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Legal Technology in Singapore: Second Edition

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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: Media Partner for TechLaw.Fest 2019!

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We are proud to be recognised by the Singapore Academy of Law as an official media partner for TechLaw.Fest 2019!

Organised by the Singapore Academy of Law, TechLaw.Fest 2019 (happening from 5 to 6 September 2019) is a signature convention in Singapore that will be the focal point for leading thinkers, leaders and pioneers in law and technology.

Key highlights of TechLaw.Fest 2019 include:

  • A main conference themed “The Net Effect of Data: Commerce, Connectivity & Control”, which will provide deep dialogues and deeper appreciation of legal and regulatory issues around responsible data use, access and control of data, data security and 5G, and the role of data in commerce.
  • Over 60 prominent speakers speaking and leading panel discussions on law and technology. Notable speakers this year include Singapore’s Minister for Law Mr. K. Shanmugam S.C., Sir Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the World Wide Web), Mr Bill Deckelman (Executive VP, DXC Technologies), Mr Antony Cook (Regional VP, Microsoft Asia), and many more!
  • Deep Dive seminars, Innovation Journey dialogues, Firehose sessions, Legal Tech Exhibitions, Tech Talks, Business Networking, and more activities — allowing participants to engage, learn, share, inspire, innovate, connect, and be a part of shaping our collective future in law and technology!

From now to September 2019, LawTech.Asia will be bringing you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent speakers and the topics they will be speaking at TechLaw.Fest. These speakers include key leaders from:

  • Bucerius Law School
  • DXC Technologies
  • Legal Mosaic
  • Singapore Management University
  • And more!

Our readers will also receive special perks, including a promo code that provides a 20% discount off tickets for TechLaw.Fest. To stay updated, do subscribe to our mailing list, follow our LinkedIn page, and like our Facebook page!   

We’re raring to have you join us in exploring the constantly-moving intersection of law and technology. Remember to check back on our site regularly to ensure that you get the latest coverage, updates and news about TechLaw.Fest 2019!

The LawTech.Asia Team

The World Legal Summit: Informing and Taking Action – Physically and Virtually

Reading time: 5 minutes

Written by Josh Lee and Aileen Schultz (Founder, World Legal Summit)

The World Legal Summit (WLS) is a 30+ city, 20+ country initiative designed to bridge the gap between legislative understanding and emerging technologies. Part One will occur in physical locations simultaneously across a 24 hour window on August 1, while Part Two will occur between September 6  to 8. The WLS will also provide global networking and remote participation opportunities in a virtual world. 

Introduction

Technology and global systems are evolving at unprecedented rates, with humanity now poised at the tip of the exponential curve of technological evolution. There is, however, a lack of incentives to create required legislative and regulatory frameworks for the proper governance and responsible use of such technologies. Further, legal advances in technology governance – typically developed in silos – are not keeping pace with the development of technology. In turn, this creates a governance and trust deficit between emerging technologies, their associated global systems, and the necessary frameworks for a globally sustainable future.

While the legal industry has seen global initiatives to drive technology in legal practice (such as through global events such as the Global Legal Hackathon), the World Legal Summit (“WLS”) tackles the converse challenge of legal and regulatory issues relating to new technology. It is primarily focused on emerging technologies that are global in nature and that are facing complex regulatory challenges. In its inaugural year, the WLS will be focusing on the following three technology categories: 

  • Identity and Personal Governance;
  • Autonomous Machines; and
  • Cyber Security and Personal Data.

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LawTech.Asia’s Response to Public Consultation on Model AI Governance Framework

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On 23 January 2019, the Personal Data Protection Commission (i.e. the Info-comm Media Development Authority) (the “PDPC”) published its Model Artificial Intelligence Governance Framework (“Model Framework”). The PDPC also launched a public consultation to receive feedback on the Model Framework.

As an organisation committed to thought leadership in law and technology (with AI regulation a key area of focus), LawTech.Asia produced a response to the public consultation on 24 June 2019.

LawTech.Asia’s response comprised the following two sections:

  1. A framework tailored for the implementation of the Model Framework to the legal technology sectors. Tapping on LawTech.Asia’s familiarity with the legal and legal technology sectors, LawTech.Asia produced a customised framework tailored specifically for the implementation of the Model Framework to the legal technology industry. We hope that this customised framework may shed some light in allowing legal technology firms deploying AI to have greater guidance in aligning their practices with some of the implementation guidelines set out in the Model Framework.
  2. Comments and feedback on each specific section covered by the Model Framework. These sections are, namely: the overall principles set out in the Model Framework, internal governance measures, determination of the AI decision-making model, operations management, and customer relations management. Tying our comments together is the thread that the Model Framework could go further in elaborating on some of the guidelines that it had set out, as well as to set out more specifically the ends that the Model Framework is targeted at achieving.

