Career Story – Malin Männikkö (Legal Technologist at DLA Piper Sweden)
“Wait, legal technologist is a real profession?”
The confusion was real one Wednesday evening when my partner realised that my work at DLA Piper, in fact, was not an imaginary thing I had made up for myself. I had to laugh and think, surely this is not a common misconception? Turns out, a number of my family and friends thought I had made up my own work title.
My name is Malin and I am a legal technologist at DLA Piper Sweden, law school student at Stockholm University and organiser of Stockholm Legal Hackers and Stockholm Startup Bootcamp. Being a legal technologist includes a whole palette of tasks and assignments. Generally, I help our firm in its journey towards a more efficient and digital tomorrow. That might sound fuzzy, and granted, made-up. The work consists of, for example, reviewing our current work processes, collecting pain points and running projects with my colleagues to improve the current situation. I work with lawyers, partners, assistants, trainees and the people from the business side as well as with my international colleagues. The best part of my job is to see an idea become reality delivering real value to many people.
The story of how I got here is mostly powered by the rapid development in legal tech and changes in attitude towards the whole field. When I moved to Stockholm from countryside Finland in 2017, I’d never been introduced to technology, software development or any startup scene. By chance I came across the topic of blockchain during my first semester of law school and through that I found my way into the tech scene in Stockholm. From the start I saw potential to combine tech and law and soon enough found that I wasn’t alone by googling terms like law and technology. Through some searching I found Legal Hackers, with chapters worldwide discussing topics in the intersection between law and technology and mending the gap between tech and law. The only problem was that there was no active chapter in Stockholm. So, I took a leap of faith and applied to become the organiser for the local chapter. To my surprise I got the honour to become a local organiser and since 2018 I’ve been organising events ranging from coding for lawyers to speaker events and panels, for the past year together with the amazing Linnéa Simon.
Our events made me see a gap that only hands-on events could fill, and in January 2020 David Flodin and I ran the first Stockholm Startup Bootcamp: our take on lean startup methods and design thinking for law, business and tech students to come together and learn by implementing these methods on real problems from familiar companies. The Bootcamp showed us that building things together is the best way to get the point of legal tech across.
Technology as a vessel for better, more creative and interesting legal work has always been very interesting to me. I started discussing digital tools for law firms with people that joined our events or who I met at conferences for law school students. Suddenly I found myself talking digitisation with partners at DLA Piper Sweden and soon enough behind a desk as a summer intern for their digitisation project. My interest in the field of work processes and digitalisation was, and is, ever-growing and so I pitched to stay at the firm part time as a Legal Technologist. And here we are today. Six months into my role and we have barely scraped the surface on the initiatives our firm comes up with on a weekly, if not daily basis.
For those who would like to take a deep dive into the field of legal tech or work in it I welcome you to your local community of enthusiasts, and the global community on Twitter. Legal tech is a huge field ranging from building software to applying agile processes at law firms – the scope of the field really depends on whose definition you listen to. Find what is interesting to you in this field: Access to justice, technology’s impact on law, entrepreneurial aspects, education or something entirely different? Look up who else is interested and interesting in that and connect with them. If you are joining the field from the legal industry make sure you also connect with your fair share of developers, designers and policymakers to avoid an echo chamber in your newsfeed. Lastly make sure you follow your interests and have fun while you’re at it.
DLA Piper Sweden