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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School Undergraduate study

Legal Tech Clinic

The Legal Tech clinic is a project run in partnership between the Law School and Automate Legal.

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The project involves the ‘crowdsourcing’ of a sample set of Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) agreements (as are typically signed by students in private accommodation and which most graduates will sign when they leave university) which will be analysed to derive insights which may be used for academic, altruistic or commercial purposes. There appears to be a wide variety of AST agreements in use by landlords and lettings agents. We want to understand if the differences are superficial wording changes with the same underlying meaning, or whether there are variations in the ‘fairness’ of clauses and entire agreements. Through a process of classification, scoring and comparison, we aim to identify popular or balanced contracting positions and report on deviations from it.

Student interns are trained to review AST agreements with a view to assess/configure potential legal tech solutions.


Ryan Hockley graduated from Southampton University in 1997 with a M.Eng. in Aeronautical Engineering. After working for 5 years as an IT consultant with PwC he attended law school in Guildford before joining Travers Smith where he qualified into the litigation department. Since leaving private practice, Ryan has worked in-house for EY, Mercedes-Benz UK and Accenture. In 2015 he became a freelance lawyer and in 2017 he founded Automate Legal Limited, an alternative legal services business which provides blended technology and resource services to law firms and in-house legal teams

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