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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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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: Hannah Lim, LexisNexis

Reading time: 5 minutes

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.

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