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The Singapore Law Gazette

Spotlight on Tech-celerate for Law: A Testament to Technology

Paralegal Mr Richard Lim has served the law industry since before the paralegal title even existed in Singapore and typing seven copies of a document was all in a day’s work. At tech-enabled Covenant Chambers LLC these days, though, life is very different.

Seventy-two-year-old Mr Richard Lim is no digital dinosaur — his much-younger colleagues view him as their “in-house champion” who has successfully adopted the law firm’s digital ways.

When Mr Lim drafts letters, a monitor screen one-and-a-half times larger than his colleagues’ helps him spot mistakes more easily, but he is also sure of producing a faultless copy with the help of the firm’s intelligent Litera Microsystems solution.

Technology was in Covenant Chambers’ blueprint when they were established in 2016, their Tech Integrator Mr Marc Lee shares. The firm was a pioneer under the SmartLaw Recognition scheme, which has “definitely allowed Covenant Chambers to differentiate ourselves, moving from a small boutique law practice to one that is known for its tech-driven practices and effective legal strategies,” he says. With 18 different industry-relevant software now being used, the firm is among the more future-forward in the sector. In August 2019, the firm took up a Tech-celerate for Law grant from the Law Society of Singapore, having identified Litera Microsystem’s Contract Companion and DocXtools Companion as two advanced solutions with high potential. These are also pre-approved solutions under IMDA’s SMEs Go Digital programme.

The way we use Litera might be a bit different from other users,” Mr Lee discloses. “We don’t just use it for contracts, but also for submissions to court for litigious matters—Covenant Chambers’ core business. Though not a conventional use-case scenario, we were willing to explore and test it.”

Senior Associate Stacey Lopez is a colleague who appreciates how Litera has reduced the number of steps and parties involved in the finicky document drafting and review process. As an artificial narrow intelligence (ANI)-enabled smart review tool, Litera is capable of making sense of entire documents, not just individual words, as it correlates information with earlier sections, cross references and so on. It scans for mistakes, whether in numbering, naming or formatting, automatically fixing basic problems such as punctuation and spelling, and flagging other oversights and potential risks. This automates the identification and rectification of issues commonly associated with legal documents.

Once there are no outstanding flags remaining, the document can be submitted with confidence,” Ms Lopez says.

Mr Lee estimates that using Litera leads to a 25 per cent time saving, though he foresees more as the firm moves towards full implementation. The consistently error-free work has also built trust with clients.

Along with the other legal tech solutions implemented, gone are the days, Mr Lim jokes, “when my overtime pay was more than my basic pay.” Work has become so efficient that at Covenant Chambers, he is one of only two paralegals supporting the firm’s 11 lawyers, whereas most traditional firms still employ paralegals at a higher ratio. With such productivity comes opportunity, too. The Covenant Chambers’ paralegal team takes on an expanded role, which includes helping clients prepare wills, among other higher value work for which they are remunerated accordingly.

All this, of course, translates to cost savings for the client, and better business for the firm. Marc says, “It is a continual upgrading process. We also employ CoreMatter (Practice Management System), Intelllex (Online Legal Research System), Asana, Google Suite, and a whole host of products which help us communicate better, track tasks better, access information anytime, anywhere and even recommend case studies. We’ll always be looking out for new technology.”

Infocomm Media Development Authority’s SMEs Go Digital Programme

The Law Gazette is the official publication of the Law Society of Singapore.