korum forum.

Keeping you informed on the latest NewLaw thinking and insights

Singapore: Disruption is Welcomed! Lawyers Take Note.

In Singapore, we are aware that the rest of the world knows our modern city state for its internal order, and super-efficient urbanization projects, but they may not realise that there is also significant disruption happening here; Government approved and welcomed disruption. Sounds anomalous to the Singapore we know and love? KorumLegal takes a quick tour of some of the disruptive trends affecting the legal sector in Singapore and how those trends can benefit you.

In January 2017, the Singapore Academy of Law published its much-anticipated paper, “Legal Technology Vision: Towards the digital transformation of the legal sector”

As part of its Vision, the Singapore Academy of Law calls all lawyers to action:

“This Legal Technology Vision is a call to action for lawyers – whether practising in law firms or serving as in-house counsel in corporations – to become part of the disruption that faces the legal industry today.”

Becoming part of the Vision allows private practice lawyers to stay ahead of the game and maximise opportunities and profitability, while in-house lawyers will reap the benefits of more streamlined and costs efficient services from legal service providers, having a huge impact on the all-important bottom line, not to mention increased satisfaction with traditionally inflexible legal services.

Some of the factors leading Singapore, and the rest of the world, to embrace change in the previously traditional service of law, include the following - all of which can be embraced by in-house and private practice lawyers alike.

 

  1. NewLaw service providers -  across the globe from Australia to the US, developed legal markets (including Singapore) have seen a growing trend in NewLaw service providers entering the market, changing the face of the legal industry by challenging the high cost and inflexible nature of the traditional or BigLaw models. BigLaw faces unprecedented pressure to adapt. Those ahead of the game in private practice will reap the rewards in the long term by delivering on and exceeding client expectations.

LegalTech and Legal Project Management can be embraced to drive down internal costs and improve efficiency and job satisfaction for lawyers. For in-house lawyers, the benefits are endless - support is on hand just when you need it for flexible, high quality and cost effective legal solutions that understand and suit your commercial needs. With headcount freezes and more scrutiny on legal team spend as a support function of a business, embracing NewLaw can provide much needed cost savings in these uncertain times.

For lawyers themselves, NewLaw presents a new way of working. Flexible and interesting project based work, you remain in control of your hours and are well remunerated.

 

  1. LegalTech -  the phrase LegalTech is nothing new. It refers to legal technology and software that helps law firms and inhouse lawyers with everything from practice management and document storage, to billing, accounting and e-discovery. For the last ten or more years, many firms have embraced some elements of automated document production and have found increased efficiencies by relying on technology to assist lawyers. Current trends include the advent of AI and tools such as ROSS from IBM. With so many options at lawyers’ fingertips, the key to success lies in  assessing the range of tools available (and which may have already been adopted by the business) to ensure they are being utilized to their full extent and turning any data created or stored by such tools in to value for the firm or the business.

 

  1. Increased client leverage - clients of BigLaw have become increasingly sophisticated in the way that they utilise legal services, demanding accountability and transparency from their legal service providers, appropriate resourcing of legal matters and regular invoicing. Many have argued that the “hourly rate is dead”, and that outcome specific price models are the future. For the private practice lawyer, this may bring an unwelcome shudder as it can be difficult to plan for unforeseeable twists and turns in a complex and multi-jurisdiction legal matter. What is clear, is that client leverage has increased and that BigLaw is coming under more and more scrutiny to justify its high costs and inflexible approach to legal services. Legal Project Management can assist BigLaw with this by properly scoping new matters based on data collected from previous matters and actively managing a file, rather than allowing time costs to build up and end with a nasty shock for all at completion of a matter.

Disruption, flexibility and technology development are all concepts that most traditional lawyers have found difficult to embrace and adopt, but taking small steps can lead to big changes and endless opportunity. Singapore has set out a roadmap and is adapting its infrastructure to assist lawyers to embrace the opportunities that positive disruption presents. The key to success for all involved will be adapting to change, while maintaining the superior quality of legal services that clients demand.  Are you part of the Vision? We hope so.

Catherine D'Alton