Written by Josh Lee | Edited by Jennifer Lim, Wan Ding Yao
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.
Written by Tristan Koh, Utsav Rakshit | Edited by Josh Lee
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.
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.
by Emily Tan & Ong Chin
Ngee | Edited by Irene Ng
As a visiting professor at the Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2018, Professor Dov Greenbaum taught the module “Introduction to Law and Technology”. In line with his research focus on the ethical, social, economic and legal issues in emerging technologies both in hi-tech and biotech, Prof. Greenbaum also delivered a seminar on the topic of “Legal and Ethical Considerations with the Advancement of AI and Machine Learning”. As part of his collaboration with SMU’s Centre for AI and Data Governance, Prof. Greenbaum is leading SMU students on a year-long project where students work with stakeholders of emerging technologies to develop a research paper providing actionable analysis of the technology and its implications.
The list tracks the likely movers and shakers of the legal industry in 2019, and LawTech.Asia is fortunate to be named alongside luminaries such as Ms Teresa Cheng (Hong Kong Secretary of Justice) and Ms Melissa Kaye Pang (President of the Hong Kong Law Society) for this year’s edition.
LawTech.Asia has an unwavering goal – to inspire legal innovation through partnerships and thought leadership. By the nature of our work, we walk alongside and are supported by giants who stand tall in their fields. Hence, this achievement has come very much as a pleasant surprise to all of us. We have met many leaders at the forefront of legal tech in the region, all of whom would more than deserve a spot on the list.
Nevertheless, this recognition only strengthens our resolve to work even harder towards our vision of become “The Economist of legal technology in Asia”.
We dedicate this to all of LawTech.Asia’s partners. This recognition belongs to you as much as it means to us.
From all of us at LawTech.Asia, a very big thank you.
It has been a joy working with you in 2018. All of us at LawTech.Asia would like to wish you a very fruitful 2019!
Looking Back at 2018
2018 has been a tremendous year for LawTech.Asia. We produced a total of 28 articles’ worth of thought leadership, industry insights, and conversation points (not too bad for a team of volunteers!). We were appointed Media Partner for major legal tech conferences (TechLaw.Fest 2018 and LexTech 2018). We co-organised local and regional legal tech events, such as the APAC Legal Hackers Summit 2018 and the SG Legal Tech Meetup. We engaged in collaborations with overseas legal tech companies, such as Resolve Disputes Online.
With these projects, LawTech.Asia’s visibility has grown. We’ve been told that our articles – which are known for their neutrality, substance and clarity of thought – are something to look forward to. These words of encouragement mean much to us, and strengthen our resolve to do even better.
Throughout 2018, LawTech.Asia has taken big strides towards its goal: to raise awareness, interest and thought leadership on the legal tech sector in Singapore and the region.
Internally, we’ve also expanded our team – from five members to the current 14, and are in the midst of expanding further to meet our manpower and resource needs.
Looking forward to 2019
There remains much work to be done. The legal tech sector in the region continues to develop, and there are still many minds and hearts that we can – and should – be touching. In this game, we are in a constant race against man, machine, and time.
With that, our focus in 2019 is to better position ourselves as The Economist of legal technology in Asia. To that end, we will put even more effort into producing thought leadership that is relevant, regional and respected. We also aim to strengthen our network of partners, with whom we hope to build a resilient community of legal innovators. We hope to share more details on these initiatives soon.
All of these would not have been possible without your continued readership and support for LawTech.Asia. For that, you have our deepest thanks. Thank you for partnering and journeying with us in 2018, and we hope you will continue to support us this year.
From all at LawTech.Asia, here’s wishing you a very Happy New Year!
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.
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.
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:
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”;
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); and
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:
To what extent should the adoption of technology be a priority for an ICC?
Would ICCs be able to leverage the upcoming wave of online dispute resolution (“ODR”)?
Organised by Malaysian legal tech startup CanLaw, LexTech 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.