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Harassment reporting app and legal chatbot for people with learning disabilities among SRA tech challenge finalists

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Eight teams secure £50,000 in funding

An app which aims to tackle workplace harassment and a legal chatbot for people with learning disabilities are among eight fledgeling startups to have scooped £50,000 each as part of a competition to broaden access to legal services in England and Wales through technology.

The Legal Access Challenge, run in partnership by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and innovation foundation Nesta Challenges, saw over 100 legally-minded innovators pitch their techy solutions to narrow this ‘legal gap’ which sees vulnerable people and small businesses left trying to solve legal problems without the necessary support.

The judging panel, chaired by the SRA’s Anna Bradley, selected its eight most “promising concepts” to progress to the final round. Each team will receive £50,000 in funding to develop their innovative ideas over the next six months.

The eight finalists are:

Formily — The brainchild of two family lawyers, this tool will aim to take the pain out of complicated and time-consuming financial disclosure exercises during divorce proceedings.

Glow by Duo Ventures — This tool will enable small businesses to bring legal action against organisations in the form of group litigation, enabling collective bargaining power and cost sharing amongst claimants.

Litigation Friend by Solomonic — An artificial intelligence platform which will help employees and small businesses involved in employment tribunal claims make more informed decisions.

Mencap — This legal chatbot will deliver early legal help and advice around community care and welfare benefits to people with learning disabilities.

MyDigitalRights by Doteveryone and Resolver — An accessible one-stop-shop to help people tackle problems they face online and hold tech companies to account.

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RCJ Advice — This platform will enable women and children to get legal help to protect themselves from violence, gain court orders, access legal aid and navigate court processes.

Resolve Disputes Online — A series of online negotiation and mediation tools which will help consumers and businesses resolve disputes.

TakeNote app by Organise — An app for documenting harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace.

As well as cash, the finalists will receive free legal advice courtesy of Hogan Lovells and guidance on privacy and data protection issues via the Information Commissioner’s Office. Two of the finalists will go on to be named overall winners next year in March, receiving a further £50,000 each to invest in their product.

“We have a great mix of winners, using tech in different ways, and offering solutions that will benefit people in very different situations,” Bradley said. “People in their personal and working lives, some of the most vulnerable — victims of domestic violence and those with learning disabilities — as well as small business.”

Chris Gorst, head of better markets at Nesta Challenges, added: “Too many people and small businesses struggle to access legal services in England and Wales when they need them. We believe technology can contribute to fixing this. From the range of proposals submitted to the Legal Access Challenge the UK’s innovators clearly agree. We’re looking forward to working closely with the finalists announced today to make their concepts a reality for the benefit of people and small businesses across the country.”

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