Lawyers Go Global — Go Sydney
A group of ten lawyers, led by the President of the Law Society Mr Gregory Vijayendran, jetted off to Australia, Sydney for the second “Lawyers Go Global” overseas mission (Mission) from 30 July 2018 to 2 August 2018. Focused on the topic of technology, this smaller mission was organised with the intention of helping members learn more about the technological and innovation developments in Sydney’s legal landscape, as well as to find out more on the best practices of legal practice management in the running of law firms in Sydney.
Day One, 30 July 2018
Visit to the Law Society of New South Wales (NSW)
Founded in 1842, the Law Society of NSW is the oldest Law Society in Australia. President of the Law Society of NSW, Mr Doug Humphreys, highlighted that the Law Society of NSW placed high emphasis on the Rule of Law.
Mr Humpreys and Chief Executive Officer Mr Michael Tidball, talked about the functions of the Law Society of NSW in brief. Instead of conducting this meeting in a formal, structured manner, the meeting was convened in a ‘question and answer’ format where participants raised questions that they had in mind.
A participant raised a query on the advancement of female lawyers in NSW. Mr Humphrey responded that 2018 was the 100th year since the Parliament of Australia introduced women’s rights to vote and to be a member of the legal profession. There seemed to be equal opportunities for women. Mr Humphrey supported his statement by sharing that at the time of the visit, 65% of the university graduates in law were women, 50.1% of the lawyers with Practising Certificates in NSW were women and slightly more than 50% of the Council of the Law Society were women. In addition, Mr Humphrey mentioned that despite the increasing number of female lawyers, there were challenges to retaining them in the profession and one of the reasons was due to the competitive nature of the legal profession. As such, law firms needed to ensure that they had flexible working arrangements in place to retain female lawyers in the workplace.
Participants also asked about the adoption of technology. Mr Humphreys shared that many law firms in Australia were at the forefront of legal technology, and the Law Society had also driven several initiatives to showcase the technological products available to lawyers to encourage those who had not incorporated technology in their legal work, to do so. The Law Society of NSW was aiming to move towards electronic conveyancing where the need for paper in the process would be removed entirely.
To help participants ‘break the ice’, a welcome dinner was organised at Eastside Kitchen + Bar which was a cool and comfortable ten-minute walk from the hotel.
Day Two, 31 July 2018
Visit to Allens
Allens is a leading international law firm serving clients throughout Australia and Asia. Through its international alliance with Linklaters, Allens has a global network spanning 39 offices and 28 countries. More information Allens can be located on their website: https://www.allens.com.au/.
Chief Legal and Technology Services Officer, Ms Beth Patterson shared about Allens’ technology initiatives. An example is the “Allens Neota UTS Law Tech Challenge for Social Justice”, a competition created by Allens, University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Faculty of Law and software firm Neota Logic. The competition required UTS students and lawyers from Allens to form teams to create applications for solving real-life problems faced by various participating non-for-profit organisations.
Allens also has alternative legal services for its clients. They are Arrow, LawLab and Legal Project Management. Arrow delivers integrated, tailored technology and document-review solutions for litigation, regulatory and due diligence matters. LawLab is responsible for bringing in market-leading technology by working with developers to refine and/or co-create applications. Legal Project Management delivers efficient management solutions for Allens’ lawyers and clients.
The following six case studies of recent projects were cited:
- Dawn Raid app
- Return and Earn
- Litigation / Regulatory Investigations Update
Visit to Centre of Legal Innovation
The Centre of Legal Innovation (CLI), created by the College of Law in 2016, is an innovation-focused think tank which provides a platform for leadership, practical research and opportunities for collaboration in the legal profession. It also provides support to legal professionals in relation to the impact of technological disruptions and new technologies transforming the industry. More information on CLI can be found on their website: https://www.cli.collaw.com/.
