Kati Rantala (Dr.Soc.Sci, Docent, Research Director) leads the Legal Policy Research Unit. Rantala has extensive experience in leading multidisciplinary research consortia. Her research focuses especially on legislative and evaluation research and research on debt problems. In addition, Rantala has published on access to justice and criminal policy and given many courses on sociology of law and evaluation research. Rantala has worked as a Senior Adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office of Finland, in the secretariat of Finnish Council of Regulatory Impact Analysis. Her ongoing multidisciplinary project 2020 – 2023 “Silent Agents affected by legislation – from insufficient knowledge base to inclusive solutions” has received a funding of 3.5 million euros from the Strategic Research Council, situated at the Academy of Finland.
Kaijus Ervasti (LL.D) is a senior researcher. His research fields are socio-legal studies and procedural law. Ervasti has focused his research e.g. on ADR and mediation, access to justice, procedural justice, civil procedure, lay men judges, the effects of laws and quality of law drafting. Ervasti has led many research projects, and in the years 2016 – 2018, he was one project leader in the project “Mediation research in Nordic Countries. Where are we now and where are we going on.” He has given lectures on sociology of law, procedural law and ADR and mediation in many universities. In addition, Ervasti has worked as a trainer in mediation training programs for judges and attorneys about 15 years. He has worked in the Ministry of Justice and Prime minister’s office. Currently, he works with a project that concerns access to justice for older people together with University of Eastern Finland and University of Tampere.
Dr. Prof. Riikka Koulu is the Assistant Professor (Social and Legal Implications of AI) at the Faculties of Social Sciences and Law, University of Helsinki, Finland. Since 2016, she also leads the University of Helsinki Legal Tech Lab, an interdisciplinary research hub that examines the intersections of law, technology, and society. She holds several positions inside and outside of academia, e.g. the chairperson of the Finnish Data Protection Ombudsman’s Expert Board; member of the Ethical Advisory Board of the Finnish Centre for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI); and associated researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society HIIG (Berlin). Her current research interests include automation of legal practices, AI ethics, policy and regulation, and procedural perspectives to technological design.
Virve Toivonen (LL.D, LL.M with Court training) works as a university lecturer of public law and social welfare law. As a researcher, Toivonen is specialized in children’s rights. Her research has among other things covered child welfare, unaccompanied refugee minors, family law and minors in criminal procedure. Currently she is working in a multidisciplinary research group on children’s rights in sports. Toivonen is an experienced lecturer and actively trains academic and professional audiences on children’s rights. She has held several expert positions and is currently a chairman of Child Rights Lawyers, a member of Ethics Committee of Youth and Childhood Studies, as well as a member of a legal working group of Child Welfare Handbook (Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare). Toivonen is on a leave of absence until summer 2022, holding a temporary professorship (Welfare law and legislative studies) at the University of Eastern Finland.
Karoliina Majamaa (D.Soc.Sc.) is a university researcher at the Legal Policy Research Unit. Recently, she has worked on projects like young people with debt problems and use of financial and debt counselling . She defended her thesis on inter-generational solidarity from the perspectives of parents and their adult children in 2015. Currently, Majamaa focuses on the growing debt problems among Finnish citizens.
Kati Nieminen’s (MA, LLD) research covers access to justice and legal policy research. Recently, she has worked on projects studying discrimination, legal aid and the use of research results in law drafting. Nieminen is particularly interested in discourse analysis and legal argumentation and she feels passionate about teaching empirical methods to law students. Nieminen defended her thesis on civil disobedience and resistance in 2017 and she has since worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the Unit.
Yaira Obstbaum (D. Soc. Sc.). Obstbaum works in the areas of sociology, sociology of law – particularly with questions concerning access to justice – and criminology. Obstbaum is currently working on a survey study on legal needs in everyday life. In her Ph.D. thesis (2017), she studied substance abuse among prisoners and services for research on services for alcohol and drugs users within and outside prison. In addition, Obstbaum has worked with questions around alcohol and drug use and legal issues accompanying in the Nordic countries and juvenile delinquency surveys. She is passionate about teaching and is a big proponent of research collaboration, especially collaboration with Nordic researchers and pan Nordic projects.
Terhi Esko (Doctor of Philosophy), is a post-doctoral researcher working in the project “Silent Agents affected by legislation – from insufficient knowledge base to inclusive solutions” focusing on automated decision making and the use of algorithms in legal policy. Esko works in areas of science, technology and innovation studies and she is enthusiastic about the social dimensions of technology as well as sociology of science. Esko defended her dissertation at the University of Helsinki in May 2020 on the topic of social impact of academic research in the educational and social sciences. Her prior research themes have included, among others, science, technology and innovation policy, organizational and work development, and public service production.
Noora Alasuutari (M.Soc.Sc.) works as a doctoral candidate. She is currently working on her dissertation that focuses on the use of knowledge in law drafting. The aim of the study is to analyse the knowledge utilization in different stages of the drafting processes and to understand its function. Her prior work at the Unit comprises especially the quantitative analyses of legislative proposals. These analyses include topics such as regulation and regulative burden, impact assessments and knowledge utilization and measuring.
Laura Sarasoja (LL.M) is a doctoral candidate at the Institute’s Legal Policy Unit. Her PhD research focuses on subject formation in debt-related legal procedures. Sarasoja is particularly interested in situations where economic relations meet legal context and the power relations therein. Recently she has worked on a project studying the cost of civil litigation in Finnish district courts. Prior to commencing her PhD research, Sarasoja has been involved in research projects studying monetary tides in shared parenting, growing debt problems, and debtor-creditor relationships in summary court proceedings.
Aino Jauhiainen completed her master’s degree in criminology in 2019. Her thesis consisted of an evaluative study of Aggredi, a street violence- focused intervention program. While Jauhiainen’s main interests concern the process of desistance and offender rehabilitation, she prefers to apply an interdisciplinary framework of criminology, legal policy as well as social psychology in her work. Jauhiainen currently works in a project concerning victim- offender mediation at the Unit. The project focuses on the role and outcome of victim- offender mediation within the Finnish criminal justice system.
Inka Järvikangas (M.Soc.Sc) works as a project planner. Currently Inka is working on a project that focuses on how silent agents are affected by legislation. In addition, she has been working with eg. a project concerning ex-post evaluation of legislation. Inka’s master’s thesis dealt with the ways in which pedophiles neutralize their delinquent behavior in a dark web discussion forum.
Minni Teerikangas (B. Soc. Sc.) works as a research assistant. Currently, she works with a project focusing on access to justice and legal needs of older population in Finland.