This legal chatbot was incubated by the Royal Mencap Society using IBM Watson and is now being developed further by Access Social Care (Legal Access Challenge, 2020). The platform provides free and accessible legal information aimed at vulnerable people and seeks to empower users to be aware of their social care rights and challenge unlawful decisions (Legal Access Challenge, 2020). It was developed in response to a lack of free legal support for people with social care needs which was impacting their ability to access justice (Legal Access Challenge, 2020). This illustrates the importance of the role that technology has to play in the justice sector.
The innovation recently won the Solicitors Regulation Authority Legal Access Challenge alongside a domestic abuse support app (Legal Access Challenge 2020). The competition was aimed at broadening access to legal advice through technology and was funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Solicitors Regulation Authority, 2020). The winning innovations were both awarded £100,000 to continue their development (Solicitors Regulation Authority, 2020).
The original design thinking workshop for this innovation engaged frontline advisors and care managers, information providers without legal qualifications, solicitors and family members of people with learning disabilities (The Law Society, 2019). This is interesting in relation to feedback from the SRA that stated that the platform won the competition because it stood out for so clearly understanding the needs of their users and their potential for broadening access to justice for vulnerable people (Solicitors Regulation Authority, 2020). This highlights the importance of engaging with a multi-disciplinary team to develop a truly user-centred innovation.
The aim is that the chatbot will be hosted on websites of legal services websites in the justice sector so that users can be triaged before being directed to an appropriate service (Legal Access Challenge, 2020). This will have time and cost savings which may help to alleviate the burden on overrun pro bono services (Legal Access Challenge, 2020).
1. Legal Access Challenge (2020) Legal Access Challenge Winners [online]. Available from: https://legalaccesschallenge.org/winners/ [Accessed 15 April 2020].
2. Solicitors Regulation Authority (2020) Domestic abuse legal support app and social care justice chatbot win legal access challenge [online]. Available from: https://www.sra.org.uk/sra/news/press/legal-access-challenge-winners/ [Accessed 15 April 2020].
3. The Law Society (2019) Technology, Access to Justice and the Rule of Law [online]. Available from: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/research-trends/technology-access-to-justice-rule-of-law-report/ [Accessed 7 March 2020].