A few legal technology companies were also present to share, with the participants, the types of technology solutions available which could help law firms operate efficiently.
|S/n||Name of Legal Tech Companies||Products and Solutions|
|1||Law in Order||– Document production
– Management services
|2||Think Law Group||LawSwitch is an automated system, where the entire legal client engagement process is conducted online, from the initial enquiry to a booked conference.|
|3||Xakia||Xakia is a practice management company, which is focused on the in-house legal team. The solution presented was an online system to categorise and collect data and information of the lawyer’s work to increase efficiency|
|4||LawPath||LawPath is an online legal platform that helps Australian businesses access legal services. A product of LawPath is the document automation system. 200 legal documents are available on their website with interactive questionnaires to help clients with the documents. LawPath also has a marketplace of lawyers; clients can post jobs and lawyers are rated and reviewed by clients.|
Day Three, 1 August 2018
Visit to Salvos Legal (Profit for Purpose)
Salvos Legal is the world’s first not-for-profit law firm owned and run by The Salvation Army. It is a social enterprise law firm where all profits are used to fund Salvos Legal Humanitarian. This humanitarian arm of Salvos Legal operates free legal services for people in need in NSW, Queensland and Victoria. For more information on Salvos Legal, please visit their website at https://www.salvoslegal.com.au/.
Partner Ms Mary-Anne Ireland explained that Salvos Legal is a ‘profit for purpose’ commercial law firm with fee-paying clients. Profits (after expenses) from the commercial law firm fund their sister law firm, Salvos Legal Humanitarian, which provides free legal services to people in need. This meaningful model has attracted many lawyers to join Salvos Legal. They have won awards and are recognised for their efforts to help people through access to justice and this is done through funding by its social enterprise model. They had reached 20,000 humanitarian cases in October 2017.
Senior Associate Ms Amelia Weidner continued by sharing on the humanitarian arm of Salvos Legal. Most of the work that the humanitarian arm does is in the area of migration, refugee and asylum-seeker law. They also work in the areas of family, administrative appeals, care and protection law, human rights and public interest law, criminal law, credit and debt, housing, domestic violence and police matters. Due to the nature of the work in the humanitarian arm, the clients may not speak English, be socially isolated, have mental illness or addictions, have more than just a legal issue going on in their life, and may have also experienced trauma or a difficult upbringing.
Ms Weidner explained the format of meeting clients in the humanitarian arm. Meetings would be held in the advice bureaus (five in NSW, four in Queensland and four in Victoria) in the evening. People could attend a bureau to get advice via a drop-in service or by appointment. Each client or matter will be seen by two people — one being a qualified solicitor, and the other being a volunteer lawyer or intern. A supervising solicitor will also be present at the bureau. Each session takes about 30 minutes. After meeting the client and obtaining the facts, the two solicitors would deliberate on the facts and formulate advice before discussing it with the supervising solicitor. The agreed advice will be delivered to the client and such advice would be written in the ‘Info and Advice’ sheet exactly as it was delivered. The sheet would then be signed off by the supervising solicitor.
Salvos Legal Humanitarian also offers opportunities for volunteers such as interns, law clerks, migration agents, volunteer solicitors, etc. One of the challenges faced is the lack of experienced volunteers in humanitarian law.
Visit to Nexus Law Group
Nexus Law Group is a law firm with multiple ‘hub’ offices in Australia. It operates a “connected contractor” model that promise clients expertise at lower costs, while offering lawyers more flexibility and better collaboration with other experts within the group. More information on Nexus Law Group can be found on their website: https://nexuslawyers.com.au/
Chief Operating Officer Ms Jacqueline Keddie introduced Nexus Law Group with its focus to positively disrupt the legal industry by building a meaningful structure for the practice of modern law that benefits lawyers and clients. It provides different ways of delivering legal services that are beneficial to both the lawyers and their clients. Lawyers are seen moving from big firms to boutique firms, and clients are becoming more involved in the process of demanding how the legal services should be delivered. Nexus aims/aspires to be an alternative to big law firms for both lawyers and clients.
Ms Keddie shared the core values at Nexus and how it shaped their ideology, innovation and management. She explained that the structure of Nexus had an incorporated legal practice in the centre, and was connected to and surrounded by Group Principals (GPs). GPs are boutique firms that specialise in one area of practice, and work with Nexus as a bedded consultant, providing GPs with the services needed to practice, such as business cards, junior lawyers and insurance. This allows the GPs to have flexibility and autonomy. In addition, Ms Keddie explained that Nexus’ structure was built to provide lawyers with flexibility, autonomy, support from Nexus, branding, the connectivity and rewards for their efforts building thriving businesses.
