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TechLaw.Fest 2019 – Charting the Course of Disruption in Law and Technology

Reading time: 9 minutes

By Lenon Ong, Sanjana Ayagari, Elizaveta Shesterneva | Edited by Josh Lee

As part of our strategic media partnership with the Singapore Academy of Law, LawTech.Asia once again has the privilege of being appointed as media partner for TechLaw.Fest 2020. As the programme line-up for TechLaw.Fest 2020 begins to take shape, LawTech.Asia brings our readers back to TechLaw.Fest 2019 to provide a timely recap on all that happened, as we look forward to what is shaping up to be a momentous and memorable TechLaw.Fest 2020.

In its second year in this form as a large-scale conference, TechLaw.Fest 2019 was held on 5 and 6 September 2019, and saw over 1,500 legal professionals, technologists, entrepreneurs and regulators converge to engage in critical conversations about the future of technology law and of the legal industry. 

Given the numerous conferences, exhibitions, pitches, launches and meetings all happening over 48 hours of adrenaline and excitement, this article aims to share some of the key themes and memorable moments that emerged across both days of Singapore’s (and arguably Asia’s) signature law and technology conference.

The entrance to TechLaw.Fest, just before the start of an adrenaline-fuelled two days.

What should the post lock-down legal industry look like?

Reading time: 5 minutes

Written by Josh Lee | Edited by Jennifer Lim

Much ink has been spilt about how COVID-19 has changed and disrupted the legal industry. A search on Google turns up numerous articles on how COVID-19 has done overnight what no law or policy could: forced lawyers to adopt a fully-digital mode of doing businesschanging court practices (to the extent that even being called to the Bar is now a digital occasion), and forced law schools to turn to AI invigilators to deter cheating in stay-home exams. Perhaps the clearest sign of the times is to hear practicing lawyers confide that for once, they get to spend more than 7 hours of their day at home.

Legal Tech-ing Our Way to Justice

Reading time: 10 minutes

Written by Jasmine Ng (Associate Author) | Mentored by Andrew Wong | Reviewed by Yap Jia Qing

LawTech.Asia is proud to conclude the second run of its Associate Author (Winter 2019) Programme. The aim of the Associate Authorship Programme is to develop the knowledge and exposure of student writers in the domains of law and technology, while providing them with mentorship from LawTech.Asia’s writers and tailored guidance from a well-respected industry mentor.

As part of a partnership with the National University of Singapore’s alt+law and Singapore Management University’s Legal Innovation and Technology Club, five students were selected as Associate Authors. This piece by Jasmine Ng, reviewed by industry reviewer Yap Jia Qing (Founder, Emerging Tech Policy Forum), marks the first thought piece in this series, examines how legal technology can be better used in Singapore to improve access to justice.

Introduction

From the ubiquitous presence of virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, to the achievements of Google’s DeepMind technologies on facial recognition and machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) and other data-based technology are a growing part of everyone’s lives. Technological advancement has also made a huge impact on the legal industry. In his speech at the Opening of the Legal Year 2019,[1] Singapore’s Chief Justice, Sundaresh Menon CJ, recognised technology as a key driving force of the seismic changes to the legal industry’s operating environment. 

With this changing landscape in mind, the Singapore Judiciary has taken steps to maintain Singapore’s position as a progressive, adaptive and forward-looking judiciary.[2] Digitalisation is now a key pillar of Singapore’s legal system transformation efforts, which is in line with the Digital Government Blueprint in support of the Smart Nation initiative.[3]These developments are to be welcomed, as they tackle concerns about access to justice (which have been  increasing in the wake of rising inequality). With this context in mind, I will analyse how technology is being used in our legal industry, and how the benefits of legal technology can be better harnessed to improve access to justice.

Legal Design For The Future of Law

Reading time: 9 minutes

Written By: Marc Chia | Edited By: Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen, Andrew Wong

What is legal design?

Legal design is the application of human-centred design approach to the problems and challenges of the legal process. While it is commonly associated with using technology to alter and advance the delivery of legal services, legal design goes beyond its relationship to technology. It entails a re-thinking of existing processes to maximise and optimise outcomes.

It is not the easiest thing in the world to explain legal design. Indeed the Legal Design Alliance’s Legal Design Manifesto is a multi page document explaining the attitudes, purposes and approaches to legal design. Other prominent pieces of literature include Professor Margaret Hagan’s book “Law by Design” and articles by organisations focusing on legal design as a service such as Dot and Lexpert to name but a few.

