Held at Pontiac Group, the second roundtable for the Insider Guide to Legal in Singapore event saw legal counsels sharing their views on legal departments of the future.
Jointly organised by Asia Law Network, the Law Society of Singapore, the Singapore Corporate Counsel Association and our Australian Counterparts, AlphaCreates and ASEAN Legal Tech Association – the second roundtable had legal counsels from various industries sharing their views of how legal departments of the future look like and how can they combat the wave of change.
Speakers of this roundtable include:
Ai Leen Tan, Senior Legal Counsel, TE Connectivity
Lincoln Tan, Legal Counsel, Novartis
Julian Uebergang, Managing Director, APAC, Neota Logic
Mel Nirmala, Executive Director, Singapore Corporate Counsel Association
Colin Laird, Director of Sales APAC, Brightflag
Sam Flynn, Co-Founder, Josef Legal
Graeme Grovum, Principal, Alpha Creates (Moderator)
The Impact of Technology on Legal Departments
Getting the buy in for legal technology in any company is always challenging. The need to prove cost savings and focus on quality, processes and efficiency is becoming more paramount. Many legal departments are still exploring rather than implementing technology because of the numerous hurdles that are present to legal counsels today.
When it comes to inhouse teams there will be the challenge of budget, time and priorities. People are often also too busy to listen to what is happening in the industry because they are competent and comfortable with where they are. There is often no one who takes a step back and look at the processes of how the law firm works – to acknowledge that a small amount of disruptive change could make a big difference in daily processes. And although it is far and few between, we see that is slowly beginning to change.
One of the challenges of technology is the solution itself. The solutions available for the market are catered towards lawyers rather than inhouse counsels. As such, the solutions are not good enough to take over the work done by the inhouse counsels. In addition to being expensive, the solutions are becoming a challenge to adopt and implement. There is an increasing trend of simpler legal documentation such as NDAs being outsourced to other law firms because of the sheer amount of documentation.
There was consensus that adoption of technology is largely dependent on the industry the legal counsels are in. It is also a supply and demand problem – if people are not keen to start using it, the technology will always be expensive. There is not enough traction to keep the conversations going around the tools and solutions available. If there are more companies are open to technology, and work with solution providers – the solutions will improve.
Insights from Solution Providers
It is paramount that solution providers recognise that there is no one size fits all, when you identify the pain points that the legal departments face, a tailored solution can be built to ease the workflow and increase efficiency. The base point for all legal counsels across industries is dealing with contracts and managing quick templates.
From a solution provider’s perspective, the investment in the sector of legal tech is increasing. And solution providers will start to run into each other while trying to gain market share, hence the integration of solutions seems the best way forward. It should become more seamless for the legal industry over time, but it will be customer driven. What is required by the customer will drive the need for integration and innovation.
Conversations should always be had – of what gaps there are in the legal processes and how technology can change that. It has to be pushed through and legal counsels will need to adapt because the technology wave is inevitable.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.