An ongoing feasibility study funded by InnovateUK into providing affordable access to legal advice.

Read our report

Project Overview:

Etic is proud to announce its investment, alongside Innovate UK, into the design of AI & Data technologies for providing and delivering much-needed services to people requiring legal support.

After this project we will have not just designed and built technologies and processes for the people at the frontline of affordable justice and their service users but also invested significantly in understanding the who, what, why, when and how that contextualises different people’s routes to affordable justice.

“The ability of individuals to resolve their legal issues is vital for a just society, and everyone must have the ability to avail themselves of the justice system when they require it. It is crucial that people should be supported through this process.”

– Lord Chancellor, David Gauke, Post-Implementation Review of Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, published Feb 2019.

Etic Lab is more than happy to invest its resources in ensuring that the vast effort by so many talented and skilful people in delivering the affordable justice community is supported by adequately researched, thoughtfully conceived and well-designed technologies that embedded in their experiences and knowledge.

Our partners are at the forefront of this, and we are excited to work with both them and other stakeholders, in government, the charity sector and wider society, to make sure that this project produces meaningful results for the people who need it most and those whose life’s work is to support them.

Routes to Affordable Justice: Initial Objectives

To conduct a Feasibility Study for the application of data management, artificial intelligence and associated technologies to support the work of actors in Affordable Justice. We do not want to be a solution in search of a problem.


Map the provision of services at a national level with a sustainable interactive system to provide help in planning and delivering services.


Reducing the duplication of effort and record-keeping overheads both within and between providers.


Support for case work at the front line with enhanced sign-posting, decision support systems and consistency of informational support.

Data Collection

Coordinating data collection and aggregation to evidence need, improve delivery and evidence the impact the services.


Reducing the burden of monitoring and reporting strengthening the evidence base for demonstrating the impact of services both locally and nationally.

Create User Profiles

Contextualised information concerning the client base, the person in needed and their circumstances in the context of the full eco-system.

Ultimate Project Goals

Support Tools

Develop tools that enable service providers to provide awareness of and access to the complete range of support in the sector.

Data Knowledge

Establish clear data handling procedures to minimise duplication of effort. Place knowledge in the hands of advisors in support community.

Cooperative Working

Provide an overview of current arrangements to determine how technical developments might better support cooperative working.

Resolution Strategy

Develop tools that better reflect resolution and support strategies and which account for people’s level resource and capability.

We want to establish a sector wide research partnership.

Researching the above objectives will be a large and complex task given the range of organisations, services and needs involved. Over the next 12 months we’ll be bringing together the experience within the sector for support. Are you interested? Can you help?

Project Background:

It has been the experience of the core partners in this project that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), Jackson reforms to fee and insurance arrangements introduced in April 2013 and the changes to court fees and family justice reforms from April 2014 have dramatically impacted their work and the experiences of their clients.

Indeed the most recent publication by the Secretary of State for Justice (Post-Implementation Review of Part 1 of LASPO, 2019) identifies a number of problems and concerns that are directly addressed by this project.

As a group, we have come together to address the issues raised by these developments and have a clear need to develop solutions for the significant problems in completing and coordinating the work of providers in the affordable justice community. Problems exacerbated by the evolving nature of the caseload and increasing volumes of work.

The project is unique in that approaching the task of addressing this very complex problem space stems not just from the perspective of developing a commercial product or products. We are entirely agnostic concerning the technical format of any solutions.


Any solutions and specific technology will come only after the work of exploring problems and experiences of the broadest possible community of service providers. It is the core aim of the project understand what it is that providers deliver, how, under what circumstances and with whom.

We will then seek to test the feasibility of technology-based solutions to support the sector in addressing the complex set of demands by exploiting the opportunities new technologies and a soft systems design approach can bring.

In ways both visible and invisible, AI and Data technologies have had unexpected and disproportionately—negative impacts on some of society’s most vulnerable citizens. Our model is to use inclusive design methodologies to create equitable, positive social impact before, during and after any products or services developed are deployed.

What are we looking for from partners?

We need the help of the community to make this project work and that help can be any or all of the following.

Let us Interview you about your service(s)

Explore with your help how you use information

Insight into acquisition, storage and use cases

Observe your service delivery

Workshop solutions to specific problems

Testing of prototype solutions

What do soft partners get in return?

Service Map

Access to the Service map with the ability to make queries, create a profile for your service and use the tool to signpost with clients.


Reports and data concerning the sector as a whole. A valuable snap shot of the sector, with the ability to benchmark your activities and identify trends and opportunities.


Invites to a planned series of workshops that deal with questions you may have about data handling, new opportunities and enhancing your services with new tools.

Early Access

Priority access to any new systems and tools developed as result of the research and development project.

Latest News

Ontology Building

As the combined result of our desk research, fieldwork interviews and other data gathering efforts, Etic Lab has accrued a great quantity of information regarding the various entities that make up the affordable justice sector – not only service providers, but also...

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The fieldwork

One of the main goals of the first phase of Etic’s work on the Routes to Justice project has been to build a “rich picture” of the legal advice sector as it currently exists. By this we mean a detailed map of the various bodies which make up the legal advice system,...

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2019 Timetable

Researching the above objectives will be a large and complex task given the range of organisations, services and needs involved. Comprehensive study can only be achieved with care paid to communication and acknowledging the different approaches of partners.


Project Board

Partner Interviews

Field Work


Project Board

Partner Interviews

Field Work


Project Board

Partner recruitment & Workshop Birmingham

Field Work

UK Interactive Database of providers prototype



Project Board

Partner recruitment & Workshop Manchester

Field Work

Report on data systems in use


Project Board

Partner recruitment & Workshop Leeds

Preliminary Data Model


Project Board

Soft Systems Model Building



Project Board

Soft Partner field work


Project Board

Soft Partner field work


Project Board

Soft Partner field work

Systems model Interim report


Routes to Affordable Justice: Core Partners

Researching the above objectives will be a large and complex task given the range of organisations, services and needs involved. Comprehensive study can only be achieved with care paid to communication and acknowledging the different approaches of partners.

Etic Lab is a research and design consultancy operating at the forefront of the digital technologies that are transforming our culture. We conduct research on behalf of clients in the academic and corporate sectors prototyping and developing custom applications to demonstrate and understand the potential of emerging technologies.

Our aim has always been to create meaningful solutions for those around us. We begin every project with an open mind and the hope that we can help clients discover how best to reflect on and improve their circumstances.

We offer a comprehensive method for clients taking steps towards developing a practical strategy for driving significant benefit from the application of analytics, statistics and AI tools within their organisations.

Alex Hogan, Managing Partner – Etic Lab LLP

RCJ Advice deliver a highly effective Citizens Advice service for Islington residents. It has its own dedicated team of paid staff and provide advice at a range of outreach locations across the borough.

Alison Lamb, CEO – RCJ Advice

LawWorks is a charity committed to enabling access to justice through free legal advice. We believe in the power of pro bono legal advice to help improve the lives of people in need. We work to achieve this in two ways: Enabling access to justice to individuals in need of advice, who are not eligible for legal aid and are without the means to pay for a lawyer; and brokering legal advice to small not-for-profit organisations, to support the continuation and expansion of their services to people in need.

Martin Barnes, CEO – LawWorks

We are an award-winning organisation with around 700 dedicated volunteers. We aim to reduce the disadvantage of people facing the civil and family justice system without a lawyer, enabling them to access justice. We believe that no one should face court alone and so we work to provide immediate support to everyone who comes to us.

Eileen Pereira, CEO – Personal Support Unit

Any questions, or ready become a soft partner?

Over the next 12 months we’ll be bring together our skills and consultation sessions in exchange for participation with the pool of sector research, building a larger picture of when and how we can help devices like yours provide affordable legal advise. But we need your help.