Recent research by the Law Society has highlighted several factors that the Legal Services Board and relevant regulators should take into account in relation to Lawtech including technology which provides legal services without human involvement. In particular such issues as the explainability of automated decisions, potential bias and impact on privacy need to be taken into account.
The Law Society 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 how the existing framework is considered.
The Law Society has found that:
- Lawtech developers were not speaking the same language as the lawyers. There were concerns that when products are developed, standards and regulations are not being considered.
- In some instances, practitioners were concerned that Lawtech developers did not have lawyers in their teams; did not know of the existence of the regulations; nor of the role of the regulator. This acts as a barrier to procurement of new solutions for small and mid-size firms, who, despite seeing merit in the products, prefer to avoid risk by using tried and tested products or those used by other firms.
- Concerns were raised about the accuracy and reliability of the analyses generated by Lawtech solutions as reliance on biased or inaccurate data could undermine trust in the profession and legal services.
- Concerns were raised about potential data bias embedded in the algorithm or code underpinning Lawtech solutions. This was identified as an ethical concern and a barrier for adoption to small and medium size firms.
- There is a lack of clarity on the apportionment of liability if a Lawtech product causes harm.
- There were concerns about Lawtech products being marketed through websites which do not meet privacy and cookie regulation, which can in turn affect trust levels in the product;
- Some Lawtech providers were unable to provide detailed explanations of how the product works, causing concerns for effective oversight, risk and compliance as users cannot be sure whether the system is regulatory compliant; and
- Firms raised concerns as to whether potential Lawtech risks would be covered by professional indemnity insurance or public liability insurance.
As a result of the research, the Law Society has published a discussion paper and seeks views by 17 November 2020:
At Mattersmith, our clients do not have the concerns raised by the research because:
- we are a lawyer owned, lawyer-led business which is also an SRA regulated legal practice, with appropriate PII cover;
- our developers operate under the close direction of Mattersmith lawyers with a regulatory compliant approach in mind;
- our Lawtech products do not leverage AI and so avoid the issues of bias and inaccuracy which blight AI-driven solutions and so, do not ‘learn’ and repeat historic compromise positions which would dilute your negotiating position.
Please get in touch as to how our Lawtech and legal services offerings can help you.