The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has allocated £2 million in government funding to Tech Nation, a UK leading network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, to support the Digital Transformation of the UK legal sector and create a climate to support the development and use of UK legal technology. Tech Nation will be responsible for delivering outcomes to achieve the aims of the funding, including through driving forward and building on the work of the Lawtech Delivery Panel.
Established in 2018, the panel is industry-led and government-backed, bringing together senior and expert voices to identify and address both barriers to and catalysts for the growth of lawtech. Tech Nation brings its expertise and understanding of the tech sector to support the panel’s work. The focus will be on developing solutions to some of the most pressing challenges and harnessing the biggest opportunities in lawtech and the UK legal sector.
Jenifer Swallow, former TransferWise General Counsel, has been appointed by Tech Nation to lead the executive delivery function. Swallow will bring her extensive leadership experience to bear, having been in senior leadership roles at several UK ‘unicorns’ – tech companies that have been valued at US$1 billion.
Her remit will include extensive engagement with the legal services and lawtech community, informing and developing the panel’s programme and working closely with the Chair of the panel to coordinate and deliver the strategic objectives of the funding. Tech Nation will also be hiring two full-time employees to support Swallow in her role.
Having provided similar support for the government-backed FinTech Delivery Panel and the Insurtech Board, Tech Nation has a strong track record to draw on for this initiative, as well as an established network of technology expertise. An early priority for the panel is to develop a 2022 lawtech vision and specific projects to advance that vision.
The funding reflects the UK government’s commitment to galvanising the growth of lawtech in the UK and positioning the UK as a global leader in legal technology. International investment in lawtech reached US$1,663 million in 2018, a 714% increase on the previous year (Tracxn sector report) and UK investment in lawtech alone has increased by three times in the past year, rising to £61 million.
Swallow commented: “The transformational potential of tech is huge. Considering the foundational nature of law and legal services for our businesses and wider society, I am delighted to have the opportunity as Director of the lawtech delivery function to help accelerate the evolution of the sector through tech. Bringing together industry leaders, our amazing tech talent, the wider legal community and beyond, and engaging candidly on the issues, we can step change the sector to be truly fit for the future, globally. I look forward to building on the progress to date with the panel and putting this important new funding to work in lawtech.”
Gerard Grech, CEO, Tech Nation, said: “English law is the most popular choice of law in the world for commercial contracts and governs about 40% of all global corporate arbitrations, among other aspects. Emerging technologies are transforming the legal sector; investment in UK lawtech has tripled in the last year alone. We are delighted to announce the appointment of Jenifer Swallow, following her leadership roles at Transferwise, Zynga and Yahoo. Swallow will lead the Lawtech Delivery Panel at Tech Nation, building on the Law Society’s work to date. We look forward to working with the distinguished panel members, tech entrepreneurs, the Ministry of Justice and the wider ecosystem to grow this sector.”
Christina Blacklaws, Chair of the Lawtech Delivery Panel, said: “A huge amount of foundational work has already been completed by the panel, supported by the Law Society. The announcement signifies the next critical step in the future of panel, with the welcome support of Tech Nation to develop the necessary legislative and regulatory frameworks to ensure that global business uses English and Welsh law and enhances the growth of the lawtech sector, with ethics at its heart. I look forward to working closely with Jenifer and Tech Nation to make a success of this initiative.”
Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland QC MP, said: “This funding will help create the right environment to support the development and use of UK lawtech. It will support wider economic growth and pave the way for a technological revolution in the UK legal sector.
“Tech Nation has an impressive track record in both FinTech and insurtech and I’m delighted it will be taking forward this initiative.”