Day Four, 2 August 2018
Visit to LegalVision
LegalVision is Australia’s leading legal start-up, which delivers legal services through a tech-driven business model, helping businesses around Australia access quality resources by providing start-ups, and small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) with access to legal articles and free legal documents. More information on LegalVision can be found at their website: https://legalvision.com.au/.
LegalVision, as explained by Head of Legal, Mr Aaron Suine, was a tech-driven law firm run like a tech start-up. It focussed on high volume work, rapid turnaround times, cost-effective pricing and promotes consistent workflow across the team through its system. He explained that LegalVision viewed client service as a product.
Head of Marketing Mr Anthony Lieu shared LegalVision’s fresh approach to marketing in the legal landscape, in terms of the way they acquired clients as compared to the traditional law firms in Australia. Most of their clients had found them through their online channels, which was their major source of business leads. 76% of the small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Australia used the internet when looking for a lawyer. Hence, LegalVision focussed their marketing strategy online on the platforms provided by Google such as Google Ads and search results. Google Ads, as explained by Mr Lieu, popped up on top after every search on Google and could collect data on the people that clicked on their Google Ads. It brought in more clients as opposed to the traditional way of acquiring clients. Publishing news articles daily on their website had helped them to be ranked first on Google search. Articles published are free on their website in an easy-to-read-and-understand format for clients. Manuals, White Papers and toolkits are also available on their website and in their office for their clients. Videos and webinars (web seminars, run by their lawyers) are also available on their website to provide legal information to their clients.
Head of Client Care Ms Jacqueline Fearnley shared about LegalVision in short known as LV Lab, where it had created a new philosophy and approach in managing their clients. It all started as a result of the issues they faced in rapid growth, and the need to improve their system for their clients and their people. Ms Fearnley explained the three phases of LV Lab. The first was ‘”inspiration”, where they mapped the journey of potential clients and found the ways of improving the client service. Surveys are also conducted with past clients, and as a result 197 opportunities of improvement were found. The second phase was “ideation” where they came up with ideas to solve the issues raised in mapping and mould them into solutions. The last phase is “implementation”, which Ms Fearnley and her team were at. Solutions from the second phase were implemented, after which feedback would be collected and further changes made to resolve the issues and opportunities raised to improve their client journey with them.
We hope that the Mission has successfully introduced participants to the various technological solutions available in the legal landscape of Australia, and how the incorporation of technology could help increase efficiency.
The Law Society would like to express its appreciation to Law Society of NSW and the law firms mentioned in the article for hosting its delegation.
Comments from Participants
“The mission trip to Sydney was for lack of a better word – mind-blowing – in terms of the insights I gained on how law firms can and should use technology and a different approach to client care, marketing and process engineering to race ahead of the pack. It was refreshing in terms of how open the Sydney law firms we visited were, in sharing their internal processes with us. Kudos to the Law Society of Singapore for curating an excellent list of law firms and other organisations such as the Centre for Legal Innovation to host us. My only complaint about the trip was that it didn’t take place sooner in my legal career!”
Bernard Chung, Partner, I.R.B. LAW LLP
“I was privileged to have been part of the Law Society’s mission to Sydney to study the different practice management styles and the use of technology in their leading law firms. The mission coincided with the various stakeholders’ growing calls for the legal profession to embrace technology in the ever-changing services landscape.
We were fortunate that our Australian brethren were extremely generous in sharing their expertise with us. For many of us who are practising in small and medium-sized law firms, it was a beneficial insight on the latest trends confronting the Australian legal sector.
Massive thanks to the Law Society Secretariat for working tirelessly to ensure that the mission was a resounding success.”
Nicholas Jeyaraj s/o Narayanan, Partner, Nicholas and Tan Partnership LLP
About Lawyers Go Global
Launched in April 2018, Lawyers Go Global is a concerted effort by Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law and the Law Society of Singapore. Lawyers Go Global programme aims to connect Singapore legal expertise with global opportunities via three aspects: overseas mission trips, trainings as well as branding and marketing. It also aims to help Singapore strengthen its position as an international legal hub.
The Law Society will continue to organise mission trips to achieve objectives in line with Lawyers Go Global. For enquiries on Lawyers Go Global, please email [email protected].