Legal Services Board survey on tech innovation in the legal services sector
The latest results detail the changes since the last survey in 2018
The Legal Services Board (LSB) published the findings from its latest survey on the levels of innovation and use of technology in legal services in England and Wales on 5 June, which highlights that the pandemic has been a critical driver in the use of and increasing trust in technology to deliver legal services.
The 2022 survey involving over 1,300 firms, which was last carried out in 2018, is aimed at gauging the attitudes of legal services firms and barristers’ chambers to introducing new technology and service innovation within their firm or organisation. The survey asked respondents about the following areas: their perceptions on innovation and technology and the drivers that influence providers to develop services or use technology; the investment in, aims and impacts of, and constraints when developing and using new and improved services, and specific technologies; and workplace culture and the approaches taken when developing services or using technologies.
The LSB reports the key findings, including: the most commonly reported impacts of new services are the increased responsiveness to clients’ needs (94 percent) and reduced environmental impact; firms have introduced more new technologies in the last three years (61 percent); many firms have introduced ‘technologies for access,’ which can make it easier for people to use legal services; fewer firms have developed new or improved services in the last three years (21 percent) compared to 2018; compared to 2018 fewer firms report specific constraints on service development or on introducing new technologies; and there are significant variations in use and experience depending on the type of firm, if it is an alternative business structure, and the area of law it focuses on. The survey also identifies differences by age and size of firm, and where it is based in England and Wales.
Overall, over nine in ten firms find implementing new technologies have made them more responsive to clients’ needs, which is the most commonly reported impact and is also the most commonly reported important consideration for firms when implementing new technologies. The LSB also finds that the use of more advanced technologies like technology-assisted review, predictive technology, robotic process automation, and blockchain or distributed ledger technology is low at between two and five percent.
The LSB is currently developing new statutory guidance for regulators on promoting the use of technology for access to legal services and will consult on the matter later this year.
Commenting on the findings, Alan Kershaw, Chair of the LSB, said: “From AI to video conferencing, technology has the potential to widen access to legal services dramatically, and the LSB is committed to ensuring that regulation unlocks its benefits for consumers and providers. The Covid-19 pandemic has speeded up the adoption of technology, and we must build on that momentum to foster a culture of innovation that designs services around the needs of consumers. While it is encouraging to see that the perception that regulation is a constraint to introducing new technology has fallen, several factors still prevent the wider take up of technology. Regulators must be proactive in understanding the opportunities and risks and remove barriers which prevent innovators entering the sector and stop consumers from accessing services.”