What was the Legal Access Challenge?
The Legal Access Challenge called for legal tech start-ups, law firms, alternative legal providers, advice organisations and law schools to develop ambitious direct-to-user products, services and platforms. Its aim was to make legal services more accessible and affordable for individuals, families and small businesses. Delivered by Nesta Challenges in partnership with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, it awarded £50,000 grants to eight finalists along with an expert support programme to develop their solutions, with two winners receiving an additional £50,000.
Why did we do this?
In many sectors 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. 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 with a shared interest in using technology to improve access to legal support
- 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
- 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
63% of people...
do not believe that professional legal advice is affordable for ‘ordinary people’
of individuals gets professional help with their legal problems
The average small business...
faces 8 legal issues every year, but only 1 in 10 takes advice from a solicitor or barrister
Impact of the Challenge
- 7 out of 8 finalists agreed that the Challenge accelerated development of their solution, with 5 of 8 strongly agreeing
- 5 out of 8 finalists agreed that the Challenge allowed them to experiment with new functionality that they would not have otherwise pursued
- 6 out of 8 finalists agreed that the Challenge provided them with support that they would have not been able to access otherwise
- 6 out of 8 finalists agreed that the Challenge helped them to clarify the objectives of their solution
- The Challenge secured 80 pieces of media coverage, reaching a print circulation of 899,000 and online readership of 26.8m, including in national broadsheets The Times and The Sunday Times
- 7 out of 8 finalists agreed that they were introduced to new and useful contacts throughout the Challenge
- 5 out of 8 finalists have built new partnerships as a result of the Challenge
The winners of the Legal Access Challenge
CourtNav and FLOWS by RCJ Advice and Rights of Women
Support to help domestic abuse survivors through innovative platforms that effectively integrate technology with human advice and support. CourtNav collects evidence for a non-molestation order application and links female and male survivors in England and Wales with an accredited domestic abuse legal aid solicitor. A referral app for frontline workers (such as police officers or refuge staff) refers people at risk to the legal help they need. Meanwhile, FLOWS (Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors) specifically empowers women survivors to easily find clear information and local legal support as well as offering a secure webchat app that women can use quickly and discreetly. The FLOWS Discussion Forum also enables practitioners to share advice with peers via a secure platform.
The Chatbot, developed by Mencap and Access Social Care
A legal information service for the hundreds of thousands with social care needs, the chatbot uses IBM Watson technology to provide free, accessible legal information, particularly for those who are experiencing challenges accessing care. The chatbot enables Access and Mencap to more effectively meet demand for advice by using technology to complement the human expertise of their advisors. Using artificial intelligence, it learns from interactions as people use it, including legal caseworkers and care managers who have been involved in the testing. It helps people understand their rights and access justice, as well as allowing lawyers and advisers to allocate more time to the most complex cases. The chatbot can also be hosted on the websites of other advice organisations to reach even more people.
Learn more about the impact of the Challenge by reading this report
Developed by two specialist family lawyers, Formily is a web application that helps litigants in person, solicitors and their clients automate the lengthy and mandatory completion of Form E during a divorce proceeding.
Glow provides a central hub for victims to unite, take collective action and shine a light on civil rights injustices by running a campaign, lobbying the Government or taking legal action.
Litigation Friend by Solomonic is a web based diagnostic tool that helps unrepresented employees bring a claim against their employer.
Resolve Disputes Online is a series of online negotiation and mediation tools which helps consumers and businesses resolve disputes.
TakeNote app by Organise is a mobile app that documents evidence of discrimination, harassment and wrongdoing in the workplace.
Director in Nesta Challenges