Sheffield eyes legal tech hub status with incubator and conference launch

Sick of Londoners thinking they are the centre of the universe when it comes to legal tech? Kollider and Technomancers author Matt Pennington aim to establish Sheffield as a legal tech hub with the launch of a Sheffield-based tech incubator, and a conference for law firms, students and tech companies on the 22nd November 2018.

Pennington, a director at Leads for Lawyers, says: “We launched LegalTech North in May this year with a vision of making Sheffield the LegalTech hub for the north of England, kicking off with our November conference. Since then things have moved at a pace, with Kollider backing our mission and providing a route for anyone with ideas for the LegalTech of the future to help get their idea idea off the ground and potentially access VC funding.”

Kollider are establishing an 80,000 square foot business incubation space in a disused Co-op department store in the centre of Sheffield with phase one opening in Q4 2018. The incubator will house Barclays’ first Yorkshire Eagle Lab and Kollider, which was co-founded by Freeths partner Adrian Hackett, aims to support all types of startup and scale-up businesses with access to expertise and finance to support early stage business growth.

Hackett said: “Given the number of legal firms headquartered in Sheffield, the city is an ideal location for legal firms to collaborate with startups to develop new technology to deliver next generation legal services. Working with Matt to establish LegalTech North helps us establish the city as a legal technology hub with real support for new ideas.”

The conference itself is targeted at lawyers, legaltech providers, students and tech companies to consider how access and delivery of legal services can be improved through better use of technology, and demonstrate how Sheffield can support and nurture LegalTech startups.

Speaking to Legal IT Insider, Pennington said: “We’re tapping into the sentiment that people don’t bother to come up North and trying to make Sheffield a legal tech hub – we’re a northern powerhouse so there is no reason why not.

“We’ve got two really good universities and we’re trying to get good engagement with students who might want to do start-ups when they leave rather than mainstream law, We’re working with local universities and beyond that there is a very vibrant tech scene.

“London is a long way to go for anyone here and sometimes it feels like people think nothing happens outside of London – there’s  lots going on up here and we’re going to show that.”

The conference has three key tracks:

– A full day event for lawyers where they will be asked to question how they approach tasks on a day to day basis within their own firms, and consider if introducing technology (either bought in or created in-house) could improve the services they offer.

– A free student event, where students from a range of disciplines including law, computer science and social sciences can find out more about how LegalTech is changing the face of access to legal services

– A free event for tech companies, introducing them to how law firms are currently using LegalTech and the growing LegalTech sector. Tech firm will be asked to consider whether their existing products could be adapted for use in the legal sector, or to consider creating new products to meet the needs of the legal sector.

The last part of the day will bring together lawyers, tech companies and students for an innovation workshop run by Kollider. The informal workshop will ask groups to think about aspects of the legal process that could be improved through the use of technology, and will be followed by the LegalTech North afterparty.

To find out more about the conference and to book tickets visit