LegalTech scene in Bristol and Bath is flourishing

09 April 2021 3 min. read
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The local market of LegalTech in Bristol and Bath has the potential of offering major opportunities for the regional economy, according to a new study. The largest outside of London, the LegalTech scene will benefit legal players in the region, and boost jobs creation.

Legal technology, or LegalTech, refers to the use of technology and software to provide legal services and support the legal industry. LegalTech companies are often start-ups founded with the purpose of disrupting the traditionally conservative legal market. As the legal industry digitalises, it is becoming increasingly lucrative business for these firms.

The legal tech market is estimated to generate revenues of over $18 billion worldwide, according to Statista estimates. Industry incumbents generated $17 billion of that, while the legal tech start-up market added under $1 billion. However, Statista estimates that LegalTech start-ups will see their share grow rapidly (CAGR of 28% the period to 2025), with revenues set to near $3 billion at the end of that period.

LegalTech scene in Bristol and Bath is flourishing

Now, a new study from Whitecap Consulting has revealed that the UK cities of Bristol and Bath are well positioned to tap into this growing demand. The study is the latest evidence to support the region’s core strength in emerging areas of technology, coming less than two weeks after Bristol and Bath were named in the Kalifa Review, which said they hosted one of the top 10 FinTech clusters in the UK.

Richard Coates, Managing Director of Whitecap Consulting, said, “The analysis that underpins this report has focused on the intersection of two of the most successful sectors in the regional economy, so it is no surprise that 93% of people surveyed believed LegalTech to be a growth opportunity for Bristol and Bath. The region is widely acknowledged to ‘punch above its weight’ in both sectors, a view that the findings of this research endorse.”

According to Whitecap’s research, Bristol and Bath is an established legal centre, where the sector has a significant and long-standing presence – and 26 of the top 100 firms in the UK have an office in the region, 13 of which have a head office there, making it stand out against other regions outside London. This adds to the weight of the fact that it is playing such a leading role in LegalTech, and the report identifies a significant level of LegalTech activity across an established legal sector, including more than 750 tech and innovation roles.

There is a growing cluster of over 30 LegalTech firms, and LegalTech arms operating within the region’s law firms. 67% of LegalTech firms present in the region have their headquarters there, while 19.2% of the South West workforce is said to be in digital tech roles, the highest of any English region.

According to the study, a strong sense of societal purpose is evident within the legal sector in the region and this should drive a future strand of LegalTech development. The report concluded that the region’s LegalTech sector could create powerful differentiation on a national and international level, if embryonic collaboration in the legal sector was fully joined up with and modelled on the tech sector’s well-established regional collaborative ecosystem.

Coates added, “Creating value via the collaboration of law firms in the region, combined with its digital / tech capability, represents a significant LegalTech opportunity for both law firms and their suppliers. Arguably, the opportunity to derive short-term benefit from this opportunity is more significant in Bristol and Bath than other English regions, due to the strong and evident foundations already established via the combination of a highly active legal technology community and vibrant tech sector.”