Our current projects

Innovation in technology is highly collaborative, and we're pleased to detail our current work.

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We are proud to support the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the Agile Nations programme. A development from the World Economic Forum, the Charter for the Agile Nations establishes an intergovernmental network to foster global cooperation on rulemaking in response to innovation.

The SRA is leading on a professional services LawTech Working Group where we have partnerships in place with Canada, the UAE and support from observation groups in Singapore, Denmark and Italy.

We developed the Agile Nations Lawtech Innovation Network (ANLIN), with the following three workstreams:

A Collaboration workstream: to develop a framework of high-level principles as a common platform to respond to innovators making contact from other jurisdictions.

A Communication workstream: to structure the discussion into topic areas or areas of activity to draw out examples of good practice and case studies that highlights how to encourage a conducive environment for innovators to operate in.

A Consumer-focused workstream: to work with our data protection and privacy regulator, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), to highlight potential data issues and then work through any different approaches to dealing with them. Where possible, we will seek input from other agencies within the Agile Nations group to highlight the range of ways these might be addressed.

The Charter for the Agile Nations establishes an intergovernmental network to foster global cooperation on rulemaking in response to innovation. Our plans were recently given the green light at the Agile Nations Ministerial meeting in October.

This government website provides more information on the full Agile Nations work programme.

Lawtech companies looking to expand overseas should be excited by the first in principle digital economy agreement announced by the Department of Trade and Industry. This provides new opportunities to expand digital services into Singapore by promoting trusted cross border data flows, removing the requirement for localised data storage and processing, and stronger cyber security. It signals a deep commitment between the UK and Singapore to collaborate in supporting lawtech innovators.

We were successful in winning funding from the second round of the Regulators' Pioneer Fund. This BEIS-led, £3m funding programme supports businesses to bring new products and services to market with the support of regulators.

Our bid, centred on the use of lawtech to address regional inequalities in access to justice, will involve our partners at Swansea and West of England Universities, the Information Commissioner's Office, the West of England Combined Authority and University House Legal Advice Centre. Communities around Swansea and Bristol will be engaged to test new developments. We are also collaborating with Welsh Government.

The project has five workstreams, including:

  • collation of existing government, local authority and advice agency datasets and other research to understand legal advice provision
  • research with advice agencies to understand their experiences, coverage, customer experience and the tools they use
  • research into law firms' pro-bono services to explore how these could be developed to support so-called legal access “deserts”,
  • an open innovation sprint to develop new digital concepts and tooling for legal access and
  • planning a legacy for the project once it completes in March 2022.

If you have a digital tool or you are developing one that you think could help people access legal advice, please contact us.

We were successful in winning funding from the second round of the Regulators' Pioneer Fund. This BEIS-led, £3m funding programme supports businesses to bring new products and services to market with the support of regulators.

Our bid, centred on the use of lawtech to address regional inequalities in access to justice, will involve our partners at Swansea and West of England Universities, the Information Commissioner's Office, the West of England Combined Authority and University House Legal Advice Centre. Communities around Swansea and Bristol will be engaged to test new developments. We are also collaborating with Welsh Government.

The project has five workstreams, including:

  • collation of existing government, local authority and advice agency datasets and other research to understand legal advice provision
  • research with advice agencies to understand their experiences, coverage, customer experience and the tools they use
  • research into law firms' pro-bono services to explore how these could be developed to support so-called legal access “deserts”,
  • an open innovation sprint to develop new digital concepts and tooling for legal access and
  • planning a legacy for the project once it completes in March 2022.

If you have a digital tool or you are developing one that you think could help people access legal advice, please contact us.

We have launched a pilot to study the potential benefits to law firms and clients of unbundled services. In collaboration with the Law Society and the Legal Services Consumer Panel (LSCP), and supported by the Bar Standards Board (BSB), Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) and the Cost Lawyers Standards Board (CLSB), we have recruited a number of firms who offer, or are willing to offer, unbundled services in family law.

Unbundling is the term used to describe when one or more of tasks that make up a legal service are taken on by the client, rather than the law firm completing the whole process. For example, the client might complete some forms themselves or attend a court hearing without representation.

This pilot will explore the potential for consumers in family law to be offered an unbundled service based on their individual needs and budget. During the pilot, we will be exploring the potential benefits and drawbacks to both consumers and law firms of working in this way, as well as seeking to understand any practical, regulatory or legal issues that might arise and how these might be addressed.

We know there is substantial unmet legal need among individual consumers and small businesses, driven to a large extent by concerns about affordability. Many firms are already experimented with offering services in this way, with differing results. Some have found difficulties, while others have had success and have continued to make such a service available.

Our Approach

  • Recruit a number of family law firms into a Delivery Cohort to take part.
  • Facilitate a workshop for Delivery Cohort to set out details of the pilot, what observations will be made, and share unbundled service experiences.
  • Commission a survey for firms to report their provision, understanding and views of unbundled services.
  • Conduct observations, interviews, and, where possible, obtain analytics from digital tools to measure usage. We will be exploring the proportion of service and differences in cost of normal vs unbundled services.
  • Write Pilot Report for publishing at the end of the pilot.
  • Wash-up webinar to conclude pilot and release pilot report. This will include a panel to include contributors from the Delivery Cohort.

Objectives

The following objectives have been set out for this pilot:

  • Positive feedback from all parties (law firms, solution providers and clients)
  • Positive reactions from legal partners observing the pilot
  • Evidence that unbundling can: save money for clients, are achievable with modest levels of technical capability, increase consumer choice and provide a positive experience
  • Evidence that the unbundled services, by way of their separation, are not unduly complicated to navigate and that legal due process and data quality are maintained
  • Evidence that there are tangible benefits for law firms, for example: time or cost savings, client satisfaction, potential growth in business, improved legal outcomes.
  • Evidence that risks are manageable for law firms and their clients during the process. For example, incorrect information input to forms that may result in liability for the law firm later.
  • Insight into the term "unbundling" and how it is understood and perceived by clients.

Read more on providing unbundled legal services.

If you'd like to get involved, get in touch via our SRA Innovate team.

We will be announcing a new partnership with Swansea University to launch a Virtual Innovation Hub in collaboration with other universities. This will bring together commercial development, academic research, and regulatory activity work to enable cutting-edge legal innovation. By involving regulators, consumer organisations, government, and higher education, we will ensure that regulation, consumer protection, policy-making and educational approaches develop in parallel to the business opportunities offered by Legaltech.
We are involved in the LawTech UK Sandbox pilot by supporting their Regulatory Response Unit. It aims to fast-track transformative ideas, products and services that address the legal needs of businesses and society. It provides access to tools, services and people, to help accelerate the development of their lawtech solutions.