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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.

Out-of-office: Preparing your firm for a remote-working future

Reading time: 8 minutes

Written by Josh Lee | Edited by Jennifer Lim, Andrew Wong

Introduction

The outbreak of the CoViD19 epidemic has had a chilling effect on many. The virus’ continuous spread after the Lunar New Year holidays meant it continued to make its presence felt even as businesses re-opened for work.

Anticipating a worsening of the global health situation, businesses are beginning to prepare themselves for an extended period during which business operations could be impacted. “Business continuity” has become a widely-mentioned theme, with many organisations beginning to implement drawer plans to reduce physical interaction. These plans could include telecommuting and working through remote-workplace tools. For example, the Hong Kong government asked some of its staff to work from home to reduce human-to-human contact. MNCs like DBS, Rio Tinto and UOB have also activated work-from-home plans.

In the legal industry, while established and technology-focused law firms with the necessary infrastructure may be able to make the switch relatively seamlessly, other firms may find it more challenging to do so. This is in particular so for firms that have yet to see a disruption to business of the scale similar to that seen during the SARS or swine flu epidemics.

Notwithstanding the doom and gloom, it remains prudent to take a long view of the present situation, and to see the silver lining in the clouds. While it may appear at first blush to be troublesome to begin implementing business continuity plans, the present generation of telecommuting and remote-workplace tools are more than capable of sustaining businesses for extended periods of time. In fact, the present situation might prove to be just the encouragement for more firms to begin switching permanently to a nimbler, telecommuting-based structure, with communication driven primarily by remote-workplace tools. Indeed, this is the first (and critical) step to the implementation of “virtual law firms” – law firms that work nearly-entirely remotely without the need for a dedicated office space. 

Focusing on remote-working, this article covers the following points:

  1. The benefits of a remote workforce;
  2. The telecommuting tools needed to enable and maintain a remote-working environment; and
  3. Other considerations needed to ensure a successful transition into permanent telecommuting.

Clifford Chance launches Automation Academy to empower the next generation of lawyers

Reading time: 5 minutes

Interview by Lenon Ong | Written by Amelia Chew | Edited by Josh Lee 

In November 2019, Clifford Chance announced that it was launching the Automation Academy, a training programme designed to give trainees and lawyers a foundational understanding of how to automate legal contracts and other tasks using a no-code platform. The LawTech.Asia team sat down with Laura Collins Scott, Innovation Lead at Clifford Chance, and her team to learn about the firm’s approach towards training lawyers for the evolving legal industry. 

Laura Collins Scott, Innovation Lead at Clifford Chance

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.

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