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Two-year pilot programme launched to create vibrant ecosystem for legal technology in Singapore

Two-year pilot programme launched to create vibrant ecosystem for legal technology in Singapore

The Singapore Academy of Law (SAL [1]) launched
its Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP)
on January 10. FLIP is a two-year pilot programme to encourage the adoption of
technology, drive innovation and create a vibrant ecosystem for legal
technology.

FLIP is part of the Legal Technology Vision, a five-year
road map by SAL for the digital transformation of Singapore’s legal sector.
This vision, put together by representatives from the Judiciary, the Ministry
of Law, Attorney-General’s Chambers and private sector lawyers, is a call to
action for lawyers to become part of the digital disruption that faces the
legal industry today.

The FLIP vision sees law professionals, technologists,
government bodies and investors brought together in an innovation-driven
ecosystem to incubate new business models of delivering legal services in the
future economy.

FLIP was announced last July by Chief Justice Sundaresh
Menon at SAL’s annual Appreciation Dinner. It aims to bring together lawyers,
technopreneurs, investors, academics and regulators, in an initiative that will
support the development of the model for the delivery of legal services in the
future economy.

Three components

FLIP comprises three components, the first two of which were
part of the launch. 

They are a Legal Innovation Lab located at the Collision 8 co-working space across the
road from the Supreme Court. This is dedicated incubator for legal innovation and
is open to tech-enabled law firms & legaltech startups.

The second is a virtual collaboration platform called LawNet
Community. It will serve as a networking & collaboration tool for the legal
industry and facilitate access to technology tools.

The third component, South East Asia’s first legal tech
accelerator to groom promising legal tech start-ups, will be launched in April.

Participation

To date, 31 participants from 23 entities have signed up for
FLIP. These include large law firms (such as Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP and
Dentons Rodyk & Davidson), small law firms (including ECYT Law LLC and
Consigclear LLC), to local and international legal tech enterprises like
SingaporeLegalAdvice.com, LexQuanta, MyLawyer and Zegal (formerly Dragon Law),
as well as in-house counsel from Discovery Networks and BNP Paribas.

Participants may enrol in a maximum of three tracks – “Lighten-up!” for smaller law firms
that want to leverage technology to operate a lean back-end; “Ideate!” which brings together lawyers
and technopreneurs to collaborate on legal innovation, and “Accelerate!”, a 100-day acceleration programme to help promising tech-based
legal enterprises start-ups scale up their business.

Mr. Paul Neo, SAL’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief
Financial Officer, commented, “We are encouraged by the strong response from
the legal community to the FLIP initiative. Over three-quarters of the planned
capacity for the pilot programme have been taken up in a short time and we have
no doubt more will join as the programme gains momentum. We look forward to
working with the first batch of participants to take advantage of the digital
disruption that is transforming many industries and professions.”

MOUs with IMDA and SMU

To assist FLIP participants in technology adoption and
innovation, SAL has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the
Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Singapore Management University
(SMU).

Academic partnership
with SMU

SMU will be SAL’s academic partner for issues relating to
legal innovation and the future business of law. The University will collaborate
with FLIP on student and curriculum development, thought leadership, as well as
case studies and research.

SMU School of Law will co-host dialogues and seminars with
SAL, develop thought leadership through case studies and research on future law
topics, and explore the possibility of curating modular executive education
programmes to support leadership and/or legal innovation for FLIP participants.

SMU undergraduates will also have the opportunity to do
internships with SAL and firms participating in FLIP, or participate in
FLIP-based consulting projects through the University’s experiential and
multi-disciplinary SMU-X modules.

One of the projects SMU students have been working on
involved helping to collate the catalogue of 100 legal industry problem
statements from legal counsel, paralegals, other supporting staff and service
providers, as well as consumers of legal services, such as corporates, SMEs and
private clients.

“The impact of technology on the legal landscape is clear.
We are very pleased therefore to play our part and contribute our academic
expertise as Singapore’s legal profession transforms in response to technology.
In the area of research, SMU’s partnership with SAL will certainly catalyse the
development of insights into future law topics which will be meaningful,
relevant and impactful to the fraternity. In legal education, we have begun to
explore incorporating technology-related issues in our legal curriculum, and
thus we value this opportunity for SMU undergraduates to be involved in SAL’s
FLIP initiatives, as these platforms broaden their perspectives and expose our
future lawyers to the possibilities of innovation in the legal sector,” said Associate
Professor Goh Yihan, Dean of SMU School of Law.

Two projects with
IMDA

Under the MOU, FLIP will work with IMDA on two projects. FLIP
and IMDA will work together to build up a team of legal technologists under the
first project. They will be trained in the latest IT tools for law practices
and equipped with current cyber security and system integration know-how. They
can be deployed to law firms to help identify existing issues in their business
processes, recommend improvements and adopt appropriate technology tools.

Initially, this will be through a lite Business Process
Re-engineering (BPR) toolkit developed by FLIP in close consultation with
industry and the Law Society. The expectation is that such collaboration will
catalyse the development of new job roles within the legal sector and new legal
technology services which smaller law firms can tap on.

Deployment of both the technologists and the lite BPR
toolkit is targeted to commence in the first half of 2018, supported by
students from SMU and other universities.

The second project builds on the 100 legal industry problem
statements from SMU. Together with IMDA, FLIP will look to share and compare
these problem statements with other professional industries as part of a cross-industry
approach, so that solution providers to identify multi-sectoral opportunities
and be encouraged to develop solutions that have applications across sectors
for greater synergy and economic potential.

Mr. Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive, IMDA, said: “IMDA
believes that every business needs to be a digital business to remain relevant
and to seize growth opportunities. We are encouraged by the legal community’s
participation in the FLIP programme, which aims to identify key challenges in
the legal sector and source for innovative solutions for these pain points.
Through FLIP, we aim to equip our law firms with the best practices and
technologies for them to be globally competitive.”

Last year, the Ministry of Law, the Law Society of Singapore and SPRING Singapore launched the ‘Tech Start for Law’ programme to help Singapore law practices embrace and leverage on technology. Under the programme, Singapore law practices can get funding support of up to 70% of the first-year cost of adopting technology products for practice management, online research and online marketing. 

[1] The Singapore
Academy of Law (SAL) is a promotion and development agency for Singapore’s
legal industry. As a body established by statute, SAL also undertakes statutory
functions such as stakeholding services and appointment of Senior Counsel,
Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public.

SAL is led by a Senate
headed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and comprising the Attorney-General,
the Supreme Court Bench and key leaders of the various branches of the legal
profession. It has more than 12,000 members, including the Bench, all persons
who are called as advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court (i.e. the Bar)
or appointed as Legal Service Officers, corporate counsel, faculty members of
the three local law schools (i.e. National University of Singapore, Singapore
Management University and Singapore University of Social Sciences) and foreign
lawyers in Singapore.