Avainsana: contract design

Episode 46: Designing Contracts without Lawyers with Milva Finnegan and Anna Hurmerinta-Haanpää

Milva Finnegan and Anna Hurmerinta-Haanpää

In this episode we concentrate on contracts and how to make them more functional. We are joined by Milva Finnegan and Anna Hurmerinta-Haanpää who both have completed their doctoral dissertations on contract design.

Milva and Anna talk about the transition from understanding contracts as mere legal risk management tools to instruments of communication, and how to design user-friendly contracts that are fit for purpose. Our guests help us understand better the status quo in contracting. We talk about why so many contracts (still today) are mostly about managing legal risks, and therefore full of legal jargon. Contracts are typically understood as some sort of “weapons” or “risk management tools” that should try to safeguard the interests of contracting parties. However, in this episode we learn what other purposes there are for contracts.

We dive deep and talk about whether lawyers really understand the full potential of contracting, or did we just stop caring at some point. And what if lawyers weren’t the ones to design contracts and what special skills different professionals can bring to the contract design process?

Milva Finnegan, PhD, recently completed her doctorate degree in Economics in business law at the University of Vaasa in Finland. Her research focuses on merging contract law and contract design to produce simplified and usable contracts that all users can understand. She recently joined KPMG US as the director of the Client Contract Value Center. Prior to KPMG Milva ran a contracts consulting company, Karhu, LLC, for 10 years. Her company worked with clients implementing contract management best practices, integrating electronic Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) systems, and taught workshops on how to redesign and simplify contract documents. Prior to starting her own company Milva worked at The Boeing Company over 12 years in both contracts and finance disciplines on various multi-million-dollar plus government and commercial programs.

Anna Hurmerinta-Haanpää is a University Lecturer at the University of Lapland, Faculty of Law. She defended her doctoral dissertation on the functions of contracts in interorganizational relationships in spring 2021. At the moment her research interests include collaborative, responsible and sustainable contracting. Besides her research, she is eager to develop legal education.

This episode is brought to you by Precisely – the CLM platform setting a new standard for digital contracting. For more information, go to preciselycontractsl.com/ldp.

Episode 26: Proactive Legal Information Design with Helena Haapio and Rob Waller

Rob Waller and Helena Haapio.

Making legal information more comprehensible and easier to use is a central theme in legal design. It is also a topic that has recently gained increasing research interest, sparking new ideas on how to enhance the usability of contracts and other legal documents in practice.

Research has shown that understanding what a document says, is all about human metacognition. If users are enabled to connect the content of a legal document with ideas that are meaningful to them, it can help avoid “cognitive accidents” and work as a proactive method to promote legal wellbeing of the users and other parties. When users can understand what is expected of them, legal conflicts and misbehavior due to misunderstandings are less likely to occur.

Rob and Helena share insights from their various projects and collaborations, like the contract simplification project with an energy industry facility and Canadian aboriginals. We also hear what proactive law is, and practical tips about how to improve the usability of legal documents. If you want to know what makes a good (legal) document, tune in!

Helena Haapio is a lawyer on a mission to change the way contracts and law are perceived, presented, and taught. She is a lawyer and contract strategist by day and a researcher, author, and editor by night. She has had the good fortune of working with information designers and plain language experts who have taught her a lot. She is a co-founder and co-creator of the WorldCC Contract Design Pattern Library and currently co-editing two books for Edward Elgar, one on Contract Design and the other on Legal Design.

Helena is an Associate Professor of Business Law at the University of Vaasa, Finland, and a Contract Strategist at Lexpert Ltd. In addition to her doctorate and LLM, she is proud to hold a Master of Quality degree. Like engineers, Helena wants everything she does to be functional, useful, and usable.

Rob Waller’s recent work is in the growing field of legal information design, working to improve consumer and business contracts through plain language, usable design and visualization. His other current focus is the Information Design Summer School, which introduces non-specialists to theories and techniques that help to simplify complex information.

