Closing Speech by Ms Lai Wei Lin, Permanent Secretary for Law and 2nd Permanent Secretary for Education, at the Closing Ceremony of SMU Legal Innovation and Technology (LIT) Hackathon
15 Aug 2021 Posted in [Speeches]
- Good evening everyone. First, I want to congratulate the SMU Legal Innovation and Technology Club for the successful completion of the Hackathon. Well done to all the participating teams.
- It’s nice to see everyone, albeit over this virtual Zoom platform. I hope that you’ve had a lot of fun over the last three days and that it has also been a meaningful experience for all of you.
I have been told that this hackathon has been intense.
a. All of you had to plan, code and develop a prototype within a short period of time, and some of you, while balancing other commitments.
b. Just as diamonds are formed under intense pressure, I am happy to see many gems coming out of this competition. I am certain that with more polishing, these gems will shine brightly in time to come.
c. If you did not manage to get too much sleep over the last two days, please do try to get some rest tonight before Monday, and I understand that for some of you, it will be the start of the academic term. So do that, before the start of the academic term arrives!
As I mentioned last Friday, hackathons are always an exciting space for collaboration, creativity and innovation. I am heartened to see the number of creative ideas which have been generated in such a short amount of time, over the last three days. I would like to share some of my observations.
a. Some teams chose to tackle the very real and relatable concern of mental wellness, which is not unique to the legal sector but also applicable to the whole of society. I saw an interesting one-stop application that integrates resources, diagnostics and awareness and triage of the different types of help available. This can certainly help to reduce the stress on potential users.
b. Others have pushed the frontiers of technology and made use of machine learning, AI, and other state-of-the-art technologies. These teams demonstrated how technology can provide a different user experience such as an augmented reality chatbot which aims to provide users with an immersive chatting experience, to help combat feelings of isolation amidst remote working.
c. There are also other teams that drew from familiar activities like online shopping and games to create user interfaces and solutions that reduce the need for both lawyer and client users to relearn, thus reducing barriers to acceptance.
d. And there were even some solutions which aimed to help businesses and the public navigate the evolving COVID-19 rules and regulations so that we continue to keep ourselves safe during this period.
At this point, I would like to extend a special shoutout to all the organisers and participants of the event.
a. Although this is the second edition of the SMU-LIT hackathon, it is the first time that it has been conducted in a fully virtual setting.
b. It is a challenge to replicate, in a virtual setting, the same level of creative energy we see in traditional hackathons.
c. However, thanks to the efforts of the organisers and the energies of our participants, you have made this entire event a success.
d. Through the use of technology tools such as Discord and Zoom, the organisers managed to create a virtual space where participants and judges could connect, discuss, brainstorm, collaborate and ideate.
e. I applaud the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that they have shown.
f. Through the use of technology, all participants and attendees can be socially connected, even when physically apart.
g. Well done, everyone!
Future of Legal Tech
- I spoke about the importance of technology in the practice of law and how the Ministry has been supporting the adoption of technology and innovation at the start of this hackathon.
- We are here today, because we are interested in seeing how the future of legal tech will evolve, and to be able to shape this future. Let me share three observations.
The first is the need to invest in capability building and research, and see through the translation of this capability to pilots, experimentation and the development of new tools.
a. The transformative effects of technology will only accelerate and not slow down – new technological solutions will be adopted and also become obsolete at a faster pace.
b. To enable our legal industry to be at the forefront of such transformation, the government has been supporting efforts to grow research in the application of new technologies to the legal sector. For example, we supported the establishment of the SMU Centre for Computational Law, to study and develop a domain-specific programming language that will potentially allow laws, rules and agreements to be expressed in code.
c. Imagine a world in which the legislation and laws of various jurisdictions are codified in a common programming language, coupled with blockchain technology. This could pave the way for smart contracts for distributed and computational governance, which would be potentially game-changing for sectors such as financial services, energy, trading, supply chain management and many more.
d. It may sound like a concept that will still take some time to materialise, but we need to act now, so that we can stay ahead of the curve.
The second observation is how we can direct our efforts in legal tech, to be relevant to our context. For Singapore and our aims to be a legal services hub, we should give much thought to the growth of Asia.
a. As Asian countries and businesses gain prominence in the global economy, their legal needs will increase in volume, complexity and sophistication.
b. Future legal tech solutions must therefore be able to cater to this growing segment of business in and across Asia.
c. This presents an opportunity for developers to come up with legal tech solutions that can operate across multiple Asian jurisdictions, which can be very diverse, or ideas that are attuned to the cultural nuances in Asia.
Finally, regulations, not just for technology and its applications, but also on how our laws govern the use of technology.
a. While we are pushing the frontiers of legal tech, it is important to ensure that there are appropriate safeguards on governance and security.
b. The use of artificial intelligence is a good example. This has been debated in several other industries and not just within the legal realm.
c. Unlike humans, AI systems lack the judgement and context for many of the environments in which they are deployed. This means they are generally only as effective as the data used to train them. In certain use cases, the use of AI systems could lead to privacy issues and/or potentially discriminatory or unfair outcomes, if not implemented with appropriate care.
d. So while legal tech has the potential to transform the delivery of legal services, it is always a balancing act for regulators around the world, who need to consider how best to reap its benefits while keeping in mind important regulatory considerations such as liability, governance and security.
- I hope that all of you had much fun the last three days, and have drawn much learning and insights to inspire you to continue in this area.
- I hope that you will continue to grow your interest and involvement in this exciting area of legal tech. It is my hope that such platforms will give you a better sense of the challenges and opportunities in the legal technology landscape, and equip you with relevant skills to succeed in your respective fields in future.
- Congratulations once again to the winners and all participants of the hackathon, and thank you to the organisers for putting together such a fantastic event.
- Thank you.
Last updated on 15 Aug 2021