The Legal Productivity and Innovation Department (LPI) of the Law Society of Singapore aims to
Increase Competitive Advantage
Promote technology adoption amongst law firms to increase productivity, efficiency and achieve a competitive advantage
Enhance Law Practice
Assist law firms with innovation and capability development initiatives to enhance their practices
Administer grants and subsidy schemes to support the cost of adopting productivity and capability development solutions for the law firms
We engage members by adopting the following 4-pronged approach:
Some of our initiatives include:
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1. Needs Analysis
(a) 2016 Legal Industry Needs Analysis
The Law Society collaborated with the Ministry of Law to embark on a detailed half year industry study in 2016 to understand business models and the level of technology adoption by small and medium sized law practices.
- One key finding was that there were good technology practices with proven impact: e.g. going paperless and running a virtual office reduced 66% of the operating costs; a shared database of precedents and past case knowledge had a 40-50% time saving for the lawyers
- One critical gap was in innovation: 95% of the participants did not experiment and innovate within their firms, citing lack of time and resources as barriers
- Another issue was the lack of business acumen: There was a need to equip the law practices with sharper commercial appreciation and new business capabilities including leveraging on technology as an enabler to competitiveness
(b) 2018 Legal Industry Technology Study
1. Legal Industry Technology Survey
To assess the current level of technology adoption amongst our law firms and to determine what further support should be rolled out for our members, a legal sector wide technology survey was commissioned by the Law Society of Singapore and supported by the Ministry of Law in 2018.
The study, which took place between May and August 2018, comprised two parts: 1) an online survey including 495 decision makers, end users (e.g. lawyers, legal secretaries, paralegals etc.) and technology personnel working in law firms and 2) focus group discussions with non-adopters of legal tech and high-adopters of legal tech.
2. In-House Counsel Technology Survey
Another online survey was commissioned by the Law Society together with the Singapore Academy of Law (“SAL”) to assess the current landscape and demand for adoption of legal technology among in-house counsel teams in Singapore as well as in-house counsel’ considerations when engaging external law firms in Singapore. The survey received a total of 126 responses.
Click here for the Legal Technology Study summary report.
(c) Impact of Covid19 on Law Society’s Members
The Law Society of Singapore conducted a Covid19 Legal Profession Impact Survey in May 2020. One aspect of the survey focused on the work-from-home (WFH) experiences of members. The key findings are as follows:
- Majority of the respondents were WFH and 63% of them found the transition easy
- The top advantages were time saved in commuting and having a more flexible schedule
- The top challenges were blurring of lines between work and leisure and reduced social interaction
- The top new measures taken to support WFH were redesigning processes and workflows and purchasing and deploying additional hardware
2. Capability Development
(a) SmartLaw Guild
The SmartLaw Guild, an initiative launched by the Law Society in May 2019 to create a platform to share strategies, best practices, trends and resources to gear our law practices up for the future, continues to showcase the tech adoption journeys of forerunner-law firms for other members of the profession and to offer various free trials of the latest technologies and discounted rates for the Law Society as well as third-party conferences as part of the Guild’s membership privileges. The SmartLaw Guild membership comprises SmartLaw certified law firms as well as successful applicants of our past and present technology support schemes. In September 2020, a video showcasing 5 SmartLaw Guild law firms on their technology adoption journeys under Tech-celerate for Law was released.
(b) Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Professional Executives (Legal Support)
The Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Professional Executives (Legal Support), an initiative by Workforce Singapore (WSG) in collaboration with the Law Society and the Singapore National Employers Federation, was launched on 28 February 2020. It provides Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) the opportunity to be re-skilled and take on new careers as Paralegals and Legal Secretaries in the legal sector. This programme seeks to meet the manpower needs of law firms who could receive Government funding for course fees and salaries of new hires.
The programme was conducted on a Place-and-Train mode where the PMETs are hired by law firms and undergo training to equip themselves with new skills for the new job roles. The duration of the training is 3 months, comprising structured classroom training, e-learning as well as On-the-Job Training (OJT). It was administered by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) with training provided by the Law Society. The programme ended on 31 May 2020 with a total of 8 approved applications from law firms.
(c) SGUnited Traineeships Programme for Legal Sector
The SGUnited Traineeships Programme, an initiative by the Ministry of Law and Workforce Singapore (WSG), in collaboration with the Law Society, was launched on 25 June 2020 to provide and support traineeship opportunities within law practices. Training opportunities include practice training contracts for law graduates and traineeship opportunities in other roles such as paralegals, legal secretaries and legal technologists. Trainees will receive a training allowance, of which the Government will fund 80% while the host organisation funds the remaining 20%.
The purpose of the study trip to Sydney (31 July to 2 August 2018) was to learn about technology and innovation developments in Sydney’s legal landscape and best practices of legal practice management. We visited 4 award-winning law firms in Sydney – Allens, Salvos Legal, LegalVision and Nexus Law Group and sat in for a panel discussion organised by the Centre for Legal Innovation to hear “legalpreneurs” share their product features and latest industry trends and insights.
