LawTech.Asia

Southeast Asia's foremost Law & Technology Review

Legal Technology in Singapore

Written by Amelia Chew, Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen, Josh Lee Kok Thong, and Tristan Koh

The LawTech.Asia is proud to publish the first-ever detailed outline of the legal technology sector in Singapore (as far as we are aware)!

This article is the result of a months-long project to map out the root, state and outlook of the legal technology sector in Singapore, and furthers LawTech.Asia’s fundamental purpose of improving awareness, knowledge and interest in legal technology. It is hoped that this article will be a helpful piece for legal professionals, legal technologists and law students to have a bird’s eye-view of legal technology in Singapore, and to assist in the building of a thriving legal tech community in Singapore. 

While intended to be extensive, the article does not purport to be exhaustive or authoritative, or to express the position of any particular organisation or initiative. This article will be a “living document” that will continue to be updated as more news comes to the fore.

To access the article, click here!

At the outset, the authors wish to express thanks for the innumerable sources of information available online, without which this project would not have been possible. Any mistakes herein remain the authors’ own.

#LegalHackers Profile: Eric Chin, Legal Hackers Melbourne

Interview by Huiling Xie | Edited by Amelia Chew & Emily Tan

In November 2018, LawTech.Asia co-organised the inaugural APAC Legal Hackers Summit alongside Singapore Legal Hackers and the Singapore Academy of Law’s Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP), bringing together Legal Hackers chapter organisers in the region to share insights on legal innovation across APAC. Legal Hackers is a global movement of lawyers, policymakers, designers, technologists, and academics who explore issues and opportunities where technology can improve and inform the practice of law, and where law, legal practice, and policy can adapt to rapidly changing technology. In this series, we profile Legal Hackers chapter organisers who are driving legal innovation in their cities.  

Here, Eric Chin, a strategy consultant for the legal industry and chapter organiser at Legal Hackers Melbourne, shares his insights on where the legal industry is headed.

You started your career in the consulting industry, providing services to a number of professional services firms across industries such as law, engineering, and accounting. What about the legal industry drew you to carve out an independent practice specialising in consulting for law firms?

The legal market is in a very unique position in its history. I see a lot of opportunity in helping law firms, NewLaw firms and LegalTech firms navigate the changing market.

Taking a long-term view, the industry has seen a few distinct phases in how competition has evolved. The concept of practice groups emerged in the 1980s. This then progressed to scale and geographic expansion in the golden age of globalisation of the 1990s. The 2000s saw the outsourcing trend engulf the market as legal process outsourcing companies and legal managed service firms (NewLaw firms) were conceived. In this decade, the 2010s, the technological trend gave birth to LegalTech firms. Not to forget also the entry of the Big Six accounting firms in the 1990s that culminated in the Big Five becoming one of the largest in the world in the early 2000s. Since the 2010s, we have seen the Big Four establishing their legal offering in various forms.

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Rajah & Tann Technologies Acquisition of LegalComet

Written by Marc Chia | Edited by Amelia Chew

Rajah & Tann Technologies (R&T Technologies), the dedicated tech arm of Rajah & Tann Asia recently completed its acquisition of LegalComet for an undisclosed sum.

Rajah & Tann has long been one of the leading law firms in Singapore. In more recent times, the firm has begun exploring the delivery of tech-augmented legal services, most notably through the setup of Rajah & Tann Technologies in 2017. This move has placed Rajah & Tann alongside prominent international names such as Linklaters and Allen & Overy, both of which are recognised for their strong innovation efforts. Linklaters and Allen & Overy have set up incubators in order to nurture and work alongside legal tech startups to change the business of law.

In contrast, R&T Technologies’ current model of operations is not based on incubation of startups but rather acquiring and offering capabilities in legal tech itself. The team has identified six key areas of expertise: Data Breach Readiness & Response; Cybersecurity; Virtual Law Academy; E-Discovery; LegalTech; and RegTech. R&T Technologies’ offerings are designed for both their existing clientele as well as other law firms seeking to implement legal tech solutions. Headed by Rajesh Sreenivasan and Steve Tan as Directors; Wong Onn Chee as Technical Director; and Ong Ba Sou as Chief Technology Officer, the R&T Technologies team brings with them a broad range of experience in law, technology and project management.

