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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: William Deckelman, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of DXC Technology

Reading time: 7 minutes

Interview by Andrew Wong, Ong Chin Ngee, Lenon Ong | 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 these 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 William Deckelman, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of DXC Technology. William will be kicking off Day 2 of TechLaw.Fest 2019 with a thematic lecture on security and connectivity.

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TechLaw.Fest 2019 Quick Chats: Jerrold Soh, Singapore Management University

Reading time: 8 minutes

Interview by Nisha Rajoo and Andrew Wong | 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 these 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 Jerrold Soh, a Lecturer of Law in the Singapore Management University (“SMU”) School of Law. Jerrold is also a co-founder of Lex Quanta, a Singapore-based legal analytics startup, in which he leads data science research and development.

At TechLaw.Fest 2019, Jerrold will be speaking on a panel titled, “A Review of the State of Legal Innovation in the Asia Pacific”, which features leading thought leaders who will be discussing the State of Legal Innovation in the Asia Pacific (“SOLIA”) 2019 Report, for which Jerrold served as the Chief Editor.

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LawTech.Asia’s Response to Public Consultation on Model AI Governance Framework

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On 23 January 2019, the Personal Data Protection Commission (i.e. the Info-comm Media Development Authority) (the “PDPC”) published its Model Artificial Intelligence Governance Framework (“Model Framework”). The PDPC also launched a public consultation to receive feedback on the Model Framework.

As an organisation committed to thought leadership in law and technology (with AI regulation a key area of focus), LawTech.Asia produced a response to the public consultation on 24 June 2019.

LawTech.Asia’s response comprised the following two sections:

  1. A framework tailored for the implementation of the Model Framework to the legal technology sectors. Tapping on LawTech.Asia’s familiarity with the legal and legal technology sectors, LawTech.Asia produced a customised framework tailored specifically for the implementation of the Model Framework to the legal technology industry. We hope that this customised framework may shed some light in allowing legal technology firms deploying AI to have greater guidance in aligning their practices with some of the implementation guidelines set out in the Model Framework.
  2. Comments and feedback on each specific section covered by the Model Framework. These sections are, namely: the overall principles set out in the Model Framework, internal governance measures, determination of the AI decision-making model, operations management, and customer relations management. Tying our comments together is the thread that the Model Framework could go further in elaborating on some of the guidelines that it had set out, as well as to set out more specifically the ends that the Model Framework is targeted at achieving.

Our response may be downloaded for reference here:

In closing, we emphasise that the views set out within our response are wholly independent. They do not represent the views of any other organisation save for LawTech.Asia.

LawTech.Asia is also grateful to our partner and friend, Ms Shazade Jameson from the World Data Project, for her guidance and assistance in the preparation of our response.

The LawTech.Asia Team

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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E-Discovery: Artificial Intelligence & Predictive Coding – Discovering the Way Forward

Reading time: 5 minutes

Written by Emily Tan | Edited by Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen, Josh Lee, Maryam Salehijam (Resolve Disputes Online)

Introduction

Cases turn on their facts. Lawyers depend on both the law and the specific circumstances of their client’s case to make a convincing argument for their client. This makes the discovery process, where the available information is sifted through to identify relevant evidence, a crucial step in any case.  

However, discovery is by its nature a slow and laborious process. Countless hours are spent digging through documents, emails and other such sources, searching for the key factors which may make or break a case. This “time-drain” has been exacerbated by the digitalisation of work, which has exponentially increased the volume of documents that lawyers have to analyse. In addition, it is typically the junior lawyers who are delegated to do the discovery task — which explains the television stereotype of young lawyers poring over cartons and cartons of documents late into the night. 

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LawTech.Asia Quick Chats – Associate Professor Goh Yihan, Dean, SMU School of Law

Reading time: 5 minutes

Interview by Josh Lee & Wan Ding Yao | Edited by Amelia Chew

In June 2018, the Singapore Management University (“SMU”) School of Law won a major grant of $4.5 million from the National Research Foundation (“NRF”) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) following a competitive application process among several Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore. With the grant, the SMU School of Law set up a new Centre for AI and Data Governance (“CAIDG”). CAIDG aims to drive thought leadership on AI and data governance in Singapore, and serve as a centre for knowledge exchange with experts worldwide.

LawTech.Asia received an exclusive opportunity to interview Associate Professor Goh Yihan, Dean of the SMU School of Law and Director of CAIDG. Here, Prof Goh shares his view on how and when technological disruption will make a major impact on the local legal industry, and how the SMU School of Law is preparing its students to face that disruption.

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Zegal 2.0: Product Report

Reading time: 6 minutes

Written by Tristan Koh, Utsav Rakshit | Edited by Josh Lee

Introduction

Zegal is a collaborative cloud-based legal technology platform that aims to transform the way legal services, such as document generation and legal workflow management,  are delivered. Formerly Dragon Law, it has come a long way from starting off purely as an automated contract generation software. Today, the platform integrates automated contract generation seamlessly with legal workflow management in the cloud.

LawTech.Asia was given a chance to meet with Zegal Singapore’s Co-founder, Stephan Hablutzel, and view an in-depth product demo of Zegal’s latest product, Zegal 2.0.

Stephan formerly worked as a top-level executive in several MNCs. From his frequent use of legal services in the past, he and the Zegal team have used their deep understanding of common pain points in legal services to create a product that is client-centric. In particular, Zegal makes legal services far more accessible to small and medium-sized companies and eschew the traditional reservation of full-scale legal services for large corporations.

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Legal Hackers APAC Summit 2018 – A Summary

Reading time: 7 minutes

Written by Cai Xiaohan | Edited by Josh Lee

From 16-17 November 2018, LawTech.Asia co-organised the Legal Hackers APAC Summit together with SG Legal Hackers and the Singapore Academy of Law. This saw over twenty Legal Hackers chapter organizers from at least ten different countries in the Asia-Pacific region converge in Singapore to discuss the latest developments in law, technology and innovation in the APAC region.

The APAC Legal Hackers Summit 2018 welcome page. (Image credit: Legal Hackers Singapore)

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LawTech.Asia Quick Chats: Dov Greenbaum, Director of the Zvi Meitar Institute for Legal Implications of Emerging Technologies

Reading time: 7 minutes

Interview by Emily Tan & Ong Chin Ngee | Edited by Irene Ng

As a visiting professor at the Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2018, Professor Dov Greenbaum taught the module “Introduction to Law and Technology”. In line with his research focus on the ethical, social, economic and legal issues in emerging technologies both in hi-tech and biotech, Prof. Greenbaum also delivered a seminar on the topic of “Legal and Ethical Considerations with the Advancement of AI and Machine Learning”. As part of his collaboration with SMU’s Centre for AI and Data Governance, Prof. Greenbaum is leading SMU students on a year-long project where students work with stakeholders of emerging technologies to develop a research paper providing actionable analysis of the technology and its implications.

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