The finalists of a legal technology competition backed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority have been announced. Innovations in line for the cash injection include a chatbot for people with learning disabilities, a tool to combat domestic violence and an app for documenting workplace harassment.
The Legal Access Challenge, run jointly by the SRA and innovation foundation Nesta Challenges, is a competition to develop a piece of technology which broadens access to legal services.
Of 117 entries, eight finalists have been selected, each of whom will receive £50,000 to invest in their product.
The finalists include Mencap, a chatbot for people with learning disabilities that gives legal advice on community care and welfare benefits, and TakeNote, an app for documenting harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace.
Another finalist uses artificial intelligence to analyse old judgments to help with employment tribunal claims, while RCJ Advice allows women and children suffering from domestic violence to gain court orders, access legal aid and navigate court processes.
Anna Bradley, SRA chair and chair of the Legal Access Challenge judging panel, said: ‘We have a great mix of winners, using tech in different ways, and offering solutions that will benefit people in very different situations.
‘Legal services should be for everyone, not just the minority who currently use them. Technology could be a real game changer. We will be working closely with all the winners to support their work, and make sure our regulatory approach is up to the new questions technology will pose.’
In March two finalists will be named overall winners and will each receive an extra £50,000.
The Legal Access Challenge raised eyebrows when it was first announced this summer due to the SRA’s right to adopt winning ideas if an entrant does not develop it themselves.