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How Thommessen uses digitalisation to promote sustainable business development

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By leveraging the insight and experience of our lawyers through technology and innovation, we have made sustainability regulations more available and comprehensible for businesses.

- Our development of digital products and services is always driven by client needs. This was also our perspective when seeking to make sustainability regulations more comprehensible for businesses, says Trine Melsether.

She is the Thommessen Chief Digital Officer and heads our Innovation & Development team, which develops digital products for clients in close collaboration with our lawyers. In late 2020, this fruitful collaboration gave rise to a database designed to assist businesses in navigating the multitude of sustainability regulations and initiatives.

Spurred on by shipping

Sustainability, ESG and responsible investment have been finance industry buzzwords for a number of years. However, a distinct change of pace was observed in 2019/2020. Small and large enterprises in all industries were realising that more sustainable business models may represent a genuine competitive advantage. Managing Associate Henrik Fabian Torgrimsby also picked up on this. When seeking to get an overview of all sustainability regulations and initiatives a shipping industry player needs to keep abreast of, he saw a need for gathering all information in one place to help clients navigate these.

- We had a comprehensive overview of classic law, but not of private regulatory developments, which were surging ahead at an unprecedented pace. We have traditionally used newsletters and e-mails to communicate the significance of regulations, but the sustainability regulations and initiatives were too extensive for that to have been workable. We therefore saw a need for gathering, organising and updating the information in one place, explains Henrik.

Together with Associate Ingrid Skjelmo, he initiated what is now the Thommessen Sustainability Database – a continually expanding database that provides an overview of sustainability regulations and initiatives.

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TEAM MEMBER: Henrik Fabian Torgrimsby is one of several Thommessen team members to have initiated new digital tools in response to client needs.

Fast-tracked from idea to product

Like other digital tools in the Thommessen portfolio, the Sustainability Database has been developed in response to client needs. A designated Innovation & Development team makes for an accelerated process from a lawyer’s identification of a client need to a fully-fledged prototype. Thommessen has two developers who work closely with the lawyers on various innovation projects. One of them is Philip Wold Linkas, who was responsible for all technical aspects of the Sustainability Database development process.

- The process from idea to a final product has been characterised by close cooperation between lawyers and us on the Innovation & Development team. When the lawyers are actively involved and devote time to the development phase, like in this project, it provides me as a developer with a better understanding of client needs, says Philip.

Digitalisation of the legal industry, or legal tech, is often associated with AI and automation of legal tasks, but digitalisation is quite simply about putting people first and using technology to solve problems.

- The Sustainability Database is a great example of a new and useful digital legal tech tool. The technical solution as such is not sophisticated or high-tech, but the data volume structuring and the content presentation approach are innovative, believes Chief Digital Officer Trine Melsether.

  • Would you like to know how we pursue innovation and development across Thommessen? Read on here.
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INNOVATION & DEVELOPMENT: Trine Cecilie Woldsdal (Digital Consultant), Trine Melsether (Chief Digital Officer), Sigri Aas (Project Manager), Philip Wold Linkas (Developer) and Hege Sollie Johansen (Knowledge Manager) are five of the six Thommessen Innovation & Development team members.

Promoting sustainable business development

The Sustainability Database provides the shipping clients that inspired Henrik’s database idea with a readily accessible overview of close to 30 different regulations and private law initiatives of relevance to shipping industry players alone. In addition, comments from lawyers explain what these mean for industry players and what these should do to generate long-term value. Beside shipping, the database also covers banking and finance, as well as investment and corporate – and several other sectors are about to be added. This service is provided free of charge to our clients, potential clients and other collaboration partners.

- We have invested considerable time and resources in this service, so it was not always a given that we would offer free access to our existing and potential clients. However, we realised that the database could help promote sustainable business development and decided that this product would be one of our contributions to more sustainable businesses, says Henrik.

The database has close to 500 users after two months, and the feedback has been highly favourable!

- Both sustainability and digitalisation are strategic priorities for Thommessen. We are therefore thrilled to have combined the two in a product such as the Sustainability Database. Our digitalisation process is all about identifying needs, and thereafter being curious about technology and new ways of working, explains Trine.

We are planning, with the rest of the team, to develop and expand the database by adding more areas of expertise.

- Sustainability and digitalisation will drive our future, and the Sustainability Database is the right tool at the right time. We are really excited about taking this service further, adds the Chief Digital Officer.

The Thommessen Sustainability Database helps you navigate the multitude of regulatory amendments and industry initiatives. It provides you with a helpful overview of what is relevant to your sector, and we also explain how this can affect your business. This service is available to our clients, potential clients and other collaboration partners. You are welcome to register here.

WATCH VIDEO: Henrik and Ingrid introduce the Sustainability Database, and how it promotes sustainable business development (in Norwegian only).

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