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The Counsel General and Brexit Minister, Jeremy Miles, today announced £4 million EU funding towards the new £5.6 million Legal Innovation Lab for Wales, which will be developed as part of the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law at Swansea University.

First published:
30 October 2019
Last updated:

This was published under the 2016 to 2021 administration of the Welsh Government

The legal landscape in Wales is changing. As digital technology becomes more and more advanced, it has the potential to be a force for good in the law, making it easier for people to access legal advice, and helping to create business opportunities in the legal technology sector in Wales.

The Legal Innovation Lab will be a unique research and innovation hub that will develop Swansea University’s existing and new partnerships with international law firms, security agencies, professional and trade bodies, and technology and social media companies.

The lab, which is due to open next summer, will support research and help develop advances in legal technology, opening up a clear route towards universal access to justice. Academic and industry experts will also look for new ways to reduce the risk of data hacking, and to use technology like artificial intelligence (AI) to counter cyber threats.

The refurbished and expanded Law School, within Swansea University’s Singleton Park campus, will provide around 3500sqm of office, meeting and teaching space.

Mr Miles, who is responsible for EU funding in Wales, said:

The Justice Commission report, published last week, identified opportunities to strengthen the legal sector in Wales. Being able to find and understand the law with reasonable ease goes to the heart of a nation governed by the rule of law. 

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.

I’m delighted that Wales is leading the way in this ground-breaking research. EU funds continue to play a vital part in modernising our economy, increasing productivity, and developing employment and business opportunities, and I look forward to seeing how far legal technology can help promote access to justice for the citizens of Wales.

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.

Dr Chris Marshall, Director of Knowledge Economy at the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law, added:

A core focus of the Legal Innovation Lab Wales will be to help law firms innovate at the intersection of law and technology, whether that means through the better use of data, improving the design of legal processes, or applying machine learning to legal matters. 

The project will also work with law enforcement, security agencies and technology companies to advance understanding of how terrorists and criminals exploit digital platforms and emerging technologies, and to develop safeguards that can be integrated into technological design.