Law Society urges firms to adopt new technology

Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran (far left) with Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran at the launch of the SmartLaw Guild at the InterContinental Singapore yesterday.
Law Society president Gregory Vijayendran (left) with Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran at the launch of the SmartLaw Guild at the InterContinental Singapore yesterday.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

New initiative aims to bring together firms that have adopted technology solutions

The Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) launched a push to encourage local legal firms to adopt new technology yesterday.

The SmartLaw Guild brings together practices that have adopted technology solutions such as practice management or accounting software and have been certified as "SmartLaw" practices for workshops and sharing sessions.

At the launch event held at the InterContinental Singapore, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran urged Singapore's legal fraternity to integrate technology solutions to help them stay relevant and competitive.

"A trusted ecosystem is key to the development of Singapore's digital economy and the legal fraternity has an important role in the evolution of a regulatory architecture and the creation of legal solutions," said Mr Iswaran. "While we have made some progress, it is clear that more can be done."

Despite over 80 per cent of law practices agreeing in a 2018 LawSoc survey that technology helps the delivery of legal services, only 12 per cent or 115 practices have adopted such solutions to date.

"We want to broaden the use of technology among law practices," added Mr Iswaran. "Among those that have already started using technology solutions, we want to accelerate their adoption of advanced solutions such as document review and automated client engagement solutions."

The Ministry of Law, LawSoc, Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) launched the Tech-celerate for Law programme earlier this month, under which $3.68 million has been set aside to provide legal practices with up to 70 per cent funding support for adopting technology solutions.

Mr Iswaran also encouraged practising lawyers to take advantage of the skills training provided by the IMDA's Techskills Accelerator initiative in emerging areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber security and data analytics.

Local law firm OTP Law Corporation is currently using a cloud-based practice management system called CoreMatter, which allows its four lawyers to manage information like case files and financial invoices on their cell phones.

OTP litigation lawyer Lim Seng Siew said the system has saved time, but believes that Singapore's legal community is only just beginning to figure out how technology can be applied to daily work.

"We don't all do the same thing and the needs of someone in litigation can be very different from someone doing volume work or family law," he said.

"A key driver of the process is knowing what services our clients and customers want and what they are prepared to pay for."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline 'Law Society urges firms to adopt new technology'. Print Edition | Subscribe