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Bigger S$3.68m scheme launched to boost tech use by Singapore law firms

SINGAPORE law firms, especially small and medium-sized practices, will receive more support to adopt technology, thanks to a new S$3.68 million one-year scheme launched on Thursday by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw), the Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc), Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Under the new Tech-celerate for Law programme, each law firm can receive funding for up to 70 per cent of the first-year cost of adopting technology solutions, capped at a total of S$30,000 for baseline solutions and S$100,000 for advanced solutions.

It is a step-up from a S$2.8 million one-year programme rolled out in 2017, Tech Start for Law, to help firms adopt baseline technology solutions. A total of 115 Singapore law firms adopted 143 units of technology solutions from March 2017 to February 2018 under that programme, with 99 per cent being smaller practices.

This year's scheme extends support beyond baseline solutions to advanced solutions. 

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Baseline solutions - for practice management, online legal research and document management - can help lawyers perform their essential day-to-day tasks more efficiently, said MinLaw in a media release. Meanwhile, advanced solutions powered by artificial intelligence can help strengthen capabilities in document assembly, document review, eDiscovery and client engagement.

“Technology is changing the way legal services are delivered and will help power the growth and development of Singapore legal services,” said Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for Law and Health.

“We would encourage Singapore law practices to make good use of this extra government support to accelerate their own technology adoption," Mr Tong added.

Gregory Vijayendran SC, president of LawSoc, said the new scheme will assist law practices to become future-proof and future-ready, so they can “brave new challenges and future shocks posed by radical disruptions”.

 

He noted that the earlier scheme had achieved its objectives in catalysing law firms to start or continue their technology journey.

In a study by LawSoc and MinLaw, 85 per cent of lawyers surveyed said that legal technology was crucial to the development of the profession, and 72 per cent felt there was a need to increase the level of technology adoption in their firms.

Law practices in Singapore can apply for funding to use up to seven of the solutions under the Tech-celerate for Law scheme, depending on their needs.

Those interested can apply for baseline solutions through the Business Grant Portal, and for advanced solutions through LawSoc at lpi@lawsoc.org.sg.

Applications, which opened on Thursday, will close on May 1, 2020.

In addition, a series of programmes by Workforce Singapore and LawSoc will be launched in the second half of 2019 to further support lawyers in adopting technology, MinLaw said. These will equip lawyers with the skills to practise law in a digitalised environment and for managing transformation and innovation.