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Singapore Academy of Law launches legaltech accelerator, GLIDE

Published Mon, Jun 3, 2019 · 07:56 AM
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THE Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) has opened applications for Asia's first legaltech accelerator, the Global Legal Innovation and Digital Entrepreneurship (GLIDE) accelerator programme, the agency announced on Monday.

The programme is part of SAL's Future Law Innovation Programme (FLIP), its strategic initiative to help the legal sector innovate new ways of delivering legal services in the future economy. FLIP is run by SAL Ventures, the agency's venture arm.

GLIDE aims not only to help both local and international legaltech startups to scale, but also hone intrapreneurship of in-house legal capabilities by facilitating co-creation of legal technology solutions, Paul Neo, chief operating officer of SAL, told The Business Times.

The 90-day programme will provide participating startups with mentorship tailored to their unique needs, link ups with potential clients to pilot their solutions and educational modules to fill knowledge gaps.

Mentors include senior legal professionals, experienced entrepreneurs and technologists. Access to mentors and databases from within the legal industry are GLIDE's key distinguishing factors from generic accelerators, said Mr Neo, who is also executive director of SAL Ventures.

"Many (legaltech) solutions are machine learning-based which require a lot of training on large legal data sets, typically only available in law firms," Mr Neo explained.

The programme will be open to legaltech startups at any growth stage, both local and international, provided they have a minimum viable product to pilot.

Startups will have to pay a participation fee to join the programme, but this will vary depending on the startups' eligibility for government grants, said a spokesman for the SAL.

The spokesman declined to disclose the estimated participation fees, but said: "We have priced it competitively, ensuring that it will be more affordable than traditional Silicon Valley accelerator programmes."

For non-Singapore based startups taking part in GLIDE, a co-founder will be required to travel to Singapore at least twice throughout the programme and stay for at least a week.

SAL will not automatically take equity in the startups during the duration of the programme.

At the end of the programme, a demo day will be held for startups to pitch their ideas to potential investors, which includes SAL Ventures.

SAL has positioned GLIDE as a global accelerator programme to attract international talent in legal technology due to limited technological talent in Singapore's legal sector, said Mr Neo. He cited Western Europe, North America and Australia as markets that are ahead of Singapore in terms of legal technology innovation.

"The Asian market is bigger and less saturated, so it represents a lot of opportunity for legaltech startups from around the world," said Mr Neo.

Furthermore, Singapore's small market size has allowed for a more collaborative ecosystem to be created, enabling global startups to plug into an ecosystem where they can connect with industry stakeholders more easily, said Noemie Alintissar, Assistant Director of FLIP.

SAL's newly launched accelerator programme is part of a larger scheme of creating new opportunities in the legal sector via technological transformation.

The objectives of GLIDE align with SAL's Legal Technology Vision, a five-year roadmap to help the legal industry leverage technology to enhance their practice.

Earlier this month, SAL signed a Memorandum of Intent with The Singapore Computer Society (SCS) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) to help legal and accounting professionals develop their digital skills to cope with disruptive technological change.

Ultimately, the measure of success for SAL in all its initiatives lies in how far we can open the minds of our legal professionals to tech transformation in the sector, said Mr Neo.

"There is viability in other alternative career paths nowadays you can go into legal analytics, legal engineering, legal design, legal project management, all these are new job roles that we see the legal entrepreneurs in our legaltech startups are beginning to dabble in, and this really broadens minds about alternative pathways to career success," said Mr Neo.

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