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Legal Technology in Singapore: Second Edition

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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.

New Regional Association Unites Region’s Legal and Technology Innovators

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ALITA is the first Asia-Pacific organisation to inclusively bring together regional stakeholders to promote innovation and technology for legal services. 

A new international association to promote the development and adoption of legal innovation and technology in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) was launched on Thursday September 5, 2019.

Held at TechLaw.Fest 2019, an annual law and technology conference in Singapore, the launch of the Asia-Pacific Legal Innovation and Technology Association (ALITA) was officiated by Justice Lee Seiu Kin, a Supreme Court Judge of Singapore and Chairman of the Legal Technology Cluster of the Singapore Academy of Law. 

The official logo of ALITA.

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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).

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The World Legal Summit: Informing and Taking Action – Physically and Virtually

Reading time: 5 minutes

Written by Josh Lee and Aileen Schultz (Founder, World Legal Summit)

The World Legal Summit (WLS) is a 30+ city, 20+ country initiative designed to bridge the gap between legislative understanding and emerging technologies. Part One will occur in physical locations simultaneously across a 24 hour window on August 1, while Part Two will occur between September 6  to 8. The WLS will also provide global networking and remote participation opportunities in a virtual world. 

Introduction

Technology and global systems are evolving at unprecedented rates, with humanity now poised at the tip of the exponential curve of technological evolution. There is, however, a lack of incentives to create required legislative and regulatory frameworks for the proper governance and responsible use of such technologies. Further, legal advances in technology governance – typically developed in silos – are not keeping pace with the development of technology. In turn, this creates a governance and trust deficit between emerging technologies, their associated global systems, and the necessary frameworks for a globally sustainable future.

While the legal industry has seen global initiatives to drive technology in legal practice (such as through global events such as the Global Legal Hackathon), the World Legal Summit (“WLS”) tackles the converse challenge of legal and regulatory issues relating to new technology. It is primarily focused on emerging technologies that are global in nature and that are facing complex regulatory challenges. In its inaugural year, the WLS will be focusing on the following three technology categories: 

  • Identity and Personal Governance;
  • Autonomous Machines; and
  • Cyber Security and Personal Data.

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#LegalHackers Profile: Kanan Dhru, Legal Hackers India

Reading time: 6 minutes

Interview by Swathi Bhat | Edited by Amelia Chew

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.  

LawTech.Asia had the chance to catch up with Kanan Dhru, Founder of Lawtoons, LawForMe and Research Foundation for Governance in India, and chapter organiser at Legal Hackers India, who was not able to attend the APAC Legal Hackers Summit due to work commitments. Here, she shares her insights on LegalTech projects in India and the role of technology in the legal sector.

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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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#LegalHackers Profile: Eric Chin, Legal Hackers Melbourne

Reading time: 5 minutes

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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#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Hannah Lim, LexisNexis

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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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Legal Technology in Singapore

Reading time: 1 minute

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.

#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Dipesh Sukhani, Advisor to ServisHero

Reading time: 3 minutes

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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