We have been catching up with the fantastic team at the City of London Corporation, chatting with Theresa Yurkewich Hoffmann and Mary Kyle.
Hello! Thanks for chatting with us. First up, it would be great if you could give us a quick intro to yourself and what the City of London Corporation does?
Hello & thanks for having us. We sit in the tech and innovation team, which is part of the larger Innovation & Growth directorate at the City Corporation. Mary leads the team as Head of Financial and Professional Services, and I’m a Senior Policy and Innovation Advisor.
The City of London Corporation itself is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally successful UK. Within our team, the focus is on maintaining the competitiveness of the UK’s financial and professional services ecosystems, and we do that by supporting an innovative ecosystem. Our work is mainly around enabling tech development, cross-sector collaboration, and changing attitudes so the market is ready and more open to innovation.
The LawTech Sounding Board sounds interesting, how is it helping the legal tech community?
The Lawtech Sounding Board is a cross-sector forum we created to address the silo approach most innovation takes. We wanted to create a place where tech, policy, regulators, and legal professionals could speak openly about challenges to innovation and collaborate on solutions. In the past, the Sounding Board has chosen to focus on topics like digital skills, the lawtech lifecycle, and cloud adoption. Last year we ran the Innovation Ambassadors programme which was born from an idea at the Sounding Board, and this year we’re running a tech mentoring session on scaling up. We’re also looking at how to tackle big challenges like the future of legal roles and the billable hour. It’s great to have such an enthusiastic group of people who want to drive the innovation space forward.
Over the years, we have seen a lot of startups become scaleups, which is amazing. How are you planning to support more startups on their journey?
Last year we ran a few workshops on navigating regulatory challenges, using data to tell a story, and the ABCs of lawtech. These were designed to help start-ups think strategically at the beginning of their journey. We also created a series of videos on lawtech case studies, to help tell the story around the benefits of lawtech, whether it is client experience, new capabilities, or greater efficiency. The City Corporation has also put together an SME hub, which has information for small businesses on topics like accessing finance, corporate social responsibility, creative support, and cybersecurity.
This year we are focused on helping start-ups to strengthen their products and demonstrate not just proof of concept but proof of value, so they have a better chance at the pipeline to integration. We’re also doing a lot of work on the other side of things, which is aimed at helping law firms understand the value of digital transformation and address blockers like investment and procurement, so that they can adopt tech easier.
Finally, one of our larger projects is back for a second phase – the Digital Sandbox. It’s essentially a virtual platform to accelerate technology, with features to help tech development and a collaboration space for the ecosystem to communicate. We just announced that we’ll be supporting a cohort around ESG data and disclosures in the fall, and are open to other uses for it. One of the start-ups from last year’s pilot went on to the Lawtech Sandbox, and we’re hopeful we’ll be able to support start-ups even better this year based on what we learned.
You are launching a very exciting side event at our October Conference – tell us more!
Yes and we can’t wait! We’re delighted to be back at Legal Geek again this year and to get the chance to work with you. This year we’ll be hosting a session on lawtech mentoring. It’s designed to help start-ups access knowledge and insight from scale-ups in this space, and to address some of the common questions they face.
The workshop will be designed for start-ups by start-ups. We want it to be as useful as possible, considering format, guests and topics. We’re inviting all interesting attendees to complete our survey – so that we can deliver something that’s engaging and useful. Similarly, once registration goes out, please sign up to attend!
Want to learn more? The City of London Corporation is sponsoring the Legal Geek Conference in October 2021.