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On 11th January 2021, Singapore’s Attorney-General (AG), Mr Lucien Wong, announced his commitment to digitization and gave us a glimpse into the future of the legal industry. His opening speech outlined a number of initiatives including a new contract drafting application, legislation code system and an integrated criminal case management system to equip both the AGC and the broader public service sector of Singapore to meet current and future challenges and opportunities. Their commitment to digital transformation and legal automation gives us a glimpse into the very near future of legal sectors around the world, with Singapore leading the way.
Here are the two main takeaways from his speech:
1. Digital transformation is the future of the legal industry, not just a COVID-19 response
AG states that “While COVID-19 may have cast the longest shadow, it was only one of many developments which have the potential to fundamentally alter our legal landscape.” As leaders in this space, the Singapore government recognizes that digital transformation is the future. COVID-19 certainly accelerated the process and forced both legal teams and wider businesses to automate in making remote working and collaboration accessible. As stated by AG, “there will be life after COVID and AGC is preparing to meet it by strengthening our existing capabilities and strategizing for the longer term”.
“This is not the end but the beginning. We are just scraping the surface of how much we can achieve with proper technological tools.” – Attorney-General Lucien Wong
2. The right technology tools and proper change management are key when looking to future proof your organisation
In his address, AG announced that this year, they will be “rolling out a number of digital innovations to benefit the Government and the wider public.” As the first step to this, AG mentioned that “Several AGC officers have been learning to utilise software which can be used to code and automate legal processes, like contract drafting for government procurement. AGC is currently developing a contract drafting application which will save public officers considerable time that would otherwise be expended on amending templates manually.”
However, where AGC has differed from typical tech implementation is by committing to lawyer-led digitization. Choosing the right workflow automation and legal automation tools is important, particularly when looking to introduce change that will be accepted by the organization in the long term. Where most tools are built for IT teams to roll out to the wider organization, AGC states that their “applications will be developed by their own lawyers” which means that the “quality and consistency of the documentation will also be improved.” However, acknowledging that lawyers are not software engineers, AGC has equipped their team with no-code app builder tools that allow lawyers to build applications using drag and drop. AGC recognizes that by giving subject matter experts the right tools, the team can successfully implement change across the business whilst also having the means to adapt processes quickly and efficiently as the direction of the company changes. This is what it means to do well and truly be a future proofed organization.
Wong mentioned that “A recent pilot of a [legal automation platform] with selected public agencies was well received” and now the organization “plans to expand across the whole of Government.” Their recent initiatives and mention of future strategy highlights that technology is not just a shelf tool or 2% of the budget but rather a necessity for the future, or as Wong would say “This is part of our vision to upscale our service delivery.”
Read the full speech here.