Open Source Development of Legal Technology

Reading time: 8 minutes

Written by Danielle Sim (Associate Author) | Mentored by Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen and Amelia Chew | Reviewed by Jameson Dempsey

LawTech.Asia is proud to conclude the first run of its Inaugural Associate Author Programme by publishing the works of its Associate Authors. The aim of the Associate Authorship Programme was to develop the knowledge and exposure of student writers in the domains of law and technology, while providing them with mentorship from LawTech.Asia’s writers and tailored guidance from a well-respected industry mentor.

This first run of the Associate Author Programme was a partnership between LawTech.Asia and Singapore Management University’s Legal Innovation and Technology Club. After a thorough selection process, two students were selected as Associate Authors, where they worked on thought pieces with a mentor from LawTech.Asia. Their pieces were each industry-reviewed by a respected thought leader from the legal technology industry.

This piece by Danielle Sim, reviewed by industry reviewer Jameson Dempsey (Residential Fellow at the Stanford Centre for Legal Informatics), marks the first thought piece in this series, and deals with the issue of open source development of legal technology.

Danielle would like to extend her heartfelt thanks to Jameson Dempsey, Alexis Chun (Legalese), Amelia Chew and Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen (LawTech.Asia) for their invaluable and helpful guidance in the writing of this piece.

Legal Technology in Singapore: Second Edition

Reading time: 2 minutes

Written by Cai Xiaohan, Tristan Koh, Utsav Rakshit | Edited by Josh Lee Kok Thong

In October 2018, LawTech.Asia published the first-ever detailed outline of the legal technology sector in Singapore. It was 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. The article was imagined as a “living document” that will continue to be updated as more news comes to the fore.

Much has happened in the legal tech scene in Singapore since then. To encapsulate these developments, LawTech.Asia is proud to present the second edition of “Legal Technology in Singapore”.

Our first edition had argued that Singapore is currently in the midst of a “legal tech revolution”, which began sometime in 2015 and which was spearheaded by the government in Singapore. The past year has seen the government invest even more resources into new initiatives to support legal tech adoption, and this edition of our article has been updated to include the following new developments: 

  1. Recent statements by the Judiciary on legal tech in Singapore;
  2. New assistance schemes to support the adoption of technology in Singapore, such as:
    • Asia’s first legal tech accelerator, GLIDE by FLIP;
    • Tech-celerate for Law by the Law Society of Singapore, which will fund legal tech adoption by law firms;
    • Advancement of legal tech in the State Courts;
    • The establishment of the SmartLaw Guild;
  3. The new creation of legal tech office-holders in public sector institutions; and
  4. The development of tech-related curricula in local law schools.

In this second edition, we also posit that the Singapore legal tech revolution has entered into a new phase: new ground-up initiatives in the legal profession to support legal tech adoption. We suggest that more law firms, law students, and legal tech solution providers have started their own initiatives to encourage legal tech adoption. This new edition of our article covers, in particular, the law firms which have championed legal tech adoption by being early adopters, producing their own technology, or launching their own legal tech incubators / accelerators.

In our first edition of the article, we had also outlined three forces influencing the development of Singapore’s legal tech revolution: the liberalisation and internationalisation of Singapore’s legal industry; the increasing sophistication of clients; and increasing technological capability. In this second edition, we introduce a fourth influence: the progressive changes in Singapore substantive laws. We argue that, as Singapore’s lawmakers introduce progressive laws which encourage, rather than inhibit, legal tech growth, this would also shape the course of the legal tech revolution for the better. Laws discussed include the passing of the Payment Services Act 2019 as well as the proposed amendments to the Electronic Transactions Act.

To access the updated version of the article, “Legal Technology in Singapore”, click here!

As before, 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.

TechLaw.Fest 2019 Quick Chats: Alice Namuli Blazevic, Partner at Katende, Ssempebwa & Company Advocates

Reading time: 5 minutes

Interview by Lenon Ong, Elizaveta Shesterneva | Edited by Josh Lee

TechLaw.Fest 2019 will take place from 5 to 6 September 2019 in Singapore, bringing together the movers and shakers in the space of law and technology. In the next few weeks leading up to TechLaw.Fest, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent speakers and the topics they will be speaking at TechLaw.Fest.

