This week I spoke with Kaisa Rissanen, Head of Legal and Operations at SomeBuddy.
Legal design thinking in real-life with Hannele Korhonen
This week I spoke with Kaisa Rissanen, Head of Legal and Operations at SomeBuddy.
SomeBuddy is a legal technology company offering a digital platform where people can access professional legal and psychological assistance for online harassment or bullying. The innovative legal app delivers quick intervention, allowing users to manage and resolve the situation before it escalates as well as minimise any adverse publicity.
Using a team of lawyers, social psychologists and psychologists, the SomeBuddy app provides a legal assessment of the situation, a concrete action plan to resolve the matter and psychological support. It’s a survival kit.
It’s an innovative legal tech solution offering a modern, online alternative to the traditional method of seeing a lawyer or making an appointment with a doctor. SomeBuddy offers users immediate access to a team of professionals with a click of a button (without the need for awkward appointments).
Kaisa Rissanen – tell us about you and SomeBuddy
Kaisa: As a lawyer, finding new ways to solve legal problems always interested me and when I learned about legal design and legal tech, it drew me in.
Through its digital app, SomeBuddy helps victims of online harassment with legal assessments, psychological support and an action plan for resolution. It is a fantastic legal innovation that offers new methods for helping people with legal problems.
SomeBuddy and legal design thinking – how does it work?
Kaisa: We use design thinking every day. We are a multidisciplinary team who brings our perspectives to the table as part of our collaboration. Because every situation is unique, we can draw on our disciplines to shape the response each client needs for their particular situation.
For example, it’s not only legal advice a person needs in each case, they may need other kinds of help – like concrete steps for what to do, or psychological advice on how to cope. And it’s our multidisciplinary approach that allows us to provide a holistic response to help the user.
As a team, we focus on the response that’s best suited to the user. So if the legal issues aren’t as important as the health issues, those responses come first. We are empathy-based and the lawyers don’t see the legal issues as the priority but rather as part of a holistic approach to helping the user.
It helps lawyers work with other professionals to resolve the conflict together, rather than looking at things from a purely legal point of view.
Why is legal design important for SomeBuddy?
Kaisa: The design is critical because we focus on the individuals we help and we want to help them the best way we can. That’s been the mission right from the beginning.
So the design thinking ensures we are user-friendly and keeps us focused on how we can help the user.
Design thinking guides the development of the app. We serve our users best when the interface is understandable and easy to use. We choose the words and the sentences we use to make them understandable so we can deliver help the way our users want. We are always thinking about how we can serve our users best. Design thinking keeps us focused on achieving the mission.
SomeBuddy is human-centric – how does SomeBuddy engage with its users?
Kaisa: When we were developing the app we interviewed potential users from young to older to make sure the app was going to be understandable and our services appropriate to their needs.
We can also analyse the anonymous metrics from the app to see how our users interact with it – what data they are accessing and what they are reading and this gives us insights on how we can improve our service.
Young people and online harassment and bullying – do the design principles differ?
Hannele: When you have children and young people as your users, is it important they are at the core of the development process and involved in the work? I imagine that unless you include them in the process, you’d see a bunch of adults making assumptions about the problems and the appropriate solution?
Kaisa: It would be impossible to have a user-friendly service for underage people without discussing what help they might want and what that help might look like. We needed to understand what kinds of prerequisites would exist before they would use the service.
The prerequisites emerged from our discussions with young people: That it’s anonymous (which is one of our core principles), super low press hold, and a bunch of other things. Through our discussions with young people, we learned online harassment and bullying cases are often intimate and personal, and the users might be very embarrassed about them. We used the experience of the young people to design a service that helped in a way young people would value.
What do your users say about SomeBuddy?
Kaisa: I think we get really good feedback. It’s nice to hear our answers help and that people have used our action plans to take action and resolve the situation.
And I think it’s very empowering to help people understand their rights. Especially when it comes to social media and online environments, it might be unclear what is legal and illegal and whether someone who’s offended a user has breached the law. But it’s not just the legal advice but also the action plans and psychological support, because, in some situations, they might not need any legal advice, but just some nice words and something to use to move on from the situation.
Hannele: That must be rewarding for you as a lawyer and of course, for your whole team to see these stories and have a happy ending with a resolution.
Kaisa: Definitely. Online and social media is not always happiness and flowers, so it’s rewarding and motivates us to constantly improve the service because we know the problems our users are facing are real and severe.
Any words of advice about legal design?
Kaisa: I could start by saying I’m a lawyer, not a legal designer. As a lawyer, I implement design thinking in my everyday work, and anyone can do it. And for me, what legal design means is thinking about everything from the user’s viewpoint. And just like focusing on the user and thinking, is this something the customer or the user needs? And I think that’s the first step.
Hannele: That’s an excellent point. You don’t have to make it too complicated and think that it takes a big development project. You can start with your everyday work and the user perspective on that.
Kaisa: Definitely. What I’ve learned working in this multidisciplinary team is that I don’t have to know everything myself, and I don’t have to do everything by myself. We have legal designers and service designers so if I need something more designed I ask for their help. Sometimes it’s hard to get lawyers to get the legal thinking outside of their heads so we start with an idea and get an outsider’s opinion. It’s just about having some ideas, any ideas.
Where can we find out more about SomeBuddy?
Legal design thinking: IRL. Episode 21.
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 SomeBuddy? Breaks down some of the traditional barriers to getting help for harassment, right?
If you’ve read something that interests you please join me next week. There’s plenty more legal tech solutions and legal tech companies to come.
You can catch a replay of episode 21 here or join me live and ask questions.
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