LawTech.Asia

Asia's Leading Law & Technology Review

Category: Automation

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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Hacking Through the Gordian Knot – The LIT Hackathon 2019

Reading time: 9 minutes

Written by Josh Lee | Edited by Jennifer Lim, Wan Ding Yao

Introduction

It is a classic Gordian Knot. A legal industry that is highly risk-averse, and heavily reliant on precedents and traditional ways of work. Lawyers who are too occupied with work to generate innovative ideas, let alone implement them. Technology that is believed to be too inaccessible and alien to a profession that is beginning to struggle with disruption. All these, with the backdrop of rising costs, inefficiencies (and long hours), and barriers to access to justice.

The legal industry’s solution to this? The hackathon.

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

Reading time: 4 minutes

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: Fareez Shah, Fareez Shah & Partners

Reading time: 4 minutes

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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Joint Call For Papers Law x Technology: Transforming the face of the Law

Reading time: 2 minutesTechnology disrupts for the better of those prepared. Legal practice is hardly impervious to the implications that technology brings. The advent of blockchain and machine learning technologies is an opportunity, and a potential cost if not pursued. Conversely, the use of technology is equally subject to legal regimes and institutions. Developing a sensitivity to the mutual interaction of the two forces is of utmost urgency as governments and peoples search for a firm footing.

The Singapore Law Review (“SLR”), Asia’s oldest student-run legal publication, and LawTech.Asia, Southeast Asia’s foremost law and technology review, are collaborating on a special issue of the Singapore Law Review journal and LawTech.Asia online publication on the theme “Law x Technology: Transforming the face of the Law”.

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TechLaw.Fest 2018 – Meeting Where It Matters

Reading time: 7 minutesWritten by Josh Lee | Edited by Amelia Chew

LawTech.Asia had the privilege of being a media partner for TechLaw.Fest 2018. The inaugural TechLaw.Fest, held from 4 to 6 April 2018, saw the convergence of more than 1,000 legal professionals, technologists, entrepreneurs and regulators to participate in critical conversations about the future of the legal community. This article shares some of the common themes that emerged across the three days of TechLaw.Fest, highlighting the state of legal technology in Singapore and situating its development in Southeast Asia and the world.

Keynote address by Mr Brad Smith (President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft) at the Law of Tech Conference, TechLaw.Fest 2018 (Photo credit: Singapore Academy of Law)

The state of law and technology in Singapore

In recent years, there has been a growing buzz around law and technology in Singapore. In his opening address at the Law of Tech Conference, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation initiative Dr Vivian Balakrishnan highlighted seven major technology trends making a global impact today:

  1. Declining marginal cost of replicating, storing and transmitting information;
  2. Declining marginal cost of computing;
  3. Accelerated clock speed of technology;
  4. Wide deployment of sensors leading to an explosion of data;
  5. Increasing capacity to analyse data;
  6. Disruption caused by robotics; and
  7. Progress in artificial intelligence.

Minister Balakrishnan observed that these technological trends “interact and catalyse virtual cycles, feeding and accelerating one another”. The interaction and reinforcement of these trends have political and socio-economic ramifications, such as the creation of echo chambers and filter bubbles that threaten to disrupt the fabric of society.

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TechLaw.Fest Quick Chats: Yeong Zee Kin, PDPC

Reading time: 4 minutesInterview by Josh Lee | Edited by Amelia Chew

LawTech.Asia had the privilege of being a media partner for TechLaw.Fest 2018. The inaugural TechLaw.Fest held from 4 to 6 April 2018 saw the convergence of legal professionals, technologists, entrepreneurs and policy makers, conversant and passionate about Technology Law and Legal Technology, coming together to discuss the future of Singapore’s technology scene. During TechLaw.Fest, the LawTech.Asia team met with various speakers, exhibitors and attendees to learn more about the work that they do and their experience at the conference.

LawTech.Asia sat down for a chat with Yeong Zee Kin, Assistant Chief Executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Deputy Commissioner of the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC). Zee Kin was a panelist on the Smart Regulation for a Smart Nation panel and the chairperson of the Legal Issues in Legal Tech panel.

Having participated in two panels over the course of TechLaw.Fest 2018, what were some of your key takeaways from the two panels that you were in?

Both panels revolved around the same theme but we approached it from different directions. The first panel (“Smart Regulation for a Smart Nation”) approached it from the perspective of the regulator and examined what kind of regulations are required. This panel focused more on potential regulatory models and discussed different perspectives of how regulatory sandboxes are used. The FinTech Regulatory Sandbox by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is one such regime that allows for the ability to control license terms. There are some guidelines that we can potentially look to, such as the materiality test for determining when the risk becomes material and regulation should kick in.

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TechLaw.Fest Quick Chats: Serena Lim, Bizibody

Reading time: 5 minutesInterview by Audrey Koo and Eugene Tham | Edited by Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen

TechLaw.Fest 2018 will take place from 4 to 6 April 2018 in Singapore, bringing together the movers and shakers in the space of Technology Law and Legal Technology. In the lead-up to TechLaw.Fest, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing to you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent speakers and the topics they will be speaking at TechLaw.Fest.

LawTech.Asia sat down for a chat with Serena Lim, Director at Bizibody Technology, Opus 2 International (Singapore) and Litigation Edge. Prior to founding Bizibody, she was the managing director of Khattar Wong & Partner’s Hong Kong Office. She is, inter alia, a specialist in practice management technologies, and is a consultant for discovery, litigation and court technologies.

At TechLaw.Fest 2018, Serena will be a panellist at the “Legal Tech Primer Session” at the Tech of Law Exchange. She will be introducing current legal research, document review and knowledge management tools.

What are some examples of legal secretarial work that are repetitive, and which your company has helped automated?

Two examples are (1) billings and (2) document preparation. These are areas of legal practice in which automation is possible and useful.

Let me illustrate what a law firm has to do without the aid of automation when issuing  bills or doing substantive legal work such as conveyancing, personal injury, debt collection and corporate secretarial work.

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