Career Stories | Valter Pasanen, Legal AI Analyst
20 September 2023
You started as a tech trainee in our Legal Tech Team one year ago. How did you end up at Hannes Snellman?
I was always interested in combining my passion for law with my interest in technology. As I was studying in Oslo for my LL.M. I looked for opportunities to gain practical work experience on the side and where technology and law would play a role. Norway has been a forefront in adapting these roles into their companies, but I was adamant that I would move back to Finland, so I focused on finding a position here. Hannes presented itself as a great opportunity to join a team of enthusiastic legal technologists and legal experts, which really stood out, and who had an excellent grasp over their field.
What made you want to stay at Hannes Snellman?
What really stands out at Hannes is the environment of willingness and openness to listen and embrace new ideas and proposals and an emphasis on personal growth. Already from the get-go as a trainee your ideas and comments are appreciated, and you feel that you get to be a part of the team.
There is also a real sense of interest and a want to stay at the forefront of the legal sphere. Both in terms of regulatory aspects and legal innovation. That is something that aligns well with my own interest. Hannes also provides many opportunities to further your own career growth through different guest lecturers, Hannes Academy, and by challenging you through new experiences and assignments.
You have an interesting background of studying abroad. Can you tell us about that?
I've always been interested in law and had a passion for participating in some international programmes, which really sparked my interest in studying abroad. This led me to pursue a bachelor's degree in the field of law in Tallinn. The study culture there was great, and the other students really pushed each other further! Studying abroad was a great choice, as it provided me with great connections and friends throughout Europe and the world.
After completing my bachelor's degree, I decided to pursue an LL.M. with a focus on privacy, data protection, and technology. I knew the focus had to be something related to technology, as I always saw myself as quite savvy in that topic. I found a programme in information and communications technology (ICT) law at the University of Oslo in Norway, which is offered by the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law and is one of the oldest and most prestigious research institutions regarding the ICT legal field.
The main focus of the LL.M. was the legal aspects of emerging technologies like AI, robotics law, the digital services sphere, internet governance, IP rights, data protection and privacy, and cybersecurity. The immeasurable value the programme offered was its extremely topical course selection with high emphasis on AI and emerging new EU regulation, as well as the diverse international perspectives provided by my peers.
How would you describe your new role as a legal AI analyst?
As a legal AI analyst, I'm the go-to person for making sure we at Hannes are up to speed when it comes to AI. My role is not only implementing, testing, and developing AI tools but also researching the legal field as well as client needs and questions regarding AI. I'm also the one who helps everyone understand how to use our AI tools, making them a regular part of our work by assisting those who will be using these tools every day.
I also bring a mix of tech know-how and legal smarts to the Legal Tech Team and will assist with new and interesting solutions. My position is quite varying, so it keeps me on my toes and easily adaptable.
What can we expect from AI in the legal field?
The future of AI within the legal field looks quite promising. AI will probably not for the foreseen future create perfect templates of contracts, for that we have contract automation. But AI will help us analyse, assist, recommend corrections, draft, format, and understand masses of text much better. We can expect new solutions to emerge in the horizon, such as the long-awaited Copilot for the Microsoft Office environment, and some of our internal efforts to make more personalised tools.
What would you say are future lawyers’ top three qualities from a technology and innovation perspective?
As technology and innovation continue to transform the legal industry, future lawyers will need to possess a range of skills and qualities to succeed. Here are three qualities that I believe are particularly important:
- Technological literacy. The ability to understand and work with technology is essential for lawyers today. Future lawyers must be comfortable with a range of tools and platforms, from document management systems, AI-based systems, and e-discovery software to automation tools. They should also have a basic understanding of what legal tech could achieve and how it could help them.
- Creative problem-solving. Technology and innovation are constantly creating new challenges for lawyers to solve. Future lawyers must be able to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to complex problems. This requires a willingness to think outside the box and collaborate with others to develop solutions that are both effective and efficient.
- Adaptability. The legal industry is changing rapidly, and future lawyers must be able to adapt to new technologies and working environments. This requires a willingness to learn new skills, experiment with new tools and technologies, and embrace change as a necessary part of the profession. Future lawyers should also be comfortable working in remote or virtual environments, as these are becoming increasingly common in the legal industry.
These qualities can be invaluable when working with tech clients or on tech-related cases. A question that is asked a lot is “Will AI take the jobs from lawyers?”. I would say no, but the lawyers who know how to use AI in their work will!
What do you like to do in your spare time? How do you take care of your well-being?
In my spare time, I enjoy being active and spending time outdoors. I find it refreshing to disconnect from technology and spend time in nature, whether it's cycling, playing frisbee golf, or just taking a walk. I also love cooking. The best part is to try to create a dish out of an unfamiliar ingredient. It is probably an aspect of innovating and being creative that makes it that much more enjoyable. Taking care of my well-being is important to me, and I make sure to prioritise that.
One theme popping up in working life discussions is purpose at work. To conclude this interview, we would like to ask you what the things are that keep you going and motivated in your work — what is the purpose of your work?
For me, what really keeps me motivated in my work is the diversity of assignments and being able to participate in projects from start to finish. It's incredibly rewarding to be able to work on a wide range of projects and witness their successful completion. I believe that having a purpose in your work is essential, and for me, it's all about contributing, accomplishing goals, and learning something new.
FAVOURITE | Way of Commuting: Train; Lunch: Something with salmon for sure; Work Equipment: A notebook to scribble in; Mobile Application: Spotify is probably my most used; Relaxation Method: I would say I find cooking very relaxing; Work Outfit: Something stylish but comfortable; Drink: A good cup of coffee or anything with ginger; Weekday: Saturday mornings are the best; Leisure Activity: Disc golf in the summer