President’s Message – Of Travel, Training and Technology
This serves as a succinct update of some of the recent happenings and important news items for the Law Society going forward.
First, Lawyers Go Global. This initiative that I touched on in the February message has already taken off. We undertook a meaningful and momentous visit to Guangzhou earlier in the month from 9 to 11 April. Reproduced below is the closing speech (edited) during the final dinner. It captures the essence of a valuable relationship purposefully built with (among others) the Guangdong Lawyers Association (GLA).
The venture may have ended but the adventure has just begun. Watch this space also for practical ways in which our Society will strongly build on the common platform and partnership we share with GLA to benefit our lawyers in their practice journey to the East.
Secondly, on training, an exciting new collaboration with College of Law Australia (COL) has been forged. The Law Society and COL signed a memorandum of understanding on 19 March to (1) underscore both parties’ commitment to jointly develop and deliver legal education and training programmes to meet the needs of the legal profession in Singapore; and (2) to drive thought leadership in legal education policy. This is a historic moment for the Law Society. It marks the first time we are collaborating with a legal education provider. We have established a five-year development plan with COL to future-proof our members by helping them develop a deep expertise not just in specific practice areas but also in terms of market knowledge, use of legal technology and business skills. As a pilot, we will jointly develop a series of subjects involving ASEAN law and deliver courses through an e-learning platform for the convenience of our members.
Finally, technology. SmartLaw Assist Round 2 has been launched. To maintain the momentum of tech adoption by our member firms and following on from the successful first run of the SmartLaw Assist scheme taking place last year, we launched a second round of this scheme earlier this month on 4 April 2018. Under this scheme, each Singapore law practice (SLP) can apply for a 60% subsidy of the first year subscription fees of one out of three pre-approved online knowledge databases. SLPs can choose among various subscription packages offered by (1) Informa Law, (2) Thomson Reuters, and (3) Lexis Nexis. This year’s scheme will provide more product offerings for the middle sized law firms and more specialised databases covering areas such as medical law, criminal law and Chinese maritime law. The subsidies will be funded by the Education Fund set aside by our professional indemnity insurers Lockton. The maximum amount set aside for this run is S$250,000. The scheme ends on 29 June 2018. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Please go to https://www.lawsociety.org.sg/For-Lawyers/Running-Your-Practice/Practice-Support/SmartLaw-Assist or contact [email protected] to apply for the scheme.
On technology too, a Legal Tech Survey will be launched in May to understand the current landscape and demand for technology adoption among our law firms in Singapore. This survey seeks to suss out areas such as the current level of technology adoption, its relevance to legal practice, challenges faced in adopting new technology and plans to use technology in future. We will also poll general perception on government grants and Law Society subsidy schemes. The target respondents will include senior partners, office/IT managers, as well as other technology users such as other lawyers, legal secretaries and paralegals in law firms. We greatly treasure your opinions and would appreciate your participation in the survey. Don’t junk this survey. It will be a valuable diagnostic tool at our end to enable us to incise better into practical legal needs of our lawyers and law firms and improve our offerings and programmes to enable better navigation for the tech journey.
Closing Speech at the Dinner with the Guangdong Lawyers Association
Mr Nee Pai Chen, Senior Vice President, Industry Team of Industry Devt Team, Guangzhou Knowledge City Guangdong Lawyers Association Vice Presidents Chen Fang and Liu Tao and friends, Lawyers Go Global Mission Team.
I will touch on three As in this closing speech: (1) Appreciation; (2) Advancement; and (3) Authenticity.
Acknowledgments and more important, appreciation go out for our Lawyers Go Global inaugural trip to Guangzhou to:
- Enterprise Singapore for availing funding;
- Ministry of Law for its invaluable collaborative partnership on Lawyers Go Global;
- SunCaged Consulting for expert consultancy and guidance;
- Guangzhou Knowledge City for hosting us on site; and
- Shawn and his dedicated Lawyers Go Global Secretariat team for sterling support.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Guangdong Lawyers Association for receiving, hosting and assisting our mission.
On advancement, it was Confucius who famously said that the “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
Our team not only advanced much in terms of knowledge in Knowledge City but also acquired much wisdom and understanding from that sojourn.
We were enriched by our exploratory experiences both in formal settings (e.g. trainings) and informal settings (social networking sessions). Through our meeting and greeting lawyers, business people and the Higher People’s Court Judges and officials, we built bridges of understanding and a network of relationships.
The world is truly your oyster as you continue to adventure on in Guangzhou yet again and long after this three-day stint has ended.
But if the world is your oyster, what (or perhaps who) are the pearls?
I want to suggest that the real pearls, the cultured pearls are the people.
Many of our Singaporean Chinese have much in affinity with the Southern Chinese. A common heritage, language and culture. There is more we have in common than that separating us.
Guangdong Lawyers Association, I believe you will find the team from Singapore authentic. There is much that has been achieved professionally and practice-wise by my colleagues but they have remained humble. They are sincere, friendly and helpful people. And they are here to collaborate with you to serve cross-border legal needs.
We were visiting court today but this evening is like a chambers setting. It enables us to build cosier and closer relationships. An occasion to be more informal and more intimate. To speak freely and frankly. Put another way, to be authentic.
Our Singapore lawyers are very keen to continue to cultivate and nurture the friendships and relationships we have built over these few days.
Thank you once again for not only being our guests this evening but being our hosts during this trip.
(Edited from message during Closing Dinner of Law Society’s Guangzhou Law Mission)