LawTech, ethics and the rule of law discussion paper calls on the profession
Against the backdrop of Legal Geek’s annual virtual conference, the Law Society of England and Wales this week launched its LawTech, Ethics and the Rule of Law discussion paper, which seeks views on the ethical considerations solicitors and firms have in designing or procuring LawTech solutions.
In the face of the disruption caused by Covid-19, the legal profession has turned to technology to maintain business continuity, recover and ultimately thrive.
A common denominator for practitioners to engage with LawTech solutions, Law Society research has found, is that the solutions must serve their needs, meet ethical standards and comply with the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Standards and Regulations (STaRs).
The purpose of this research is threefold:
- stimulate debate about the ethical considerations that solicitors and law firms have in designing or procuring LawTech solutions
- consider whether producing standards or principles for LawTech would aid the design or procurement process
- establish whether ethical guidance, standards or principles would provide practitioners with additional comfort that they are using them compliantly in line with their obligations under the SRA’s STaRs
To understand how LawTech solutions are designed, developed, used and/or procured and how the existing framework is considered, we conducted a series of 30 interviews with law firms, sole practitioners and alternative business structures as scoping for this discussion paper.*
All participants agreed the design, development, procurement and use of LawTech raise ethical questions or concerns.
Law Society of England and Wales incoming president David Greene said:
“To complement Legal Geek’s annual conference, the publication of this discussion paper will pave the way in asking the profession to consider the ethical considerations of LawTech solutions.
“Behaving ethically is at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor, and, as we rely ever more on technology in our day-to-day business, this paper will seek views on whether lawtech principles will benefit the legal sector.”
We also ask if there are existing international principles the UK could adopt and if the SRA’s STaRs enable effective design and procurement of LawTech.
The Law Society requests answers to the paper by 17 November 2020 and should be sent by email to: [email protected]
An expert group will examine the findings and a report with recommendations will be made shortly afterwards.
* Respondents to our interviews included Magic Circle and small and medium-sized firms in England and Wales. We also surveyed organisations offering legal business support