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RDO x LawTech.Asia: International Commercial Courts and the Role of Technology

Written by Maryam Salehijam (RDO) | Edited by Josh Lee

International commercial courts (“ICCs”) have been gaining attention as a new forum for the resolution of commercial disputes. Notable examples include the London Commercial Court, the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (“DIFCC”), the Netherlands Commercial Courts, and the Singapore International Commercial Courts (“SICC”). There are commentaries and articles that discuss the purpose of ICCs and how they complement arbitration in the international dispute resolution landscape. This article does not intend to wade into that well-traversed discourse. Suffice it to say that ICCs broadly serve the following purposes:

  1. Provide a platform for cases that are better suited for a process that is “relatively open and transparent, equipped with appellate mechanisms, the options of consolidation and joinder, and the assurance of a court judgment”[1];
  2. Allow disputants to avoid problems faced by arbitration (e.g. increasing judicialization and laboriousness in process resulting in delays accompanied by rising costs, unpredictability in the enforcement of arbitral awards, or lack of consistency in arbitral decisions)[2]; and
  3. Facilitate the harmonisation of commercial laws and practices.

As ICCs are a modern development, they have attempted to incorporate modern technologies to enhance their ability to deal with the cross-border, large-scale nature of the cases that they deal with. This article takes a quick look at the following two questions:

  1. To what extent should the adoption of technology be a priority for an ICC? 
  2. Would ICCs be able to leverage the upcoming wave of online dispute resolution (“ODR”)? 

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#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Hannah Lim, LexisNexis

Interview by Josh Lee | Edited byHuiling Xie

Organised by Malaysian legal tech startup CanLawLexTech Conference 2018is an APAC-wide legal technology conference taking place from 25 to 26 October 2018 in Kuala Lumpur. The Conference aims to drive legal tech adoption in the region and strengthen the regional legal tech community. In the lead-up to LexTech Conference 2018, LawTech.Asia will be bringing to you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent individuals who are involved in the conference.

LawTech.Asia spoke with Hannah Lim, Head of Rule of Law and Emerging Markets at LexisNexis (“LN”). Hannah will be speaking on the topic of “How technology will transform the business of law” at LexTech. Picking up on this exciting topic, we ask Hannah about how legal tech can play a pivotal role in shaping the rule of law in emerging markets, and how this interplays with the need to provide better access to justice for all.

What got you interested in the first place in exploring the advancement of the rule of law in emerging markets such as Myanmar?

Before joining LN, I was a corporate lawyer based in Myanmar, which explains my focus on Myanmar. I had been doing Myanmar legal work since 2011 and during my time there, I could really see how important a strong legal system was to society, and how it would affect the man on the street. It was something that I had taken for granted, and my experience has taught me that a robust society with a strong legal system and healthy institutions (such as the rule of law) is something that has to be deliberately built and maintained. It doesn’t materialize on its own and the process of building and maintaining these institutions is not easy. So, advancing the rule of law isn’t just a job for me; it’s closely tied together with my journey as a legal professional.

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#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Dipesh Sukhani, Advisor to ServisHero

Interview by Utsav Rakshit | Edited by Amelia Chew

Organised by Malaysian legal tech startup CanLaw, LexTech Conference 2018 is an APAC-wide regional legal technology conference taking place from 25 to 26 October 2018 in Kuala Lumpur. LexTech Conference 2018 aims to drive legal tech adoption in the region and strengthen the regional legal tech community. In the lead-up to LexTech Conference 2018, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing to you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent individuals who are involved in the conference.

LawTech.Asia spoke with Dipesh Sukhani, Advisor to ServisHero and Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Indorse, about smart contracts. Dipesh will be speaking on a panel titled “Macro Trends and Practical Applications of Smart Contracts in Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)”.

What is stopping us from adopting smart contracts extensively?

There are two key factors hindering the adoption of Smart Contracts in our day-to-day life: (1) The scope of Smart Contracts; and (2) awareness. Let me dive into each of them.

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Asia Law Network Launches Practice Management Software

Written by Marc Chia | Edited by Amelia Chew

Legal marketing platform Asia Law Network recently launched an end-to-end practice management solution for lawyers called Tessaract. In line with the industry push for adoption of legal tech, most recently through the Tech Start For Law Programme, the ALN team is offering a special limited time promotion of only $10 per user per month until 31 October 2018 for law firms. The promotional price represents a drastic fall in cost of adoption even before taking into consideration the availability of grants or subsidies.

What is Tessaract

Tessaract is one of the four practice management solutions featured by the Law Society of Singapore, alongside CLIO, Affinity and CoreMatter. Each system supports the day-to-day operations of legal practice in varying ways.

