For as low as $1,500, small and medium law firms in Singapore can engage the services of a consultant to review their work flows and advise how they can adopt technology to operate more cost effectively and efficiently.
This is one of the new initiatives announced by the Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”) as it marked the first anniversary of its Future Law Innovation Programme (“FLIP”) today. FLIP was launched in January 2018 with the aim of redesigning the delivery of legal services for the future economy. It represents a community of lawyers, technopreneurs, investors, academics and regulators, all working to reimagine and refresh the delivery of legal services. 52 entities, comprising international and local law firms of varying sizes, in-house legal departments and legal tech companies have since participated in FLIP’s first two cohorts last year.
“It has been encouraging to see buy-in from legal partners. The enthusiasm to transform and adapt to changing times can be seen in the efforts of FLIP participants like Rajah & Tann, Dentons Rodyk and Clifford Chance, who have set up dedicated legal tech arms to deliver value to their clients. Our smaller law firms, too, like OTP Law Corp, have leveraged FLIP to lighten-up their back-end operations and increase efficiency,” said Justice Lee Seiu Kin, who chairs SAL’s Legal Technology Cluster.
FLIP will build on its experience to accelerate innovation in the legal sector by providing the spurt for the creation of new products and services, re-skilling of legal professionals and tracking tech adoption in legal sectors beyond Singapore. By understanding global shifts in legal technology, SAL’s FLIP will be able to equip the legal ecosystem with the know-how to reach a global market.
ACCELERATING LEGAL START-UPS
This April, FLIP will launch Asia’s first accelerator to groom promising legal tech start-ups. Participants will be assessed to determine their needs and goals, after which they will be paired with a mentor or go through a curriculum tailored to their unique needs. “The entire premise of the accelerator is for start-ups to gain traction and hit milestones faster than they would be able to do so by themselves,” said Mr Paul Neo, SAL’s Chief Operating Officer and the Executive Director of SAL Ventures, which runs FLIP.
The accelerator will be supported by thought leaders in the industry, among them Mr Ash Singh, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, INSEAD and Mr Peter Dingle, Head of Business Model Innovation at HSBC. The duo have developed multiple corporate accelerator programmes over the years.
TRACKING TECH ADOPTION
Starting this year, FLIP and its knowledge partner, the Singapore Management University, will also release an annual digest documenting the state of innovation in Asia-Pacific (APAC). The report covers at least eight countries and territories in the region, examining all forms of legal innovation, from new technologies and regulatory frameworks to emerging methods of legal education and training.
The State of Legal Innovation in Asia-Pacific report has three objectives. Firstly, it aims to be an innovation roadmap for the legal industry and relevant stakeholders, highlighting current innovation trends as well as predicting future trends. Secondly, the report aims to encourage further discussion, information exchange, and collaboration between APAC countries on legal innovation. Finally, it aims to share regional legal innovation efforts with a wider audience, especially in the United States and Europe.
SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE
FLIP and SMU Academy — the University’s professional training arm — will also work to groom a new breed of legal professionals who can go beyond offering legal advice. From February, legal professionals can enroll for a two-part course at SMU Academy, where they will learn design thinking and corporate and entrepreneurial ideation — skills not taught in law school but critical for the development of the legal sector.
“This is in line with Chief Justice Menon’s recommendation when he spoke at the Opening of Legal Year of a need to offer programmes that will equip students with the skills to find innovative solutions to the issues that they will be confronted with in contemporary legal practice,” said SAL’s Mr Neo. “Legal technoprenuers are a rare breed in Singapore and we hope that through such programmes, we can build up a strong talent pool to steer the industry as it shifts.”
Dr Lim Lai Cheng, Executive Director, SMU Academy, said, “Legal services in Singapore will face increasing competition as discerning law firms begin utilising innovation and technologies to increase value for their clients. Through this, legal technoprenuers will begin their journey to identify opportunities to innovate, adopt and implement practical solutions that will keep them ahead of competition.”
About the Future Law Innovation Programme
FLIP is a two-year pilot programme by SAL to encourage the adoption of technology and drive innovation to create a vibrant ecosystem for legal technology. It is part of the Legal Technology Vision, a five-year road map by SAL for the digital transformation of Singapore’s legal sector. This vision, put together by representatives from the Judiciary, the Ministry of Law, Attorney-General’s Chambers and private sector lawyers is a call to action for lawyers to become part of the digital disruption that faces the legal industry today.
FLIP regularly runs legal tech-related events in the Legal Innovation Lab located at the Collision 8 co-working space across the road from the Supreme Court. More information on FLIP can be found at www.flip.org.sg.