Get to Know Us | Sarita Schröder, Managing Associate, IP & Technology
19 July 2022
We interviewed Sarita Schröder, a managing associate in our IP & Tech team who was on an internal rotation as a legal technologist in our Tech & Innovation team this spring. During her rotation, Sarita focused on project management, service design, and the effective use of our digital tools.
Can you share a little bit about your professional background and how you ended up doing an internal rotation to our Tech & Innovation team?
I graduated as a Master of Laws from the University of Helsinki in 2010. Prior to joining Hannes Snellman, I spent the majority of my career working for another large corporate law firm in Finland — most recently in the intellectual property practice, but initially for a couple of years in the competition law and dispute resolution practices. In addition, I have gained some valuable in-house experience working as a legal counsel for a major telecommunications company in Finland. There, I was primarily responsible for brand, marketing, and customer service related legal affairs.
In addition to a law degree, I also have a Master of Science (Economics and Business Administration) degree from Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, where I completed the Master’s Degree Programme in Intellectual Property Law in 2016. Studying alongside work was tough at times, but it was definitely worth it.
I joined Hannes Snellman’s IP & Tech team in November 2018. During spring 2022, I worked as a legal technologist in the firm’s Tech & Innovation team. I returned to the IP & Tech team in the beginning of June 2022.
What was included in your working day as a legal technologist?
My working days were very varied. I spent the first few weeks of my rotation getting to know my new team and the projects that the team was working on. From this perspective, the beginning of the year was a good time to start because, naturally, a lot of reflection on past work and planning of upcoming activities takes place then.
Subsequently, I had the opportunity to get involved in several different projects that related to, among other things, deepening our understanding of our clients’ needs from a service design perspective and preparing pitches that better serve those needs, as well as planning and executing new use-cases for our collaboration and automation tools. In addition, I was involved in the preparation of our Trainee Innovation Opportunity, in which our spring 2022 cohort of trainees had the opportunity to envision and share with us their thoughts on what the law firm of the future will look like — or whether law firms as we know them today will even exist some time down the line.
Based on your experience, would you recommend rotation or trying different roles in one’s organisation and why or why not?
Yes, definitely! Although specialisation is good (and necessary) to a point, I believe that having a broad range of knowledge and experiences helps us to think more flexibly and better consider different perspectives. For example, in addition to giving me a much better understanding of what our Tech & Innovation team does and what the current state of legal tech looks like, my rotation helped me to appreciate more fully how much expertise beyond that of our lawyers we have in our firm to offer our clients.
What role does technology play in a law firm?
These days, technology is everywhere. In a law a firm, we need to think about technology from two perspectives. On the one hand, we need to understand what technology our clients are using or might use in the future and how that impacts their business from a legal perspective. On the other hand, we also need to consider how we can use technology to help us do our work and serve our clients more effectively.
As regards the latter point, it can be tempting to think of legal tech solutions, such as automation and technology-assisted review, as revolutionary performance enhancers. However, while they certainly have the potential to reduce some of the laborious and tedious aspects of legal work, I would argue that even greater results can be achieved by enhancing contemplation, communication, and coordination. Therefore, I believe that developing human interactions and thought processes should be given priority, and the implementation of technological solutions should be seen as a way to free up time for or otherwise facilitate that.
If everything was possible, what would be your dream technological solution (personally or workwise)?
The amount of legislation in the world is growing at a breath-taking pace. These days, it sometimes feels like the greatest challenge faced by lawyers is not interpreting how certain legislation could or should be applied to a specific case but, rather, figuring out what the applicable legislative framework is in the first place. Although there are many different databases containing legal texts, case law, etc., the search functionalities in these are still quite limited and the search results can be somewhat of a mishmash of relevant and irrelevant information. Consequently, it is all too easy to miss something important — especially if you do not know exactly what you are looking for.
To address this issue, I wish someone could create a global legal database with the possibility to conduct searches based on the facts of the matter at hand. For example, I could input that I am interested in setting up a Finland-based online shop selling widgets imported from China to consumers in the EU, and the search results would provide me with a comprehensive and well-organised list of all the legislation (national or otherwise) applicable to the different aspects of the envisaged activities as well as links to the sources relevant to the interpretation of that legislation. This would save a lot of time on legal research and enable lawyers to focus more on advising on the practical application of the relevant legislation.
Alternatively, a more low-tech solution could be to evaluate whether we really need to regulate every little detail of every little thing, but that is a whole other can of worms…
What is the best advice you have received when it comes to your career?
Make small, incremental improvements every day and you will accomplish great things. With this advice in mind, I regularly put aside at least a little time to learn new things and polish my existing skills. Our frequent Hannes Academy trainings, which cover a broad range of legal, business, and personal development topics, provide an excellent opportunity for this. I also enjoy listening to reading and listening to podcasts and audiobooks on similar topics. In addition, during the pandemic, I have discovered the possibility of taking online courses from top universities on platforms such as Coursera and EdX.
FAVOURITE | Way of Commuting: Walking; Book: ‘Essentialism’ by Greg McKeown; Lunch: A salad or sushi; Podcast: ‘Ei saa peittää’ in which two young, Finnish women share their experiences living in Sweden; Work Equipment: My laptop; Afternoon Routine: A coffee break with colleagues; Mobile Application: Notion; Relaxation Method: Reading and exercise; Work Outfit: You can never go wrong with a black dress; Power Song: I am maybe a bit weird in that I do not really listen to music; Social Media Channel: YouTube; Drink: Water… or champagne; Weekday: Friday; Leisure Activity: Travelling
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