LawTech.Asia

Asia's Leading Law & Technology Review

Out-of-office: Preparing your firm for a remote-working future

Reading time: 8 minutes

Written by Josh Lee | Edited by Jennifer Lim, Andrew Wong

Introduction

The outbreak of the CoViD19 epidemic has had a chilling effect on many. The virus’ continuous spread after the Lunar New Year holidays meant it continued to make its presence felt even as businesses re-opened for work.

Anticipating a worsening of the global health situation, businesses are beginning to prepare themselves for an extended period during which business operations could be impacted. “Business continuity” has become a widely-mentioned theme, with many organisations beginning to implement drawer plans to reduce physical interaction. These plans could include telecommuting and working through remote-workplace tools. For example, the Hong Kong government asked some of its staff to work from home to reduce human-to-human contact. MNCs like DBS, Rio Tinto and UOB have also activated work-from-home plans.

In the legal industry, while established and technology-focused law firms with the necessary infrastructure may be able to make the switch relatively seamlessly, other firms may find it more challenging to do so. This is in particular so for firms that have yet to see a disruption to business of the scale similar to that seen during the SARS or swine flu epidemics.

Notwithstanding the doom and gloom, it remains prudent to take a long view of the present situation, and to see the silver lining in the clouds. While it may appear at first blush to be troublesome to begin implementing business continuity plans, the present generation of telecommuting and remote-workplace tools are more than capable of sustaining businesses for extended periods of time. In fact, the present situation might prove to be just the encouragement for more firms to begin switching permanently to a nimbler, telecommuting-based structure, with communication driven primarily by remote-workplace tools. Indeed, this is the first (and critical) step to the implementation of “virtual law firms” – law firms that work nearly-entirely remotely without the need for a dedicated office space. 

Focusing on remote-working, this article covers the following points:

  1. The benefits of a remote workforce;
  2. The telecommuting tools needed to enable and maintain a remote-working environment; and
  3. Other considerations needed to ensure a successful transition into permanent telecommuting.

Postponement of LawTech.Asia’s Birthday Bash

Reading time: < 1 minute

Dear Partner, Reader, Friend,

We would like to sincerely thank you for your unwavering support for LawTech.Asia and for our upcoming Birthday Bash. In light of the present national health situation in Singapore, however, we regret to inform you that we will be postponing the Bash temporarily, and we apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.

We have not made this decision easily. We arrived at it primarily with the health and wellbeing of all our guests, speakers, participants and friends in mind. We also considered this in light of the recent raising of the public health alert status, as well as latest advisories from the Ministry of Health to avoid large group and communal activities. 

Our team is currently assessing when next to hold the Bash — hopefully in a few months, when the present health situation eases up. On this note, we would like to express once again our heartfelt thanks for the immense support that has been shown to us. It means a lot, and makes us resolved to ensure that when we hold this with-community, for-community Bash again, it will be even bigger and better.

We end with this note — that just as our community must stand together to advance legal innovation, we too, must stand together against this common test. We believe that we can, we will, and that our community will be all the more stronger for it.

And we look forward to seeing you again when that day comes. In the meantime, thank you for your continued support of LawTech.Asia and please continue to stay tuned for more posts and updates on LawTech.Asia.

With Asia, for Asia,
LawTech.Asia

To Our Partners: LawTech.Asia’s 3rd Anniversary Birthday Bash

Reading time: 2 minutes

[Editors’ Note: Please note that LawTech.Asia’s Birthday Bash has been temporarily postponed given the present public health situation in Singapore. Please continue to refer back to LawTech.Asia’s website for updates.]

Clifford Chance launches Automation Academy to empower the next generation of lawyers

Reading time: 5 minutes

Interview by Lenon Ong | Written by Amelia Chew | Edited by Josh Lee 

In November 2019, Clifford Chance announced that it was launching the Automation Academy, a training programme designed to give trainees and lawyers a foundational understanding of how to automate legal contracts and other tasks using a no-code platform. The LawTech.Asia team sat down with Laura Collins Scott, Innovation Lead at Clifford Chance, and her team to learn about the firm’s approach towards training lawyers for the evolving legal industry. 

