Legal Geek of the Week: Fredrik Svärd
Legal Geek - 15/11/2017

Sweden is not yet a European powerhouse for LegalTech. Yet the country can already lay claim to fostering one of LegalTech’s most ardent proponents: Fredrik Svärd.

A LegalTech fan first and foremost, Svärd is barging his way into the consciousness of the LegalTech scene in Europe because, well, he just really likes LegalTech.

Sometimes it’s as simple and as pure as that.

Fredrik Svärd, a trained lawyer specialised in IT law, is the Secretary General of the Swedish Data Protection Forum – which recently organised the biggest privacy and tech conference in the Nordics. Yet it’s his multiple extra-curricular hobbies which really catch the eye.

He is the founder of Legaltech.se, which looks at international as well as local trends in LegalTech and brings them to the attention of the Swedish Legal industry; a LegalTech podcast titled “I, Lawyer”, and the Swedish Legal Innovation Awards. And if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy in his spare time, he’s got two legal-focused books in the pipeline as well.

“I have always been interested in tech and when I noticed the trend of LegalTech coming in when I was working as a journalist covering the legal industry, I wanted to somehow be a part of this important movement,” Fredrik explained to Legal Geek.

“I needed an outlet for this passion that was developing. The legal system is dysfunctional and I believe LegalTech can be of great value not only to lawyers and buyers of legal services but to society as a whole. If I can help grow the movement, great, but more than anything I just wanted to be involved. The Swedish legal publications weren’t aware or interested at the time, so, much like Richard Tromans, I started my own platform.”

But just being involved has been no easy task for Svärd who believes that Sweden is very much an outpost in the LegalTech community where there is little impetus for innovation.

He puts this down to Sweden having escaped relatively unscathed from the economic downturn of nine years ago combined with a consensus that there isn’t an access to justice problem in the country.

As Svärd says “these factors mean that pressure is not coming from clients to their law firms to make changes that can bring costs down and save people time. That’s why change isn’t coming quickly. Being a small country with a small language doesn’t help either – but that doesn’t explain why countries such as Norway, Estonia and the Netherlands are ahead of us in certain areas.”

But Svärd does positively concede that the tanker is gradually turning, pointing to the increased interest which the Swedish Innovation Awards is starting to receive.

“In the first year of our awards we had about 10 candidates. People said we wouldn’t be able to do this annually because the same 10 companies would be winning every year. But I am getting more and more requests to be involved and this year we have named more than 20 candidates.

“Also in the last year between 5-10 law firms have started using artificial intelligence such as iManage/RAVN, Luminance and Kira Systems. And if other firms are not using these platforms, they are at least aware of them.”

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