​Semi-retired from a career in research, teaching and consultancy, Rob has more time now for renovating a 200-year-old stone barn, gardening and playing sax – where no one can hear him. His 1987 PhD explored the relationship between language and design, and he continues to look for better ways to explain this and unify them in practice. Rob the current President of the International Institute for Information Design.

Link to the article mentioned in the episode: Robert Waller, Jenny Waller, Helena Haapio, Gary Crag & Sandi Morrisseau, Cooperation through Clarity: Designing Simplified ContractsJournal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation, Vol. 2, Issue 1–2 (Special Issue: Contracting for Innovation and Innovating Contracts), 2016, pp. 48–68. Manuscript available at ResearchGate. ( Please note that this is a manuscript of an article accepted for publication in the Journal of Strategic Contracting and Negotiation. To cite this article, please refer to the published version.)

Episode 22: Measuring the Impact of Contract Design with Katri Nousiainen

Katri Nousiainen.

“I personally believe that we need law and economics, and economic theory of legal design. We need to have these to do the scientific measurement, which is necessary for legal design to be seen as a state of a science – and this will naturally facilitate further its use.” says Katri Nousiainen.

There is increasing interest and demand towards contract design. While contract design might be a daily activity in some of the organizations, others might need more prove of why it is important and what’s the impact of contract design. When the impact of design can be scientifically measured, it will make the use of design methods in legal context more appealing as the positive effects for the business can be seen clearly.

But how to measure the impact? This week we are joined by Katri Nousiainen who is conducting her PhD study that focuses on the total impact of design in the framework of commercial contracts. Katri tells us about her reasearch work and explains why research is essential to understand the big picture of contracting. 

Katri Nousiainen is a lawyer and professional in legal education. She is conducting  pioneering empirical research on impact in Legal Design and Ethics in Commercial Contracts  with a twist of Law and Economics. She gives expert legal lectures on various practice areas  of Commercial Law, Legal Design and Law & Technology. She is an invited keynote speaker  at conferences and seminars across Europe. Currently she is conducting her research at the Harvard Law School, in the Center for Legal Profession (US) and at the University of  Cambridge (UK).

18. Episode: Myth Busting Contract Design with Stefania Passera

Stefania Passera.

“As many other things more or less abstract in the world surrounding us, contracts are man-made. If they are man-made, they are designed.. The fact that there’s a lack of design doesn’t mean it’s not designed, it’s bad design. We might as well do good design that is self-aware.” says Stefania Passera. 

Many people associate legal design with designing of contracts, but actually contract design is its own unique form of design that can have many other purposes than just making the legal aspects more understandable. Contracts can work as effective tools for preventing legal conflicts by supporting business, brand or social relations between contracting parties. However, these different purposes can be reached only when contracts are designed to fit them. 

In the last episode of the spring season 2021, Henna and Nina are joined by Stefania Passera, to bust myths about contract design and legal design. Stefania is an information designer and a legal design pioneer who has worked with many lawyers to help them make law more user-friendly. We also talk about legal design from a designer’s perspective. 

In an ideal world all the contract designing, and legal designing,  would be done in multidisciplinary teams of lawyers and designers. However, there is often a lack of resources to do this and lawyers might want to design legal documents and concepts themselves.  Stefania gives tips to these lawyers on how to make law better and more understandable and functional for the end-users.

Stefania Passera is an information designer and a legal design pioneer. For over 10 years, Stefania has been helping her clients to simplify, visualize, and make user-friendlier their contracts, policies, and other legal documents. Born in Italy and based in Espoo, Finland, she is the founder of contract and legal design consultancy Passera Design and assistant professor at University of Vaasa, Finland. Moreover, she is Contract Designer in Residence at World Commerce & Contracting, a co-author of the Legal Design Manifesto, and a co-founder of Legal Design Alliance. In 2020 she received the European Women of Legal Tech Award.