Why did we do this?
A legal services market in which only one in three individuals – and one in ten small businesses – with a legal problem get expert advice isn’t working as well as it should be.
In sector after sector, digital technology has made life easier for customers, giving them more choice and control. In legal services though, technology has made less of an impact.
Delivered by Nesta Challenges in partnership with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the Challenge had three aims:
- accelerating the development of products, services and platforms that will help individuals and SMEs understand and resolve their legal problems with greater ease;
- developing a community of people and organisations with a shared interest in implementing the use of technology to improve access to legal support who will share knowledge and ideas to improve customer outcomes in the legal services market; and
- learning whether there are regulatory barriers to the development and adoption of mass market legal technology solutions and, if so, what adaptations to the SRA’s approach might reduce these barriers
What did we do?
Delivered by Nesta Challenges in partnership with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Challenge called for legal tech startups, law firms, alternative legal providers, advice organisations and law schools to develop ambitious direct-to-user products, services and platforms.
The technologies used could include guided pathways, expert systems, chatbots, automated document assembly, natural language processing, machine learning and online dispute resolution platforms. This was an open call though, and we welcomed new ideas beyond what is currently available in the market.
We were not expecting any quick fixes. Bringing user-facing solutions to the legal services market will take time. As well as helping Challenge participants accelerate their progress in 2019/20, we wanted to work with a wider coalition of experts and organisations to create longer term change in the market.
The Challenge supported eight finalists whose innovations aim to make legal services more accessible and affordable for individuals, families and small businesses. Backed by a £50,000 grant and expert support programme, each finalist had until April 2020 to develop their solution. Two of the most promising finalists were then awarded additional £50,000 prizes to bring their solutions to market. Find out more about the innovations that are empowering people and small businesses in need of legal help.