Ulster University launches tech-oriented Legal Innovation Centre



Professor Paddy Nixon
Professor Paddy Nixon

Ulster University has launched a new Legal Innovation Centre with support from global firms Allen & Overy (A&O) and Baker McKenzie.

The Centre, a collaboration between the university’s School of Law and the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, will be at the forefront of advancing the use of technology-driven innovation in legal services and legal education globally. It is the first of its kind in the UK.

Speaking at the launch, Ulster University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Nixon, said: “There is a growing recognition of the crucial and ever-expanding role of technology in law.

“The Centre will undertake much-needed research on technological innovations to facilitate legal process improvement, and so promote greater economic efficiency and improved access to justice.

“The Centre will also enable those interested in LawTech, whether legal professionals, law students or others, to study the technological transformation of legal practice, and the implications of this change. In this way it will foster the emergence of legal technologists, ready for the challenges of legal service provision in the information age.

“The legal sector is immensely important to our economy and in recent years Northern Ireland has attracted significant investment from several global law firms which has created a hub of legal expertise with a focus on innovation. This new Centre will underpin the strength of our legal sector and further enhance Ulster University’s global reputation for law and computer science research excellence.”

Jane Townsend, partner and head of A&O’s Legal Services Centre in Belfast, said: “Legal service is a knowledge-led business and technology is pivotal to everything we do. Across our firm, we seek to continually improve and enhance our systems and the way we do things. This collaboration gives us the opportunity to work towards these and other goals while deepening our strong relationship with Ulster University. We’ve been greatly impressed by the high calibre of the Legal Innovation Centre and its strategy for accelerating innovation and technology in the legal sector.”

Jason Marty, executive director of Baker McKenzie Belfast, said: “Terrific education at all levels was a deciding factor for us in choosing to locate in Belfast. This new centre extends that strength and directly connects to the opportunities and challenges facing the law and the legal industry. We expect our partnership with the centre to provide tangible impacts in how we build our teams, technologies, and business. We also look forward to contributing to the good work of the centre on issues with direct benefit to the people and legal system of Northern Ireland and beyond.”

The Centre will be led by three Ulster University academics: Professor Eugene McNamee (Law), Professor Kevin Curran (Computer Science) and Centre Director, Dr Catrina Denvir.

It will give students and lawyers the opportunity to familiarise themselves with different types of legal technology software provided by the University’s academic partners, Clio and Caselines.

Clio is a cloud-based law practice management platform and Caselines is a service for the preparation of legal bundles and electronic presentation in the courtroom.