LawTech initiatives WTF
Jack - 16/01/2019

We often get asked to offer advice and time [always for free] to some sort of LawTech initiative and sometimes we find it confusing to keep track of what they are all doing, especially when they often overlap. So to help you navigate the sometimes blurry landscape of LawTech initiatives, we’ve gathered everything we know into one place.

Whether you’re looking for enlightenment, a competitive edge, a grant or an avenue for giving back, there will be an initiative for you. The initiatives we cover below are: the Law Delivery Panel | HMCTS Reform Programme | SRA Innovate Testbed | Manchester Law and Technology Initiative | Innovate UK.

We plan to keep this page up to date. If we have made any errors or omissions please email: jack@legalgeek.co [yes it’s .co].

 

Innovate UK Grants

Innovate UK

Who are these folks?

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Funded by government and private partners, it has invested more than £3 billion over the past 12 years in more than 8,500 innovative companies and projects.

What are they trying to achieve?

To find and support science and technology developments which will drive future economic growth.

Why are they doing this?

To grow the UK economy. Innovate UK say their £4.3 billion investment in companies and projects has added £18 billion to the UK economy over 12 years and created 70,000 extra new jobs.

Who can benefit?

Any business which carries out its work in the UK and which intends to exploit the results from the UK could qualify for support. To allocate funding systematically, UK Innovate runs competitions for different business sectors. Keep an eye on what competitions are live. A recent competition relating to the legal sector offered a share of £12 million to companies developing AI and data-enabled products and services to accountancy, insurance and legal firms.

**Update** The following legal businesses have received funding from Innovate UK in the past 5 years (including during the latest funding round [2019]:

How do I get involved?

If a funding competition is relevant to you, you can make an application via an online portal or by submitting a hard-copy application. Here is a useful page that outlines the application process.

Learn more about  Innovate UK

Media

 

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LawTech Delivery Panel (facilitated by The Law Society)

Who are these folks?

Eight of the brightest and most influential minds from the UK legal profession form this panel including The Law Society President Christina Blacklaws, Richard Susskind, Rt Hon Lord Keen, High Court Chancellor Geoffrey Vos plus representatives of the Bank of England, UCL, the MoJ, TheCityUK, and Vodafone. 

What are they trying to achieve?

The blue sky idea is “to promote the use of technology in the UK’s legal sector” with an initial focus on “ensuring we have the right regulatory regime to support innovation and encouraging greater investment.” To this aim, task forces in six areas have been identified as follows:

LawTech Delivery Panel

Why are they doing this?

The panel’s aim is to grow this sector and increase the contribution to the UK economy, worth more than £26bn to the UK in 2017 (equivalent to 1.5% of UK GDP). 

Furthermore, the UK is the second largest legal services market in the world thanks to English and Welsh law being the most commonly used law in international business and dispute resolution. So technological advancements which take root in the UK will be well placed for international roll-out in future years. 

Who can benefit?

The panel’s work should go well beyond just benefitting businesses in the legal sector as the greater adoption of LawTech will improve access to justice as a whole. It’s early days and it has taken a long time to get going, but the activities they plan to achieve are clearly useful and outlined in their flyer as:

LawTech Delivery panel activities

 

How do I get involved?

For the majority of legal tech professionals, observation of the panel’s activities (at least to begin with) will be more beneficial than direct involvement. Keeping up to date should be easy as the panel will publish minutes of all its meetings on The Law Society website. Those keen to be more directly involved should contact the Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at the Law Society, Alexandra Cardenas.

Learn more about the LawTech Delivery Panel

Media

 

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SRA Innovate Testbed

SRA-Nesta

Who are these folks?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is working together with Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre to invest a £700,000 government grant to support and accelerate the ideas of law firms and others to improve access to justice using AI, which central Government launched, with a questionable press release headline, in October 2018: “Projects lay the groundwork for a future of robolawyers and flying cars.”

According to Business secretary Greg Clark, the money provided is to help build ‘a business environment in which Britain’s dreamers, developers and disruptors can continue to thrive.’ 

What are they trying to achieve?

