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Legal Technology and its potential to improve client collaboration

Reading time: 5 minutes

Guest Post By Marc May | Edited by Josh Lee

“Legal technology” (or “legal tech“) a term that is incredibly broad and encompasses any technology or software that is able to improve the provision of legal services. Many a time, the mention of legal tech brings to the minds of lawyers technology that bring internal process improvements, such as improved legal research, contract review or drafting. 

However, aside from the promise that legal technology can free up time for lawyers so that they are able to build better client relationships, there are also innovative ways legal technology can help lawyers directly to become more collaborative with clients. Here are two ways legal technology could do so:

  1. Collaborative drafting; and
  2. Automation-as-a-service.

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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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Legal Tech 101: Journeying into Singapore’s legal technology space

Reading time: 7 minutes

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

Student readers of LawTech.Asia would be familiar with interviews and opinion pieces available on this site on Singapore’s legal technology (“legal tech”) industry. Nevertheless, interested students may be curious to explore further avenues into this buzzing, high-tech industry.

Written from the perspective of a university student, this article covers several basic ways of journeying into legal tech in Singapore. While this article aims to be comprehensive, the examples raised herein are certainly non-exhaustive. The ideas shared here may also be useful for working professionals.

In our view, there are four broad ways of entering the legal tech industry: (a) developing skills, (b) enrolling in a relevant degree(s), (c) participating in legal tech activities and events, or (d) through writing.

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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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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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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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Rajah & Tann Technologies Acquisition of LegalComet

Reading time: 4 minutes

Written by Marc Chia | Edited by Amelia Chew

Rajah & Tann Technologies (R&T Technologies), the dedicated tech arm of Rajah & Tann Asia recently completed its acquisition of LegalComet for an undisclosed sum.

Rajah & Tann has long been one of the leading law firms in Singapore. In more recent times, the firm has begun exploring the delivery of tech-augmented legal services, most notably through the setup of Rajah & Tann Technologies in 2017. This move has placed Rajah & Tann alongside prominent international names such as Linklaters and Allen & Overy, both of which are recognised for their strong innovation efforts. Linklaters and Allen & Overy have set up incubators in order to nurture and work alongside legal tech startups to change the business of law.

In contrast, R&T Technologies’ current model of operations is not based on incubation of startups but rather acquiring and offering capabilities in legal tech itself. The team has identified six key areas of expertise: Data Breach Readiness & Response; Cybersecurity; Virtual Law Academy; E-Discovery; LegalTech; and RegTech. R&T Technologies’ offerings are designed for both their existing clientele as well as other law firms seeking to implement legal tech solutions. Headed by Rajesh Sreenivasan and Steve Tan as Directors; Wong Onn Chee as Technical Director; and Ong Ba Sou as Chief Technology Officer, the R&T Technologies team brings with them a broad range of experience in law, technology and project management.

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