Any strategy in the area of legaltech needs to be flexible and able to adapt to the fast-moving world of legal technology. COVID-19 swiftly accelerated the pace at which legaltech was adopted in Scotland, and further afield, as the legal sector rapidly moved to an online world, from remote working to online court hearings. Cyber resilience, secure communication and virtual meetings are more important than ever, while getting the basics right is a feature of all modern workplaces and the foundation for digital transformation.
The adaptability and resilience of firms, businesses and clients has never been more openly and commonly discussed as it is now. As new technology is introduced, we need to encourage cooperation to ensure they interface with each other in a way that increases effectiveness and avoids unintended barriers. Our culture has changed, and we need to support its evolution.
The Law Society of Scotland is the professional body for solicitors and accredited paralegals in Scotland. Our reach is global with many of our members working outwith Scotland in England and Wales or overseas. We need a strong relationship with technology. When we talk about technology for the legal sector, we include technology developed in other eco-systems such as fintech and civtech.
Scotland has the fourth largest financial services hub in Europe, behind only London, Paris and Frankfurt, and it is the fund management capital of Europe so even though we are a smaller jurisdiction than England and Wales, we punch well above our weight. As a smaller jurisdiction, Scottish law firms see the value of taking a more collaborative approach to developing areas such as legaltech.
In 2018 we launched LawscotTech. In Scotland we already have the globally respected FinTech Scotland community. This model brings together the financial services sector with technology and academia. Given Fintech Scotland’s tremendous success, we chose to adopt this model for LawscotTech.
LawscotTech is a collaborative model that works across commerce, finance and industry, with government and overseas bodies to match the deep domain knowledge held within the profession. It is based on building a community of those working within the legal sector, technologists, stakeholders and academia, all working to transform legaltech.
Our ambition for LawscotTech is to stimulate legal technology innovation in Scotland which will deliver practical benefits for those working in the justice and legal sectors, and their clients. Our message to the legal sector is that it should embrace legaltech, influence its development and shape it through collaboration.
Ethics are vitally important to the development of legaltech. Our Law and Technology Committee will consider ethical and practice related matters arising from existing technology and future developments, whether they emerge from legaltech or otherwise. It is important that we protect the consumer’s interests, which means we need to consider suitable protections but not stand in the way of improvements that work in their favour.
Our broad strategy focusses on enabling the legal sector to be Ready for the Future - delivering new technology, identifying and highlighting existing technologies, and bringing in technology from other sectors and applying it to the legal sector.
To achieve that we have identified five specific strategic aims.
Improve the impact of legaltech
- Facilitate open collaborations with all legaltech providers, public body organisations and law firms Identify the starting point,'where are we now?'
- Develop and maintain a library of challenges defined by the sector
- Engage in and motivate the discussion of ethics within the profession, wider justice sector and regulatory bodies.
Remove barriers that inhibit creativity and innovation
- Develop best practice guidance for procuring technology by the legal sector
Encourage interoperability of systems through collaboration with the community and exploring projects such as data standards
- Understand and address cultural and technical barriers to the adoption of legaltech
- Work with regulators to address any unintended and unnecessary barriers
- Highlight the diversity of people and competency within the sector to encourage greater involvement from under-represented groups.
Engage with our community at home and abroad
- Support our LawscotTech community by celebrating their successes
- Develop a louder collective voice
- Collaborate with cross-sector regulators
- Showcase the cutting edge and innovative achievements of the Scottish legal profession.
Champion greater education of technology in the Scottish legal sector
- Work with our universities to embed legal technology and innovation into the syllabus
- Promote the Legal Technologist Specialist Accreditation
- Provide training and development opportunities, that include new skills within the sector to embrace the use of technology in people’s everyday working lives
- Guide trainees and supervisors on the use of technology in the training and education of new entrants to the profession
- Encourage upskilling and identify leadership within the sector.
Contribute to Scotland’s evolving digital economy
- Develop connectivity between different technology clusters
- Broaden LawscotTech stakeholders across the UK
- Build upon the learning of others in the wider technology eco-system
- Promote the importance of the legal sector to the growth of Scotland’s digital economy
- Encourage technology companies to invest in Scotland by assisting them to develop products.
Robust governance is essential, and our work is overseen by an advisory board that consists of solicitors, advocates, those working in law firms in Scotland, a technology company and representatives from the Fintech community. The varied perspectives of the board members ensure that we have a wide and considered view and we strive to be open and transparent on the activities of the board.
The Advisory Board reports directly to the Board of the Law Society of Scotland.