. How could the machine take over and handle the fires you put out every day. Or how on earth all those fragmented jobs and individual cases that fill your every work day can be really automated. And what about the customer! After all, you know your client, her problems and you know how to solve them.

But at the same time, however, this is a little scary. Do others know something I don’t? Has the train already gone and I didn’t get in?

The train is not gone yet and you will get in. In fact, you still have time to build the train tracks so you can determine where the train you’re on is going. Fortunately, we are not players in a zero-sum game where the reforms would eat the cake permanently smaller. Yet big things are happening; changes that inevitably make the reality of lawyers’ work different than before and that require us all to make changes in ourselves, in the way we work, and also in the way we work with others.

Where am I coming from?

I jumped on the change train 8 years ago. One night in the midst of a crisis in my own personal life, I read from a study that people who have gone through and coped with big crises in their lives will eventually live happier lives than those whose lives are smoother and, at the moment, more satisfied. There and then was a door to the other side of the darkest moment of my life, a way to turn the crisis into an opportunity. I said to myself, “something good needs to come out of this shit” and the next day I resigned from my regular job as a lawyer to nothing. I decided to start my own business that would change the world.

I have the motto “Change is good”. My own life is a living example of this. I’ve done big, courage requiring choices in my career and in my life. I once counted for example that I have moved to a new home 21 times, have resigned 4 times my job with no new job or income in sight , have founded or co-founded six companies. I have many times stopped to think about how many times can one start over. Pretty many times, it seems, and today I tend to think on the eve of something new that the chosen direction is not permanent but good so far. I firmly believe that change is always good in the end, even if it sometimes or maybe often feels painful. However, it is also a question of how to approach it. Whether you are resisting it, trying to prepare for it or choose to act as a change maker.

The why of this blog

This blog is about a lawyer’s own personal change as part of a big change in the entire legal space. How to redesign lawyer as a part of redesigning the legal space. The idea for the blog arose from my own wonder of why lawyers don’t change even when the world changes. The global megatrend of digitalisation is underway and technology and design are also enabling a radical change in the legal field, but still lawyers are doing their job in almost the same way as a hundred years ago. One apt meme recently asked that in what other field would it be possible for a practitioner 100 years from now to be revived and this mummy would be able to work smoothly in today’s law firm.

In the midst of all these new ideas and tools, why are we still waiting for a change in law to take place? Why is redesign being stuck in conference rooms, showrooms and marketing speeches? There is a huge gap between reality and the technology and design bubble, and many rightly ask why it takes so long for change to happen. The reason is in us lawyers, change does not happen by itself but needs actors, that is, us lawyers to deliver on the promises that technology and design create for the redesign of the industry.

I argue that the delivery of law does not change until the lawyers themselves change and set out to make this change happen. Change requires a change in lawyers’ thoughts and attitudes and also – or perhaps above all – action. By changing lawyers, you are changing the law. That is, from your point of view, by changing yourself you change the world. The mission of this blog is to give both you and me the understanding on how we can redesign the legal world from within.

The keyword that is common to all content is design. I believe that design is the way for change, small iterative experiments that ultimately lead to the big transformation. And that is where the name Something Simple First comes from.

The blog is intended as a travel companion for you who want change and want to know how change is happening. It will be a combination of new skills that you can apply in your work and also tools and thoughts related to change management, how you can design your work, business and even life for better.

So are you ready? Let’s start with Something Simple First.

Image of Hannele Korhonen Legal Designer

Who’s writing?

Hi, I’m Hannele. I am an ex-corporate lawyer, legal designer, pioneer in legal tech, serial entrepreneur and blogger.  I am the founder and teacher in Lawyer’s Design School.

I’m here to teach you new skills and mindset of legal design to thrive in the future of law.

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