12 October 2020

Legal design around the World: Finland - Dot

legal design

How Antti Innanen came to co-found legal design agency Dot

Antti Innanen co-founded the legal design agency Dot. after a freak encounter at a school disco!  In the first of a series of interviews with legal designers across the globe, we catch up with Antti as he describes his first encounters with legal design and why he believes Finland in particular has become such a hotspot for applying legal design principles.

How did you come across legal design?

“I actually thought that I invented legal design…

My legal design journey began in 2015. I was helping to put on a disco at the school where my daughter attends, selling coffee and candy, and wearing funny hats. I bumped into one of the other parent organizers, who was the CEO of a very successful design company, Hellon, here in Finland. As we spoke we began to understand our approaches better, and eventually, he asked me:  Has service design or design thinking in general ever been applied to law?”

“I left the school disco convinced that this was my eureka moment”design thinking-ideate-lawbox-design

“I was sure we had just invented something massive. As soon as I got back, I did a quick Google search, and to my surprise and slight disappointment, it turns out the idea did not start with us. But we were one of the first to the party!

Stanford Law School had already established the Legal Design Lab two years prior, spearheaded by then-recent graduate (and now a lecturer at SLS) Margaret Hagan. Significant forays into this area had also been made by Helena Haapio and Stefania Passera, astonishingly practicing from my own front doorstep here in Helsinki.

These experiences inspired us to launch Dot., a consultancy spin-off of Dottir, advising on legal design, legal technology, and legal training. Since then, we have been fortunate enough to work with household-names, Finnish and international clients, allowing us to refine our processes further and gain valuable insights into the practicalities of implementing legal design solutions.”

how big a movement is legal design in Finland?

Without a doubt, Finland is one of the leaders in legal design. The Legal Design Summit has been a great event to spread legal design ideas and create a community in Finland. The Legal Design Summit was founded by Finnish service design firm Hellon and Dottir Attorneys in 2016. In 2017 We had 30 guest speakers, over 600 participants and a 40-person co-creation event, Brainfactory.

Hashtag #LDS2017 was the most popular hashtag in Finland for one day, outnumbering #icehockey and #taxes!

In 2019, to secure the phenomena and movement the Legal Design Summit had started, Hellon and Dottir Attorneys decided to give the ownership of the Legal Design Summit brand to Legal Design Finland, a non-profit association founded by volunteers with a passion for legal design.

As a business, legal design is still in its infancy. In the first phase, legal design projects will be done by specialized agencies, but later on it will be a valuable tool for every legal professional.

what has been the reception of your clients to legal design?

The client reception has been incredible. If you follow closely the Legal Design process and actually listen to the clients, the results are usually very inspiring and engaging.

Sometimes if the project only focuses on the aesthetics – just adding some icons and switching fonts – the impact is not felt and Legal Design might feel as just putting lipstick on a pig.

“The key is to involve the clients, stick to the process, and resist the urge to take short-cuts.”

are there things that you are doing with legal design that are specific to your jurisdiction?

We have found out that LD is not area-specific. The problems – law is alienating, difficult and unusable – are universal.

One of the principles of Finnish society is a reliable, open and equal legal system. This helps a lot, as the robustness of the legal system makes it possible to experiment too.”

are there any things about your jurisdiction that make it particularly receptive to legal design?

“Finland’s unique combination of design tradition and fairness enables the country to be a leading design country – including in the legal sense. Finnish design exports aren’t really limited to design products such as Aalto vases; we can also export design thinking that is based on Finnish values.”

where to next?…

Given how prominent legal design is in Finland, we’ve decided to stay here a little longer and will soon be bringing you the findings from our interview with one of legal design’s pioneers, Helena Haapio, founder of Lexpert Ltd.