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Barclays and the Law Society Launch Law-Tech Incubator to Help the UK be a Leader in the Field

Barclays launched a new law-tech incubator in partnership with the Law Society. The venture is backed by major law firms, as well as leading universities UCL and The University of Liverpool.

Together, they aim to turbo-charge the UK’s law-tech sector, helping companies start up and scale up, and become international leaders in their field – matching the UK’s reputation as a leader in the legal services sector.

The law-tech Eagle Lab will open soon in Notting Hill, London, and create a centre of excellence. It will provide co-working space and support for up to 100 individuals, with events and meet-up space expected to be confirmed soon.

Ashok Vaswani, Chief Executive of Barclays UK, said: “Law-tech is an area where the UK has every reason to be a world leader. It is home to some of the greatest law firms in the world and we want to help build on the success of its legal sector, and play a leading role in transforming law-tech in the future. The impressive range of partners supporting this initiative shows just how important this is.

“Our Eagle Labs are supporting thriving new businesses up and down the country, and our Notting Hill lab will lead the way as an industry centre of excellence for law-tech.”

Stephanie Pagni, General Counsel for Barclays UK, said: “This initiative will help trigger a transformation in law-tech with significant potential, addressing not just commercial but also societal legal problems, and drawing on the expertise of data scientists, engineers and a range of other graduates and contributors from our university partners.”

The new incubator will provide access to mentoring and workshops. It will be supported by a dedicated Ecosystem Manager and Barclays’ colleagues who will provide on-site advice for entrepreneurs on areas including business and personal finance, as well as connections into Barclays’ international networks.

Legal Geek, a start-up community, will also play a vital role in organising events to encourage the sharing of ideas, and help entrepreneurs network and collaborate.

Partnering law firms will provide feedback and guidance to help entrepreneurs develop, test and refine their products, with the potential to implement new technology into their firms. Academic support will come from UCL and The University of Liverpool, which have valuable expertise in artificial intelligence and law-tech.

Christina Blacklaws, vice president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “As new technologies continue to be developed, they are changing the way solicitors and their clients approach legal issues. Law-tech is an important area of focus for us as we seek to help solicitors and law firms keep pace with evolving client expectations. We want to ensure the profession is promoting and adopting new ideas and technologies to provide the best possible service to their clients. This collaboration will create a forum for solicitors to learn and innovate with entrepreneurs and developers for the common good of the legal sector. We encourage all our members to get involved.”

Jimmy Vestbirk, Founder of Legal Geek, said: “The launch of this new law-tech incubator marks an exciting time for the legal profession. Technology is transforming how legal services are delivered and the market is starting to sit up and take notice, with the number of start-ups and investment in the sector rising. London is emerging as a global leader in law-tech, with an increasing number of high growth international legal start-ups choosing the city as their second market. The law-tech space has huge potential for growth, and with initiatives like this, I wholeheartedly believe that the same success we have seen in the UK’s thriving fintech scene can be replicated.”

The law-tech Eagle Lab is the latest in a growing network of 15 Labs set up by Barclays to help start-up and scale up businesses to create, innovate and grow. Eagle Labs originally converted under-utilised bank spaces to create thriving ecosystems at the heart of their community. They have developed into a UK-wide network, partnering with organisations that share Barclays’ vision to empower businesses and communities to drive the UK economy. Many of the Labs have a specific industry focus on technology areas such as artificial intelligence and home automation.

The new incubator will be modelled on the highly successful technology incubator at the Barclays Eagle Lab in Cambridge, which since its launch nearly two years ago, has become an important contributor to the Silicon Fen ecosystem. Today it hosts companies including the following law-tech firms that have proved the value of the Eagle Lab approach in the field:

  • Wavelength Law: the Cambridge Eagle Lab’s very first member. Wavelength is the world’s first regulated firm of Legal Engineers – a multi-disciplinary blend of data experts, technologists, process specialists, information experts as well as lawyers. The firm uses technology, data, legal analysis, design thinking methods, and teamwork to design and deliver solutions that dramatically improve legal practice
  • Prose: Legal drafting software that helps lawyers author structured legal documents such as contracts and legislation
  • Aalbun: redefining the Intellectual property value chain with software tools and giving access to a global pool of specialists to build IP portfolios cost-effectively

The success of the Cambridge Eagle Lab in supporting law-tech and other technology start-ups, along with the willingness to collaborate pan-industry for the benefit of the sector, were key factors in persuading law firms, which visited it, to back the new incubator.

About the Law-Tech Eagle Lab

Barclays will meet potential law-tech Eagle Lab residents to discuss their aim and scale of ambition, relevance to law/regulation technology, their funding status and ongoing sustainability, how they will benefit from the initiative and their commitment to the law-tech ecosystem and wider community. Selecting businesses for residency will be mutually discussed by the partners, before Barclays makes the final decision on successful applicants.

Partners signed up to the initiative include Allen & Overy, Baker McKenzie, Brethertons, Capital Law, Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, DWF LLP, Gowling WLG, Latham & Watkins, Legal Geek, Norton Rose Fulbright, PWC, Simmons & Simmons, SO Legal, the Law Society, The University of Liverpool, TLT LLP and University College London.

About Barclays Eagle Labs

Barclays Eagle Labs are spaces set up by Barclays to help businesses create, innovate and grow. They also operate as community resources supporting digital empowerment for all. Their focus is to drive digital skills development, productivity and economic growth, and support job creation.

There are now 15 locations across the UK (including Edinburgh), where entrepreneurs can reside, access mentoring, funding and events.

Eagle Labs facilitate and deliver learning and activities such as coding, 3D printing and “maker” facilities and rapid product prototyping, hackathons, as well as offering business incubation, mentoring and co-working and office space for ambitious businesses.

Since the opening of the first lab, over 100,000 individuals have used the service, ranging from ‘makers’, entrepreneurs and fast-growing businesses, children learning to code, and large corporates 

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

About Legal Geek

Legal Geek is a start-up first community with over 6,500 members in London. They organise regular events focussed on inspiring, connecting and educating the legal profession with a special focus on demystifying emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain.

Like all good communities Legal Geek also has a not-for-profit arm called “Law for Good” which organises Hackathons, including the world’s first Online Courts Hackathon in 2017 for the Judiciary of England and Wales. Law for Good also helps technologists donate their time to legal charities in London.

This activity culminates at the Legal Geek Conference which is an annual celebration of LawTech in Shoreditch and was described as the “Woodstock of Legal”. The event has doubled in size every year for the last three years and in 2018 will attract over 2,000 attendees from over 20 countries.

About Barclays

Barclays is a transatlantic consumer and wholesale bank with global reach, offering products and services across personal, corporate and investment banking, credit cards and wealth management, with a strong presence in our two home markets of the UK and the US.

With over 325 years of history and expertise in banking, Barclays operates in over 40 countries and employs approximately 85,000 people. Barclays moves, lends, invests and protects money for customers and clients worldwide.


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