Legal practitioners urged to embrace technology

The Singapore Corporate Counsel Association (SCCA) launched a diversity and inclusion pledge for both suppliers and consumers of legal services a week ago (Judicial activism, Singapore style; Nov 9).

More than 100 persons and 30 organisations have affirmed their commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal ecosystem.

Gender management is only one aspect of diversity affecting the legal profession. Women in-house lawyers represent 40 per cent of our membership.

Our members often remind us that it is as important for SCCA to champion access into the legal profession for persons of minority backgrounds, different abilities or sexuality and senior or aged professionals.

Mr Mark A. Cohen's observations about in-house legal teams adopting legal technology could have been more nuanced.

The truth is that the definition of legal technology is, like artificial intelligence and blockchain, often misused and morphed into many things which do not all fall into one neat category.

Within in-house legal teams and law firms, people, process and technology transformations are indeed taking place.

But compared with our friends in the West, we accept that Asia still needs to catch up.

Our aspiration is to bring in more of such friends to Singapore and Asia.

Many in-house legal teams here are actually better positioned to engage in proofs of concept from Asia than their counterparts in headquarters, who may be stuck in red tape.

Next year, SCCA will engage some of its members and legal technology vendors to help such vendors develop proofs of concept that will expand Singapore's legal technology ecosystem.

Mr Cohen's observations about alternative legal service providers may also be simplistic.

Many have stepped into areas previously served by law firms, and are flourishing in Asia.

They offer services related to market intelligence, compliance and corporate governance, often underpinned by technology.

Their work has forced several domestic law firms to rethink their value proposition to the corporate counsel.

SCCA encourages all legal practitioners to work with technology in the most effective way to enhance our professional standing and sustain business offerings.

Wong Taur-Jiun

President

Singapore Corporate Counsel Association

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2018, with the headline 'Legal practitioners urged to embrace technology'. Print Edition | Subscribe