Humanizing legal documents with legal tech: InvestCEE with Orsi Szabo

This week Hannele Korhonen from Lawyers Design School spoke with Orsi Szabo, from InvestCEE – a technology consultancy helping lawyers humanize their work and improve efficiency through legal technology. The discussion centered on humanizing documents and the role of legal design in the process.

Legal design in real life with Lawyers Design School

This week Hannele Korhonen from Lawyers Design School spoke with Orsi Szabo, from InvestCEE – a technology consultancy helping lawyers humanize their work and improve efficiency through legal technology. The discussion centered on humanizing documents and the role of legal design in the process.

Humanizing documents adds another perspective to the work of Lawyers Design School contract design workshops because it adds another layer to the effectiveness of your legal work and delivers effective outcomes for your 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 technology advisory firm. We work with in-house legal teams and law firms. 

We are on a mission to bridge the gap between traditional legal services and smart technology solutions that are specifically designed for lawyers.

InvestCEE was established over five years ago and our team includes lawyers, business advisors, IT consultants, and a designer. So we are a multidisciplinary team with a select portfolio of legal technology solutions that are listed on our legal tech 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 that 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 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 the 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 we think about legal design, I think of it as an enabler of legal services.

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 they have rather different needs and approaches.

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

  • Improve the ways they serve their existing clients
  • Create new 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 have a tool specific to the legal team but don’t know how it integrates with the IT infrastructure for the organization. 

And then on top of that, they always have the automation question as well. 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. 

And 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 technology to the digital contracting platform that we worked with. 

And on the second phase, 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 partners and legal aspects 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 them are really tangible. 

Some of them require less effort but are still very important for process improvements. 

I like to call them soft benefits and hard benefits. And the soft ones are really unmeasurable but you know when you have enhanced team collaboration, or when you have a better working environment for your people who are more motivated teams who now finally have the technology to work smarter and not harder. 

But there are also tangible business outcomes that you can really measure. And in the corporate digital contracting project that I mentioned earlier, it was very obvious that, as a result of the digital contracting, they managed to retain more of their partners. Typically, when they do these contracting projects, they lose 30 or 40% of their partners when they make large contract changes. 

And in this case, for the digital contracting process, they retained 85% of their partners, so the churn rate was much lower. 

The new contracting process reduced 32 paper-based steps to only five steps with each contract for each partner. A lot of thinking went into how to achieve the 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: Our current project is focused on matter management and contract management for corporate in-house departments primarily. 

They’re very focused on using data more efficiently because it’s very labor-intensive. On the legal side, we’re looking at how we can access data in the contracts. How can we better access data in our matters, and make use of them for reporting and better communicating and coming up with some action items, and actionable insights for better outcomes? 

So that’s something that we also use in a project context, for instance, in M&A transactions.

How can you better access the data in a due diligence environment? And then how can you use that data later on? For instance, even in the post-deal integration phase? Right? How can you help your clients navigate data and use technology tools in making that better for your clients? 

So these are very forward-looking ways of using technology. But then we also work a lot with digital signatures and how can we make use of that, you know, what is the right level of electronic signature in a given stream? And how can we better make use of that in the digital contracting project? So these types of things are our current everyday working projects.

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, and we share that every month with best practice tips. 

We offer three packages for lawyers who are curious about legal tech and process uplift. They help our clients to dive into three different solutions and have insightful demos and test environments that they can use for three weeks or and then we come together for workshops and really help make use of that technology. 

And we share these projects, with our readers in the newsletter. We also share some 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 in a block in the morning a demo day, showcasing our partners. So feel free to sign up for our newsletter also, you know, take a look at our website, blog and events because there’s always something interesting coming up that we are focusing on in a given year in a given timeframe.

Legal design thinking: IRL. Episode 28

You’ve just read a summary of my LinkedIn Live. 

Each week I provide actionable advice for law firm owners and discuss real-life legal design in action.  I hope legal design thinking can help you get more happy clients and be happier lawyers. 

What do you think of InvestCEE? Breaks down some of the traditional barriers to legal thinking, processes, and documents, right? 

If you’ve read something that interests you please join me next week. 

You can catch a replay of episode 28 here  Legal Design Thinking: IRL or join me live and ask questions.

Legal Design Thinking IRL with Dr. Orsolya Szabo from InvestCEE

Want to chat about it?

Feel free to DM any questions or join me on LinkedIn every Wednesday at 8 am ET where you can ask me about legal design and growing your law firm. 

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Prefer email? Drop me an email at [email protected] And while you’re here, take a peek at the Lawyers Design School and check out other ways to use legal design thinking to grow your law firm and thrive in your business.

Watch all the Legal Design IRL Episodes episodes.


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