Laura Collins Scott, Innovation Lead at Clifford Chance

The Epistemic Challenges Facing the Regulation of AI

Reading time: 8 minutes

Written by Tristan Koh and Josh Lee

The regulation of artificial intelligence (“AI”) has been a hot topic in recent years. This may stem from increased societal awareness of: (a) the possibilities that AI may deliver across various domains; and (b) the risks that the implementation of AI may cause (e.g., the risk of bias, discrimination, and the loss of human autonomy). These risks, in particular, have led renowned thought leaders to claims that AI technologies are “vastly more risky than North Korea” and could be the “worst event in the history of our civilisation”.

A key challenge facing any policymaker creating regulations for AI (or, for that matter, any new technology), however, is the epistemic (i.e., knowledge-based) challenge – policymakers must have domain knowledge in order to be able to sufficiently appreciate the scope, size, degree and impact of any regulation, and be able to propose solutions that are effective and pragmatic.[1]  In fact, it has been recognised in some governments that subject-matter expertise is lacking when policies or regulations are being crafted.[2] To effectively regulate the development and use of AI, it is clear that policymakers and regulators will need to possess a deep understanding of AI technology and its technical underpinnings.

While a full exposition of AI technology in this short article would not be possible, this article sets out some of the key technical features that policymakers and regulators should consider in the regulation of AI. In particular, this piece focuses on neural networks, a key element in modern AI systems. 

Legal Design For The Future of Law

Reading time: 9 minutes

Written By: Marc Chia | Edited By: Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen, Andrew Wong

What is legal design?

Legal design is the application of human-centred design approach to the problems and challenges of the legal process. While it is commonly associated with using technology to alter and advance the delivery of legal services, legal design goes beyond its relationship to technology. It entails a re-thinking of existing processes to maximise and optimise outcomes.

It is not the easiest thing in the world to explain legal design. Indeed the Legal Design Alliance’s Legal Design Manifesto is a multi page document explaining the attitudes, purposes and approaches to legal design. Other prominent pieces of literature include Professor Margaret Hagan’s book “Law by Design” and articles by organisations focusing on legal design as a service such as Dot and Lexpert to name but a few.

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.

Open Source Development of Legal Technology

Reading time: 8 minutes

Written by Danielle Sim (Associate Author) | Mentored by Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen and Amelia Chew | Reviewed by Jameson Dempsey

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 Danielle Sim, reviewed by industry reviewer Jameson Dempsey (Residential Fellow at the Stanford Centre for Legal Informatics), marks the first thought piece in this series, and deals with the issue of open source development of legal technology.

Danielle would like to extend her heartfelt thanks to Jameson Dempsey, Alexis Chun (Legalese), Amelia Chew and Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen (LawTech.Asia) for their invaluable and helpful guidance in the writing of this piece.

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.

Launch of South East Asia’s first LegalTech movement

Reading time: 2 minutes

Guest post by ASEAN LegalTech

The LegalTech segment has now moved into the mainstream consciousness of the legal market across Asia and in particular the South East Asian region. While the global LegalTech narrative is dominated by mature legal markets like Australia, Europe and the USA, there is no shortage of LegalTech startups building innovative solutions across the ten countries that compose the Association of South East Asian Nations (“ASEAN”). 

ASEAN LegalTech (“ALT”) was formed in May 2019 with the aim of connecting LegalTech pioneers, thought leaders and enthusiasts to promote and build the LegalTech ecosystem in the South East Asian markets. One of ASEAN LegalTech’s goals is to provide a voice to the emerging market to inform discussions with regulators who are in the early stages of determining how to regulate LegalTech.  

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