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£2m grant to drive legal tech innovation

4 November 2019

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The digital transformation of the UK’s legal sector received a welcome boost with news that government has awarded £2m to leading tech firm Tech Nation to help drive legal tech.

In what government called “an ambitious vision”, Tech Nation will undertake a series of projects up to March 2020.

It will work closely with the legal and tech sectors.

The announcement of the funding award follows the government’s commitment earlier this year to allocate the money to UK law tech to support the development and use of tech in the sector.

The UK’s legal services market is the second largest internationally and is a leading global legal centre with a rapidly growing legal tech industry.

The company’s work around legal tech will go beyond investment and innovation and will encompass raising awareness of law tech and its uses; exploring ethics and regulation around legal tech; and promoting English law and jurisdiction as a foundation for law tech globally.

Justice secretary Robert Buckland MP said that as well as helping to support the development and use of UK law tech, the funding will “boost wider economic growth and pave the way for a technological revolution in the UK legal sector”.

The tech company, which Buckland said “has an impressive track record in both fintech and insurtech” will be responsible for driving forward and building on the work of the Lawtech Delivery Panel - an industry-led body set up to promote the use of tech in the UK’s legal sector.

The Panel is made up of leading industry figures and senior individuals from government, the judiciary and the legal tech community.

Tech Nation’s CEO Gerard Grech said: “The legal services sector is a major contributor to the UK economy, contributing around £25bn annually.

“Emerging technologies are transforming legal services, while investment in UK law tech has tripled in the last year alone.”

The company has estimated that the adoption of new technologies in the sector could more than double productivity growth from 1.3 per cent per year to 2.7 per cent per year.

David Halliwell, Pinsent Masons' director of client solutions, said it’s "fantastic" to see government investing in and supporting lawtech across the profession. 

He added: "What’s interesting about this development is that it looks at bringing in experience from the success stories of financial services technology innovation. 

"Lawyers are sometimes prone to thinking 'yes, but law is different'; but there''s much that law can learn from other services sectors, and so this is definitely a significant step in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, the Law Society has launched London-based law tech incubator Eagle Lab in partnership with Barclays Bank.

The incubator aims to bridge the gap between emerging innovative law tech and law firms and provides a space for tech startups to develop new products.

The project is now looking for member businesses to develop their ideas and grow.

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