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  • Pieter-Jan Franssen

An offer you can't understand

Bijgewerkt: 28 nov 2019

Last Friday, Helsinki welcomed legal innovators from all over the world to share their thoughts on what the legal industry should look like in the future. The Legal Design Summit took place for the third time, with over 600 participants flying in from every continent.

First things first: thumbs up to the hosts for catering a perfect event without even charging an entrance fee. All we had to do was put ourselves up and make it to Helsinki.

The venue, the speakers, the practical arrangements,... it couldn't have been more professional. Congrats!





Even though the Summit on Friday surely was the apotheosis of the week, I’d like to start my story on Tuesday night. Maria 01 - not a hospital - was the place to be for 38 participants with 18 different nationalities to start their Legal Design journey at Brainfactory. We were split into 8 teams who were all given a specific legal challenge by some of the events' partners. During the next three days the teams followed a Design Thinking-approach to tackle these challenges and finally pitch their prototypes to the companies who provided the challenges.


Both the process and the results were breathtaking! People from different backgrounds with various sets of skills found each other, worked together and came up with innovative solutions. The partners as well as the judges were highly impressed with the results.

Brainfactory made clear to me that Design Thinking really is a great way to break the status quo and empower people to enounce their most creative thoughts. By focusing on collaboration and by explicitly visualizing every idea that pops up, Design Thinking enables teams to come up with concepts they could not have imagined otherwise.


On a personal note, Brainfactory allowed PJ to connect with some of the most interesting people he had ever met. In short: “it's been a hell of a ride!”




A ride leading to the actual Legal Design Summit on Friday. The organizers managed to attract the true leaders in the still young field of Legal Design, sharing their vision, insights and aspirations with the many attendees.


Prof. Dan Jackson opened the Summit by giving an overview of the current worldwide playing field. He pointed out some differences between the continents: a more academic approach to Legal Design in the Americas whereas European initiatives seem rather centered around commercial entities.


Marco Imperiale continued with a very entertaining keynote on "10 Reasons Why NOT to do Legal Design". Well known excuses like "We're a serious law firm", "Our clients would not appreciate it" and "We don't have the budget" were disproved in a convincing way. The conclusion: there are no reasons why not to apply design in legal matters. 


Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Margaret Hagan - the Queen of Legal Design - then proved why she rightfully carries that title. She showed that she was and still is a true Legal Design pioneer. She feels that the foundations of Legal Design have been established and she continues her research to obtain BIG IMPACT.  


After the lunch break some more Leading Ladies entered the stage.


Amurabi founder Marie Potel-Saville and her charming colleague Elisabeth Talbourdet gave some interesting insights in their way of working. Their neuroscientific approach was particularly interesting.


Emma Hertzberg and Meera Klemola took us on a journey around the world, showing us the many projects they've been working on, with a clearcut focus on cultural differences. Nice to see how academic knowledge comes to life in real-world situations.


Cat Moon put on her silver high heel walking shoes and launched a call for true leadership. The Legal Design Community hasn't reached its’ destination yet, and although the path that leads there is treacherous, Cat is confident that all mountains will be conquered.


Aren't there any men in Legal Design? Sure there are! Jason Dunning gave a short, but interesting talk on how results from the past - both good and bad - provide important lessons for the future. Hakuna Matata!


KPMG Consultant Sebastian Hartman than took a dive into some neat graphs and figures. His presentation made crystal clear what many legal professionals deep down have realised for a while now: the traditional business models ought to change! Innovation, design and development aren't optional anymore. They are the new permissions to play and to stay in the game. 


Time to conclude this wonderful day. What about the future? Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert provocatively invited the attendees to break out of their echo chamber, be humble and ... come up with a profitable business model. Legal Hackers, Engineers, Creatives, Ninjas? Let's get real! It was a wake-up call for everyone in the room. Matthias concluded that the rule of law is more important than ever. To protect it we need inspired and committed people working hard to do so. A beautiful note to end the summit!


Oh, did I mention that Michael Doherty treated us to some lawyer jokes?





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