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UK Sandbox pilot ends with “accelerated growth” for all its startups

The pilot stage of the UK’s first Lawtech Sandbox has come to an end today (25 March), after what is described as a successful three-month trial period in which all participants saw accelerated growth. The pilot, which is an R&D initiative for lawtech scaleups, is run by LawtechUK – the government-backed initiative within Tech Nation to help transform the UK legal sector through technology.

Amplified Global, Legal Utopia, Clausematch, Deriskly, and Legal Schema were the five UK lawtechs selected to join the pilot, and we’re told that through the three month period, they all saw accelerated growth. The metrics as to how that conclusion was reached have not been disclosed.

The sandbox gives startups access to tailored tools and services; access to regulators; connections to LawtechUK’s network to help drive collaboration, commercial opportunities and development of lawtech products; and access to legal data by matchmaking with data sources. 

The success of the pilot paves the way for a second phase of the Lawtech Sandbox in the summer and Lawtech UK is currently looking at how its benefits can be provided to the wider market.

As a result of the pilot, the Regulatory Response Unit will launch a tool over the coming weeks designed to help lawtech pioneers navigate legal services regulation in the UK, developed by LawtechUK and the RRU.  The tool takes a UK-wide approach and demonstrates that despite different regulatory regimes, lawtechs and regulators can work cohesively across the different jurisdictions of the UK. 

Jenifer Swallow LawtechUK director at Tech Nation, said: “The Lawtech Sandbox Pilot was designed to help bring transformative lawtech to market faster and help reinvent the service of law.   The success of the pilot has been fantastic to see, playing a crucial role in the development of several early stage scale-ups and demonstrating the value and knock on effects of the burgeoning lawtech sector.  As we saw with fintech, the Sandbox has the potential to propel lawtech into the mainstream – that is an incredibly exciting future many can help to build.”

Fraser Matcham, CEO, Legal Utopia, which provides DIY tools and makes it easy for SMEs to get legal support, comments: “The LawtechUK Pilot was a particularly well-timed event for Legal Utopia’s product development and the key projects we’ve been focused on launching since early 2020. The pilot helped us get these different projects locked-in and funnelled the resources needed to get them done. The results I think exceeded both sides’ expectations, in particular, to go from nothing to a full modelling training platform with a training dataset on one project. This will directly result in an expansion of our service offering to SMEs and the wider market.”

And Anastasia Dokuchaeva, head of product at compliance tech company ClauseMatch, said: “The programme was highly instrumental for us for working with the ecosystem, understanding the challenges and the problems that both sides – regulators and the regulated – face. What was the most unique about it is that it provided us with a great opportunity to work with multiple regulators and have them come together at the round table all ‘in one room’, all at one time simultaneously, something that we were not able to do before. As part of the Sandbox, we were looking at several use cases such as anti-money laundering and KYC use case, ESG, privacy, onshoring post-Brexit. Meeting experts allowed us to tap into this wealth of experience and deep-dive more into the issues that the industry is looking at.”   

More about the Lawtech Sandbox 

The Lawtech Sandbox Pilot is a free, government-backed initiative, and does not take an equity stake in organisations that join. Although industry not regulatory led, and supporting a market where many operate outside the regulatory regime, the Lawtech Sandbox is inspired by the FCA’s sandbox, set up in 2016 to support innovative UK financial services firms delivering in the interests of consumers, and widely attributed as playing a key role in the growth of the fintech sector. The Lawtech Sandbox brings together technologists, the legal and business community, and public bodies, to support more innovative legal technology coming to market. The Sandbox will be delivered in collaboration with thirteen participating regulators and Lawtech Sandboxpartners.

Participating regulators:

  • Bar Standards Board (BSB)
  • Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx)
  • Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB)
  • Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)
  • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
  • Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland (Lawsoc-NI)
  • Law Society of Scotland (LawScot)
  • Legal Services Board (LSB)
  • Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)
  • The Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg)
  • Master of the Faculties

The Judging Panel:

  • Chris Grant, LawTech Director at Barclays Ventures
  • Sophia Adams Bhatti, Head of Strategy & Policy at Simmons Wavelength
  • Nick West, Chief Strategy Officer, Mishcon de Reya LLP, & Founder of MDR LAB
  • Matthew Smith, Manager – Policy, Innovate, FCA
  • Stephen Browning, Challenge Director – Next Generation Service at Innovate UK
  • Jenifer Swallow, LawtechUK Director, Tech Nation
  • Alexandra Lennox, Head of LawtechUK, Tech Nation

Caroline.hill@legalitlexicon.com