Our response may be downloaded for reference here:

In closing, we emphasise that the views set out within our response are wholly independent. They do not represent the views of any other organisation save for LawTech.Asia.

LawTech.Asia is also grateful to our partner and friend, Ms Shazade Jameson from the World Data Project, for her guidance and assistance in the preparation of our response.

The LawTech.Asia Team

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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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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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.

#LexTech18 Quick Chats: Fareez Shah, Fareez Shah & Partners

Reading time: 4 minutes

Interview by Amelia Chew | Edited by Huiling Xie

Organised by Malaysian legal tech startup CanLaw, LexTech Conference 2018 is an APAC-wide legal technology conference taking place from 25 to 26 October 2018 in Kuala Lumpur that aims to drive legal tech adoption in the region and strengthen the regional legal tech community. In the lead-up to LexTech Conference 2018, the LawTech.Asia team will be bringing to you regular interviews and shout-outs covering prominent individuals who are involved in the conference.

LawTech.Asia spoke with Fareez Shah, Managing Partner at Fareez Shah & Partners (FSP). Since the inception of FSP, Fareez Shah has represented and acted for various startups and social enterprises with various types of work, which includes setting-up, fundraising, compliance and risk management. In this interview, Fareez shares about his experience in implementing tech solutions within his practice.

Broadly, how would you characterise the legal tech scene in Malaysia? Are Malaysian law firms embracing machine language, artificial intelligence and cloud-based services?

I can’t speak on behalf of other law firms, but I can share my firm’s view of the legal tech market in Malaysia. Fundamentally, as I believe that the implementation of new technology is meant to improve productivity and in turn improve the quality of work and revenue, I will look at the ROI before investing in new tech. For a small firm like ours, we would love to adopt and embrace more technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud-Based Services. However, most of the off-the-shelf products are either (a) too expensive (e.g. Clio, Tessaract, KIRA) and/or (b) not suitable for local usage (e.g. ROSS and eBrevia). A good example is MailChimp, which we use to automate some of our routine emails. However, as MailChimp is a platform built for e-commerce, it is not a full solution for us and we have to use it in combination with platforms for other services such as payment collection.

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2018 UNCITRAL Emergence Conference

Reading time: 5 minutes

Interview by Amelia Chew & Ng Sock Cheng | Edited by Irene Ng

Interview with Luca Castellani, Secretary of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce)1

The Emergence Conference 2018, jointly hosted by the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific and the Asian Business Law Institute (ABLI), took place on 25 July 2018 in Singapore.

The conference took stock of emerging global and regional developments relating to the harmonization and convergence of international trade and commercial law, with a focus on their impact on regionalisation, especially for Asia. It provided a platform for experts and scholars to examine the impact of these developments and to consider various areas of political interest for UNCITRAL and ABLI from a regional perspective.

We sat down with for a chat with Luca Castellani, a legal officer in the Secretariat of the UNCITRAL, where he discharges the functions of secretary of UNCITRAL Working Group IV (Electronic Commerce) and promotes the adoption and uniform interpretation of UNCITRAL texts relating to sale of goods and electronic commerce.

What are your views on the discussions held at the Emergence Conference today?

This is the third such conference we’ve had and the first of its kind in Singapore. The goal of this conference is to elicit new views on different aspects of international trade law and international business transaction laws. I find it very interesting and particularly useful that many of the presentations are related to current developments in business and law. These presentations are welcome as they are not mere speculations and have practical application in the real world.

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Joint Call For Papers Law x Technology: Transforming the face of the Law

Reading time: 2 minutesTechnology disrupts for the better of those prepared. Legal practice is hardly impervious to the implications that technology brings. The advent of blockchain and machine learning technologies is an opportunity, and a potential cost if not pursued. Conversely, the use of technology is equally subject to legal regimes and institutions. Developing a sensitivity to the mutual interaction of the two forces is of utmost urgency as governments and peoples search for a firm footing.

The Singapore Law Review (“SLR”), Asia’s oldest student-run legal publication, and LawTech.Asia, Southeast Asia’s foremost law and technology review, are collaborating on a special issue of the Singapore Law Review journal and LawTech.Asia online publication on the theme “Law x Technology: Transforming the face of the Law”.

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