Start-up makes case for a knowledge bank

Mr Chang Zi Qian (third from right) with his team at Intelllex. The firm's online workspace with an intelligent search engine and knowledge management system has helped law firms cut redundant work.
Mr Chang Zi Qian (third from right) with his team at Intelllex. The firm's online workspace with an intelligent search engine and knowledge management system has helped law firms cut redundant work.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Many law firms count knowledge as one of their greatest assets but few keep a bank of the work produced by their lawyers, said co-founder of local legal tech start-up Intelllex, Mr Chang Zi Qian.

"To compound the problem, work done may be lost because of lawyers leaving the firm," he added, noting that lawyers are sometimes forced to start their research from scratch.

To help lawyers retain knowledge and practise more efficiently, Mr Chang, 30, and his team designed an online workspace with an intelligent search engine and knowledge management system.

Intelllex, which was launched in January last year, now has more than 3,000 users.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon has said that such predictive technology will make research "less time-consuming, more accurate and almost certainly cheaper than manual research or tedious document review by junior associates".

In its tie-up with the Tech Start for Law scheme, Intelllex will be rolling out a new enterprise version which allows lawyers of the same firm to share documents.

Law firms will also be able to take stock of the work done by their lawyers across expertise.

This will allow the growing number of multidisciplinary firms to "confidently know who has experience in a particular area and is the most suitable to (be) put together on such teams", said Mr Chang.

SIMPLIFYING WORK

The intellectual work still has to be done by a lawyer - robots cannot do everything. So, what we really hope to do is change the way law is being practised.

CO-FOUNDER OF LOCAL LEGAL TECH START-UP INTELLLEX, MR CHANG ZI QIAN, on the potential of the software it designed.

Singapore law firms that are eligible under the scheme will pay $35 per lawyer each month. So far, more than 20 firms have shown interest in the enterprise version, added Mr Chang. About three regional law firms have also reached out to his team in the past month, he noted.

Mr Darius Tay, director at boutique law firm BlackOak, said before it started using Intelllex last April, lawyers trawled through databases and textbooks during research, and knowledge management was done on an ad hoc basis.

"It resulted in a lot of redundant effort when lawyers redid research on issues that their colleagues may have looked at on another case."

Leveraging on technology has enabled the firm's lawyers to do more high-level strategic work, he noted.

Mr Chang said that looking ahead, the Intelllex team also hopes to integrate other tools into the workspace, including legal writing and drafting.

In the next two years, the team also aims to venture into other common law jurisdictions, such as Australia and Hong Kong.

Mr Chang said: "The intellectual work still has to be done by a lawyer - robots cannot do everything.

"So, what we really hope to do is change the way law is being practised."

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'Start-up makes case for a knowledge bank'. Print Edition | Subscribe