Government steps up support to help Singapore Law Practices adopt technology
1. Today, the Ministry of Law (MinLaw), the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc), Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) announced the launch of a new $3.68m scheme to help Singapore Law Practices adopt technology.
2. Under the new Tech-celerate for Law programme, Singapore Law Practices can get funding support of up to 70% of the first-year cost of adopting baseline and advanced technology solutions:
(i) Baseline technology solutions for practice management, online legal research and document management can help the law practices perform their essential day-to-day tasks more efficiently.
(ii) Advanced technology solutions which are powered by artificial intelligence can help the law practices strengthen capabilities in document assembly, document review, eDiscovery and client engagement.
Each law practice can receive funding of up to $30,000 for baseline solutions and up to $100,000 for advanced solutions. More information on these solutions can be found at Annex A.
3. Mr Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, said at the launch of Tech-celerate for Law, “Technology is changing the way legal services are delivered and will help power the growth and development of Singapore legal services. MinLaw and LawSoc will support Singapore Law Practices in technology adoption. We launched Tech Start for Law in 2017. The new Tech-celerate for Law is a step up. We are extending support beyond baseline to also cover advanced solutions. We have also earmarked more funds for Tech-celerate for Law. We would encourage the Singapore Law Practices to make good use of this extra government support to accelerate their own technology adoption.”
4. Mr Gregory Vijayendran SC, President of the Law Society of Singapore, said “The Tech Start for Law Programme has certainly achieved its objectives in the course of its year-long duration to catalyze our SLPs to start or continue their technology journey principally by (1) reducing the pain points of costs; and (2) the careful curation of appropriate legal technology practice-oriented solutions. The new Tech-celerate for Law Programme will accelerate our lawyers’ advancement of that journey especially for our smaller law firms. This sequel offering demonstrates the firm commitment by, and strong collaboration between, MinLaw, Enterprise Singapore, IMDA and LawSoc to assist our members future-proof and future-ready their legal practice to brave the new challenges and future shocks posed by radical disruptions.”
5. In a study by LawSoc and MinLaw, 85% of lawyers surveyed agreed that legal technology was crucial to the development of the profession and 72% felt that there was a need to increase the level of technology adoption in their firms. In 2017, MinLaw, LawSoc and Enterprise Singapore (then-SPRING Singapore) launched the Tech Start for Law to help Singapore Law Practices adopt baseline technology solutions. Between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018, 115 Singapore Law Practices collectively adopted 143 units of technology solutions. 99% were small and medium Singapore Law Practices.
6. Mr Satvinder Singh, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Enterprise Singapore, said “With technology rapidly reshaping the way companies do business, it is imperative for the legal services firms to embrace digital solutions to raise their operational efficiencies and explore new growth opportunities. This initiative, which is aligned with Enterprise Singapore’s focus on helping Singapore enterprises raise productivity through digitalisation, will make it easier for legal services firms to access a wider range of digital solutions to level up their business capabilities and competitiveness.”
7. Ms Jane Lim, Assistant Chief Executive (Sectoral Transformation) of IMDA, said “Technology is instrumental in helping our companies and their workforce become future-ready and go global in the Digital Economy. We are heartened at the joint efforts of the Law Society of Singapore, Ministry of Law, Enterprise Singapore and Infocomm Media Development Authority to drive this through the Tech-celerate for Law programme, assisting Singapore Law Practices in adopting technology solutions.”
8. The technology solutions under Tech-celerate for Law have been evaluated and pre-approved by IMDA under the “SMEs Go Digital” programme, in consultation with MinLaw, LawSoc and Enterprise Singapore. Interested Singapore Law Practices can apply for funding support to use up to seven of these solutions (i.e. one from each type of solution) depending on their needs. Application will start on 2 May 2019 and end on 1 May 2020. Interested Singapore Law Practices can apply for the baseline solutions through the Business Grant Portal,and for the advanced solutions through the Law Society at [email protected].
9. To further support lawyers in adopting technology, Workforce Singapore and LawSoc will be starting a series of programmes to equip them with the skills for practising law in a digitialised environment and for managing transformation and innovation. These will be launched in second half of 2019.
Baseline solutions: Nine technology solutions have been identified in this category.
(i) Three Practice Management Systems (CoreMatter; Clio; Tessaract.io)
These practice management systems help law practices streamline their work processes such as cases and client record management, timekeeping and billing, and calendaring.
(ii) Three Document Management Systems (i.e. Dropbox Business; TessaCloud; NetDocuments)
These document management systems help law firms to store, organise and manage legal documents in a manner that can be accessed and retrieved easily, and shared with the intended parties.
(iii) Three Online Legal Research Systems (i.e. INTELLLEX; WestLaw Asia; Lexis Advance)
These online legal research systems help law practices access an integrated database of cases, commentaries and regulatory materials across jurisdictions on one platform, and organise the information into a personal knowledge library for easy retrieval. These systems also provide a systematic way of recording past research materials for knowledge management.
Advanced solutions: Seven technology solutions have been identified in this category:
(i) Two Document Assembly Software (i.e. Hotdocs-Lawcloud; Contract Express)
Document assembly software allow Singapore Law Practices to transform their frequently used documents and forms into templates for quick production of customised documentation. Automating the production of documents reduces risk, and enhances compliance and operational efficiency. Singapore Law Practices can better control the content and reduce the amount of time taken to produce documents.
(ii) One Document Review Software (i.e. Litera Microsystems – Contract Companion; DocXtools Companion; Clause Companion)
The document review software can help Singapore Law Practices obtain insights when reviewing documents through discovering anomalous areas within documents, and identifying areas of risk within the context of the document set.
(iii) Three eDiscovery Software (i.e. Relativity; CaseRoom; LegalComet eDiscovery Cloud)
eDiscovery software deliver a visual approach to document review and predictive coding that help lawyers to quickly appreciate the case in hand. Such software have features such as expert case set up, administration, workflow design and seamless online delivery. Features such as visual analytics, concept clustering and advanced predictive coding can help Singapore Law Practices find facts fast and accelerate case strategy development.
(iv) One Automated Client Engagement Solution (i.e TessaSays)
The AI-powered automated client engagement solution can enhance clients’ experiences, elevate lawyers’ engagement and optimize workflows.