Olof Heggermann is a seasoned professional with a rich background in the Swedish court system, complemented by experiences in banking and law firms. In 2020, he co-founded Eperoto with a team of expert engineers, driven by his passion for technology and a vision to innovate the legal industry. Eperoto, which has become an essential tool for law firms and companies in the Nordics, aims to assist lawyers and their clients in understanding and navigating the complexities of legal disputes, facilitating settlements both in and out of court. His career, marked by a commitment to integrating traditional legal practices with cutting-edge technology, highlights Olof's belief in the transformative potential of new ways of thinking in the legal field.
What inspired you to start Eperoto, and how did your background in the Swedish court system, banks, and law firms contribute to the development of the idea?
After working in these different settings, I got to see legal disputes from the perspective of the parties, the counsel, and most recently, the courts. Despite most disputes revolving around commercial matters, it was often clear that the actors involved had difficulties in finding a route that they saw could make commercial sense.
In Sweden, the courts have a responsibility to help parties settle their disputes through negotiation. I myself wanted a tool that would help parties make rational decisions when dealing with disputes. Lawyers are very good at understanding the legal aspects of a dispute, but not always good at explaining the process and value from a commercial perspective. After seeing disputes drag on for years in court or managed through sometimes costly arbitration, it became painfully clear that the parties needed a better understanding of their position in a dispute; lawyers needed a way to help them reach this understanding, and mediators and courts needed tools to assist them with this. This need was the start of the development of Eperoto.
Could you elaborate on the specific ways in which Eperoto facilitates settlements in legal disputes for both court and out-of-court cases? How does the platform analyze risks and rewards for parties involved?
First of all, let’s put aside AI and big data for a while. Eperoto is a platform that relies on the input from the lawyers or users themselves. We’ve sometimes been described as a “Figma for lawyers” - where lawyers build a visual decision tree-type model of their case where the strengths and weaknesses of the case are mapped out. These visual maps of the case are then translated into a financial output that shows the potential upside and downside of the case, and the average value of the case, sometimes called the “expected value” or the BATNA (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement). The technology is based on what is generally known as decision analysis or decision theory.
Considering your belief in the potential of new ways of thinking to improve the legal industry, what innovative technologies or approaches does Eperoto employ to differentiate itself from traditional legal analysis methods?
The result of a legal analysis, a legal “due diligence,” is usually a memo that uses words to explain the strengths and weaknesses of a case. This crucial and often complex work is why lawyers can bill the quite high fees they do. But the delivery of all that hard work does not always translate into actionable advice. Commercial disputes revolve around commercial values and should be expressed with numbers - not just words.
Yes, the risk assessment of a dispute relies on many unknown variables, but that does not mean that the bottom line has to be: “We estimate that you have a reasonable chance of successfully defending against this claim, but also a not insignificant risk of losing.”
By comparison, the future value of a company depends on an extremely complex set of variables, but still, an expert can put these together to suggest a value, usually the price of the shares. A dispute, on the other hand, usually consists of unknown variables that are limited and kept in a rather confined space. Based on this, a proper assessment of a case should be that “Based on the currently available information, if you would settle today, it would make sense to pay something in the range from x-y, but if the other party wants more than that, it’s better to take the risk of a main hearing.
How has Eperoto evolved since its founding in 2020? Can you share any significant milestones or achievements the company has reached while serving law firms and companies in the Nordics?
Certainly! As you say, we are a Scandinavian company based in Stockholm and Gothenburg, with many users in Norway - but we do also have customers in the UK, in Canada, and the US. The best milestones are the feedback we get from our users.
One experienced user had built a quite complex assessment revolving around a construction dispute. It showed that his client had some claims that were strong, some weaker, and that the opposing party had counterclaims with potential merit. He recommended the client to settle in a certain range. The client later rejected a settlement offer in that range on the basis that they did not want the other party to “get away with their actions.” In the end, the client was awarded an amount that was not insignificant – but after payment of legal costs – quite a bit lower than the rejected settlement alternative. Also, it was not quite that “blow” to teach the other party a lesson. The outcome also turned out to be just 2-3% off from what the assessment had shown to be the most likely outcome value. This was a good way for the lawyer to show that even complex cases can be assessed with precision.
We also have several examples of parties reaching settlement agreements based on clear and concise assessments provided by the tool.
As Eperoto continues to grow, are there any plans to expand its services beyond the Nordics, and what challenges and opportunities do you foresee in such expansion efforts?
Although based in Sweden, we are an international team, and have customers in the UK and US and Canada. The main challenge for us is the same as most legal tech providers face: finding the time in lawyers' busy schedules to adopt new technology such as ours. The emergence of the new legal tech / legal ops functions in law firms and companies is immensely valuable here. Setting plans for good implementation and being open to the needs of our users is what it’s all about. There are few shortcuts, and more about consistency and hard work, but when all functions align and the result is there - it’s all worthwhile!