The Legal Design Summit Timeline

How did it all come to be?

The story of Legal Design Summit is a story of people who had great interest in legal design, & of how volunteering & the community are the backbone of all movements.


The original birth of the Legal Design Summit

It all began with a vision...

  • The vision: Founders Antti Innanen & Johanna Rantanen (from Dottir Attorneys) and Jaakko Wäänänen (from Hellon design consultancy), together with Pilvi Alopaeus (then a student at the U of Helsinki Law School) envisaged the first ever legal design event in Finland
  • The venue: Pilvi contacted Kimmo Nuotio (Dean of Law School at the U of Helsinki) who offered the law school as the venue, making the first Legal Design Summit possible.
  • The organisers: The event was financed by ticket sales & by Dottir & Hellon, and organised by a group of students from Finnish Law Schools, led by Pilvi as the CEO.
  • The attendees: The event was national & had about 300 attendees (who paid for tickets). Speakers included legal design big names such as Margaret Hagan, Helena Haapio & Stefania Passera!
  • The impact: The event had a great impact on the Finnish legal tech & design field. As an example, the Legal Tech Lab of the U of Helsinki, led by Riikka Koulu, was created after the Summit.

The power of community: from a national event to the largest legal design event in the world and the first ever BrainFactory


After the great impact of the first Legal Design Summit, the founders thought this could not be just a one off; there was something special here...

  • The vision: Antti called Pilvi & suggested she take the role of CEO & gather a team a volunteers, Hellon & Dottir would support, and Antti, Johanna & Jaakko would coach & guide whenever needed. Pilvi said yes in about 20 seconds and the next thing she did was to call 15 of her friends and ask: "should we create the largest legal design event in the world?”. They all said "yes". Soon the team included 50-100 volunteers that all believed in the same vision.
  • The venue: The venue: U of Helsinki & newly-founded Legal Tech Lab offered to sponsor the venue; the Great Hall of the U of Helsinki that would have seats for 700 people. The event was still to be commercially backed by Hellon & Dottir, however, the financing was based on ticket sales and sponsorships. Quite quickly the team realised that, in order to really create an impact and attract interest, the Summit should not be just an event, but an invitation for people to discuss with open minds, & make every participant feel ownership of the event and the community. In other words, they needed to spark a movement and a community around the Summit.
  • Building the community: There already was an amazing community on legal tech and design around the world, brought together by many great non-profit organisations and academic institutions and the Team wanted to bring them together.
  • The attendees: The Summit included over 700 international attendees, plus an amazing group of speakers such as Cat Moon, Dan Jackson, Margaret Hagan. The event was a success and the special atmosphere was described to be open, safe, international, and inviting. It was not just an event but a festival celebration of the community.
  • The impact: This was also the first year when BrainFactory was held. It was important to create a workshop where everyone could feel safe to try out the legal design method when guided by legal design professionals, while working on real life cases in small teams. It was also important for the team to harness the power of diversity as much as possible. The cases were provided by real clients, including but not limited to the Finnish Ministry of Justice. The BrainFactory was a great success, and many wonderful new careers began as a result of it.


Re-founding the Legal Design Summit as a non-profit organisation; The new beginning as a free event

The Legal Design Summit of 2017 had been a great success. It had ignited the community and created joy, new opportunities, and paths for many...

  • The vision: In early spring 2019, Jukka Linna, who led the Laurea University of Applied Science’s legal design studies, wanted to make a new Summit happen. Thus, Jukka (U of Applied Sciences), Mika Viljanen (U of Turku), Henna Tolvanen, Nina Toivonen, and Pilvi Alopaeus came together to consider what to do with the Summit. Even though the Summit of 2017 was a success, there had been something missing; on paper, it was still owned by Dottir & Hellon, but the community had taken ownership of it:

The Three Decisions:

  • The first decision: was to found the "Legal Design Finland Association" as a legal entity led by Jukka, Mika, Nina, Henna & Pilvi. Dottir and Hellon graciously gave all ownership to it in order to support the community and the legal design movement. Their support had been paramount over the years but they agreed that it was time for the Summit to try out its own legs & see where the community would take it.
  • The second decision: that shaped the fate of the Summit was to make the Summit free of charge. This would really make the event more accessible. When word of this decision reached the global community, the reception was overwhelmingly positive. The Summit had taken probably one of its most important steps to date.
  • The third decision: was that the Summit would not become a digital event. The world is full of amazing digital events but the Summit would be about meeting people in real life. The Board understood that this would limit the accessibility of the Summit, but they were confident that this would be necessary for the event’s spirit. The most important part, that the Summit was organised and would always be organised by volunteers would remain as the core value of the organisation. Thus, the amazing volunteer team of 2019 was formed. Pilvi continued as the CEO and Henna and Nina took the hats of Co-Producers.
  • The venue and funding: The City of Helsinki kindly allowed the Summit’s venue to be the City Hall of Helsinki. The event was funded fully by sponsorships.
  • The organisers: The team also collaborated with several amazing non-profit organisations & academic institutions in order to bring the community together.
  • The attendees: The program was a great success and included the super stars of legal design and many new voices and ideas. The event was more international than ever before: people came from all over the world - every continent was represented! The spirit was described to be a "Woodstock-like”.
  • The impact: The BrainFactory was organised at Maria 01 (the Nordic’s leading startup campus). Real cases were provided by real clients, such as the Finnish Ministry of Environment. The BrainFactory was again a huge success and had a great impact on many individuals who took part in it.

The Covid years...

2020 / 2022

  • In 2022, Noora Rissanen, Pilvi Alopaeus, Sonja Kojo, Juulia Lehtinen, and Malin Männikkö came together and formed the new Board of the owner association. The former Board members Jukka Linna, Mika Viljanen, Nina Toivonen, and Henna Tolvanen became the first honorary members of the Association.
  • The new Board started to think: should the Summit make a return? COVID19 had changed the world & also caused the Summit to have a long break. The Board wondered: would there still be a need for an event like Summit? Would the community still want to gather in person or would it be time to announce that the Summit would retire?


Going global! The most international & diverse Legal Design Summit

The Board decided to take a leap of faith and, in early 2023, the Volunteer Team of 2023 took the reins. This year, the volunteer team is more global and diverse than ever before! Organically, the theme of organising the most diverse Summit was born.