Investment into legal technology platforms worldwide hit a record in 2018, however only a few of the legal tech companies invested in came from the Nordics. This is soon about to change. While the legal tech space in the UK and the US might have gotten a head start, the Nordic legal tech space is now joining the party with many early adopters to new legal tech according to the Artificial Lawyer. Much has happened over the past two years in the legal tech scene in the Nordics and things are gearing up to change even more in the coming years.
What makes the Nordics so special?
Not only are the number of legal tech startups steadily growing, but the legal tech communities all over the Nordics are attracting a large number of visitors. In Norway alone, the Oslo Legal Tech Meetup, organized by Lawbotics, is the third largest “legal tech meetup” listed on Meetup globally. In Sweden, LegalWorks organize the annual Nordic Legal Tech day and there are also frequent meetups and conferences in Denmark in addition to the work that Nordic Legal Tech Hub is doing to unify the Scandinavian/Nordic legal tech environment.
While the legal tech startup scene in the Nordics in itself is fairly fragmented as a result of the different geographies and jurisdictions, I believe there is one factor that unites us more than other regions:
We like to collaborate with each other, realising that unification creates greater awareness than doing our battles alone in our common goal of changing the legal industry.
An overview of the current legal tech scene by courtesy of the Nordic Legal Tech hub:
Trusting the Nordics
Why should anyone work with Nordic legal tech companies? According to Nicholas Hawtin, co-founder of the Nordic Legal Tech Hub initiative, the answer is trust.
"Since Nordic people are known for being trustworthy and law-abiding citizens that obey traffic laws even when alone in the middle of the night, they are also attractive to work with when it comes to legal matters".
Notably, this apparently does not apply to cyclists, as they are anarchists - but for the rest of us, I do believe this quote sums up why the Nordic people have a good foundation for collaborating with each other adequately.
Trust and collaboration go hand in hand and the Nordics have a long tradition of collaboration for unification in the legal and political field which has also expanded into the legal tech scene.
Realising that unification creates larger awareness, the Nordic Legal Tech Hub acts as a connector between enterprises, startups, academics and law firms in the Nordic legal tech ecosystem, attracting contributors from all over the Nordics.
Community building as the key ingredients
Innovative solutions aren’t created in silos. Academics, lawyers, technologists, entrepreneurs and enterprises all takes part in the Nordic legal tech community to exchange ideas to enable creativity and innovation.
From a Norwegian perspective, a truly remarkable exhibit of this cross-functional collaboration was the first legal hackathon held in Norway in september 2018, where more than 24 partners from the law industry worked together with the common objective of changing and innovating the legal industry. Participating partners included the Norwegian Bar Association,The Law Faculty of Oslo University, 15+ law firms, accounting firms and Norway’s largest bank. Over 140 designers, entrepreneurs, lawyers, students, and technologists worked in teams using the Lean Innovation Methodology to develop creative solutions to the issues at the intersection of law and technology. All the work was done voluntarily - and is a great display of the distinct Norwegian concept we call “dugnad”.
More on the hackathon and the results can be read here.
This type of collaboration amongst academics, lawyers, technology enthusiasts and startups is seen all over the Nordics, like the legal faculty in Copenhagen University initiative for a “Digitalisation Hub”. They have launched a monthly Tech & Law Breakfast series targeted towards external stakeholders, lawyers, researchers, students and everyone with an interest in technology and law.
Similarly, the legal faculty in Oslo University has including the subject “legal tech” in its curriculum and invited companies and legal tech startups to pitch problems to the students so they gain practical experience with law and technology.
In Sweden, legal tech is also characterized by innovation, start-ups and an increasing interest in the field. legaltech.se is an award winning initiative made by and for people that are interested in the intersection between law and technology. Contributors include lawyers, startups and academics.
The cross-border collaboration in the Nordics will continue to expand. The increasing participation rates in the legal tech communities means that more and more stakeholders see the value in sharing knowledge, experience and network. Having more people adapting a mindset of sharing is absolutely necessary and extremely useful for contributing to the change in the legal industry.
Nordic Legal tech on the rise
So even if the legal industry in the Nordics is fragmented and local, tech providers are changing how legal is done all over the Nordics, and we have early adopters ready to use the solutions.
So keep looking out for more legal tech initiatives to come from the Nordics - our secret weapon of trust and collaboration is an unfair advantage it might be hard to replicate.
About the Author Merete Nygaard is a former business lawyer and the founder of the Norwegian legal tech company Lawbotics. Founded in 2017, Lawbotics has already received recognition as one of the most innovative companies in Norway by the magazine Innomag and one of 10 Norwegian startups to watch in 2019 according to EU-Startup Magazine.
The company has also created a community of people interested in “legal tech” with more than 1,300 members, organized the first legal hackathon in Norway together with benchmark companies and given lectures in “legal tech” at the Universities of Tilburg and Oslo. Lawbotics has developed Lexolve, a document automation tool for increasing compliance in legal document processes in enterprises, developed in close collaboration with dedicated and knowledgeable customers within enterprise segments such as member organisations and in-house legal departments.