New scheme promotes tie-ups between lawyers and innovators

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon speaking at Mass Call held in the Supreme Court auditorium, on Aug 20, 2016.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon speaking at Mass Call held in the Supreme Court auditorium, on Aug 20, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

There will be more opportunities for lawyers, legal technopreneurs and innovators to collaborate and grow a thriving legal ecosystem.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon yesterday said the Future Law Innovation Programme (Flip) will feature three components: a co-working space, a virtual community platform and a start-up accelerator.

The Chief Justice, who is also president of the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL), revealed details of the initiative at the annual SAL Appreciation Dinner in Goodwood Park Hotel, which was attended by about 260 guests. In his speech, he urged the legal community to be "future- and technology-ready" in the face of disruptive changes brought about by technology.

Flip will be launched as a two-year pilot programme in the fourth quarter of this year, with a target of 40 participants from the legal sector and beyond.

The programme will include a co-working space, which will serve as a hub for legal innovation.

Besides utilising its shared services and facilities, law firms can learn how to lighten their back-end and adopt paper-light processes, with the help of on-site SAL staff.

The aim of the co-working space is to free up resources that law firms can then channel into innovation, Chief Justice Menon said.

MORE OPPORTUNITIES

Lawyers always had to look beyond the sector for clients, and it's exciting to think that now we can also look beyond the law for partners.

MR JERROLD SOH, co-founder of legal tech start-up Lex Quanta, which provides data extraction and analytics solutions to law firms.

The co-working space, called Collision 8, is at the High Street Centre opposite the Supreme Court. It is currently home to start-ups from various sectors, and SAL will be working with Collision 8 to create space for lawyers and law firms.

As part of Flip, lawyers will be able to go onto a free online platform, where they can set up an online profile, try out new technology tools and subscribe to legal support services.

Called the Virtual Community Platform, it will also allow lawyers to collaborate with other stakeholders in the legal sector, such as in-house counsel, academics and students.

Flip will also focus on grooming legal tech start-ups with an accelerator programme that provides access to investors.

Chief Justice Menon said Flip will give "form and substance" to the Legal Technology Vision, a five-year road map for the sector announced at the Opening of the Legal Year 2017 in January.

"The legal sector will benefit from a healthy collaboration with engineering and programming experts, and from looking at their businesses through a lens of innovation," said DBS Bank group head of legal and compliance Lam Chee Kin, who is also part of the Flip steering committee.

Mr Jerrold Soh, co-founder of legal tech start-up Lex Quanta, believes he will benefit from the Virtual Community Platform. He is among 15 industry players who have shown interest in Flip so far.

"It creates a bridge between lawyers and technologists that has been sorely missing in Singapore," said the 25-year-old, whose start- up provides data extraction and analytics solutions to law firms. "Lawyers always had to look beyond the sector for clients, and it's exciting to think that now we can also look beyond the law for partners."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2017, with the headline 'New scheme promotes tie-ups between lawyers and innovators'. Print Edition | Subscribe