Legal Design Thinking: InvestCEE interview at Lawyers Design School

Humanizing Legal Technology: Lawyers Design School Interview with InvestCEE

In September 2022, Hannele Korhonen from Lawyers Design School invited InvestCEE founder and CEO Orsolya Szabó for a LinkedIn live chat to discuss using design thinking methodologies for implementing legal technology solutions. As an advisory firm on a mission to “humanize legaltech”, i.e. to help lawyers optimize their work and showcase their value-add through legal technology, this interview accurately describes our approach to tech-assisted legal services. For the original transcript of the video interview, stop by on the Lawyers Design School blog

What is Lawyers Design School?

Lawyers Design School offers lawyers a better way to do law and be part of the change in the profession. Through legal design workshops and courses, they help lawyers acquire the skills needed to better serve clients with a human touch and allow them to embrace their authentic and distinctive working style. Lawyers Design School enables an easy start to “legal design” methodologies that’s practical, hand’s on, and ready to implement in the work lawyers are currently performing today.

Humanizing legal technology – including by designing better legal documents – adds another perspective to the work of Lawyers Design School contract design workshops because it adds another layer to the effectiveness of legal work and delivers effective outcomes for clients.

Legal design is both about form and substance. And, it’s actually this unique combination of human expertise, smart tools, and then adding process improvements. I’m a big fan of the people process technology formula. And I think legal design is really all about bringing this to life in the legal services context.

Orsi Szabo

Orsi Szabo – tell us about you

Orsi: I’m a lawyer turned legal technology advisor. I spent a decade of my legal career in big law firms as a Mergers & Acquisitions lawyer. This experience is very useful for what I do now because I’m very familiar with the traditional ways of legal work and that experience drives my commitment to helping legal teams transition to a more innovative and technology-assisted way of working – with a highly human-centered approach.

I firmly believe that human expertise is the key in legal services – but technology enables more accurate and more efficient ways of working irrespective of whether it’s a law firm or an in-house legal department.

Orsi Szabo

What is InvestCEE?

Orsi: InvestCEE is a legal technology advisory firm. We work with in-house legal teams and law firms to optimize their internal and client-facing workstreams. We are on a mission to bridge the gap between traditional legal services and smart technology solutions that were specifically designed for lawyers.

InvestCEE was established over five years ago and our team includes lawyers, business advisors, IT consultants, and even a designer. So we are a multidisciplinary task force with a select portfolio of legal technology solutions that are listed on our LegalTech Marketplace.

There is a good reason for bringing these two aspects together. Because over the last several years, we’ve seen a number of legal teams quickly invest in technology and never really make use of a licensed tool. And I think the reason they aren’t effective is the clients never worked through the underlying processes. They didn’t do the process re-design – so our role as advisors is about understanding the existing legal work processes in an organization and optimizing that particular legal service with process improvements that also rely on the appropriate technology tools.

What does legal design mean for humanizing technology?

Orsi: I love legal design because it forces us lawyers to think about what we do in our jobs, and ask ourselves “what is the value that we create with  legal services?” So I would say that, to me, legal design is both about form and substance. And, it’s actually this unique combination of human expertise, smart tools, and then adding process improvements that make legal design so effective. So as you can tell, I’m a big fan of the ‘people + process + technology’ formula. And I think legal design is really all about bringing this to life in the legal services context.

How did you start with human-centered design?

Orsi: I’d been rather frustrated with some traditional ways of working. And I really was keen on seeing legal services shift from being manual, administrative, and labor-intensive to more automated with an optimization of resources. That’s the key. So when I think about legal design, I think of it as an enabler of legal services. And I think there are two dimensions to it:

  • How we work internally as a legal team
  • How we communicate with our clients externally

Internal collaboration

At InvestCEE, we look closely and question how we streamline the internal collaboration among team members. How do we manage the contract matters better? How can we work collaboratively in a way that is good for the individual, but also good for that working community – to really create value within the team?

External client communication

And then we look at how we communicate with our clients, both internal and external clients, and how we exchange documents. How do we share updates and the status of a given work stream? How do we create, value for those clients out there that we work for?

At the end of the day design thinking in the legal context is all about working with brilliant minds, who can use smart solutions to better navigate those client projects that they work on. The process is the same whether it’s an international law firm or a corporate legal department.

How does creativity fit into the world of automation and processes?

Orsi: Well, I think it really relies on how we find the right answers in our specific fields and I think interdisciplinary teams are really essential in that respect. And then considering the variety of technology solutions that we have available.

Some clients really like to start by jumping into technology, and then they go to streamlining their processes with that existing tool. Other clients start the other way around they first think about streamlining internal processes, and then they try to find the adequate technology that fits their particular way of working. But either way, I think we have to think creatively enough to help them with process solutions and technology solutions as well. So their innovation and their digitization needs are really answered.

