New report reveals significant LegalTech cluster in Bristol & Bath banner

New report reveals significant LegalTech cluster in Bristol & Bath

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A new report from Whitecap Consulting, conducted with support from key regional stakeholders, has found impressive levels of LegalTech activity, capability and employment across legal service providers, tech firms and LegalTech businesses in the Bristol & Bath region.

The report identifies a significant level of LegalTech activity across an established legal sector, including more than 750 tech and innovation roles. In addition, there is a growing cluster of over 30 LegalTechs, tech companies working in the legal sector, and LegalTech arms operating within the region’s law firms. The new report is the latest evidence to support the region’s core strength in emerging areas of technology, coming less than two weeks after it was named in the Kalifa Review as one of the top 10 FinTech clusters in the UK.

The research has been conducted in partnership with West of England Combined Authority, Invest Bristol+Bath, Bristol Law Society, Bristol+Bath LegalTech, with support from sponsors including Amdaris, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, Datasharp Integrated Communications, Foot Anstey, PracticeEvolve, University of Law, and VWV. Nearly 50 stakeholders were interviewed as part of the research process, which was supported by an online survey and a number of events.

The key findings of the report include:

  • High levels of LegalTech activity and service innovation across law firms of all sizes reflect the region’s underlying strengths in technology and law – including the presence of 17 Top 200 law firm head office functions.
  • Bristol and Bath has built an extensive LegalTech talent pool, with more than 750 legal technology and innovation roles identified by our research.
  • There is a growing cluster of over 30 LegalTechs, tech companies working in the legal sector and LegalTech arms within the region’s law firms. The number of LegalTech businesses is significant in size compared to other regional locations - as is the case in FinTech.
  • The region’s LegalTech sector could create powerful differentiation on a national and international level if embryonic collaboration in the legal sector was fully joined up with and modelled on the tech sector’s well-established regional collaborative ecosystem.
  • A strong sense of societal purpose is evident within the legal sector in the region and this should drive a future strand of LegalTech development.

The report makes recommendations against each key finding, and advocates supporting the future development of the ecosystem via actions including: improving visibility and accessibility to law firms for LegalTechs and tech firms; more communication and collaboration; building cross-sector links (eg with FinTech) within and outside the region; raising awareness of the roles available in LegalTech to help attract talent to the sector; and building on the region’s strong sense of societal purpose.

Richard Coates, Managing Director of Whitecap Consulting, said:

“The analysis that underpins this report has focused on the intersection of two of the most successful sectors in the regional economy, so it is no surprise that 93% of people surveyed believed LegalTech to be a growth opportunity for Bristol & Bath.  The region is widely acknowledged to ‘punch above its weight’ in both sectors, a view that the findings of this research endorse.”

Ben Holt, President of Bristol Law Society & Partner, VWV, said:

“LegalTech is a central plank for the legal future and this report is a keystone for taking us to the next step. We now need to move to that next phase and to make innovation and legal tech a long-term success story for the region. This report was commissioned to assist in giving the Bristol & Bath city region LegalTech sector a platform to demonstrate an enviable position as a world class innovation hub. I very much look forward to seeing the next stage of that evolution.”

Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said:

“This report shows that the West of England is the place for LegalTech in the UK. It’s easy to see why, with our globally recognised tech and creative sectors fusing with legal and professional services to revolutionise how clients are advised and firms operate to create the jobs of the future. The data and insights in this report are not only valuable for our region but for the entire country, being the first comprehensive survey of LegalTech in the post-Covid world. With such a strong cluster in Bristol and Bath, I look forward to us welcoming more talent and new businesses to the region soon.”

Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said:

“This report recognises the unique opportunity for LegalTech businesses based in our region. Combined with the existing strength of our tech and professional service sectors and our long history of innovation, this report demonstrates that we are well positioned to lead digital transformation and create the future of LegalTech.”

Chris Bull, Co-Chair of Bristol+BathLegalTech, who co-authored the report with Whitecap, said:

“The report shines a much-needed light on the growth of a nationally and internationally significant LegalTech cluster in the West of England and it was great to see the role of our collaborative LegalTech community network, Bristol+BathLegalTech (BBLT), cited by many contributors to this report as one of the region’s great strengths. Recommendations in the report reflect a collective desire to take these excellent foundations to the next level and for 2021 to be a major step-change in BBLT’s activity, helping the sector power back up post-pandemic”.

The new Bristol & Bath LegalTech 2021 report can be downloaded here.

You can watch the live launch event recording here