Lawtech
  • My LS

Lawtech, ethics and the rule of law: discussion paper

In the face of the disruption caused by COVID-19, law firms and solicitors have turned to technology to help them maintain business continuity, recover and ultimately thrive.

Using a laptop and mobile phone

Research

Earlier this year, we conducted a series of 30 interviews with law firms, sole practitioners and alternative business structures to understand how lawtech solutions are designed, developed, used and/or procured and the ethical considerations that come into play throughout this process.

All participants agreed that the design, development, procurement and use of lawtech raise ethical questions or concerns. Some of these are:

  • potential data bias embedded in the algorithm or code underpinning lawtech solutions, for example for work allocation support tools or chatbots
  • the accessibility of lawtech products and services
  • data privacy issues, particularly around the use of cloud
  • assumptions about the degree of competency of the supplier and the lawtech product

Participants agreed on the need for a common language and approach to lawtech and ethics.

Law Society consultation

We’re seeking views from the profession on the following:

  • Would the development of lawtech principles provide benefits (such as legal certainty and mutual understanding) to the legal services sector, lawtech developers and the UK jurisdiction? If yes, what should those principles cover?
  • Are there existing principles or standards: (i) in the UK in other relevant sectors or (ii) internationally, that the UK should consider adopting?
  • Do the current SRA Standards and Regulations enable effective and compliant design and procurement of lawtech?

Respond to the discussion paper

We welcome the views of solicitors, law firms, lawtech companies and any other stakeholders that are part of or affected by the lawtech sector.

Responses to the paper are requested by 17 November 2020.

Send your response by email to parliamentary@lawsociety.org.uk.

An expert group will examine the findings and a report with recommendations will be published shortly afterwards.

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS