Features

Rui Caminha – Vitta – Visual Law

No legal details lost in translation

TIM Brasil, a division of Telecom Italia, excels in telecommunications. However, it’s occasionally struggled with articulating its services on paper. Its cellphone contract, once a cumbersome set of four documents filled with legal jargon and fine print, was a case in point. But by teaming up with a legal tech firm in São Paulo, the details were distilled into a simple two-page document.

The transformation was so striking that it captured the attention of an audience of 2,500 lawyers and other legal operations professionals. They honored TIM Brasil and its partner, Vitta – Visual Law, with the Legal Innovation in Operations Awards at the 2022 CLOC Global Institute gathering in Las Vegas. This marked the first time a Latin America company was so recognized by the Corporate Legal Operations Consortium.

Rui Caminha | Founder | Vitta - Visual Law

Rui Caminha | Founder | Vitta – Visual Law

This prize brought a smile to Rui Caminha, the CEO of Vitta – Visual Law. The firm has since gained further accolades from other international entities such as IIIDWard (Austria), Lusofonos (Portugal) and Future Law (Brazil).

With good-natured irony, Caminha observes how his innovative approach is praised by the same professionals who might find their jobs threatened by the simplification of unnecessarily convoluted documents.

“It sometimes appears that we as lawyers make subject matter hard to understand so we can control it,” he tells Vanguard in April. “It’s been the standard since the Romans, more than 2,000 years ago. Maybe it was intentional, or it just worked out that way, but it mainly benefited those controlling the law’s understanding and not the public.”

Also well-versed in law

Thus, it might seem ironic that the 39-year-old Caminha is a lawyer, having graduated from the University of Sao Paulo in 2007. His education has been enriched by postgraduate business administration and marketing courses, and he’s finalizing a master’s degree in the relatively fresh legal technology field.

However, he never intended to practice law in the traditional sense, even when founding his own firm 15 years ago. It became a reference in legal management and, by 2015, had grown from five to 100 lawyers, with an exclusive legal ops department. This was the first team in the firm to incorporate professionals from statistics and computer science, becoming the foundation for the legal tech companies he would incorporate in the following years.

He has always preferred to channel critical thinking and logical skills into related areas. In his case, it led to the creation of a studio that leverages technology, design and plain language to translate dense legal documents into clear language, accompanied by graphics, pictures and even videos.

Rui Caminha | Founder | Vitta - Visual Law

He recognizes the importance of data visualization and plain language in a world where tech platforms like Amazon, Uber and Netflix have conditioned consumers to expect quick and easy-to-digest information. He’s committed to disrupting legal communication, one of the remaining traditional holdouts.

“Our products are not just visually appealing. They are efficient, effective and clear,” he asserts of Vitta’s creations.

These have been embraced by Brazilian entities including state and federal courts, law firms and corporate clients such as Samsung, Electrolux, Santander Bank, Natura/Avon, Honda and Ferrero. Then there might be the millions of individuals who better understand their rights through the documents redesigned by Caminha and his team.

“The momentum for improving user experience and interfaces is tremendous,” he says. “By simplifying the understanding of agreements and other complex documents, we’re helping to minimize legal issues for everyone.”

The process, he goes on to say, preserves everything except needless jargon and starts by understanding a client’s objective. TIM Brasil’s two-page cellphone document is clearly assembled with blue highlights, enlarged text where required, defined primary and secondary objectives, clear explanations of payments and benefits, and QR codes in the upper right corner. Everything having been reviewed by legal counsel and approved by TIM Brasil, it’s transformed into an interactive, user-friendly digital format.

“We don’t do what lawyers excel at,” he says. “Instead, we tell them, ‘You already have a vast understanding of the law. Now, let’s present it in a way that everyone can comprehend.’”

Looking global

Caminha’s idea is gaining traction, and he’s set on expanding it on a global scale. Vitta’s already established personnel in Germany and Portugal to advance its European endeavors. Of course, there’s much to do in Brazil with its 500 law schools, 1.2 million lawyers and 80 million pending lawsuits. He adds that the large number of multinational companies with Brazilian branches should further propel this endeavor.

He often echoes the words of the philosopher Heraclitus: “Change is the only constant.” Embracing this innovation journey, the company once called Villa – Visual Law Studio adopted the new identity as Vitta – Visual Law. This change, he explains, signifies that the “Villa” has expanded and now encompasses all aspects of life—“Vitta.”

“The metaphor carries a great practical significance as the company begins to operate in all aspects of information design,” he says. “Airline tickets, traffic signs, telephone bills, bank statements… almost everything around us generates a potential legal relationship where some information needs to be communicated.”

Rui Caminha | Founder | Vitta - Visual Law

Reflecting on what lured him into this distinctive field of law, Caminha credits his family, an entrepreneurial father, a creative architect mother and hard-working siblings as his guiding lights. Initially drawn to engineering, he pivoted to legal during his high school exchange program in the United States. Law studies appeared to be a versatile field that could fit into any line of pursuit.

However, Caminha did not aspire to present arguments in court or take depositions. He emphasizes that Vitta – Visual Law is his current priority and expresses excitement about the fusion of the legal, technology and design sectors.

He manages approximately 200 employees, oversees a burgeoning client base, hosts a podcast and is finishing his first book on visual law. His firm also commits to undertaking at least one pro bono project each quarter. On a personal note, he enjoys a fulfilling home life with his wife and their 3-year-old twin daughters.

“I’m happy I attended law school, but from the beginning, I wanted to innovate,” he says. “I wanted to create something that made people’s life better through understanding the law, and this is how I chose to do it.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Summer I 2023 Edition here.

Published on: June 1, 2023

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