Legal sector to launch new programme to bring lawyers and innovators together

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon speaking at the inaugural Tri-Court Volunteers Appreciation Dinner on Nov 1, 2016. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - A new industry-wide programme to create chances for lawyers, legal technopreneurs and innovators to work together was announced on Tuesday (July 11), as Singapore strives to grow a thriving legal ecosystem.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said the Future Law Innovation Programme (Flip) will feature three components: a co-working space, a virtual community platform and a start-up accelerator.

CJ Menon, who is also president of the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL), revealed details of the initiative at the annual SAL Appreciation Dinner at Goodwood Park Hotel, which was attended by about 260 guests.

In his speech, he urged the legal community to be "future and technology-ready", in the face of disruptive changes brought about by technology.

Flip will be launched as a two-year pilot programme in the fourth quarter of this year, with a target of 40 participants from the legal sector and beyond, SAL said in a media briefing on Monday.

The programme will include a co-working space, which will serve as hub for legal innovation.

Besides utilising its shared services and facilities, law firms can learn how to lighten their back-end and adopt paper-light processes, with the help of SAL staff on-site.

The aim of the co-working space is to free up resources that law firms can then channel into innovation, CJ Menon said.

The co-working space, called Collision 8, is located at High Street Centre opposite the Supreme Court.

Currently home to start-ups from various sectors, SAL will be working with Collision 8 to create space for lawyers and law firms.

As part of Flip, lawyers will be able to go onto a free online platform, where they can set up an online profile, try out new technology tools, and subscribe to legal support services.

Called the Virtual Community Platform, they will also be able to collaborate with other stakeholders in the legal sector, such as in-house counsel, academics and students.

Lastly, Flip will also focus on grooming legal tech start-ups, with an accelerator programme that provides access to investors.

CJ Menon said that Flip will give "form and substance" to the Legal Technology Vision, a five-year road map for the sector announced at the Opening of the Legal Year 2017 in January.

"The legal sector will benefit from a healthy collaboration with engineering and programming experts, and from looking at their businesses through a lens of innovation," said DBS Bank Group Head of Legal & Compliance Lam Chee Kin, who is also part of the Flip Steering Committee.

Mr Jerrold Soh, the co-founder of legal tech start-up Lex Quanta, believes that he will benefit from the Virtual Community Platform.

He is among the 15 industry players who have shown interest in Flip so far.

"It creates a bridge between lawyers and technologists that has been sorely missing in Singapore," said the 25-year-old, who founded the start-up providing data extraction and analytics solutions to law firms about a year ago.

He added: "Lawyers always had to look beyond the sector for clients, and it's exciting to think that now we can also look beyond the law for partners."

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