Innovation driven by competition and less hindered by regulation

The Legal Services Board (LSB), publishes today its latest detailed picture of levels of innovation and use of technology in legal services in England and Wales.

This report looks at the attitudes of legal services providers, sets out the benefits from innovation and considers the perceptions of the main enablers, including the impact of regulation.

  • the legal sector makes use of a variety of technologies but the use of services such as Blockchain or predictive analytics are, as yet, rare
  • overall levels of service innovation are unchanged since the first wave of the research three years ago
  • ABS, newer providers and larger providers have higher levels of service innovation

Legal Services Board Chair, Dr Helen Phillips said:

“This important piece of new research sheds fresh light on how the legal services sector is approaching the challenges posed by innovation and technological advances.

It is welcome that intensity of competition is a significantly stronger influence on service development than in the past and that the primary benefits of technology relate to improving the quality of services for consumers.    It is also encouraging to see that two thirds of providers found regulation to be no constraint at all on new service development – a significant improvement on the results in 2015. 

It is clear however, that overall levels of service innovation are unchanged and that there are still numerous factors preventing wider take up of technology. This includes the perceived risks involved in using unproven technology, the potential for greater ethical problems and a lack of IT expertise.  

In response, we will continue our focus on technology and legal services. We are launching a project to inform approaches to the regulation of technology which, we hope, will enable the regulatory bodies to anticipate and address the real and perceived risks presented by technologies and respond to them by encouraging innovation.”



For further information, please contact the LSB’s Communications Manager, Vincent McGovern (020 7271 0068).

Notes for editors:

  1. The Technology and Innovation in Legal Services report can be found here.  An infographic summarising the results can be found here.
  2. This survey updates our 2015 study of innovation in the legal sector, commissioned jointly with the Solicitors Regulation Authority.  This earlier report can be found here.
  1. Following on from this research, and to help fulfil its commitments in its current Strategy and Business Plan, the LSB is also starting a new project which will help [frontline] regulators to develop their own approaches to legal services technology regulation.  For more information please see here.
  1. The Legal Services Act 2007 (the Act) created the LSB as a new regulator with responsibility for overseeing the regulation of legal services in England and Wales.  The new regulatory regime became active on 1 January 2010.
  1. The LSB oversees ten approved regulators, which in turn regulate individual legal practitioners.  The approved regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys, the Association of Costs Lawyers, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland is an approved regulator for probate activities      only but does not currently authorise anyone to offer this service.

  1. As at 1 April 2017, the legal profession in England and Wales comprised 148,690 solicitors, 15,281 barristers, 6,809 chartered legal executives and 5,958 other individuals operating in other areas of the legal profession such as conveyancing.  The UK legal sector turnover was £35 billion per annum (2017) which is up 25% in cash terms since 2012.  For more information see here.

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