Technology and Information Can Unlock Justice

Technology is the continually developing result of accumulated knowledge and application in all techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in industrial production and scientific research.

Technology has the potential to unlock justice for all, according to a new report launched by The Law Society. However, it is by no means a silver bullet for change.

Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making processes.

For example, a single customer’s sale at a restaurant is data – this becomes information when the business is able to identify the most popular or least popular dish.

Based on an assessment of 50 initiatives and qualitative interviews with more than 45 stakeholders – the report explores whether technology is the key to unlock the potential of law, justice and rights.

It concludes that, with the right support from government, technology can be the key to unlocking access to justice innovation.

Key findings include:

  • Significant work is being done by firms, advice clinics and in-house teams to meet legal need which is supported by technology. The government has taken positive steps through the Legal Support Advisory Group and its ministerial commitments to support new forms of technology to make justice more accessible. There is, however, much more to be done – in most cases, better data management, information sharing and co-ordination is needed;
  • The consumer-facing market is less mature than the business-to-business market on legal technology adoption. Recently, resource allocation and the need for greater efficiencies have driven demand for technological solutions;
  • Online resources are the primary means of providing information to the public. However, face-to-face remains the most popular way for delivering advice, followed by mobile apps which are often used at the start of the process;
  • Barriers to technological adoption include; widespread variation, lack of access to data, inequality of resources, duplication of products, funding and regulatory concerns.
  • Innovation is being led and used by third sector, including law centres and pro bono clinics, often working with firms and universities to provide services. This is more commonly found for disputes in housing, family, employment, debt and social welfare.

The report recommends government bodies, private sector and third sector organisations that offer funds for legal technology and access to justice initiatives should agree on a set of principles to encourage long-term investment in the sector.

It also suggests the creation of an Open Source Platform for access to justice and technology and a comprehensive list of agreed solutions to overcome barriers and meet legal need.

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