Technology and innovation are changing legal services. Although the sector has typically been characterised as being a slow adopter, LawTech is fast becoming seen as essential. Law firms and other claims organisations that are not investing in technology may struggle to survive in a rapidly changing commercial landscape.
LawTech can increase access to justice and make legal services more affordable and efficient. Technology is changing the way that legal professionals are being taught, recruited and how they engage with consumers. Moreover, it has the potential to change the adversarial foundations of the UK justice system, such as through the growth in online dispute resolution platforms.
But technology should not be seen as a panacea for all the ills within the justice system. For every opportunity offered by LawTech, there can exist a parallel problem to safeguard against. This includes the exclusion of consumers who lack the necessary IT or literacy skills, as well as complex issues surrounding data security and fraud.
In order to understand the impact technology and innovation are having on consumers and the justice system, the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has produced a new report.
Interviews with senior personnel from across the sector helped us understand what they consider to be the opportunities and obstacles related to LawTech and the barriers to innovation. We found:
- LawTech is receiving increased focus from legal service providers, regulators, government and other stakeholders, fulled in part by the Covid-19 pandemic;
- LawTech is considered to be of net benefit to consumers as it has the potential to increase access to justice, make legal services more affordable and create more efficient processes;
- But LawTech solutions, particularly those which do not require human involvement, can lead to consumer detriment, and the development and adoption of LawTech must be regulated effectively to safeguard people properly; and
- Consumer bodies (such as ACSO) have an important role to play in identifying and promoting best practices and helping to ensure LawTech produces the right outcomes.
To meet the LawTech challenges and to encourage the growth of ethical legal technology, the report makes a series of recommendations for regulators and firms as well as for ACSO itself, which is forming a new Technology and Innovation Working Group. If you would like to become involved in this, please contact email@example.com.