Q&A with New Partner Iiris Kivikari

Posted on

15 Dec

2023

Dittmar & Indrenius > Insight > Q&A with New Partner Iiris Kivikari

With a wealth of experience in serving leading global and Finnish clients, our new partner Iiris Kivikari navigates the dynamic legal landscapes of intellectual property, media, data protection and data assets. She is also a leading expert in Finland on the legal aspects of transformational technologies such as artificial intelligence. Beyond her legal expertise, Iiris is also an enthusiastic mountain climber and a devoted mother of two young girls.

Q: What initially drew you to specialize in intellectual property, media law, data protection and AI?

Technology and science have always fascinated me, and the legal challenges surrounding these areas are at the forefront of our rapidly evolving world. A company cannot become or stay competitive if it does not invest in its digital capabilities and intangible assets. Being able to assist clients in safeguarding their innovations while harnessing the power of emerging technologies is both intellectually stimulating and highly rewarding.

Q: What are the primary challenges businesses face today regarding intellectual property, data and AI in a global context?

In a global landscape, businesses encounter a multitude of challenges, including EU regulations, data privacy concerns, and the race to protect innovations in a rapidly advancing technological environment. Just the amount of new and upcoming data and technology regulation is mind-boggling! Not to even mention the impact of new technologies on intellectual property rights. Navigating these complexities demands a comprehensive understanding of local and EU laws in order to safeguard innovations while fostering collaboration and compliance.

Q: How do you foresee the future of AI and data impacting the legal industry?

When my grandfather, who worked in the paper industry, turned 60 in the late 1980s, he said he was too old to learn how to use a computer and refused to have one in his office. When he turned 70, the only gift that he wished for was a computer – because, as he put it: “Computers are taking us to places we have never been before, and I refused to be left behind”. I think about this every time I feel weary about learning something new.

It is safe to say that the evolution of AI and data analytics will continue to revolutionize the legal industry, streamlining processes, enhancing research capabilities, and offering more efficient ways to deliver legal services. It challenges us to evolve and learn. However, it also raises ethical, privacy, and security concerns which force us to ask ourselves: “In a world where practically anything is possible, what do we think is right.” We need to ensure that we are the ones in the driver’s seat and not just passengers there for the ride.

Q: How do you foresee the evolving use of Artificial Intelligence impacting the legal landscape, particularly in the realm of intellectual property?

The emergence of new AI technologies and their expanding scope of use present a fascinating yet challenging landscape in intellectual property law. AI, capable of creating highly realistic and credible content autonomously, raises pertinent questions regarding copyright ownership and infringement both in relation to its input and output material, but also to the use of the technology itself. AI blurs the lines between original and tech-generated work and challenges traditional notions of intellectual property rights. To some extent, legal frameworks must evolve to address the attribution and ownership issues arising from AI-generated content to ensure fair protection for creators while fostering innovation in this AI-driven era. On the other hand, in many situations it is merely us lawyers that need to ensure that we know how to apply the existing legal framework to its fullest extent.

Q: In a competitive legal landscape where brand and reputation play pivotal roles, what led you to choose D&I initially, and how does its ethos align with your values and expertise today? Moreover, how does the firm’s reputation benefit both your professional aspirations and the diverse needs of its clientele?

Joining D&I in 2013 was a decision based on people. As a young lawyer, I understood that I had a lot to learn about not only law itself, but also about how to be a lawyer, legal professional and colleague. D&I’s reputation for best legal expertise, especially in the areas of my own interests, coupled with the firm’s overall dedication to innovation and client-centric approaches, resonated deeply with me. The most important factor, however, to choosing D&I not only then, but also today is the firm’s collaborative “team before individual” culture promoting knowledge sharing and encouraging an interdisciplinary, cross-silo approach.

For our clients D&I represents a solid, trusted partnership. We believe in our Powerhouse operating model and our collaborative proficiency. They allow us to offer comprehensive solutions that transcend legal advice. We aim to always provide not only legal advice, but strategic insights tailored to the intricacies of each client’s industry.

Q: Within the context of law firm culture and business, how do you perceive the concept of psychological safety, and what role does it play at D&I in fostering a conducive environment for legal professionals to thrive, collaborate, and innovate?

One of the beautiful aspects of practicing law in the digital age is the ever-evolving nature of our work. In our Innovation Powerhouse, working at the intersection of law and technology means that we’re constantly exploring things that are new. For us, embracing diverse perspectives is not just a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s a necessity.

Over the years I’ve grown to understand the importance of a culture where everyone feels valued. As a new partner, I am committed to nurturing a modern culture of intellectual curiosity and bravery. Happy, heard, and respected colleagues translate into better client service and innovative legal solutions. Psychological safety is key to unlocking the full potential of the teams while also being the glue that holds the team together.

I believe that at D&I, we truly see inherent value in an environment where every professional, legal or admin, whether they’re just starting their career or have decades of experience, can fearlessly share their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment or repercussions. On a more personal level, for someone who’s never shy about diving into unprecedented challenges or engaging in spirited debates, it’s a privilege to be part of a team that thrives in such an intellectually stimulating environment.

Q: You are becoming a partner at D&I when the firm is celebrating its 125th Anniversary. How does it feel to reach this milestone at a law firm that has stood witness to Finland’s historical evolution? Additionally, looking ahead to the next 125 years, what role do you envision this firm playing in the ever-evolving legal landscape?

It’s quite humbling to contribute to a legacy that predates the internet, smartphones, and even modern plumbing. More seriously, while I might not be a history buff, becoming a partner in the anniversary year makes me appreciate the firm’s endurance and adaptability. Who knew I’d end up joining a law firm that’s practically a character in Finland’s historical saga!

Reflecting on this milestone prompts a profound appreciation for and a continued commitment to our ability to serve our clients through Finland’s transformative phases. It’s a reminder of embracing modern challenges while staying rooted in the principles that have guided us since 1899.

As to the crystal ball part of the question, I’m sure that the next 125 years will be an exciting marathon of innovation! While I won’t be around for all of it, I envision D&I to be the legal equivalent of a forward-thinking time traveller, at the forefront of legal innovation. We’ll definitely witness AI and data becoming absolutely central to our practice. In 2149, I bet the new generation of D&I attorneys will look back at us and marvel at how we chose not only to “keep up”, but “lead the way”.

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