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Pursuing digitalisation as a lawyer: From idea to final product

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Digitalisation is an ever-more important aspect of practicing law. But what does it actually mean to pursue digitalisation as a Thommessen lawyer?

- As a commercial lawyer you assist businesses and clients with advice to simplify and solve problems. Here at Thommessen we use digitalisation as a tool to do precisely that, explains Ingrid Skjelmo.

She is an associate and one of many Thommessen team members to have been involved in developing digital tools and products for clients in the last few years. Pursuing digitalisation is about a lot more than merely new technology.

- More than anything it is about the entire Thommessen team coming together and being curious about new ways of adding value for clients, explains Ingrid.

She has, together with Managing Associate Henrik Fabian Torgrimsby, been leading by example in this regard. In 2019, when Henrik was seeking to get an overview of the multitude of sustainability regulations and initiatives a shipping industry player needs to keep abreast of, they saw a need for assisting businesses with navigating these. Henrik and Ingrid started envisioning the Thommessen Sustainability Database.

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

Running with the idea

The database aims to gather, organise and update initiatives and sustainability regulations in one place.

- We had an idea of what we wanted to achieve, but we did not know what to do or how to do it, explains Henrik.

How to move on from there? They got in touch with their Innovation & Development colleagues. Developing digital products for a client does not require special IT skills on the part of a lawyer. That is, after all, what good colleagues are for.

- We are fortunate to have a fabulous team devoted to technology and digitalisation development projects, explains Ingrid, who teamed up with Henrik to bring the Thommessen Innovation & Development team onboard.

- There are a plethora of sustainability initiatives and regulations that clients need to be aware of, and this is where our lawyers spotted scope for improvement, explains Philip Wold Linkas.

He is one of two developers on the Thommessen Innovation & Development team, which counts a total of six specialists covering a range of skills. Philip was assigned technical responsibility for developing the Sustainability Database.

- I developed the initial prototype to demonstrate what could be achieved technically, and thereafter evolved the product in continuous close cooperation with the lawyers. I had many long conversations with them to discuss how to structure the data and all of the information to be included in the solution. It is really useful for both parties to gain an understanding of each other’s approach in such a project. Working closely with the lawyers provides me as a developer with a better understanding of client needs, explains Philip.

Associate Ingrid Skjelmo also highlights the benefits of close cooperation.

- At the outset, we spent a lot of time discussing the basic product concept – what kind of product it would be, what it would contain and what it would look like. We had to identify the actual client needs and how to best meet those needs, she explains.

Developing the product

The project team started out by identifying what banking and finance, shipping and company law regulations and private law initiatives are of relevance to clients and other stakeholders. This generated a long list of regulations and initiatives, drawing on the expertise of specialists from across Team Thommessen.

In addition to assistance from Innovation & Development, as well as Marketing, colleagues, we had about 15-20 lawyers involved in generating content for the database. One aspect of their input was to add Thommessen’s comments on how an initiative or regulation affects the businesses and industries in question.

Ingrid served as project manager – with responsibility for coordinating workflows between the various departments, as well as ensuring that the development process itself was progressing.

"To me, this project is a great example of how innovation happens when people team up across job categories, departments and areas of expertise to create something new. Ingrid Skjelmo

The outcome

Our brand-new Sustainability Database was launched in November 2020. It includes more than 60 sustainability regulations and initiatives at the time of writing, and is being continually expanded.

This saves clients from having to spend hours trawling through each of these regulations and initiatives, since the database enables them to readily identify what is relevant to their own business or industry.

- This process has challenged other skills than the purely legal ones and I have really enjoyed drawing on my creative abilities in addition to my knowledge of law. It adds to the satisfaction that the database has been received so favourably by our clients across industries and specialisations, explains Ingrid.

The database is also used internally.

- I use it myself when preparing to talk to new clients. I first visit the client’s website to establish which sustainability initiatives it has joined, and then read up on these in the database before the meeting. This gives me a better understanding of what the client is focused on in its internal processes and how it addresses sustainability, explains database initiator Henrik.

  • Would you like to know more about how we mobilise technology and innovation in response to new client needs? Read on here.

Are you a student who would like to check out the database?

You are welcome to register here for a closer look.

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