$3.7m scheme to boost tech use by Singapore law firms

New programme provides funding support for baseline and advanced tech solutions

Law firms in Singapore will get a $3.68 million boost to help them adopt technology in their practices.

Under a new Tech-celerate for Law programme, law practices can get funding support of up to 70 per cent for the first-year cost of adopting baseline and advanced technology solutions.

The programme was launched by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw), the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc), Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) yesterday.

Baseline technology solutions refer to tools for practice management, online legal research and document management that let lawyers perform their daily tasks more efficiently.

Advanced technology solutions are powered by artificial intelligence and strengthen the law firms' capabilities in areas such as document assembly, document review and client engagement.

"Each law practice can receive funding of up to $30,000 for baseline solutions and up to $100,000 for advanced solutions," MinLaw said in a press statement. It added that there will be a series of programmes to train lawyers to practise law in a digitalised environment, and to manage transformation and innovation. These programmes by Workforce Singapore and LawSoc will be launched in the second half of this year.

Mr Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, said at the launch of Tech-celerate for Law: "Technology is changing the way legal services are delivered and will help power the growth and development of Singapore legal services."

He said the new scheme is a step up from Tech Start for Law, which was launched in 2017. Support is now being extended beyond just the baseline solutions to advanced solutions, with more funds being allocated.

Between March 1, 2017, and Feb 28 last year, 115 Singapore law practices adopted 143 units of technology solutions in total, with 99 per cent of them being small and medium-sized law firms, according to MinLaw.

Mr Tong said: "We would encourage the Singapore law practices to make good use of this extra government support to accelerate their own technology adoption."

In the 2018 Legal Industry Technology study by LawSoc and MinLaw, 85 per cent of lawyers surveyed agreed that legal technology was crucial to the development of the profession, and 72 per cent felt that there was a need to increase the level of technology adoption in their firms.

LawSoc president Gregory Vijayendran said: "The new Tech-celerate for Law programme will accelerate our lawyers' advancement of that journey, especially for our smaller law firms."

He said the Tech Start for Law programme had "achieved its objectives in the course of its year-long duration" to get firms to increase their use of technology by reducing costs and curating appropriate solutions catering to the legal practice.

MinLaw said in its statement: "The technology solutions under Tech-celerate for Law have been evaluated and pre-approved by IMDA under the SMEs Go Digital programme, in consultation with MinLaw, LawSoc and Enterprise Singapore."

Law firms can apply for baseline solutions through GovTech's Business Grants Portal, and for the advanced solutions through the Law Society at lpi@lawsoc.org.sg.

Applications will close on May 1 next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2019, with the headline '$3.7m scheme to boost tech use by S'pore law firms'. Print Edition | Subscribe