Legal Access Challenge

Grant OrganiserNesta
Grant Overview

A legal services market in which only one in three individuals – and one in ten small businesses – with a legal problem get expert advice isn’t working as well as it should be.

In sector after sector digital technology has made life easier for customers, giving them more choice and control. In legal services though, technology has made less of an impact.

The £250,000 Legal Access Challenge is looking for innovative legal solutions that will help individuals and SMEs to better understand and resolve their legal problems.

Eligibility Criteria:

You, your team or your organisation

  • You can apply to the Challenge as an individual, team or legally constituted organisation. You don’t need to be legally constituted to apply for the Challenge. However, if you are selected as a Finalist and you are not yet legally constituted, you will need to become legally constituted before receiving the funding.
  • We welcome applications from a diverse mix of entities, including legal tech startups, law firms, alternative legal providers, advice sector organisations and teams based at law schools.
  • We also welcome joint applications from two or more entities. If you’re applying as a group, we’ll ask you to identify a lead applicant and we’ll pay the funding to the lead applicant.
  • You, your team or organisation may be based anywhere in the world, but your solution must be designed for individuals and SMEs in England and Wales.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion are important to us. The Judges will be supportive of teams encouraging equality, diversity and inclusion. (See What do you mean by ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ in the eligibility criteria? in the Assessment section of the FAQs for more on this).
  • You must be 18 or over to apply

The technologies used could include guided pathways, expert systems, chatbots, automated document assembly, natural language processing, machine learning and online dispute resolution platforms. This is an open call though, and we welcome new ideas beyond what is currently available in the market.

We are not expecting any quick fixes. Bringing user-facing solutions to the legal services market will take time. As well as helping Challenge participants accelerate their progress in 2019/20, we want to work with a wider coalition of experts and organisations to create longer term change in the market.


Development Grants & Prize Award

The Challenge will provide funding to help you develop your solution and bring it to market:

  • if you’re accepted onto the Challenge as one of our four Finalists, you’ll receive a £50,000 Development Grant in September 2019;
  • one of the four Finalists will go on to receive an additional £50,000 Prize Award in March/April 2020.

The Development Grants and Prize Award are equity-free and non-repayable. You’ll retain control of your intellectual property (see Do you take any intellectual property? in the Prize Fund section of the FAQs for more on this).

Expert Support

In addition to the funding, the Challenge will provide non-financial support. We are working to finalise the expert support program, but you can expect it to include:

  • One-to-one support from experienced SRA technical and legal staff to help you work through any potential regulatory issues. A minimum of two touch-points will be offered to all Finalists, including an introduction and follow up.
  • Supported access to the SRA Innovation Space. If your solution requires a regulatory waiver, your request may be prioritised.
  • One-to-one support from the Regulators’ Business Innovation Privacy Hub within the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) if you need guidance on privacy and data protection issues.
  • Opportunities to engage with HMCTS if your solution will interface with HMCTS systems. This will include guidance on integration principles, one-to-one engagement, and access to insights from HMCTS research into user needs.
  • Opportunities to test your hypotheses with consumer focus groups, law charities, HMCTS and other stakeholders. We’ll tailor these interactions based on your specific needs.
  • Participation in an investment readiness workshop delivered by the Nesta Impact Investments team to help you raise additional funding.
Important Dates:The application window is now open and will remain open until 11 August 2019. 
Contact Details: 

How to apply: