School of Business and Law

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Alan Larkin in front of Duke's theatre

Local law firm wins UK award for University of Brighton partnership

Family Law Partners has picked up a Business Impact award from Innovate UK for its Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) work with the University of Brighton.

The Family Law Partners’ KTP project drew on the university’s artificial intelligence expertise to develop a novel triage style system to improve the company’s work in the area of family law provision – an approach rewarded at the KTP Best of the Best Awards 2021. This follows the company’s 2019 success in winning the Law Society’s Excellence Award for Medium Law Firm of the Year.

The innovative two-year partnership used an aspect of AI known as knowledge engineering, which creates rules to apply to data so as to imitate the thought process of a human expert. Complementing system automation within the company, the KTP project developed a decision support system aimed at cost-effectively distinguishing between cases to streamline key aspects of family law provision.

Family Law Partners credit the acceleration in its growth and reputation for innovation to its KTP involvement with the University of Brighton – highlighting the creation of their flagship Family Law Lab platform, which has now been used by over 4,000 people, free of charge, to instruct the company’s lawyers.

The legal sector is not known for IT innovation, and there are very few examples of the successful application of artificially intelligent systems approaches to Law. Dr Andrew Montgomery, and Dr John Kingston also provided an unusual blend of knowledge and experience in Information Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Business Computing, Law and legal practice. Professor Miltos Petridis also played an important role in the project, before sadly passing away last year.

KTP funding also enabled Sam Paul to be appointed as Knowledge Systems Developer to deliver the project, which led to his recruitment by Family Law Partners.

Liz Johnson, the university’s KTP Manager, said: “KTPs are a prime example of effective innovation and collaboration between businesses and universities. The KTP Awards are an inspiring celebration of this – the Business Impact Award in particular recognise the extent to which KTPs can transform the commercial outlook and performance of companies. The Family Law Partners KTP demonstrated excellence across all levels, so we are delighted that this has been formally recognised and look forward to future collaborations.”

Alan Larkin in front of Duke's theatre

Alan Larkin – Family Law Partners

Alan Larkin, Family Law Partners Director and Head of Innovation & Technology, said: “Very few people have heard of a KTP. That’s a pity. I rate this award, seeing off UK-wide, all-sectors finalists, as more impressive than landing the Law Society Firm of the Year in 2019. Our KTP was nothing if not ambitious: a collaboration with the University of Brighton to positively impact access to justice in family law. With that sort of aspiration you might as well go large. And we have. We’ll take the wraps off next year.”


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Clare Prust • October 9, 2021

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