2 new technology schemes launched to help law firms get 'smart'

SINGAPORE - Law firms here will receive yet another boost to get "smart" by adopting technology, with two new initiatives launched by the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) on Monday (March 27).

The SmartLaw Assist scheme will provide law firms with 70 per cent subsidy in initial costs for an online knowledge database, which will help cut the time needed for legal research by up to 20 per cent, said LawSoc president Gregory Vijayendran.

This was announced by Mr Vijayendran on Monday during the two-day Legal Technology Roadshow at the NTUC Business Centre.

The databases under the scheme, which will support an eligible firm's first-year subscription costs, are from the Singapore Academy of Law, Lexis Nexis or Thomson Reuters.

About $300,000 from the LawSoc's Education Fund has been set aside for this scheme.

Separately, to recognise law firms which have adopted technology to improve productivity and encourage more law firms to come on board, Mr Vijayendran also launched the society's SmartLaw recognition scheme.

Law firms who have adopted a practice management or accounting software, an online knowledge management database and have an online presence will be able to use the SmartLaw logo on its website and marketing collaterals.

At the event on Monday, the first 10 firms were recognised with a certificate.

This move comes amid a greater push for legal technology in recent months, including a $2.8 million Tech Start for Law programme by the Ministry of Law, LawSoc and Spring Singapore.

Launched in February, it provides funding support for law firms to adopt baseline technologies in practice management, online research and marketing.

"A smart nation needs smart lawyers... I hope that such technology will enable our small- and medium-sized Singapore law practices to be even more efficient and profitable by allowing our lawyers to move up the value chain," said Mr Vijayendran.

The roadshow is the LawSoc's largest event of its kind thus far, featuring 15 vendors, including products and services which are not under the two schemes, but are offering discounts to law firms.

Justice Lee Sieu Kin, who heads the One Judiciary (IT) Steering Committee, said in his opening speech on Monday that the roadshow is an "encouraging start" to realising the Legal Technology Vision, a five-year blueprint charting the legal sector's use of technology.

He said: "This is the first of many steps for the legal sector in the transformation of the legal sector to stay ahead of impending disruption that technology will bring."