Below we outline our current policy work on technology and innovation.
Reshaping legal services to better meet society’s needs – the role of technology and innovation
On 29 March 2021, we published a strategy for the legal services sector. This is the culmination of an extensive programme of engagement and evidence-gathering, including the State of Legal Sector 2020 report that we published in November 2020. The golden thread of the strategy is the need to reshape legal services to better meet society’s needs.
Technology has the rare, transformative potential to not only to open up access to citizens and small businesses currently excluded from the market but to also improve quality by enabling providers to deliver services in different ways that better meet people’s needs.
We lay out the role of regulation in fostering responsible innovation in our paper ‘Striking the balance: How legal services regulation can foster responsible technological innovation’ [PDF]. This paper also outlines the priorities that will inform our work on technology and innovation in 2021-24, including:
- Considering the implications of technology as part of our scope of regulation work
- Considering technology and innovation as part of our regulatory performance framework review
- Using our convening powers to help regulators bodies in developing their own regulatory approaches and capabilities
- Developing more and better open data
- Ensuring emerging uses of technology are ethical and socially acceptable
New podcast on technology on regulation
The report is accompanied by a podcast on how legal services regulators can actively support technology and innovation that safely increase access to legal services and explore the ways in which technology can help open the legal services market up to citizens and small businesses.
Collaborating on technology and innovation
Collaboration and joint working will be a key feature of our work going forward. If you are interested in collaborating with us on technology and innovation, please get in touch with Aisling O’Connell, Regulatory Policy Manager at Aisling.OConnell@legalservicesboard.org.uk.
Supporting the Lawtech UK Sandbox Pilot
The Lawtech UK Sandbox Pilot closed on 25 March 2021 following a three-month trial period. The Sandbox was designed to fast-track transformative ideas, products and services that address the legal needs of businesses and society. The Pilot provided pioneers with access to several tools and services to accelerate the development of lawtech, including access to cross-sector regulators.
The LSB supported the Pilot through the Regulatory Response Unit (RRU), which brought together regulators from across the legal services sector and other sectors. We took part in the Sandbox Pilot Showcase on 25 March 2021, along with other members of the RRU. We look forward to supporting future iterations of the Lawtech Sandbox and the RRU.
State of Legal Services 2020 Report
In November 2020, we published our State of Legal Services 2020 report. This gives an in-depth review of the legal services sector following ten years of independent regulation. It is informed by data, evidence and conversations with a wide range of individuals and organisations, and research by the LSB and others. The report has two volumes – a narrative section and an extensive evidence compendium.
Pre-pandemic, levels of innovation in the sector have been static despite deregulatory reforms removing restrictions on businesses. Culture appears to be a more significant impediment to innovation than regulation. The main regulatory barriers to innovation tend to be ‘soft’ ones, like navigating the regulatory system. But the sector could overcome these by supporting new entrants with information, sandboxes, innovation funds, strategies and similar initiatives.
The permissive regulatory framework created by the Legal Services Act 2007 is more conducive to technological innovation than some other jurisdictions, but it does create some difficulties. For example, technology developers and overseas-based providers falling outside the scope of regulation, the focus on title-based regulation as opposed to activity-based regulation, the complexity involved in navigating the regulatory framework and the potential for different standards as a result of multiple regulators in the sector. These factors could disincentivise innovators from entering the market and create gaps in consumer protection that legal service regulators are unable to mitigate.
Our report concludes that despite the achievements of the last decade, the legal services market is not working as well as it should be and that the basic legal needs of many citizens are not being met. The challenges facing the sector can be condensed into three strategic themes: fairer outcomes, stronger confidence and better services.
On 29 March 2021, we published a strategy for the legal services sector. This is the culmination of an extensive programme of engagement and evidence-gathering, including the State of Legal Sector 2020 report.
If you’d like to learn more about our work on technology and innovation, or if you are interested in collaborating, please contact Aisling O’Connell.