The Solicitors Regulation Authority is considering setting accreditation standards for lawtech products in order to build confidence among traditional high street firms, it has emerged. 

The suggestion appears in a set of responses to the ‘Technology and Innovation’ report published by the regulator yesterday. The report, of reseach carried out by an Oxford University team identified reasons for the relative slowness of ‘PeopleLaw’ firms to adopt digital ways of working. The most commonly-cited barriers were affordability, a lack of in-house IT skills and uncertainty over the business benefits.

In response, the SRA raised the possibility of endorsing or accrediting certain lawtech suppliers or products, saying it is unclear whether standard accreditation services will work for legal products. The regulator ’will consider’ taking on the job under the banner of its new ‘SRA Innovate’ service. 

Other confidence-building initiatives by the regulator could include: 

  • Sharing a checklist or standards list for technology innovators. ’This could be a guide to the legal, regulatory and industry accreditations that lawtech companies should comply with. The aim of such a standards list would be to help law firms to purchase services from lawtech companies that complied with such standards.
  • Challenging the perception that firms cannot afford new technology by ’collating and sharing information on the typical costs of common technologies and innovations’.
  • Considering whether initiatives similar to the Financial Conduct Authority’s product-governance approach could be introduced in the legal sector. ’This would mean technology and legal service providers having processes that make sure that consumers benefit from their development, testing and marketing of products.’

The SRA sees supporting innovation and technology as a key priority, chair Anna Bradley said yesterday. The response also reveals that the SRA is bidding for more money from the government's Regulators Pioneer Fund, which supported last year's Legal Access Challenge. Ideas include working with the Information Commissioner's Office on a project 'to increase access to justice'. 

Meanwhile the Law Society today published its latest contribution to the debate, a set of 'five main principles to inform lawtech design. The principles include compliance, lawfulness, capability, transparency and accountability, Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said. 'They will likely increase consumer choice, create clarity and reduce time spent on procurement.'

 The principles will also create a more stable and predictable environment for lawtech developers, she said.