Meera Klemola is a recognized leader in human-centered design for the legal profession. A strategic designer and former corporate lawyer, with added qualifications in business; she possesses a rare combination of creative, analytical and strategic know-how. I had the pleasure of talking to Meera about her new company Observ, designing and entreprenuership, and the women whom she admires.
You recently launched your new legal design and strategic insights agency Observ. Tell us a little more about it.
MK: “That’s right. Just two weeks ago with my fellow founder Emma Hertzberg, we launched our legal design and strategic insights agency Observ. We have a distinctive vision to bring clarity to complexity. Essentially, we use our combined expertise in design, law, business and communications to help make law more accessible and understandable. We believe well-considered legal design is important for society and we are so grateful to see that many others believe the same. We are one of the first legal design agencies and have received tremendous support and positivity from the industry for our initiative. In just two weeks since our launch we have projects working with incredible clients through Europe, Middle East, Australia and Latin America…perhaps USA next? Let’s see!”
What is a typical day like for you?
MK: “Running a business requires you to wear so many different hats, there really is no such thing as a “typical day”. There’s of course a lot of meetings with our wonderful clients and working on their projects and brand collaborations and marketing. Then there’s also other days where an afternoon could be spent on administrative tasks and business planning, the things that just need to be done to keep business running smoothly. I also try to fit in regular exercise – dancing and pilates are my personal choices.
It’s hard to keep track of all the different things Emma and I do in a day – the word ‘routine’ currently doesn’t exist in my vocabulary, but it’s all just so exciting that I don’t really feel like it’s work. As they say, find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!”
What tools could you not live without in your workspace?
MK: “A notebook and pen. I do my best thinking when I sit down and write or sketch out ideas. And of course, my phone and laptop are pretty crucial too.”
As a legal designer, what are some challenges you face in your career?
MK: “Legal design is still an up and coming area of expertise. In a way, bringing design philosophies to the legal sector is ‘disruptive’ to the conventional legal ways of doing and thinking. Like with all disruptive methods, it takes time for people to adopt, depending on their openness and readiness to embrace or at least experiment with change. When we first started talking about legal design the main challenge was first ensuring people understood what design is and then getting people to understand how design is crucial to all future organizations, especially if they want to remain relevancy and keep pace in this digital world. However, now we are seeing a great shift in mindset as industries like legal are increasingly embracing design as a tool to solve complex legal problems and make their services more engaging and accessible.”
What do you love most about designing?
MK: “The creative process and the fact that design is human. Designing requires you to really get to know people; understanding what they want and what will help them. That’s how the best products and services are developed.”
What is your personal/professional motto?
MK: “Profession motto: It’s far more admirable to try and fail, than fail to try. My dad engrained this into our heads as kids…Looks like he was preparing me for life as an entrepreneur all along!
Personal Motto: Live so that when people think of authenticity, integrity and kindness, they think of you. This motto was shared with me as a young teenager and really resonated – I guess you could say they form my moral compass.”
As a keynote speaker in many events, do you ever get scared of public speaking?
MK: “Sharing my expertise and knowledge is such a pleasure and it’s something that I truly love to do. I’ve had the privilege to speak to audiences from billion-dollar companies like Daimler and at some of the largest legal and design conferences globally. Preparation is key to delivering a keynote speech and pre-stage nerves are completely normal. Practice makes perfect.”
Name a woman (women) whom you admire or look up to and why.
MK: “The is a hard question because there are many women (and people) have contributed to my journey and successes.
If I had to choose one woman though, it would be my mom. She embodies strength, resilience and has the biggest heart. She is a great sounding board, grounds me and has always been an unwavering pillar of support.
As for other women I admire, I couldn’t possibly create a shortlist – my sister, my girlfriends, Maya Angelou, Turia Pitt, Diane Von Furstenberg…the list really goes on! There are many female mentors and role models in my life, I just feel very lucky to be surrounded by such positive influences.”
What is the biggest highlight as a designer so far?
MK: “Launching Observ is definitely a highlight and the fact that my work in legal design sees me designing products and services that have a meaningful impact on people’s lives, that’s a very special feeling.”
What are some goals you have for 2019?
MK: “Goal setting is a habit I cultivated at a young age. I actually used to be an elite gymnast training 36,5 hours a week (plus school) with a big hope to represent my country, Australia, in the Olympics. Whilst, my Olympic dream did not eventuate, I learnt a lot of things along the way like self-discipline, coping with failure and of course, goal setting. As an elite athlete one of the first things you are taught and encouraged to do is to set goals.
I like to set goals for myself at the start of each year. Setting goals helps us to dream big and more importantly helps us identify concrete steps to take to achieve those dreams.
This year, most of my professional goals relate to Observ – the initiatives and collaborations we are aiming to roll out. My personal goal for 2019 is to prioritize my health, fitness and wellbeing. When business gets busy, the first thing that is often neglected is mental and physical health. I know from experience, that this is not sustainable in the long run, so I’ve set a goal to consciously make time for self-care.”
What does the world need more of? Less of?
MK: “A day without laughter is a day wasted. So, let’s see more laughter (you can never have too much right?) and more enthusiasm for people pursuing their dreams…and less judgment.”
What advice do you have to tell a future entrepreneur?
MK: “That great idea you have – start bringing it to life now, because a year from now you’ll wish you started today. There will always be a reason not to start and then of course there is self-doubt and we find so many ways to talk ourselves out of giving it a go. But, if you don’t try, then you’ll never know just how great your idea could have been. Talk to people who have walked the path already – it’s these people who gave me the gentle nudge I needed to start my journey as an entrepreneur.”
About Meera Klemola
Meera Klemola is an Australian corporate lawyer turned designer and entrepreneur. She is a keynote speaker and a recognized leader in human-centered design for the legal profession. Meera is also a founder at Observ, one of the first full service legal design and strategic insights agencies, working with some of the most iconic brands and companies.
Follow: @observagency @meera.klemola