Event Review: LegalTech in Leeds returns with Legal Innovation Talks

LegalTech in Leeds







LegalTech in Leeds returned last week, kicking off our annual programme of activity with our first event hosted at Platform.

Leeds Law Society, and a number of supporting sponsors and partners including Addleshaw Goddard, Barclays Eagle Labs, Bruntwood SciTech, Calls9, CSP, DAC Beachcroft, LawTechUK, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, rradar and University of Law. LegalTech in Leeds has the following aims:

  • bring together the legal and tech sector
  • help drive digital adoption across the legal sector
  • support tech entrepreneurs to engage with the legal sector
  • improve access to legal services.

We would like to say a big thank you to all our speakers and those who attended the event. For those who could not attend, we have produced this brief write-up.

We kicked off proceedings with introductions from Katherine Megson, Innovation Programme & Events Manager at Bruntwood SciTech, who gave us an overview of the offering at Platform including the dedicated Tech Hub which provides a range of coworking and serviced office space as well as specialist support for innovative businesses looking to scale and grow.

Tom Matusiak, Director at Leeds Law Society & Legal Director at Stewarts then spoke to us about the history of the legal sector in Leeds, highlighting how it has become a key pillar of the Leeds economy with a full range of law firms, legal service providers and in house legal teams.

Tom highlighted that for 150 years, Leeds Law Society has been supporting and building the connections that promote the legal industry in Leeds and is continuing to do so including through involvement in the LegalTech in Leeds initiative. Tom finished his welcome by stating “innovation in law and procedure, combined with innovation in legal service delivery, legal regulation and legal education will build a stronger society through improved relevance of the law and access to the law.

We then heard from Julian Wells, Director and Chloe Thompson, Consultant at Whitecap Consulting, who gave a brief overview of LegalTech in Leeds as well as an update on the recent developments of the initiative including confirmed sponsors and partners, upcoming scheduled events and progress on the LegalTech in Leeds website. Chloe finished the update with a number of key next steps: confirming more sponsors/partners, continuing to develop the programme of activity, launching the website and scheduling the 2023 LegalTech in Leeds Conference.

Next, we had a pre-recorded discussion between Alex Lennox, Director at LawtechUK and Chloe Thompson, Consultant at Whitecap Consulting. Alex expressed the important role that the legal sector plays in the UK’s economy including helping businesses to start-up and run, transacting, resolving disputes and helping individuals to enforce their rights.

Alex also noted that “the world is becoming more digital, and the legal services industry needs to as well.” According to research conducted by LawtechUK, there is an estimated £11.4 billion per year market opportunity for Lawtech and innovation to address the unmet legal needs of SMEs and consumers by providing accessible and affordable services through technology.

Alex finished the discussion by outlining the near-term plans for LawtechUK including looking at plans to demystify some of the misconceptions around the use of AI and Machine Learning by law firms, conducting a consultation working with the UK jurisdiction task force to look at how English law can support emerging technologies and creating a strategy for the additional £4 million funding that LawtechUK has secured.

We then had a short, pre-recorded message from Balraj Singh, Eagle Lab LawTech Innovation Manager at Barclays Eagle Labs who discussed bridging the gap between legal innovation and traditional law firm practices through helping law firms to discover how they can use the Barclays ecosystem to resolve some of key challenges. Bal highlights the opportunity for Barclays Eagle Labs to extend its reach outside London by working with Whitecap Consulting and getting involved in the LegalTech in Leeds initiative.

Next up, we had a discussion focused on the theme ‘how to be more innovative’, hearing from Gary Gallen, CEO/ Founder & Richard Crabb, COO of rradar. Gary began by emphasising the amount of valuable knowledge within the legal profession and how important it is to share that knowledge with clients, and in turn providing them – as businesses — with the tools they need to solve their key challenges, without hindrance. Gary describes technology as a way to share this knowledge, stating that by making the client experience better, smarter and faster, relationships with clients improve.

Richard then gave us an insight into his background in an in-house legal function before joining rradar, sharing his views on innovation and how it should be incremental, bottom-up and involving diverse range of stakeholder input, with reduced expectations from above. In the first instance, the process should be thoroughly reviewed, asking key questions such as: Who are your key stakeholders? What problems have they got and why are they problematic? The next stage is to see how solutions to these problems could be complemented by technology. Looking to the future, Richard concluded the discussion with rradar’s exciting growth plans.

The final speaker was Patrick Grant, Tutor and Project Director for Legal Tech and Innovation at University of Law who walked us through an anecdote from the Legal Geek Conference. Patrick spoke about the challenge surrounding the everyday language used by law firms and technologists and the difficulty both face with understanding each other. He stressed the importance of ensuring technologists take the time to engage with and understand law firms and vice versa, otherwise the challenge will never be resolved.

Patrick also touched on innovation and how it doesn’t always have to mean ‘reinventing the wheel’, incremental improvements can also be innovative. He states that often people fall into the trap of focusing on the solution when innovating and when this happens, it’s easy to lose sight of the outcome. Patrick finished with the quote:

“We have a framework of amazing people in both the legal and tech sectors in Leeds, we have a huge appetite for innovating and making things better. I think we need to work on really understanding each other’s languages, processes and problems by asking questions and educating each other, then we can find solutions.”

Overall, it was great to hear insights from across the legal and tech sectors on how to be more innovative and we are very much looking forward to the upcoming events in the LegalTech in Leeds calendar. To view details of our scheduled events, please see our Eventbrite.