Evert Nõlv’s journey from Silicon Alley in Tartu to Silicon Valley in USA
I am sitting in a law lecture and see the lecturer scroll a legal act to find a section referred to in a particular clause. Suddenly it hits me that there could be a link which would make the life of the lecturer and every other lawyer easier.
A few days of programming later I have completed the programme xlaw.eu which adds links to the references in the legal acts. A few months later I upgrade the programme with the option that adds references to instructions, articles and court cases. By now, xLaw has more than 600 users. The Estonian Bar Association has only 1000 members.
Often we do not notice the obvious and elementary things which technology could simplify. Although I took law as a minor specialisation during my bachelor’s studies in information technology, I did not notice these possibilities either. The UT Software Engineering programme in English brought me out of my comfort zone with a foreign language, international company and subjects where we analyse the business processes of companies and try to find the possibilities to optimise.
In addition to subjects of the Software Engineering programme, I took subjects from the recently opened IT Law programme. This has given me a new perspective and helped see the world from a different angle.
I believe that innovation is found at the intersection of different fields. Estonia has a number of successful examples and so, IT can be mixed with finance (TransferWise), agriculture (VitalFields) or geography (Reach-U, formerly called Regio).
The curricula of IT Law and Software Engineering have students from all around the world, for example, Ukraine, Pakistan and Nigeria. The synergy that arises from communicating with learners of different nationalities helps understand the world better. I believe that understanding different cultures and learning and working together with people from there is an advantage for succeeding in international work culture as well as everyday life.
Based on myself and many acquaintances I can give examples of ideas that have developed thanks to studying in an international environment. Among other things, I participated in the TransferWise Challenge contest in 2015. With an international team, we managed to win first place and the prize was flying to the TransferWise London headquarters.
Advantage of English
We in Estonia are too small to shut ourselves off and hope that we can manage on our own. We live in a globalising world where communicating with other people, understanding them and doing business with them is increasingly important. This does not mean that we should give up on the Estonian language but that we should notice others next to us and be able to communicate with them.
Combining two specialisations has brought me to San Francisco for a year for an internship. I received financial support from the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation whose mission is to send Estonian students to the USA for a year to gain experience. I am working at the company Ravel Law which creates tools for legal research. We conduct automatic analysis of court cases and the links between them and enable lawyers to get a better understanding of large amounts of data by using visualisations.
Being here I see that Silicon Valley and Tartu have some things in common: it is a small area with a lot of talents and international environment. In Tartu, Ülikooli Street is also nicknamed Silicon Alley because a lot of IT companies are located there.
Who would not want to be part of this? All this together could be the beginning of an interesting, meaningful and exciting life.
University of Tartu admits students to 19 English-taught curricula. Read more about admissions to the University of Tartu.