Thursday, June 27, 2019

Digital Technology in the Legal Sector

Digital technology has revolutionised many service sectors throughout the UK, however in the legal sector it appears to have made much less of an impact, with many law firms still heavily reliant on paper-based filing systems and putting pen to paper.

It is argued by consumers and regulators alike that the lack of digital progress may be hindering the accessibility of the legal sector. The SRA published the results of a recent survey that had been conducted on barriers to legal advice. In summary, the survey presented the following findings:

  • 68% say the cost is too high;
  • 56% say there is uncertainty around the cost;
  • 37% say they do not know who to trust;
  • Only 51% of people who have experienced a legal issue in the past 10 years have sought legal advice;
  • Instead 20% turned to family for legal advice;
  • And 16% have turned to Google

The SRA believes there is a consensus that technology could be the solution to this, with 59% of those surveyed saying they think technology could lead to better services to help people resolve their legal problems. Yet despite the apparent need, the lack of technological advances is not from a lack of innovation. Some of the efforts over the past decade to bring the legal sector into the 21st Century have included the following:

The Legal Services Act 2007

The purpose of the Legal Services Act was to increase competition within the legal sector as the outcome of the Clementi Review (2004) stated that those most in need of legal assistance were being overcharged.

Digital Pricing

In December 2018 the SRA launched the price transparency rules which required firms working in certain areas of law to publish price information on their website.

Legal Access Challenge

Most recently, the SRA has partnered with Nesta, the innovation charity, to invite businesses to create new legal solutions through technology in return for a £250k grant. 

However, despite being 15 years on from the findings of the Clementi Review, the SRA’s recent survey ahead of the Legal Access Challenge is presenting the same findings and the same objections towards the legal sector. 

For more information on taking part in the Legal Access Challenge, please see the following link: https://www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/resources/innovate/legal-access-challenge.page

Author: Laura Griffiths