The Legal Geek
conference is the annual get-together for the legal tech sector. This year, it was held in London over three days from 16–18 October 2019. In a new departure, its offshoot organisation, Law for Good
, held a conference on the final day of the gathering. This event was attended by charities, law schools and tech companies.
A jaded delegate who had attended the previous two days of the event told Legal Action they had been ‘stupefied’ by a succession of presentations from technologists with more interest in ‘selling software to large firms than access to justice’. In contrast, speakers at the Law for Good event were focused more on what tech could do to support services to the public and marginalised communities.
, the researcher and journalist, gave an overview of developments across the world, including MyLawBC
in British Columbia, Canada, which provides guided pathways to assist people with common legal problems. This service is funded by the state legal aid scheme. Closer to home, he praised the Citizens Advice
digital information service as a ‘world leader’. He advised the charities in the room to ‘put your money in back office’ technology such as case management programs as ‘this is where you’ll get most bang for your bucks’.
One of the legal tech success stories of recent years has been CrowdJustice
. Jo Sidhu from the organisation explained how it had helped many ground-breaking cases get off the ground by allowing people to raise cash on the platform (including eight that had made it to the Supreme Court). She said that Extinction Rebellion, which was staging protests in London at the same time as the conference, had managed to raise £350,000 via the service to cover legal costs.
A speaker with a commercial interest in attending the conference was Nicole Bradick, the founder and CEO of Theory and Principle
, an American firm that specialises in building digital legal products. The company’s projects include Rentervention
, a web-based app to help people in Chicago with their tenancy problems. Bradick emphasised the importance of design in the process of building a digital product, warning that ‘you will need more money than you think’, and stressing that ‘marketing should be a large part of the budget’ to ensure the product is used. She concluded: ‘Tech done right can have a huge impact on people’s lives.’