LegalUK calls for creation of National Institute for Legal Innovation

Susskind: We need to position ourselves as global leaders

The group set up by the Lord Chief Justice to promote UK law internationally has called for the creation of a National Institute for Legal Innovation to help harness the potential of artificial intelligence.

It would bring together “the best people in UK law to think deeply, undertake research, and develop new products and solutions that would bring huge economic and societal advantage to the UK”.

An institute set up by the legal and business communities, alongside the government, was critical to help the UK stand up to greater competition from other jurisdictions, it said.

China has plans to roll out an AI system to support the law by 2025, while the EU is leading the way on AI regulation.

Leading legal futurologist Professor Richard Susskind, a director of LegalUK, said: “Yesterday’s formula is not sustainable. We cannot rely on tradition to help us meet the challenges the UK justice and legal systems are facing.

“Technology is driving forward change at a rapid rate and to maintain our leadership, we need to innovate and embrace technology as a force for good.

“We are calling for the establishment of a new National Institute for Legal Innovation to systematically bring together the best legal minds and ensure we are ahead of the game and position ourselves as global leaders.”

Professor Susskind argued that, until now, “the loudest voices” have been those who see AI and technology as a problem, “rather than the clear opportunity that it is”. All the while, he warned, the pace of technological change was accelerating.

There was a need to show how English law is “the obvious choice in relation to AI”.

He went on: “The institute will become a focal point in the UK for new thinking on how we improve access to justice, preserve our global position, and respond to the rapid development of technology.”

The academic argued that the UK’s attempts to keep pace with change have to date been “piecemeal and uncoordinated”; while other disciplines already have national centres, there was currently no such body to advance law and legal services on a national basis.

LegalUK said the “ambitious” remit of the institute would be to:

  • Promote English law and the UK as the leading tech-enabled global centre for dispute resolution;
  • Overcome the access to justice problem;
  • Ensure the UK is on top of emerging legal technologies;
  • Train the next generation of legal professionals;
  • Develop prototypes of English legal products and solutions;
  • Conduct world-beating R&D on techlaw and lawtech; and
  • Ensure our legal and court system is sustainable in the long run.

LegalUK’s other directors include former Court of Appeal judge Dame Elizabeth Gloster, former Allen & Overy senior partner Guy Beringer, Jonathan Wood, partner and head of international arbitration at City firm RPC, and Elliot Moss, a partner and chief brand officer at Mishcon de Reya.

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