Greetings from Hannes Snellman Summer School 2018: Tech is All Around

9 October 2019

The Summer School was opened by Managing Partner Paula Röttorp who welcomed the students to the event and encouraged them to participate actively in discussions.  After Paula, our IP & Technology Partners Elisabeth Vestin and Jesper Nevalainen discussed how will tech affect practising law. As automation and AI (artificial intelligence) increasingly influence lawyers’ work, it is important for lawyers to have a good knowledge of technology in order to understand the factors underlying decisions and selection made by technology and algorithms. A lawyer should be curious and open-minded towards technology but also able to question the outcomes it provides. The law students were excited to hear Elisabeth and Jesper’s thoughts on the required set of skills of future lawyers.

After lunch, it was time for our visiting speakers Jack Pineda Dale and Mathias Strand from Microsoft to step on the stage. Jack and Mathias gave us an inspirational lecture with many new aspects of digitalisation. They discussed, for instance, the benefits of fully automated contracts and addressed the question of ethics, such as responsible AI that takes into account fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability. Our students raised good questions that led to interesting discussions.

The final expert session and workshop for Thursday was led by IP & Technology Counsel Outi Jousi and Dispute Resolution Partner David Ackebo. Outi introduced the concept of agile agreements to the students while David gave tips on how to succeed in negotiations. The students immediately got a chance to gain hands-on experience by negotiating on agile terms for an IT supply agreement.

The second day of Summer School started with an expert session by our visiting speaker Franz Mittler from OP Financial Group who discussed big data and algorithmic illusions. Algorithms already drive decision-making in, for instance, loan-worthiness, job candidate selection, and criminal punishments. The patterns within big data may be identified by AI, but the human factor is not however eliminated. It is still up to the people to decide the type and diversity of the data given to AI for analysis. Once again, ethical questions were addressed and they raised good conversations.

The forenoon continued with an expert session by M&A Senior Associate Klara Kjellberg and Thesis Trainee Marcus Lehtinen who provided us with a glance into how blockchain technologies will transform the business and legal landscape. In addition to “basics of blockchain”, the session dug into the what there is and what is to come, for example, how smart contracts that use blockchain technology have impacted and shall impact on business models and practising law. At the end of the session, the participants had an opportunity to test their knowledge on current and future blockchain solutions in a light-hearted quiz powered by a game-based e-learning mobile platform.

Our litigation experts Dispute Resolution Partner Anna-Maria Tamminen and IP & Technology Managing Associate Christopher Tehrani discussed what the future holds for technology in litigation and arbitration, as well as what happens when technology, usually patented technology, becomes a subject to a dispute. The two different approaches to technology and litigation provided a fascinating overview of the topic, which was again followed by an insightful discussion with the students.

The event climaxed with the SnellTech case competition where each team was to develop a legal tech idea, product or concept, or an idea for a legal start-up. After intense brainstorming, some fine-tuning, and little rehearsing, the teams were ready to pitch their ideas to other participants, our hosts, and a piercing jury that included Paula together with Real Estate Associate Antti Antikainen and Finance Associate Aina Renström. We were very pleasantly surprised by the high quality of the competition, as all of the teams had developed progressive solutions to actual legal tech issues, in some cases also seasoned with great humour. All presentations were top-notch, and it took some serious consideration from the jury to decide the winner. However, the goal of the exercise was not to compete, but that everyone can participate and have fun while innovating, as it is not too often that law school gives the opportunity to innovate and create new concepts and ideas.

The winning team presented their idea of an online platform enabling students to offer free legal aid and gain practical experience. The tool also contained various functionalities from users being able to rate different answers in the online platform to HR departments using the online platform as a recruitment tool. The SnellTech judges liked especially the combination of e-learning as a way to engage law firms and companies and the fresh gamified approach to the provision of online legal help. Among the other ideas was, for example, a GDPR compliance tool, a project management AI to optimize project staffing and cost estimates, and a database of industry-specific acquisitions.

The law students, speakers, hosts, and guest lecturers also had time to network with each other in social gatherings after both days of the programme. Pre-dinner cocktails and dinner at a nearby restaurant were a perfect end to the event and offered the law students, hosts, and visiting speakers a chance to share thoughts about the experience and mingle. The ones eager to continue the discussions even longer headed to a rooftop terrace to enjoy a few drinks and a beautiful view.

We would like to thank everyone who participated and contributed to our Summer School. We love this concept as it offers law students the opportunity to learn from the experts practising law, but also gives us a unique setting to meet like-minded students and hear their thoughts on the future of our profession.

As Elisabeth and Jesper pointed out, in order to practice law in the field of tech, it is increasingly important to keep up with what is happening in the surrounding world, such as the businesses of Internet of Things (IoT), AI, the development of social media businesses, new media and mediums, as well as cyber security and integrity challenges for businesses. The future for IP, data protection, and tech lawyers is very bright, as the demand for advice in these areas is increasing rapidly.