Alumna of the month: Merete Nygaard
Merete Nygaard is the CEO & Founder of Lawbotics, a young firm helping companies to streamline parts of the legal processes. In this interview she tells us how she went from being an attorney to entrepreneur.
- When you started studying law at UiB did you have a clear idea of what kind of career you wanted to pursue?
- Quite the contrary, I chose law because I liked the subject in high schhol, and from my understanding legal studies were the perfect ground education on which one could build further knowledge.
After graduation I worked many years as an attorney, mostly on technology and intellectual property law. During this time, I built my competence and understanding of technology. I am a very curious person that tries to find solutions and easier ways to do things. By working as an attorney, I noticed that several aspects of the day-to-day tasks of lawyers could be simplified by technology. And that is when I took the leap to start my own company: Lawbotics.
- Lexolve, the first product of Lawbotics has been described as the Netflix for lawyers. Do you like the analogy? Tell us about it.
- Our product LEXOLVE is not really built for lawyers, but is a legal self-service solution enabling private and business consumers to solve a variety of legal problems themselves in an easy, accessible and affordable way. Our main goal is to be a digital inhouse lawyer for small businesses, where they can easily access and use legal information relevant for their business, gain insight about current and future legal implications and understand and solve their needs before they become an expensive problem in the future. I’m not sure about the analogy to Netflix, except that we are a platform driven business, meaning that we can reuse and distribute legal content to benefit a large group of users, and in this way changing the way legal services are consumed, like Netflix has changed how media content is consumed.
- What has been the most difficult part to start your own company?
- The main challenge with starting a company & building an innovative product is that you need to solve a myriad of things - at once! You need to get the right team, get funding, attract customers, - and the most important thing: build a product the customers love!
We were lucky enough to receive our first funding from Innovation Norway; their support has allowed us to develop Lexolve.
- What is innovation for you?
- I believe that innovation is a cooperative effort of several people with different backgrounds and skills.
Shared intelligence is always better than your own alone.
- What kind of possible development do you see for artificial intelligence in the legal sector?
- The legal sector is very conservative, and it is challenging to bring technology in a sector where technology is often not welcome. I personally believe that embracing technology will help law firms meet their current and future challenges faster.
But the target of Lexolve are not legal firms, rather small companies which are interested in having quick access to personalized legal solutions such as contracts and documents. Our goal is to make legal services easily available at low cost.
- In a report from 2016 conducted by Deloitte, they predict “profound reforms” across the legal profession within the next 10 years, with 39% of jobs in the legal sector standing to be automated. What do you think about that?
- I think that technology is not a replacement for lawyers, but rather a tool to improve efficiency and accuracy that will not eliminate the need for lawyers but will change how legal services and advice are consumed and delivered. Hence, I believe that studying law is still relevant and a good education for anyone wanting to build a solid foundation for several types of careers related to law, however I do believe we can not only study law. I believe the future lawyer needs to know and understand other disciplines than law - and that the best way to achieve that is being curious and training your creativity skills!
- What advise would you give to a student wanting to start its own company?
- Love your customer’s problem! It’s easy to set your eyes on a certain solution, but unless you really understand the user need, you’re going to fail. Too many move to fast into solution mode, but what they really should be doing is really understand the customer & how they are solving this problem today.
Love your customer’s problem!
- If you were given the possibility to choose just one book to bring with you on a desert highland, which one would bring along?
- The originals by Adam Grant