Tessaract purports to handle all aspects of legal practice starting from the first meeting with a client all the way till billing is completed. Tessaract’s cloud-based solution not only includes workflow management, client management, and knowledge management but also includes a whole suite of tools such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) functionality and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls, designed to address the most most pressing pain points of law firms.

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#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Aditya Shivkumar, Resolve Disputes Online (RDO)

Interview by Jennifer Lim, Josh Lee, and Ong Chin Ngee | Edited by Josh Lee

Organised by Malaysian legal tech startup CanLawLexTech Conference 2018 is an APAC-wide regional legal technology conference taking place from 25 to 26 October 2018 in Kuala Lumpur. LexTech Conference 2018 aims to drive legal tech adoption in the region and strengthen the regional legal tech community. In the lead-up to LexTech Conference 2018, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing to you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent individuals who are involved in the conference.

LawTech.Asia spoke with Aditya Shivkumar, Co-Founder of Resolve Disputes Online (“RDO”), about smart contracts and online dispute resolution (“ODR”) – a topic that Aditya will be speaking on at the LexTech Conference.

What are smart contracts, and what sort of transactions can it be used for? How specifically do you think smart contracts can be applied in ODR?

Smart contracts are not your conventional paper-based contracts. It actually consists of lines of code. There are multiple coding languages for smart contracts, such as Solidity or Bamboo (if one is executing a smart contract on the Ethereum network). Smart contracts utilise blockchain technology. The former is the front-end, while the latter is the back-end. 

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#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Fareez Shah, Fareez Shah & Partners

Interview by Amelia Chew | Edited by Huiling Xie

Organised by Malaysian legal tech startup CanLaw, LexTech Conference 2018 is an APAC-wide legal technology conference taking place from 25 to 26 October 2018 in Kuala Lumpur that aims to drive legal tech adoption in the region and strengthen the regional legal tech community. In the lead-up to LexTech Conference 2018, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing to you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent individuals who are involved in the conference.

LawTech.Asia spoke with Fareez Shah, Managing Partner at Fareez Shah & Partners (FSP). Since the inception of FSP, Fareez Shah has represented and acted for various startups and social enterprises with various types of work, which includes setting-up, fundraising, compliance and risk management. In this interview, Fareez shares about his experience in implementing tech solutions within his practice.

Broadly, how would you characterise the legal tech scene in Malaysia? Are Malaysian law firms embracing machine language, artificial intelligence and cloud-based services?

I can’t speak on behalf of other law firms, but I can share my firm’s view of the legal tech market in Malaysia. Fundamentally, as I believe that the implementation of new technology is meant to improve productivity and in turn improve the quality of work and revenue, I will look at the ROI before investing in new tech. For a small firm like ours, we would love to adopt and embrace more technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud-Based Services. However, most of the off-the-shelf products are either (a) too expensive (e.g. Clio, Tessaract, KIRA) and/or (b) not suitable for local usage (e.g. ROSS and eBrevia). A good example is MailChimp, which we use to automate some of our routine emails. However, as MailChimp is a platform built for e-commerce, it is not a full solution for us and we have to use it in combination with platforms for other services such as payment collection.

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2018 UNCITRAL Emergence Conference

Interview by Amelia Chew & Ng Sock Cheng | Edited by Irene Ng

Interview with Luca Castellani, Secretary of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce)1

The Emergence Conference 2018, jointly hosted by the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific and the Asian Business Law Institute (ABLI), took place on 25 July 2018 in Singapore.

The conference took stock of emerging global and regional developments relating to the harmonization and convergence of international trade and commercial law, with a focus on their impact on regionalisation, especially for Asia. It provided a platform for experts and scholars to examine the impact of these developments and to consider various areas of political interest for UNCITRAL and ABLI from a regional perspective.

We sat down with for a chat with Luca Castellani, a legal officer in the Secretariat of the UNCITRAL, where he discharges the functions of secretary of UNCITRAL Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce) and promotes the adoption and uniform interpretation of UNCITRAL texts relating to sale of goods and electronic commerce.

What are your views on the discussions held at the Emergence Conference today?

This is the third such conference we’ve had and the first of its kind in Singapore. The goal of this conference is to elicit new views on different aspects of international trade law and international business transaction laws. I find it very interesting and particularly useful that many of the presentations are related to current developments in business and law. These presentations are welcome as they are not mere speculations and have practical application in the real world.

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