Legal Utopia – a LawTech start-up founded in August 2017 – has collaborated with The Data Lab of The University of Edinburgh and artificial intelligence researchers from the University of Aberdeen, on a grant-funded project, to apply quality indicators to SRA-regulated firms nationwide, as well as trialling a firm comparison tool.
Legal Utopia will be working with artificial intelligence researchers from the University of Aberdeen this summer to develop its existing Find-A-Lawyer service, launched in May 2021, to enable its mobile application users to access quality indicator scores on SRA-regulated firms across the UK.
The quality indicators will focus on a firm’s trading duration, website, cost, location, cyber security, insurance coverage, and regulatory compliance history. Each ‘indicator’ will be scored individually and then assembled into an ‘overall score’. Both individual and overall scores will be made viewable to Legal Utopia’s users, which now includes consumers and small businesses.
Legal Utopia will also be trialling artificial intelligence models for the active comparison and recommendation of alternative firms matching any one user’s search preferences, providing Legal Utopia’s users with the opportunity to identify and compare firms.
The research project has notified and called upon the Legal Services Board, Solicitors Regulation Authority, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Bar Standards Board, The Law Society of Scotland, and the Legal Consumer Panel to engage on this prototype project.
Legal Utopia developed and launched the UK’s first solicitor focused geographical map of SRA-regulated firms, incorporating all 10,030 firms and their 15,000 + offices across the world.
Find-A-Lawyer is a dedicated, searchable map that allows anyone to locate SRA-regulated firms local to any postcode, city, or region, as well as filterable by practice area of each individual firm.
Users can access information directly on each SRA firm displayed, including their SRA authorisation date, ID number, and authorisation type, as well as their business structure, website, phone number, email address, and areas of practice.
The project also plans to introduce public access barristers and government-contracted legal aid providers in a similar fashion.
Fraser Matcham – Chief Problem Solver @ Legal Utopia – said: “We want to push forward in the space of enabling search and comparison of regulated lawyers. This project puts action and implementation to the continuous discussion of quality indicators and the proposals on enabling consumers and businesses to compare and select legal services providers.
It will provide real-world input real-users, as well as a research analysis on the practical implementation of digital technologies with our research partners.”
Legal Utopia’s History
Legal Utopia had previously successfully completed one of the UK’s largest national legal consumer research projects looking at the needs of, and demand for, legal services by low-means consumers and businesses in collaboration with the University of Westminster. The substantial, 15-month research project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Legal Utopia Limited with its findings published in January 2020.
Legal Utopia was a previous resident of the Barclays LawTech Incubator and cohort member of the Wayra UK Accelerator in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh. It had previously collaborated with Norton Rose Fulbright and the Information Commissioner’s Office as part of the Regulator’s Pioneers Fund, funded by BEIS, on automated decision-making data protection regulation. The company received further valuable pro bono support from Mishcon de Reya, Baker McKenzie, and Dentons in its early MVP development.
Legal Utopia was funded in a £106,000 Innovate UK Smart Grant Competition in 2020 and a previous cohort member of the LawTech UK Sandbox Pilot by TechNation and the Ministry of Justice to accelerate the development of new solutions for the benefit of small businesses in the UK. Legal Utopia is currently a participant on the SRA’s Comparison Websites and Quality Indicators Pilot Scheme.