San Francisco, London and Singapore among 10 cities vying for global legal tech crown

Report by The Law Society of England Wales highlights international competition to attract legal start-ups

David Persson

Ten cities have been identified as leaders in the $15.9bn legal tech market as competition hots up to become the preferred global destination for start-ups, according to a new report.

San Francisco, Atlanta, Toronto, Belfast, Madrid, Tel Aviv, London, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Singapore are all named as legal tech hotspots by The Law Society of England and Wales study.

Although the report, which was published on 3 December, identifies San Francisco’s Bay Area as the unofficial world leader in legal tech, it says London is in a strong position to challenge it.

Cutting-edge tech

‘Global tech investors are drawn to London for its strengths in developing the latest cutting-edge technologies, with the UK capital topping the European investment charts for funding into fast growing sectors such as artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and Fintech,’ the report states. 

‘London ranks close to the San Francisco Bay Area in three specialist markets for AI suppliers: insurance (88% the size of the Bay Area), legal (70%), and education (48%).’

However, the report warns that UK legal technology will ‘need continual investment’ to build on its advantages ‘with other jurisdictions seeing strong growth in their domestic sectors’.

International rivals

Singapore and Hong Kong are identified as key UK rivals outside the burgeoning US market. The report highlights Singapore’s long history of promoting legal tech, which dates back to 1990 when the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) launched LawNet, an online portal for legal research, information and transactions. 

In 2017, SAL published its Legal Technology Vision, a five-year roadmap which it described as ‘a call to action for legal technology providers to engage in public-private collaboration for the building of a legal tech ecosystem’. Hong Kong, meanwhile, is described as having a ‘nascent scene’.

The report concludes: ‘The global lawtech market is growing rapidly and is valued at $15.9bn. The adoption of new technologies could increase productivity growth in the legal sector from 1.3% per year to 2.7% per year.’

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