Help for law firms to become tech-ready

Asia Law Network chief executive Cherilyn Tan talking to potential clients yesterday at the two-day Legal Technology Roadshow held at NTUC Business Centre.
Asia Law Network chief executive Cherilyn Tan talking to potential clients yesterday at the two-day Legal Technology Roadshow held at NTUC Business Centre.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Subsidy for online knowledge database; logo for companies that adopt productivity tools

Law firms will not only have access to funds to adopt technology, but also get to carry a logo on their websites and marketing materials to show they are technology-ready.

The SmartLaw Assist and SmartLaw schemes were officially launched yesterday by the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) at the start of its two-day Legal Technology Roadshow.

In his speech, LawSoc president Gregory Vijayendran said the SmartLaw Assist scheme will provide law firms with a 70 per cent subsidy on first-year subscription costs for an online knowledge database. The $300,000 scheme is being funded by the LawSoc Education Fund on a first-come, first- served basis.

The scheme will provide databases from the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL), Lexis Nexis or Thomson Reuters.

Such platforms could help cut the time for legal research by up to 20 per cent, Mr Vijayendran said, citing a recent study commissioned by LawSoc on the sector's needs.

The move comes amid a greater push by the Government and the judiciary in recent months to transform the legal sector.

HERE'S THE VERDICT

Technology holds the promise of greater productivity and effectiveness. We must seize the opportunity to leverage this to higher quality legal services and cost savings for law firms, and ultimately, for the clients and society at large.

JUSTICE LEE SEIU KIN

  • ABOUT THE NEW SCHEMES

    SmartLaw Assist

    • Eligible firms will enjoy a 70 per cent subsidy on first-year subscription costs for an online knowledge database

    • Approved databases are from the Singapore Academy of Law, Lexis Nexis or Thomson Reuters

    • Up to $300,000 in funding available from LawSoc for the scheme on a first-come, first-served basis

    • Applications are open from now to June 30, 2017

    SmartLaw

    • To recognise tech-savvy law firms that have adopted these key productivity tools:

    • Practice management or accounting software;

    • Online knowledge management database;

    • An online presence, whether through a marketing portal or a dedicated website

    • SmartLaw logo can be used on the firm's website or in marketing collaterals

    For more information, go to www.lawsociety.org.sg

In his speech at the same event, Justice Lee Seiu Kin said the world is faced with "more frequent and unpredictable disruptions".

"Technology holds the promise of greater productivity and effectiveness. We must seize the opportunity to leverage this to higher quality legal services and cost savings for law firms, and ultimately, for the clients and society at large," he added.

He noted that the roadshow is an encouraging start to realising the SAL's Legal Technology Vision, which is a five-year blueprint unveiled earlier this year to chart the legal sector's use of technology.

Justice Lee, who heads the One Judiciary IT Steering Committee to lead technology initiatives in the courts, said the judiciary is open to working with service providers to test-bed technologies for court processes.

Held over two days at the NTUC Business Centre, the roadshow is the LawSoc's largest event promoting technology to date. It features 15 vendors, and about 600 people are expected to turn up over the two days.

Ten law firms were among the first to be accredited for their SmartLaw practices yesterday.

The SmartLaw initiative allows law firms that have practice management or accounting software, an online knowledge management database and an online presence to use the SmartLaw logo on their websites and marketing collaterals.

Fortis Law Corporation founder and chief executive Patrick Tan, whose firm was recognised yesterday, said technology has enabled him to grow from a one-man law firm in 2004 to 24 lawyers today.

Since the firm's early days, he has been using client management software to keep proper time sheets for billing, manage accounts and retrieve data on clients.

He said: "I thought technology could give me a head start and it did."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2017, with the headline 'Help for law firms to become tech-ready'. Print Edition | Subscribe