A new report from Whitecap Consulting, the regional strategy consultancy, shows that there is a growing LegalTech sector in the Leeds region, with the ‘LegalTech in Leeds’ initiative being supported by a wide range of stakeholders.

LegalTech, often referred to as Lawtech, refers to the use of technology and software to provide legal services and support the legal industry, spanning the activities of legal services providers and technology providers serving the sector. The report estimates LegalTech contributes £374m to the economy in the Leeds region each year.

The report finds that 20% of the region’s £83bn economy is generated by the legal and tech sectors. Since 2020, the annual output of the legal sector in the region has increased 19% to £1.3bn while the annual contribution of the tech sector has increased 110% to reach £15bn.

The report includes a foreword from Mike Freer, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice, who says:

“We are proud to have one of the world’s largest legal services markets here in the UK. Our ambition is to ensure our legal services sector continues to be world-leading and an important part of that is ensuring that the UK is a global hub for lawtech. This includes a vital role for legal and tech centres across the UK including in Leeds.”

The report provides a summary of the activity undertaken by the LegalTech in Leeds initiative, which was created in January 2022 and hosted 25 events in the following 18 months, with over 2,000 sign-ups and 200 speakers and 25 sponsors and partners. The initiative has created an open and inclusive community across Leeds region which encourages collaboration across different parts of the ecosystem.

Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council said:

“The launch of this report showcases the speed of digital transformation and also the progress made to date alongside all our partners through our ‘Team Leeds’ approach. There are clear objectives and plenty for us to build on in the year ahead.

“LegalTech in Leeds is one of our big success stories – together we are leading the way with a blueprint of how successful collaboration across sectors can work to create opportunities, jobs and industries of the future for the benefit of everyone in Leeds and wider region and the Council is looking forward to continuing to support the network as it grows”.

The new report is the second to be published by Whitecap Consulting on the LegalTech sector in the region, following its first report in 2020. An increase in LegalTech activity in the region is evident since 2020, although there is still a relatively small pool of specialist LegalTech firms (14) compared to the size of the legal sector, which includes over 1000 law firms. There is a larger group of tech firms supplying services to the legal sector and/or to end clients.

Julian Wells, Director at Whitecap Consulting said:

“When we published our first report on LegalTech and innovation in the region we highlighted the need to bring the thriving legal and digital sectors in the region closer together. Over the last 18 months we’ve created and built the LegalTech in Leeds community and have seen many new relationships develop between participants. At the same time, via our other regional and national links, we can see the LegalTech sector in the UK gathering pace and building scale. There is clearly significant potential for growth and it is exciting to think what might lie ahead over the coming years.”

The analysis published in the report identifies that 11% of all UK law firms have a base in the region, which is home to approximately one in three of the top 100 law firms. The report notes that large law firms are increasingly open and collaborative in their engagement in events and follow up conversations, while SME law firms are an underserved area that would benefit from increased support. There is a strong and growing interest and engagement from universities in the region, both academics and students, and an opportunity to link even more closely to national developments via LawtechUK, as well as other regional LegalTech initiatives.

The new report is part of a programme of annual activity coordinated by Whitecap Consulting under the LegalTech in Leeds brand, which is delivered in collaboration with a group of sponsors and partners and including Addleshaw Goddard, Bruntwood SciTech,  Barclays Eagle Labs, Barrister Link, Calls9, Cyber Security Partners (CSP), DAC Beachcroft, FinTech North, Founders Law, Jungle IT, Katchr,  Leeds City Council, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, Leeds Law Society, LawtechUK, Leeds Trinity University, rradar, Page White Farrer, PEXA, SYKE, The University of Law, Toca, University of Leeds, Walker Morris, Whitecap Consulting, Yorkshire Legal.