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Summer Internship at KorumLegal.

During Summer, we had Chris Fong, a law postgraduate, join us for a 6-week internship. Chris was an amazing intern; full of ideas and views regarding the legal industry. Inspired from his experience with KorumLegal and commercial observation of the legal industry, he wrote a series of 3 articles about the legal education system and the wider legal industry. 

 


 

In this last summer vacation before my graduation (hopefully), I participated in a summer internship that was quite extraordinary and distinct. Being in law schools, we are naturally taught to be lawyers in either law firms (as solicitors) or chambers (as barristers). Some may consider being in-house counsels at some stage, and these seem to be all the possible “law related” career paths already. Therefore, our goal as law students is to try our best to get into one of the big law firms’ vacation schemes and then secure a training contract (or a pupillage with a barrister) towards admission. Like most of my classmates and friends, I had the same mindset and only looked for firms that accept trainees from their interns. However, sometimes destiny just takes over and guides you somewhere totally unexpected. This time, 100%, no qualifications, the experience in KorumLegal was awesome!!

KorumLegal, with its headquarter in Hong Kong, was formed to challenge the traditional expensive, inaccessible and complex legal services industry. With people at the heart of the business, it believes that technology is the key enabler to growth. It serves not only customers who need legal advices, but also businesses, or even law firms, that recognise the benefits of embedding Legal Operations and LegalTech. Processes can be streamlined, new technologies and management tools can be utilised, and all these result in higher effectiveness, efficiency and business efficacy. Moreover, flexibility and agility do not uniquely apply to customers. Indeed, KorumLegal’s consultants could also benefit from its disruptive business model. They can stipulate their availability, preferred location and scope of work.

I started the internship with no idea about concepts such as NewLaw, LegalTech, Legal Operation and Legal Design, or alternative legal services. These are not something that law schools teach students, and they are concepts outside the traditional paths of becoming lawyers. I was super fascinated and intrigued about the operation and business philosophy behind KorumLegal but frankly, I hesitated when I was first introduced into this internship opportunity. I still remember the questions instantly popped up were “Could I be retained and trained there afterwards?” “Would the Law Society recognise my experience and training there towards admission?” Fortunately, I joined the internship nevertheless, just to embrace the possibilities. The friendly team here guided this rookie through step-by-step and the internship eventually turns out to be immensely valuable to me.

In fact, after discussing with managers in KorumLegal and understanding the obstacles in business development, I discovered that customers who demand legal services seem to have similar concerns as I initially did. Obviously, admission is not their focus, but they may also have doubts as to the safety and professionalism provided through the new alternative business model. Revolutionary progresses, innovations and flexibility could mean higher efficiency and also equally inherent uncertainty. Customers are used to the traditional legal industry mechanism and shifting to a new model could see strong resistance. After all, legal services are typically provided either to prevent a lawsuit (such as contract drafting and compliance services) or to resolve disputes (such as negotiations and claims advice). Customers are understandably risk averse at these scenarios, which makes it more difficult for law companies like KorumLegal in promoting their disruptive business models and servicing mechanisms.

While the nature of the industry and the services provided may explain the limited adaptability of alternative legal services providers comparing to the traditional law firms, there is definitely an uptrend in its overall acceptance. I am fortunate enough to have this summer internship at a relatively early stage, before graduation and entering the legal industry. This experience broadens my horizon and allows me to look at the legal services market with a fresh perspective. I now see other opportunities beside the “orthodox lawyer path”. Moreover, I reflected a lot throughout the internship regarding our current legal education system, and also the legal industry at large. Stay tuned for coming series of 3 articles, in which I will discuss the issues with my personal experiences.

           

Chris Fong