This week, LawTech.Asia received the exclusive opportunity to interview Alice Namuli Blazevic, a Partner (Head of Technology and Innovation) at Katende, Ssempebwa & Co Advocates, Kampala Uganda.

She specialises in technology and the law with a keen interest in artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity and data protection. Her background is in public-private partnerships, infrastructure projects, project finance, mergers and acquisitions. She is an award winning lawyer, international speaker and author. She is the chairperson of the Uganda Legal Tech Network and the co-founder of the Legal Innovation Hub. She is also the founder of a mentorship programme for young lawyers and law students called “Coffee With Alice”. She has hosted several legal tech conferences such as the World Legal Summit and the Development Sprint (Legal Hackathon) in Uganda, just to name a few.

At TechLaw.Fest 2019, Alice will be speaking about the “Innovation Journey in East Africa” on 5 September 2019, 4 pm (GMT+8).

TechLaw.Fest 2019 Quick Chats: Dirk Hartung, Bucerius Law School

Reading time: 5 minutes

Interview by Tristan Koh and Nisha Rajoo | Edited by Josh Lee

TechLaw.Fest 2019 will take place from 5 to 6 September 2019 in Singapore, bringing together the movers and shakers in the space of law and technology. In the next few weeks leading up to TechLaw.Fest, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent speakers and the topics they will be speaking at TechLaw.Fest.

This week, LawTech.Asia received the exclusive opportunity to interview Dirk Hartung, Executive Director of Legal Technology at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany.

At TechLaw.Fest 2019, Dirk will be speaking on a panel titled, “Innovation Journey Dialogue for In-House Legal Departments”, along with the other leading thought leaders who will be sharing insights for in-house counsel looking to embark on digital transformation. 

TechLaw.Fest 2019 Quick Chats: Mark A. Cohen, Legal Mosaic

Reading time: 5 minutes

Interview by Ong Chin Ngee, Sanjana Ayagari, Utsav Rakshit | Edited by Josh Lee

TechLaw.Fest 2019 will take place from 5 to 6 September 2019 in Singapore, bringing together the movers and shakers in the space of law and technology. In the weeks leading up to TechLaw.Fest, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent speakers and the topics they will be speaking about at TechLaw.Fest.

This week, LawTech.Asia received the exclusive opportunity to interview Mark Cohen, CEO of Legal Mosaic. Legal Mosaic is a legal business consultancy providing strategic advice to various stakeholders in the legal industry. Mark is also a regular contributor to Forbes, and is widely recognised as a global thought leader in legal technology. He also serves as the inaugural Singapore Academy of Law/LIFTED Catalyst-in-Residence, and the Chief Editor of the forthcoming SAL/LIFTED Global Partner Network initiative white paper on future legal skills. 

At TechLaw.Fest 2019, Mark will be moderating a panel titled, “Innovation Journey Dialogue for In-House Legal Departments”, which features leading prominent GC’s who will be sharing insights for in-house counsel looking to embark on digital transformation. Here, Mark shares his view on the role of technology on legal services delivery, the future of legal education, and what he believes are the crucial characteristics for future law firms. 

Disruptive Legal Technologies – Is Ethics Catching Up?

Reading time: 6 minutes

Written by Alvin Chen and Stella Chen (Law Society of Singapore)

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the August 2018 issue of the Singapore Law Gazette, the official publication of the Law Society of Singapore. Reproduced with permission.

In December 2017, DeepMind, a leading AI company, sent ripples through the AI world when it announced that it had developed a computer program (known as “AlphaGoZero” or “AlphaZero”) which learned the rules of three games – chess, Shogi and Go – from scratch and defeated a world-champion computer program in each game within 24 hours of self-learning.1 What was remarkable about DeepMind’s achievement was the program’s “tabula rasa” or clean slate approach which did not refer to any games played by human players or other “domain knowledge”.2 Yet, DeepMind’s program was able to develop an unconventional and some say, uncanny,3 methodology in surpassing current computer understanding of how to play the three games.

Referring to an earlier version of DeepMind’s program (“AlphaGo”) which defeated the (human) world champion in Go in 2016, the legal futurist Richard Susskind considers such innovative technologies to be “disruptive”. In his international bestseller Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An Introduction to Your Future (“Tomorrow’s Lawyers“)Susskind defined “disruptive” as something that would “fundamentally challenge and change conventional habits”.4

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