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Conferencing Through COVID-19

Reading time: 10 minutes

Written by Jennifer Lim and Irene Ng | Edited by Josh Lee

Authors’ Note: This article is a follow-up to LawTech.Asia’s earlier article on remote working, which can be found here.

Introduction

The recent global pandemic centering around Covid-19 has foisted large-scale digitalisation upon the legal industry. It has pressed firms, courts and clients to adopt remote working, practically forcing all lawyers to virtually turn “in-house” (pardon the pun) overnight as law firms react to government regulations by implementing “work-from-home” measures. 

The legal industry should not shy away from embracing technology, and should in fact use this as an opportunity to rethink its models for operating and delivering services.. In this regard, the Singapore Courts have taken digital transformation in their stride, enabling hearings, pre-trial conferences, and even commissioning to be conducted via video-conferencing. Courts in the region, such as Malaysia and Australia, have also adopted similar modes of digital transformation and formulated their own Standard Operating Procedures and handbooks.

As a follow-up to LawTech.Asia’s earlier article on remote working (which focused on business continuity plans for law firms in general), this article seeks to focus on introducing practical strategies to optimise one’s use of  video-conferencing tools. This article first examines strategies for optimising our workflow in the context of video-conferencing, before doing a comparison of certain common technologies.

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.

A brief analysis of the legal validity of smart contracts in Singapore

Reading time: 13 minutes

Written by Louis Lau (Associate Author) | Mentored by Josh Lee | Reviewed by Lim How Khang

LawTech.Asia is proud to conclude the first run of its Inaugural Associate Author Programme by publishing the works of its Associate Authors. The aim of the Associate Authorship Programme was 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.

This first run of the Associate Author Programme was a partnership between LawTech.Asia and Singapore Management University’s Legal Innovation and Technology Club. After a thorough selection process, two students were selected as Associate Authors, where they worked on thought pieces with a mentor from LawTech.Asia. Their pieces were each industry-reviewed by a respected thought leader from the legal technology industry.

This piece by Louis Lau, reviewed by industry reviewer Lim How Khang (Assistant Professor at the Singapore Management University), marks the first thought piece in this series, and provides an analysis on the legal validity of smart contracts in Singapore.

Legal Technology in Singapore: Second Edition

Reading time: 2 minutes

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.

LawTech.Asia in the State of Legal Innovation Report 2019

Reading time: < 1 minute

LawTech.Asia is proud to have a place in the inaugural Asia-Pacific State of Legal Innovation Report 2019! We have been described as a “leading law and technology review that aims to be a thought leader in legal technology in Asia”.

The Report, which was released at the Stanford University’s FutureLaw 2019 Conference on 4 April 2019, is a product of the academic partnership between the Singapore Management University and the Singapore Academy of Law’s Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP). The Report aims to be an authoritative industry reference on legal innovation in the Asia Pacific, and comprehensively surveys the state of legal innovation in such jurisdictions as Australia, China, Korea, Malaysia, Russia, and Singapore.

Besides being mentioned alongside heavyweights and notable names in the legal technology industry, we are proud that our Josh Lee also served as the Report’s lead designer.

We would like to thank and congratulate the Singapore Management University, the Singapore Academy of Law and the Future Law Innovation Programme, as well as all who contributed to the Report for a job well done!

Get your copy of the Report at this link today!

Hacking Through the Gordian Knot – The LIT Hackathon 2019

Reading time: 9 minutes

Written by Josh Lee | Edited by Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen, 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.

LawTech.Asia Quick Chats: Dov Greenbaum, Director of the Zvi Meitar Institute for Legal Implications of Emerging Technologies

Reading time: 7 minutes

Interview 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.

#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.

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.

Announcement of Collaboration: Resolve Disputes Online x LawTech.Asia

Reading time: 2 minutesWhat is technology? What can it be? What can we shape it to be?

While we aren’t entirely sure – yet – of what technology is and what it can be, what we know about technology is that it is a force. It knows no boundaries. We also know that it is ever-changing: the dreams of yesterday become the technologies of today, while the technologies of today become the antiques of tomorrow.

Let’s face it too – we all know lawyers secretly can’t get enough of technology.

In this spirit, Resolve Disputes Online (RDO) and LawTech.Asia are proud to announce a special collaboration to answer these questions and share our vision – our vision in which technology can revolutionise the practice of law, and where the law can regulate new technologies for the betterment of society. We also look forward to uncovering for our readers, and ourselves, a little more about what technology is, and its impact on the legal industry.

For both our readers, this means that RDO and LawTech.Asia will be co-writing and co-publishing articles relating to law and technology. Some of the possible topics we intend to explore include:

  • Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)
  • Access to Justice
  • The role of Blockchain in law
  • AI and the courts
  • Justice on the go

We can’t wait to get started.

This collaboration had its roots in Singapore (over coffee and kaya toast). As much as RDO is a legal tech company focusing on online dispute resolution – an area LawTech.Asia also covers, we realised that both our teams embraced the philosophy that technology can impact all parts of the legal industry. Advancements in one area of legal technology could easily generate lessons applicable to dispute resolution and ODR. After all, some say ODR is simply the adoption of technology in dispute resolution.

Through our contributions, we hope to foster and create a spirit of togetherness amongst societies, and to leave an indelible impact in the quest to provide a sneak peek into access to justice through ODR.

Look out for us.

This collaboration is proudly spearheaded by Ms Maryam Salehijam, Head of Content and Blogs, RDO, Mr Aditya Shivkumar, Co-founder, RDO, and Mr Josh Lee and Ms Jennifer Lim, Writers and Editors of LawTech.Asia.​

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