Creativity is also essential because as advisors we work very differently than sales teams in technology companies. We don’t sell user licenses, our purpose is not to make more sales for a particular vendor, rather it’s about getting optimal results out of the solution for the legal team who has decided to invest in legal technology.

So, this client-centered approach and this creativity to make that solution work for our client is really the key to what we do. We work very closely with them to understand their processes, ask the right questions and listen and really tune in to their needs.

What does design thinking in action look like for you?

Orsi: I have two stories to share. Because we work with law firms and in-house legal departments and they have rather different needs and approaches.

A couple of years ago, we had a law firm client who approached us with three different needs.

  • Improve the ways they serve their existing clients
  • Create innovative ways to get new clients and onboard them
  • Rebrand from a traditional legal firm to a more innovative legal service provider (with a new website and ways to digitize their service delivery)

So there was this service design challenge of how can we help this law firm to package their existing and new solutions into technology and make that offer to their clients. First, we had to define their client segments and their typical work streams so we could find the technologies to help them automate those processes. Of course, document automation, and digital contracting were part of that. But then we also had to map out some innovative legal services like automating the litigation workflow for their large corporate clients. It was a very interesting collaboration with this law firm to help them with their digitization.

And it’s very different with corporate legal departments because they often struggle with integration. They may need a tool specifically developed for the legal team but they need to integrate it with the rest of the IT infrastructure in their organization. In addition, corporate legal teams also have an increasing need for automation. In a recent project, we had a large corporate client who had to amend thousands of contracts with their business partners in a very short period of time, and they reached out to us to help plan and execute this digital contracting process.

We examined both the legal and technological aspects of that project, and came up with a solution that included first, an API connection to their partner database, and exported partner data into the digital contracting platform that we worked with. Second, we also helped them with electronic signatures for their authorized signatories. That way all the contracts were sent to their partners already signed. So it was a complex and multidisciplinary team effort that brought together technology, legal and operational aspects, but it was really a lot of fun.

What is the biggest value you see from these technology projects?

Orsi: Some of the benefits are really tangible, while others are less apparent but are still very important for process improvements.

I like to call them soft benefits and hard benefits. And the soft ones are really hard to measure but you know when you have enhanced team collaboration, or when you have a better working environment for your people who are more motivated to work or they can more efficiently coordinate with their teams by using adequate technology to work smarter and not harder — these tools can make a huge difference.

Yet there are also tangible business outcomes that you can actually measure. For example, in the digital contracting project that I mentioned earlier, it was very obvious that – as a direct result of the digital contracting solution we implemented – the corporation managed to retain more of their business partners in the re-contracting process. Previously, in similar projects, they had lost approximately 30-40% of their business partners. While in this digital contracting process they retained 85% of their partners, so the churn rate was much lower. Also, the new contracting process reduced 32 paper-based steps to only five steps in the digital space. A lot of thinking went into how to achieve that outcome but it went from bulky and labor-intensive (and commercially perilous) to streamlined and easy (and commercially beneficial).

What’s on the cards for InvestCEE at the moment?

Orsi: Some of our current projects are focused on matter management and contract management for corporate in-house departments. Mostly, we focus on using data more efficiently because managing datasets can be very labor-intensive. How can we better access data in our contracts and matters, and make use of them for reporting and better communicating and coming up with some action items, and actionable insights for our clients?

Data is also something that we can use in a project context, for instance, in improving M&A transaction workstreams. How can our clients better access data in a due diligence environment? And then how can they use that data later on? For instance, even in the post-deal integration phase? We focus on helping lawyers to better navigate data and use technology tools in enabling more value-added services for their clients.

So these are very forward-looking ways of using technology. But then we also work a lot with digital signatures and advise on what is the right level of electronic signatures in a given workstream. And how can we better make use of that in the digital contracting project? So these types of consulting projects are also currently part of our everyday work.

Where can we find out more about InvestCEE?

Orsi:  Our website is a great place to start. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

We are very active on LinkedIn and we have an even-larger community of newsletter readers. It’s our Smarter Legal Newsletter that we share every month with best practice tips of using legaltech.

For example, we currently have this 3×3 LegalTech Pack free offer ongoing – this helps our clients to dive into three different solutions from our LegalTech Marketplace and includes insightful demos and test environments for three consecutive weeks so that clients can really make the most of piloting new technology solutions.

And we often share similar projects with our readers in the Smarter Legal Newsletter. We also publish case studies, upcoming events and webinars. Also, we organize regularly demo days, where all of our partners from the marketplace stop by and hold these 30-35 minutes presentations showcasing their tools. For example, here’s a summary of the latest LegalTech Mastermind Day.

You can catch a replay of episode 28 of  Legal Design Thinking: IRL via YouTube right here:

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