Written by Team Farallon
Some lawyers who were interviewed said that the new legal technology platform would contribute to greater efficiency in the profession.
SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) on Tuesday (July 19) launched an online platform to help law firms, especially smaller and medium-sized ones, make full use of digital tools in dealing with clients and streamlining their workflows.
About a year in the making, the legal technology platform (LTP) is part of a wider initiative to enhance the industry’s competitive edge within the region, after Covid-19 raised expectations about the availability of digital tools.
From integrating various legal technological tools such as Tessaract and Clio to conversations on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, the LTP can be used by lawyers to view, track and manage document drafts, legal research, team discussions, client instructions and manage other administrative aspects.
The platform was jointly developed by MinLaw, with support from the Government Technology Agency and global legal technology firm Lupl.
It has been tried over the past year by more than 100 lawyers who were consulted to identify and narrow down features that were useful and relevant.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who attended as guest-of-honour at the launch event held at the Supreme Court’s auditorium, said that the launch was a “milestone” for the legal industry.
Along with increasing efficiency and productivity, Mr Shanmugam said that the LTP also accommodates law firms at different stages of digitisation.
“Regardless of where you are in the digitisation process, you can plug in.”
He said that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased expectations of legal service to be provided digitally, remotely and around the clock, and that the initiative would help law firms keep up with international competition.
“Whether you’re a one-man law firm, five-man law firm or a medium-sized law firm, it would give you access to technology, train you, get you onto the system and troubleshoot for you. So it’s a comprehensive approach designed to help our law firms work and put money on the table,” he added.
Mr Shanmugam also said that the ministry will continue to create opportunities for the legal community to engage with technological innovations. One is the TechLaw.Fest starting on Wednesday, a three-day conference for participants to discuss and deliberate technological developments and innovations in the legal industry.
The LTP was first announced by MinLaw in October 2019, as part of its Legal Industry Technology and Innovation Roadmap.
Earlier in January 2019, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that technology has changed the way the legal sector works, noting that it was already transforming how and where disputes were resolved, making available credible and cheaper alternatives for legal clients.
Lawyers interviewed by TODAY agreed that the new platform would contribute to greater efficiency in the profession.
Mr Rajesh Sreenivasan, head of technology, media and telecommunications at law firm Rajah and Tann Singapore, who has used the platform, said that it speeds up processes and has helped users to avoid human errors.
“When you click on templates for certain types of cases, the matter opens and all of the checklists are automatically populated,” he added.
Mr Rajesh explained that the digital checklists in the platform make sure that every single step is done.
“And as a partner, I can allocate the work to individual members in my team, I can just look at a list and make sure that I’ve done everything that’s supposed to be done.”
Before this system was introduced, it was down to memory and years of experience, but if a lawyer misses one step in his checklist, it can “sometimes be fatal to the case”.
“We are all human beings. And what we want is technology to be an enabler to ensure that we get our work done in a secure, efficient manner.”
Mr Rajesh also pointed out the usefulness of LTP as a learning tool for young lawyers, encouraging collaboration-driven research.
Mr Nicholas Tang, managing director of Farallon Law Corporation, said that he would support and pay for this service because “it allows our law firm to merge together different information, work streams and communicate with the courts and government agencies more effectively”.
In addition to the platform and industry engagement initiatives, the LTPI Funding Programme was also introduced during Tuesday’s launch event.
Backed by trade agency Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, it would help provide funding support to law firms seeking to defray the initial costs of adopting the LTP and other legal technology tools integrated with it, MinLaw said.
Successful applicants will need to pay only S$21 for every user a month for up to two years, instead of the normal cost of S$69.
Mr Muslim Albakri, managing director of law firm Albakri LLC, found that the platform helps to save time on administrative work.
He said that the funding support is critical for small- and medium-sized law practices.
“This group of law firms are the ones that tend to find it more difficult to just adopt new systems wholesale.”
Mr Muslim added that a reduced subscription fee for up to the first two years would substantially help small firms transit and make changes.
“I think that’s a great stepping stone, you know, to allow and encourage others to at least give it a try.”
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