Singapore 11 July 2017 - The Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) announced today details of a new industry-wide programme to prepare legal professionals, especially those from small and medium-sized law firms, for the impending technological disruption to the sector.
At the same time, it unveiled a new corporate identity including a new logo, as it steps up efforts to promote and develop the legal industry in the wake of unprecedented changes brought about by technology and globalisation.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, who is also President of SAL, said SAL’s Future Law Innovation Programme, or FLIP, will be launched in the fourth quarter of the year and will be a two-year pilot programme that will drive legal innovation and help develop the model for the delivery of legal services in the future economy.
Speaking to some 260 guests including judges, lawyers, in-house counsel and employees at SAL’s annual Appreciation Dinner held at Goodwood Park Hotel, CJ Menon added that lawyers need to respond strategically and effectively to technological advancements.
“These challenges to the existing legal practice models are a reality, and they loom greater with each day. Technology is revolutionising the practice of law through machine learning and automation.
“For the end consumers of legal services, the technological advancements leading to the commoditisation of such services are heartening; these consumers can increasingly rely on artificial intelligence for a number of solutions instead of approaching lawyers from the get-go.
“Unfortunately, this may not be such good news for providers of legal services if they do not adapt to these disruptions,” he said.
CJ Menon cited the example of ROSS, an artificial intelligence attorney which responds to questions by scanning through its database and providing a cited answer and relevant readings from sources like legislation and case law. Last year, ROSS was officially hired as a legal researcher by a large American law firm.
He said FLIP, SAL’s pilot programme, will comprise three components: a co-working space with shared services and facilities, a virtual community platform (VCP), and an accelerator programme to groom promising legal tech start-ups and to incubate new business models or services.
The co-working space, Collision 8, located at High Street Centre opposite the Supreme Court, is an innovation-centric serviced office which will serve as a Legal Innovation Lab for participating law firms to boost productivity via a guided programme to lighten their back-end and move towards paper-light processes.
The aim is to free up resources and bandwidth so that law firms can then focus on innovation and growing new revenue streams.
The initial response from the industry has been encouraging, CJ Menon said. From its pre-marketing efforts, SAL has already received 15 expressions of interest from firms keen to participate in Collision 8.
The second component of FLIP, the VCP is a free online platform which will be open to all legal professionals. Participants can set up an online profile, try out new legal technology tools, access training and mentorship, subscribe to legal support and legal technology services, and call for collaboration on legal work.
Under the accelerator programme, SAL will link promising legal tech start-ups with law firms, general counsel, technology leaders and investors. It will also provide experienced business mentors and work with SPRING to help participants commercialise and internationalise their start-ups. Through the accelerator, SAL hopes to catalyse an investment ecosystem to support legal tech and future law ventures.
CJ Menon said FLIP will “give form and substance to the Legal Technology Vision,” a five-year multi-stakeholder developmental roadmap to help the legal industry adopt technology.
He added: “FLIP would provide opportunities for larger law firms to synergise in-house innovation efforts with the wider legal community and even the technology community. They will be able to demonstrate leadership through mentoring and investing in legal tech start-ups.
“For the smaller law firms, FLIP would hand-hold them in adopting a future-ready, lean backend, to increase overall efficiency and free up critical resources needed to create new revenue streams.”
At the dinner, CJ Menon also unveiled SAL’s new logo as part of a rebranding exercise it carried out recently. SAL has also crystallised its mandate under the 4Cs, namely creating knowledge and know-how through offering comprehensive, up-to-date legal content; catalysing ideas, insights and innovation by promoting a collaborative and dynamic environment for the community; capability building with tools and technology to equip lawyers to deliver better quality services to clients; and connecting all in the legal community and with the public.
SAL’s Chief Executive Serene Wee said, “As a programme agency committed to the promotion of Singapore law and development of the legal profession, SAL is committed to building the intellectual capital of the profession even as we promote Singapore as the legal hub of Asia.
“Our rebranding will help us to better engage members and the legal community; communicate more effectively with our stakeholders and work with them to meet the challenges of the future economy. The new identity will reinforce the work of SAL in this direction.”
About the Singapore Academy of Law
The Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) is a promotion and development agency for Singapore’s legal industry. Our vision is to make Singapore the legal hub of Asia.
SAL works with our stakeholders to set new precedents of excellence in Singapore law through developing thought leadership, world class infrastructure and legal solutions. Our mandates are to build up the intellectual capital of the legal profession by enhancing legal knowledge, raise the international profile of Singapore law, promote Singapore as a centre for dispute resolution, and improve the standards and efficiency of legal practice through continuing professional development and the use of technology.
As a body established by statute, SAL also undertakes statutory functions such as stakeholding services and appointment of Senior Counsel, Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public.
SAL is led by a Senate headed by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and comprising the Attorney-General, the Supreme Court Bench and key leaders of the various branches of the legal profession. It has more than 12,000 members, including the Bench, all persons who are called as advocates and solicitors of the Supreme Court (i.e. the Bar) or appointed as Legal Service Officers, corporate counsel, faculty members of the three local law schools (i.e. the National University of Singapore, the Singapore Management University and the Singapore University of Social Sciences) and foreign lawyers in Singapore.
More information can be found at www.sal.org.sg.