Swansea Uni-backed legal lab scoops £4 million in EU funding

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By Thomas Connelly on

New hub to support research and develop advances in lawtech, Welsh government says

A Swansea University-backed legal hub is set to receive a hefty £4 million windfall thanks to the EU, it was announced today.

The Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles, confirmed the seven-figure funding package will go towards the new £5.6 million Legal Innovation Lab for Wales, due to open next summer at the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law at Swansea University.

The Welsh government says the lab will support research and help develop advances in legal tech, “opening up a clearer route towards universal access to justice”. Academics and industry experts will also join forces to help find new ways to reduce the risk of data hacking and to use AI to thwart cyber threats.

It will work alongside the university’s existing and new partnerships with international law firms, security agencies, professional and trade bodies, and technology and social media companies.

Commenting on the cash injection, professor Elwen Evans QC, head of the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, said:

“This is fabulous news for the Law School and for Wales. It is a significant endorsement of our ambition to drive innovation in legal services and will enable us to transform the scale and impacts of our work. We are delighted to have secured this investment from the European Regional Development Fund.”

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Miles, who himself studied law at the University of Oxford, said he was delighted that Wales was leading the way in this ground-breaking research.

“This Legal Innovation Lab is exactly what we need right now, providing the facilities to discover the potential of emerging technologies such as machine reading techniques and artificial intelligence, and enabling Welsh Government, legal professionals, professional bodies and academia in Wales to work in partnership to develop and promote the technological capabilities of the legal sector.”

The fresh funding follows research which found that investment into UK lawtech startups has jumped dramatically in recent years — £62 million so far this year, compared to just £2.5 million in 2016.

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