The regulator for solicitors in the UK, the SRA, is to create an ‘innovation testbed’ to try out different legal AI applications and explore regulatory issues around them – with a view to being supportive of the technology and helping improve access to justice.
The initiative is supported by The Regulators’ Pioneer Fund operated by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The SRA will work with technology consultancy, Nesta, which often works with governments on innovation projects. A number of vendors will eventually receive support from the SRA as part of the project, which will be called the ‘SRA Innovate Testbed’.
This joint initiative will be:
- ‘Mapping the state of play of deployment of AI in legal services to identify areas where AI holds particular promise to widen access to justice
- Identifying the barriers – technical, regulatory and financial – to the emergence of AI-powered services that could widen access to justice
- Accelerating advances in specific access to justice situations that demonstrate the potential for progress
- Building a community with a shared interest in tackling this challenge
- Using what we learn to adapt the regulatory approach as necessary to make it easier for solicitors and law firms to adopt AI driven innovations safely.’
There will be a recruitment campaign to ‘source six cutting-edge AI-powered lawtech innovations’.
Following a competitive selection process successful applicants will have ‘the opportunity to test innovative services underpinned by financial support and deep engagement with the SRA’.
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive said: ‘We look forward to working with Nesta to address the barriers to using AI in the legal sector. By building on our existing focus on innovation, we want to create an environment that makes it easier for law firms to adopt AI safely, benefitting both the users and prospective users of legal services.’