Why legal regulators need to get their geek on

Posted by Stephen Ward, director of strategy and external relations at Legal Futures Associate, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers

Ward: light-touch interventions

As a regulator with a proud history of supporting innovation in the delivery of legal services, we’re keen to support lawyers who want to find new ways of responding to changing client expectations and who harness new tools to do so.

That’s why we have set up a collaboration with Legal Geek and its network of legal tech entrepreneurs. We are excited to explore with them how the delivery of legal services is likely to evolve over the coming months and years so that we are ready to support innovation in the interests of consumers, licensed conveyancers and other lawyers.

We recently held two separate workshops with Legal Geek’s entrepreneurs, where it became clear that there is a wide range of interesting challenges for us if we are to be ahead of the game. We don’t want to find ourselves floundering like the taxi regulator when faced with Uber, or the many cities struggling to cope with AirBnB.

Neither service is fundamentally novel, but new ways of delivering them have challenged regulators’ ability to meet their responsibilities for the protection of consumers.

The arrival of a similar disruptor in the residential property market could pose serious challenges, especially if their approach was to deliver property transfers in a way that pays little or no attention to current due diligence processes for conveyancing or the consumer protection framework around it.

And a new or existing provider hoarding a lot of data relating to properties could have an anti-competitive effect that could be hard to undo.

We want to extend the dialogue so that we can identify light-touch interventions, that will promote innovation and competition to encourage the development of new solutions to benefit conveyancers and their clients. There are opportunities here to make huge improvements to the consumer experience and create major efficiencies while also reducing risks in the current processes.

At our second workshop event, we homed in on two points in the conveyancing process. At the beginning, the provision of vital property information, and at the end, secure transfer of funds between all the parties.

We were pleased by how close we are to solutions in these area that could make a real difference very quickly.

The challenge now is to identify what the CLC as a regulator of specialist conveyancers can do to help lawyers adopt new tech solutions in confidence.

We’ve got some exciting ideas and we are keen to talk to any conveyancers, current software providers and start-up law tech companies who are interested in getting involved in specifying, assessing and testing potential tech solutions to some key challenges in homebuying so please do get in touch with me directly at stephenw@clc-uk.org

Earlier this year, Legal Futures published a special report on how regulation should keep with technology in association with the CLC. Read or download it here.

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