Legal data is a “valuable asset” which needs to be managed responsibly, while the belief that all types of legal data are sensitive and confidential is a “common misconception”, LawtechUK has said.
Launching its Legal Data Vision, LawtechUK said “greater capture, use and shared access” to data could improve efficiency, boost innovation and “create opportunities” to address unmet needs.
LawtechUK said the legal world has “yet to fully embrace the opportunities of data in decision-making, risk-mitigation, innovation, efficiency and value generation”.
The vision, developed in partnership with the Open Data Institute, embraced a shared aim for the sector “to prioritise the responsible use of and access to legal data” to deliver innovation, uphold trust and improve outcomes for clients.
“Greater capture, use and shared access to legal data can improve efficiency, productivity and transparency, support better decision making, identify new business models and revenue lines, and create opportunities to address unmet and excluded legal needs through data-led innovation.
“The goal is not to exploit legal data. Rather, legal data should be seen as a valuable resource that can drive innovation and help legal services deliver positive outcomes.
“Similarly, the goal is not to make all legal data open access: confidentiality and legal privilege are critical to legal services, and sensitive information needs to be protected and intellectual property rights respected.”
LawtechUK said “responsible access and widespread use” of data was critical to the future success of the sector.
“Individual organisations alone cannot unlock the full potential of legal data and navigate the associated ethical, privacy and security considerations.
“Only collective action across the legal data ecosystem, from individuals, organisations, government and regulators, can establish the data assets, processes, standards and best practices that will ensure the trustworthy use of data to meet society’s needs.”
LawtechUK went on: “There is a common misconception that all types of legal data are sensitive and confidential and therefore should not be shared.
“In fact, a good proportion of legal data is neither sensitive nor confidential and/or can be accessed securely, without using or exposing anything confidential.”
Alongside the vision, LawtechUK published a Legal Data Framework, which could be used by “any organisation and the legal sector as a whole”.
This involved individuals within a team agreeing to recognise legal data as a “valuable asset” which needed to be “managed responsibly”, and for teams to explore how to improve the use of and access to data between teams and organisations.
Organisations would agree to welcome collaboration in legal data initiatives for the sector and society that develop “common data standards and lexicons, datasets and resources, and testing new approaches and technologies”.
LawtechUK director Jenifer Swallow said: “Embracing and responsibly using data is critical to the future success of the legal sector and the people it serves. Without data we cannot innovate, hold ourselves to account or provide the clear counsel and service people need.
“All within the sector need to work to improve how data is collected and made accessible, including realising the opportunities of open data in law.
“The Legal Data Vision offers a shared purpose, with its development enriched by contributions from across and beyond the sector.”