To build on the SRA’s ongoing work in encouraging new ways to deliver legal services that benefit both the public and small business.

To execute this aim, they are hosting an open competition “to seek out and accelerate a number of ethical AI-powered legal services”. The winners will be given the opportunity to test their services in a controlled environment, working closely with the SRA. 

Why are they doing this?

In running the competition, the SRA hope to:

  • Map the current deployment of AI in legal services as they relate to access to justice
  • Build a community with a shared interest in tackling this challenge
  • Use key learnings to adapt the regulatory approach to make it easier for solicitors and law firms to adopt AI-driven innovations

Who can benefit?  

The competition is open to law firms, tech companies, civil society organisations, universities, academics and any other innovators looking to collaborate to bring to the market AI and automated services for small businesses and consumers, where they can have “a transformative impact”. 

How do I get involved?

The best way to stay up to date is via the SRA website, the last update we got [18th January 2019] was that SRA and Nesta will be launching full details in Spring 2019. Keep up to date: www.sra.org.uk/innovate

Media

 

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Manchester Law and Technology Initiative (LaTI)

Manchester Law and Technology Initiative (LaTI)

Who are these folks?

The Manchester Law and Technology Initiative was founded by University of Manchester, Freshfields and DWF Ventures. Since launching LaTI have added three new partners Weightmans, Fletchers Solicitors and St Johns Buildings Barristers Chambers. Note: there was a name change and you may have read an article which previously referred to it as ‘The Manchester LegalTech Consortium”.

What are they trying to achieve?

The initiative aims to develop research and teaching focused on the potential application and the impact of digital technology in legal services.

Why are they doing this?

To produce future graduates with the skills to utilise the technology and platforms within the legal sector and to aid the understanding of emerging technology trends and their potential impact on legal services.

Who can benefit?  

The initiative is open to additional members from legal, technology and associated sectors. 

How do I get involved?

Industry leaders are being actively encouraged to apply for membership to the scheme. To do so, please contact the University’s Business Engagement Lead for FinTech, LegalTech & Cyber Security Rachel Kenyon.

More can be read about it on the University of Manchester’s School of Law website.

Media

Jonathan Patterson: “At DWF Ventures we have seen the benefits of collaboration and the value that academic input can bring to research & development so the chance to help develop this consortium from the outset was too good an opportunity to miss.”

 

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HMCTS Reform Programme

HM Courts logoWho are these folks?

The HM Courts & Tribunals Service is an agency of the MoJ. They are responsible for the administration of criminal, civil and family courts and tribunals in England and Wales and they handle four million cases a year, operate from around 350 courthouses and hearing centres and employ more than 16,000 people.

HMCTS, Legal Geek and SCL have previously collaborated on a super fun online courts hackathon in 2017 which was organised with Richard Susskind and attended by the Lord Chief Justice (who gave Jimmy a high five – still his proudest moment in LawTech). 

What are they trying to achieve?

The reforms are aimed at “making justice less confusing, easier to navigate, and better at responding to the needs of the public.” Their work is ambitious with 50 projects identified and more than £1 billion being invested over six years.

Some successes are already emerging, such as a digital divorce service which has cut the number of incorrectly filed divorce forms from 40% to less than 1%; and the completion of a trial to fully conduct court hearings by video.

Why are they doing this?

Greater efficiency in legal processes will lead to cost savings for the public.

Who can benefit?

For the impressive price-tag of £1 billion, the effects of the HMCTS Reform Programme need to be far-reaching. The 50 projects identified are spread across the criminal courts; civil, family and tribunals cases; family justice; and cost-cutting services (such as video hearings). All projects are slated for completion by 2022 at the latest, with plenty due to be wrapped up before then.

How do I get involved?  

HMCTS are actively seeking feedback and ideas from “those who work within the justice system, as well as those who care about it”. They are also looking for volunteer testers for their new service. If you want to get involved you can email HMCTS. You can stay up to date with them on Twitter.

Media

 

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We plan to keep this page up to date. If we have made any errors or omissions please email: jack@legalgeek.co [yes it’s .co].

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