In early September 2019, Secretariat organised a study trip to New Zealand to understand the legal tech and innovation landscape and challenges faced there. The team met up with various legal tech vendors and visited law firms and legal organisations such as LawHawk, Juno Legal, Simmonds Stewart, Legaltech NZ and the Law Society of New Zealand.The team also attended the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) Summit 2019 in Melbourne to learn more about areas in legal technology, legal practice management matters, mental well-being, employment, sexual harassment, marketing tools and pricing models.
Two legal technology roadshows were held for legal tech vendors to showcase their products and services to our members. “The Law Society Technology Day” held on 8 July 2016, and the “Legal Technology Roadshow”, held on 27 & 28 March 2017, featured sharing of experiences and challenges by law firms in adopting technology. Vendors also gave talks on their products and engaged with prospective clients.
Marking the launch of the Tech-celerate for Law scheme, a 1-day Tech-celerate for Law conference was held on 15 May 2019. The conference featured talks and panel discussions exploring issues relating to legal technology strategies, implications of AI and the digital era on the future of the legal workforce and the innovation experience of other sectors.
In collaboration with legal technology vendors and trainers, the Law Society organises SmartLaw events, business transformation and product training sessions covering a range of topics such as:
- The New Path to Legal innovation – Law, Technology & Collaboration by Law Switch
- The Lawyer vs Big Data – How Do We Make This Work? by LexisNexis
- Beyond Keywords: Making the Case for Visual Analytics in e-Discovery by NUIX
- “In the Face of Change, What’s Left for Lawyers to Do?”A Roundtable Session in collaboration with the Centre for Legal Innovation
- Designing a Workplace for the Future by Fuji Xerox
- “Transforming Your Legal Practice Masterclass” A 1-day Masterclass in collaboration with the Centre for Legal Innovation
- Accelerate Your Firm with Document Automation by Thomson Reuters
- Focus On What Matters – Introducing Automation to the Drafting Process by Verlata Consulting and Litera Microsystems
- Embracing the Digital Future – Connecting Your Content, Apps and Teams Like Never Before by Dropbox
- Power Up Your Practice Through Data Analytics by Tessaract
- Meeting Clients’ Demand for “Faster-Better-Cheaper” with Workflow Automation by Bizibody
This video provides an overview of the different types of legal technology available in the market.
3. Cost Management
This programme was developed together with the Ministry of Law and SPRING Singapore and launched on 1 March 2017. Singapore law practices looking to adopt technology to improve their productivity will receive funding support of up to 70% of the first-year cost of adopting technology products in practice management, online research and online marketing. Five technology products in these 3 areas were identified as basic technologies that would help law practices perform their essential day-to-day tasks more efficiently. Interested Singapore law practices could apply for funding support to use up to 3 of these solutions (i.e. one practice management system, one online legal research tool and one online marketing tool), depending on their needs. The scheme ended on 28 February 2018 with 143 successful Tech Start applications.
Tech-celerate for Law was a joint initiative by the Law Society of Singapore, the Ministry of Law, Enterprise Singapore, and the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA). Building on the success of the Tech Start for Law programme, Tech-celerate for Law prepares Singapore Law Practices (SLPs) for future disruptions beyond baseline technology adoption, empowering SLPs to focus on delivering enhanced legal services, strengthening their capabilities and increasing their competitiveness in the global landscape. Under Tech-celerate for Law, qualified SLPs were able to select and adopt legal technology solutions from 7 pre-scoped solution categories from baseline to advanced, with up to 80% funding support in the first year of implementation. This programme was launched on 2 May 2019 and ended on 15 January 2021.
(c) SmartLaw Assist
SmartLaw Assist Round 1 was launched together with Tech Start for Law on 1 March 2017. Each Singapore law practice could apply for a 70% subsidy of the first-year subscription fees of one out of three approved online knowledge databases.
Following the successful first run of the SmartLaw Assist scheme which saw 80 successful applications, the second run of the scheme commenced on 4 April 2018 and ran until 29 June 2018. The focus of SmartLaw Assist Round 2 was on niche products and greater offerings for the medium-sized law firms. Each Singapore law practice could apply for a 60% subsidy of the first-year subscription fees of one of the approved online knowledge databases. There were 35 successful applications.
To facilitate the ease of navigating through the myriad of Government Support Schemes, the Law Society has developed and launched an online self-assessment tool for members in September 2020. This tool enables members to assess their firm’s eligibility for and entitlement to the various Government Support Schemes. Such schemes provide assistance in areas pertaining to hiring, flexible work arrangements, financing loans, technology and innovation and building business capabilities. Members will be asked no more than 10 questions and a report based on their response will be generated at the end of the assessment.
4. Marketing Advantage
We aim to provide law firms who have adopted technology to improve productivity and increase business capabilities with a marketing advantage under the SmartLaw certification scheme. The certification aims to give recognition to law practices which have 1) adopted a practice management or accounting software; 2) an online knowledge database; and 3) have an online presence (whether through a marketing portal or their own dedicated website) by allowing them to display a “SmartLaw” logo on their websites and marketing collaterals.