Singapore’s Government, in partnership with the local Law Society, has launched a $3.68m legal tech subsidy programme that will pay up to 70% to law firms of the first year’s cost of a new application.
Under the new ‘Tech-celerate for Law programme’, Singapore law practices can get $30,000 for baseline solutions and up to $100,000 for advanced solutions. These are defined as:
(i) ‘Baseline technology solutions for practice management, online legal research and document management can help the law practices perform their essential day-to-day tasks more efficiently.
(ii) Advanced technology solutions which are powered by artificial intelligence can help the law practices strengthen capabilities in document assembly, document review, eDiscovery and client engagement.’
It’s understood that an earlier scheme covered just the baseline tech. So, this also marks an expansion of what is on offer. Congrats to the companies that have been chosen, which includes US-based Litera, for example.
Commenting on being selected, Abhijat Saraswat, Litera Microsystems Director of International Business, said: ‘Litera Microsystems is proud to have been selected as a crucial legal technology provider under this program. Our focus remains on helping organisations spend more time on what matters: serving their clients, not their documents.’
All the details of which tech companies you can get a subsidy for are listed below, along with the thinking of the Singapore organisers as to why that type of tech is important.
It’s a fascinating idea, getting the national government of a country to pay legal tech companies’ bills so that lawyers will get up to speed in the use of such applications.
Singapore has proven it is willing to try everything to make sure its legal market stays in a regionally important position and it’s been determined to support a variety of projects and local partnerships to drive change.
It’s hard to imagine the US Government, for example, handing over millions of dollars to the partners of AmLaw 200 commercial law firms to encourage them to use legal technology. But, it could – perhaps – be imaginable in the UK and across Europe, where governments are more closely engaged in supporting the legal sector through positive direct intervention.
The UK Government is already funding several legal tech projects, though mainly centred around encouraging innovation, rather than handing out subsidies to lawyers to buy licences for tech applications.
It’s going to be fascinating to see how this works out in Singapore. Will the firms involved go on to make more and better use of tech? Will adopting the tech actually change how they work? Will subsidies work as an innovation strategy and really help to keep Singapore as a leading legal centre? We will see.
The legal tech companies whose applications are covered by the scheme are below. Many of them, readers will already know, a few less so, such as Tessaract.io – which seems to be a local, Singapore practice management system.
Baseline solutions: Nine technology solutions have been identified in this category.
(i) Three Practice Management Systems (CoreMatter; Clio; Tessaract.io)
These practice management systems help law practices streamline their work processes such as cases and client record management, timekeeping and billing, and calendaring.
(ii) Three Document Management Systems (Dropbox Business; TessaCloud; NetDocuments)
These document management systems help law firms to store, organise and manage legal documents in a manner that can be accessed and retrieved easily, and shared with the intended parties.
(iii) Three Online Legal Research Systems (INTELLLEX; WestLaw Asia; Lexis Advance)
These online legal research systems help law practices access an integrated database of cases, commentaries and regulatory materials across jurisdictions on one platform, and organise the information into a personal knowledge library for easy retrieval. These systems also provide a systematic way of recording past research materials for knowledge management.
Advanced solutions: Seven technology solutions have been identified in this category:
(i) Two Document Assembly Software (Hotdocs-Lawcloud; Contract Express)
Document assembly software allow Singapore Law Practices to transform their frequently used documents and forms into templates for quick production of customised documentation. Automating the production of documents reduces risk, and enhances compliance and operational efficiency. Singapore Law Practices can better control the content and reduce the amount of time taken to produce documents
(ii) One Document Review Software (Litera Microsystems – Contract Companion; DocXtools Companion; Clause Companion)
The document review software can help Singapore Law Practices obtain insights when reviewing documents through discovering anomalous areas within documents, and identifying areas of risk within the context of the document set.
(iii) Three eDiscovery Software (Relativity; CaseRoom; LegalComet eDiscovery Cloud)
eDiscovery software deliver a visual approach to document review and predictive coding that help lawyers to quickly appreciate the case in hand. Such software have features such as expert case set up, administration, workflow design and seamless online delivery. Features such as visual analytics, concept clustering and advanced predictive coding can help Singapore Law Practices find facts fast and accelerate case strategy development.
(iv) One Automated Client Engagement Solution (TessaSays)
The AI-powered automated client engagement solution can enhance clients’ experiences, elevate lawyers’ engagement and optimise workflows.
Commenting on the scheme, Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, said: ‘Technology is changing the way legal services are delivered and will help power the growth and development of Singapore legal services. MinLaw and LawSoc will support Singapore Law Practices in technology adoption.’
‘We launched Tech Start for Law in 2017. The new Tech-celerate for Law is a step up. We are extending support beyond baseline to also cover advanced solutions. We have also earmarked more funds for Tech-celerate for Law. We would encourage the Singapore Law Practices to make good use of this extra government support to accelerate their own technology adoption,’ he added.