New State Courts Towers to include co-working space for lawyers, tech start-ups

The new co-working space, roughly the size of two courtrooms, will be managed by the Singapore Academy of Law. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Lawyers and tech companies can soon come together in a new co-working space once the new State Courts Towers opens its doors in 2020.

The new co-working space, roughly the size of two courtrooms, will be managed by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL).

It will cater mainly to small law firms that employ fewer than five lawyers, said Justice See Kee Oon, presiding judge of the State Courts, on Friday (March 8).

This is to help drive innovation in the legal sector and to make pro bono legal services more accessible to the man on the street, he added.

With operational costs reduced from the shared amenities and facilities in the co-working space, these law firms can then focus on improving their legal practice and provide affordable legal service.

Preference will be given to lawyers with a strong record in pro bono work, said the SAL.

The space will also be open to tech start-ups, academics and students who will be able to collaborate with the lawyers to develop tech solutions for the legal profession.

"The combined ecosystem will be conducive for legal professionals and technology start-ups to work together, where they may redesign processes, share information on court user needs and co-create practical tech-enabled solutions," said Justice See at the State Courts' annual Workplan Seminar.

For its first phase, the co-working space called Clicks @ State Courts will offer limited workspaces for rent for about 40 lawyers and 20 tech start-ups, academics and students.

It will initially house "a mix of law firms of various sizes", with lawyers specialising in criminal law, family law and community or relational disputes, said SAL.

When it opens next year, the new State Courts Towers, which will be next to the current State Courts building in Chinatown, will also boast technological features such as a live transcribing system developed by A*Star that would increase efficiency of court proceedings and reduce legal costs.

The system, which will be piloted in two courtrooms in the existing State Courts building, is able to recognise the Singaporean English accent, common legal terms and jargon, as well as transcribe the speeches of multiple speakers simultaneously.

To stay relevant in the digital age, the State Courts will also be ramping up its data analytics capabilities and training its staff in digital literacy.

This is so that the State Courts' workforce remains relevant to "avoid risks of redundancies", said Justice See.

He added that staff will be provided with digital skills and knowledge of digital technology, as well as resources to apply these skills.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.