The Legal Access Challenge is a legal technology fund. We want to see a legal services market which uses technology to make legal services more affordable and accessible, helping more people and small businesses to get the legal support they need.

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Delivered by Nesta Challenges in partnership with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the Challenge has three aims:

  • accelerating the development of products, services and platforms that will help individuals and SMEs understand and resolve their legal problems with greater ease;
  • developing a community of people and organisations with a shared interest in implementing the use of technology to improve access to legal support who will share knowledge and ideas to improve customer outcomes in the legal services market; and
  • learning whether there are regulatory barriers to the development and adoption of mass market legal technology solutions and, if so, what adaptations to the SRA’s approach might reduce these barriers.

The Challenge supported eight finalists whose innovations will make legal services more accessible and affordable individuals, families and small businesses. Backed by a £50,000 grant and expert support programme, each finalist had six months to develop their solution. Two winners were announced in April 2020 and were each awarded an additional £50,000 prize to bring their solutions to market. Find out more about all the finalists’ innovations that are empowering people and small businesses in need of legal help.

The Challenge has been made possible by a grant from the £10m Regulators’ Pioneer Fund launched by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and administered by Innovate UK. The fund enables UK regulators to develop innovation-enabling approaches to emerging technologies and unlock the long-term economic opportunities identified in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Challenge Partners

Nesta Challenges

Nesta Challenges exists to design and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues. We are independent supporters of change to help communities thrive and inspire the best placed, most diverse groups of people around the world to take action. We support the boldest and bravest ideas to become real, and seed long term change to advance society and build a better future for everyone. We are part of the innovation foundation, Nesta.

Nesta Challenges’ Better Markets team works with regulators, policymakers and innovative enterprises to make markets work better for people. We advise regulators and policymakers how regulatory reforms and targeted public investment programmes can work together to achieve greater impact.

Solicitors Regulation Authority

The SRA is the regulator of more than 190,000 solicitors and 10,400 law firms in England and Wales. We are here to make sure the public can trust solicitors and law firms meet high professional standards, while creating a competitive market that helps people to access affordable legal services.

We want to encourage businesses who have ideas to deliver legal services in new, smart ways that could benefit the public. Our SRA Innovate programme is our commitment to supporting those – whether a law firm or other business – who want to innovate.

BEIS & Innovate UK

The Challenge has been made possible by a grant from the £10m Regulators’ Pioneer Fund launched by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and administered by Innovate UK. The fund enables UK regulators to develop innovation-enabling approaches to emerging technologies and unlock the long-term economic opportunities identified in the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

Expert Support Partners

Finalists in the Legal Access Challenge will receive support from expert partners as they develop their solutions.

Solicitors Regulation Authority

The SRA technical and guidance teams helped finalists to work through any potential regulatory issues. The SRA offered supported access for finalists to the SRA Innovation Space. They also supported finalists with linking to consumer organisations and with setting up focus groups with the public and small businesses.

Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells International LLP and/or its group affiliates provided finalists with one-to-one pro bono legal advice to address a specific legal (or business) issue.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

The Regulators’ Business Innovation Privacy Hub within the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provided finalists with one-to-one support if they needed guidance on privacy and data protection issues.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS)

Finalists had opportunities to engage with HMCTS if their solution will interface with HMCTS systems. HMCTS will provided a workshop for finalists to provide insights from HMCTS research into user needs and guidance on integration principles.

The Law Society

The Law Society offered support to finalists through access to its policy committees and through recording and publishing podcast interviews with finalists on its website.

The Engine Room

Non-profit social change organisation the Engine Room offered finalists pro bono light touch data and technology support.


Due Diligence & Assessment Partners

Applicants’ application information will be shared on a confidential basis with our due diligence supplier, KPMG, and our technical assessment supplier, Ashurst Advance, to assist the judges in their assessment of the applicants. The Judges will have the final say.


Anna Bradley

Anna Bradley

Anna is an experienced Chair and independent board member. She has worked in a wide variety of sectors, including as Chair of the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, the General Optical Council and Healthwatch England. Anna is a former Chief Executive of the National Consumer Council and her executive career included roles at Which? and the Financial Services Authority. She is currently an Independent Board Member of pay.uk and chairs the Board’s End User Advisory Council, as well as chairing a Customer Challenge Group at Southern Water and an Independent Governance Committee at Zurich. Anna is a Trustee at Age Uk.

Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop

Julie Bishop is Director of the UK Law Centres Network (LCN), a post that she has held for 11 years. Prior to LCN, Julie was Director of the National Association of Community Legal Centres in Australia for over 5 years and worked in the legal aid sector in Australia at community level for almost 20 years. Julie’s professional training is in Information Technology. It was as a Systems Analyst / Designer that Julie first worked in legal aid. Before IT, she studied and taught Philosophy at the University of Sydney.

Matthew Briggs

Matthew Briggs

Matthew Briggs holds Non Executive Director and Chair positions at various private equity backed businesses across the insurtech, SaaS, digital media, creative/branding, high street retail, mental health and Wifi/IOT/Smart City sectors. Matthew was formerly CEO of Minster Law Solicitors, MD of Aviva, CEO of Capita Insurance, Founder and CEO of Brilliant Law Solicitors, NED and CEO of The Law Superstore, and Advisor at KPMG Legal.

Sidonie Kingsmill

Sidonie Kingsmill

Sidonie Kingsmill joined HM Courts & Tribunals Service as Customer Director in September 2015. She has spent 20 years working in some of the most competitive industries in the world – including grocery retail (Tesco Stores Ltd) and consumer packaged goods (Procter & Gamble, Nestle). Her role at HMCTS is to use customer insight, data & evidence, innovation and experience design to improve the court user experience and increase access to justice.

Juliet Oliver

Juliet Oliver

Juliet Oliver joined the SRA as General Counsel in January 2015. She provides advice on the development of legislation and regulatory policy, as well as governance and compliance issues. Juliet is a solicitor with a wealth of experience and expertise advising on high profile regulatory reform programmes and best practice in regulatory decision-making. Previously she was a partner at Field Fisher, acting for a range of regulatory bodies, building on her experience in house at the General Medical Council, where her responsibilities included advising on high profile disciplinary cases and matters, including the Shipman and Mid Staffordshire public inquiries. She is Chair of the Investigation Committee of the General Optical Council, sits on the Professional Standards Committee of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Law Society’s Mental Health and Disability Committee.

Roger Smith

Roger Smith

Roger Smith is funded by the Legal Education Foundation to analyse and write on matters relating to technology and access to justice. He is responsible for a blog covering global developments in the field and has written various reports on this topic. He is a solicitor with a long record in the not for profit sector, including periods as director of the Legal Action Group and JUSTICE. He was awarded an OBE in 2008 and is a visiting professor at London South Bank University and an honorary one at the University of Kent.


Chris Gorst

Chris is the head of the Better Markets team at Nesta Challenges. He was a Senior Economist at HM Treasury and the Prime Minister’s Energy Review, worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and as a strategy consultant at The Boston Consulting Group. He designed and delivered a groundbreaking accelerator programme for 10,000 UK small business leaders at Goldman Sachs.

Nicola Tulk

Nicola heads up the Legal Access Challenge. She is a Fellow of On Purpose, a career transformation programme that aims to develop new leaders for the impact economy. She was previously a Director at global advisory company Willis Towers Watson, where as a qualified actuary she provided technical and strategic consultancy support to general insurance companies

Chris Handford

As Director of Regulatory Policy and Legal Access Challenge project sponsor, Chris is responsible for leading the SRA’s current programme of reforms which are designed to remove unnecessary regulation, improve public access to legal services and allow flexibility for legal services in how they structure and deliver their services. With more than 15 years’ experience in the legal service sector, Chris was previously Head of Research and Development at the Legal Services Board.

Emma Tunley

Emma is a Policy Manager at the SRA. She is responsible for coordinating the SRA’s input into the Legal Access Challenge and making sure it is managed in a way that meets the terms and condition of the grant from Regulators’ Pioneer Fund. She is a regulatory specialist and prior to joining the SRA has held varied roles with regulators across different markets, including Ofqual and Ofwat. She led a project at Ofwat responsible for initial design of the legal and financing arrangements for the Thames Tideway super sewer, the UK’s largest ever water infrastructure project.