01 February 2019

Law academy launches 'future lawyer' initiatives

Singapore Academy of Law marks anniversary of legal innovation programe with new initiatives.

By Dr David Cowan

Academy's knowledge partner is SMU Shutterstock

A number of new initiatives have been announced by the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) to mark the first anniversary of its Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP). 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.

Legal partners buy-in

Among the initiatives is a service costing as low as1,500 Singapore dollars for small and medium law firms to 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. Rajah & Tann, Dentons Rodyk and Clifford Chance, who have set up dedicated legal tech arms to deliver value to their clients, stated ‘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.’ Justice Lee Seiu Kin, who chairs SAL’s legal technology cluster, added ‘our smaller law firms, too, like OTP Law Corp, have leveraged FLIP to lighten-up their back-end operations and increase efficiency.’ In April, FLIP will launch Asia’s first accelerator to groom promising legal tech startups. 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. Paul Neo, SAL’s ceo and the executive director of SAL Ventures, which runs FLIP, said ‘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.’
Rare breed

Also starting this year, FLIP and its knowledge partner, the Singapore Management University (SMU), will 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. FLIP and SMU Academy 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. Mr Neo said, ‘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 utilizing 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.’

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