Practice points

Lawtech start-up incubator closes 2018 pitch round with applications up

Nick West

Applications were up in the latest round of an accelerator programme for lawtech start-ups run by a London law firm, with smart contracts among technologies of particular interest, it has emerged. Six companies will win through to work with Mishcon de Reya from the “concept through to revenue-generating stage”.

February 19th, 2018

“Neural network” robot lawyer plots international expansion

coding

An online legal advice website has created an artificial intelligence-backed robot that it claims has been trained to answer questions on consumer rights law in natural language using one of the world’s largest datasets.

February 19th, 2018

Small businesses shy away from “pricey” solicitors when facing legal problems, major survey find

Helen Phillips - Chair of Chesterfeidl Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Only 11% of small businesses consider solicitors to be good value for money, and most choose not to use them when faced by a legal problem, seeing them as a last resort, according to major new research. It also found that the annual cost of small businesses’ legal problems to the UK economy to be roughly £40bn.

February 15th, 2018

Leading law firm joins forces with LSE professors to find ways to predict litigation

Andrew Dunkley

National insurance law firm BLM has teamed up with three professors from the London School of Economics in a two-year research project to create models that predict the cost, length and outcome of litigation. AI will be an “important part” of the partnership, but it aims to bled technology with actuarial knowledge and ‘decision science’.

February 13th, 2018

Law firms secure 18-month indemnity deals in ‘soft’ insurance market

A blank file in a filing cabinet

Law firms have taken advantage of a soft insurance market to secure 18-month professional indemnity insurance deals at a “very good” rate, a report has found. More firms were asking about additional cover to protect solicitors against defence costs in disciplinary proceedings, in the wake of the Leigh Day case.

February 13th, 2018

Legal infrastructure behind blockchain contracts takes shape

Chris Wray Mattereum

The English lawyer behind a bid to provide legal backing to deals involving both the virtual world of blockchain and real world commerce, has forecast that in a decade most global trade will be governed by arbitration agreements coupled with smart contracts.

February 9th, 2018

Accounts clerk wins unfair dismissal claim against law firm after false harassment allegation

Door lock key

An accounts clerk at a west London law firm who faced false allegations of sexually harassing a fellow employee – who was the daughter of the owner – has won his claim of unfair constructive dismissal. After winning his claim first time around, he won it again on a reconsideration of the question of whether he had affirmed the firm’s breaches.

February 7th, 2018

City solicitor loses argument with taxman over £215k payment made to ex-firm’s bank

Tax calculator and pen

A City law firm partner who had to pay £215,000 to settle his debt to the bank of his former firm, which had gone bust, was not able to deduct it from his earnings at his new firm for tax purposes, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

February 5th, 2018

AI lawyers coming but hold off on legislation, says Microsoft

Brad Smith Microsoft

A new breed of specialist artificial intelligence (AI) lawyer will emerge within 20 years, but governments should only legislate on the subject once technology companies have had time to develop their own ethical principles, according to Microsoft. By that time, virtually all lawyers will rely on AI to assist them with their practice, it said.

February 5th, 2018

The time is now for law firms to invest in new tech and delivery methods, says bank boss

James Tsolakis

The time for just talking about new ways of doing things in the law is over as clients “turn their backs on the pricing and delivery models that law firms have traditionally sold them”, a leading banker has warned. He said a “palpable shift” in thinking and serious investment in new technologies and delivery methods were now strategic priorities.

February 2nd, 2018