Lord Mayor of London calls for UK legal sector to move into 21st century digital age

Lord Mayor of London, Peter Estlin, will give a speech at the Judges’ Dinner to be held at The Mansion House on Wednesday night (3 July 2019), where he will call for the modernisation and digitalisation of the legal sector.

Addressing an audience of senior legal professionals, he will speak alongside The Rt Hon David Gauke MP, Secretary of State for Justice, and The Rt Hon The Lord Burnett of Malton, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

An extract from the Lord Mayor’s speech is found below. Please check against delivery.

“2019 not only marks the 125th anniversary of the Bar Council, but also 100 years since the Sex Disqualification Removal Act. An act which paved the way for women to become lawyers for the first time.

“It is thanks to this Act, that today, there is a ratio of 50:50 male and female solicitors, a statistic which the City hopes to bolster through supporting initiatives such as the Law Society’s Gender Equality Symposium two weeks ago.

“In 1919, it was also thanks to this Act, that the judiciary had the opportunity to meet the changing expectations of society.

“One hundred years later, we are again asking if we are ‘fit for the modern world’, this time with respect to ensuring that the UK’s legal services reflect the high-tech, digitally progressive era of the 21st Century.

“For the UK to remain a leading global provider of legal services, we must ensure our legal sector matches this global trend, driving innovation and modernising our infrastructure to enable our judiciary to cater for the clients of the digital age.

“Leading the way in this modernisation will be the new combined courts facility on Fleet Street here in the City.

“A partnership between Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Services and the City of London Corporation, this new court will be dedicated to tackling cybercrime, fraud and economic crime, demonstrating our ability to deal with the changing nature of crime in the 21st century.

“We are also keen to enhance UK legal services through greater development and adoption of LawTech. Firms are experimenting with technology – exploring the use of artificial intelligence in contract review, and chatbots to provide basic legal assistance.

“Yet, despite this, the Law Society has found that adoption of technology amongst UK legal firms remains limited, meaning that the capabilities and benefits of these technologies are yet to be fully harnessed. In order to address this issue, earlier this month, the City’s Chair of Policy, Catherine McGuinness, launched our LawTech Sounding Board.

“Complementing the Government’s LawTech Delivery Panel, the Sounding Board will bring together leaders in the legal and tech sectors to promote the uptake of technology across the legal and wider financial services sector preserving the excellent reputation of the UK’s legal services and retaining the UK’s competitive advantage as a legal technology hub.

“Today, as we continue to strive to attain gender equality across all ranks within the legal sector, it is time to adapt again.

“This time to ensure that our legal services have the digital infrastructure and innovative technology to thrive in the modern world, further enhancing the distinguished global reputation of our judiciary for years to come.”

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk