Legal Access Challenge launched
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Marc Bloomfield
Yesterday (29 May 2019), Legal Action was invited to the Shard for a preview of the Legal Access Challenge, run by Nesta Challenges and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
The Challenge launches today, 30 May. There are four prizes of £50,000 in a competition to develop digital solutions to support individuals and small businesses so that they can access legal services conveniently and affordably.
Nesta Challenges commissioned research earlier this year which unsurprisingly revealed that six in 10 of those surveyed in England and Wales think the legal system is not set up for ordinary people. I am surprised that four out of 10 think it is. The research also identified that 20 per cent of people with a problem turn to friends and family for legal advice, and 16 per cent to Google.
Nesta is a global innovation foundation. Its Nesta Challenges project uses challenge prizes to ‘stimulate innovative solutions’. It is no surprise that it is working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which has itself been working on how to increase access to justice and also wants to encourage innovation. Anna Bradley, SRA board chair, said: ‘The Legal Access Challenge can help to drive the development of new approaches which will deliver tangible benefits to the public, opening up access to legal services for as many people as possible.’
Where does the money come from? A grant from the £10m Regulators’ Pioneer Fund, launched by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has enabled the funding of the Challenge.
You may be a law tech company, a firm, a not-for-profit or a university – if you have an idea to help make the law more accessible through digital innovation, this will be of interest. The deadline for applications is 11 August and the winners will be announced towards the end of September.
If you have a good idea but haven’t a clue how to turn it into a reality, do contact the Challenge team as they may be able to put you in touch with people who can help.
Of great importance is that the four winning teams will each receive a lot of support and will be put in touch with relevant bodies (not just Nesta and the SRA) that can help them over the 18-month development period. One of the teams will then be chosen to receive a further award.

About the author(s)

Description: Carol Storer - author
Carol Storer is interim director of LAG. She was director of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group for 10 years until November 2018.