It has been a great honor to kickstart Ethel, the legal tech & legal design agency. With a unique position between lawyer or counsel and (software) provider, Ethel has leaped in a truly rare position in the legal market. However, not without some pain in my heart, I’ve decided to fully focus on my Foundation, called ‘the Ministry of Privacy’, which is battling for more and improved privacy guarantees, against public and private players. 

I’ve met with Pieter-Jan and Daan for the very first time in February, at the Larcier evening ‘Talk about innovation’. They approached me after my participation in the Larcier panel. They wanted to pitch an idea: to transform the legal industry, and setting up a ‘legal tech agency’. As I was playing with a similar idea, we decided to join forces after some successful talks and a quick getaway to Amsterdam. 

They were already busy building the predecessor of Ethel, called ’lucid legal’, for some months. I’ve had the great honor of kickstarting them with a truly unique branding and storytelling, and by giving them some press attention, putting Ethel firmly on the legal tech & design map.

In the last couple of months we’ve seen an amazing interest from within the sector, which is often desperately looking for ways to innovate and compete, but unsure which tools and practices are worth their money.  I strongly believe this is the way forward: positioning a player in the market, with an objective look and without ties to specific providers. 

In the past nine months, we’ve had our shares of joys – and sometimes frustrations -, as is common with every start-up. One of the most memorable moments for me is the Legal Design Summit in Helsinki, where I was honored to present the closing keynote. A home match – full with like-minded people in the legal design niche -, but nonetheless an awesome event, community and even team-building.

Yet, in the last months and weeks, privacy has stirred a hot debate in Belgium, and beyond. I believe there is a major need of a powerful privacy activist institution. Many have asked me in the course of the past months, to build ‘the Ministry of Privacy’ into precisely that, yet time is always precious and in short supply, especially when taking on a demanding role in a brand new start-up. 

It was an extremely difficult choice as a legal creative, yet I’ve concluded that the need for more privacy and the protection thereof, has become increasingly urgent, and that I cannot give enough attention to this Foundation, whilst working full-time for Ethel. 

In the next months, I will shape ‘the Ministry of Privacy’, together with a strong and knowledgeable board, and enthusiastic ambassadors. Together, we strive to become one of Europe’s strongest privacy foundations, challenging public and private players to respect our fundamental right to privacy. 

“We wish Matthias all the best with his future endeavors and fully support his Ministry of Privacy initiative. Ethel is ready to co-develop some state of the art privacy tools.”
– Pieter-Jan Franssen & Daan Vansimpsen, co-founders Ethel.

Of course, it goes without saying that I will remain a vivid supporter and minority shareholder of Ethel, and a legal creative by heart. I look forward to the growth and change Daan and Pieter-Jan will spur in the legal market, and wish to thank them for the interesting collaboration. 

All the best,

Matthias Dobbelaere-Welvaert. 

Director & Privacy-activist at the Ministry of Privacy.
(ex-)Chief Creative, Ethel. 

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