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Meeting the Demand for Legal Tech in Singapore

Sam Bock

As litigation and compliance activities continue to increase in many parts of the world, meeting evolving markets where they are is becoming more important every day for e-discovery practitioners.

Between the triple efforts of managing geographically specific data handling requirements, educating those new to these processes, and anticipating what’s on the horizon for increasingly litigious legal landscapes—well, there are a lot of complicated conditions to consider. Access to the technology that will make these efforts possible shouldn’t be one of them.

This is why RelativityOne is growing its global presence, with new localities added throughout the last few years. In March of 2021, Singapore joined that list.

Rajah & Tann LLP is one of Singapore’s largest law firms, and like many other global firms, they’ve spun off a technology subsidiary to help meet their clients’ needs with a more innovative and technology-driven approach . That subsidiary is called Rajah & Tann Technologies (“RTTech”), and we recently sat down with Michael Lew, RTTech’s CEO, to gather some perspective on the current landscape in Singapore—and how teams like theirs can be poised for big growth in the region.

Sam Bock: Can you tell us a little bit about what makes the Singapore legal market unique, in particular legal technology? What do you enjoy about the industry there?

Michael Lew: Singapore’s legal practitioners are early adopters of e-discovery in the Southeast Asia region following the introduction of the eDiscovery Practice Direction by the Supreme Court of Singapore in 2009, which was later amended in 2012 to further strengthen its usage in litigation matters. It is such forward-thinking mindsets that propels Singapore as the leading legal technology hub in the region today.

Besides having unequivocal support from the Singapore Judiciary, the Ministry of Law, law firms, corporations, and key stakeholders such as the Law Society of Singapore and the Singapore Academy of Law, we are very fortunate to have a dedicated and robust legal technology community with multidisciplinary skillsets and diverse work experience who are very generous with their time and effort in two folds: firstly, to create awareness through seminars, hackathons and other events; and secondly to further develop thought leadership reports and studies to increase the adoption of various legal technologies.

I feel honoured to be able to serve lawyers at law firms, corporate counsels, and C-suites who are ultimately the end client of legal services. I enjoy getting to know them and understand their challenges and to develop innovative and yet practical tech-enabled legal solutions while growing the industry together.

What do you think is the attitude of the legal industry toward legal technology in Singapore, and how do you foresee the future growth of legal technology in this industry?

The legal industry in Singapore has gained a lot of momentum and traction in increased awareness, understanding and adoption of legal technology. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a disruptive force and acted as a catalyst for the uptake of digital technologies in many areas of the legal industry. For example, in August 2020, the first ever Mass Call was held on Zoom to admit new members to the Bar. There, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon urged new lawyers to embrace technology and remote hearings in “unprecedented times.” 

Commercially, we have seen many new and novel ideas being brought to the local market, many of which have been or are in the process of being adopted and integrated in law firms. Similarly, local educational institutions such as National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University have introduced modules and primers on legal technology, thus generating more awareness amongst learners on this increasingly important and relevant topic.

Given the encouragement and willingness for technological and process innovation from numerous areas of the legal industry, we are optimistic and confident about the future growth of legal technology in Singapore and are excited for its continued growth.

Law firms around the world are forming subsidiaries to help them incubate the technological innovation it takes to tackle their clients’ toughest data projects. How was Rajah & Tann Technologies was formed, and why do today’s clients benefit from this service structure?

In 2018, Rajah & Tann LLP launched RTTech in conjunction with the Singapore Academy of Law’s Future Law Innovation Programme. RTTech provides its clients with tech-enabled legal solutions such as multi-disciplinary cybersecurity services and e-discovery services. At its core, the establishment of RTTech is Rajah & Tann LLP’s response to try to understand what technological disruption is at an intimate level.

Setting up RTTech as a separate entity allowed Rajah & Tann LLP to focus its resources and discipline in technology and tools that will enhance the law firm’s services while at the same time create new revenue streams. It also allows Rajah & Tann LLP to take a multi-disciplinary approach to address areas like cybersecurity and audit and also to bring onboard experts specialised in each field. With its strong team, robust methodologies and defensible processes, RTTech has grown to also serve law firms, and we look forward to serving more clients both within and outside of the Rajah & Tann network of law firms.

How do you go about building partnerships with your clients and approaching projects in a personalized manner? What special skills does it take to collaborate in this way with clients?

At RTTech, we have a strong team of project managers and consultants, each with their various areas of specialty and breadth of experience. This diverse background, skill set and experience help ensure that our clients are guided throughout each case in a way that offers expertise tailored to their circumstances.

To be as personalized as possible in advising clients, it’s essential for any team like ours to be deeply familiar and experienced with the subject matter (be it in e-discovery or investigation support) and corresponding processes. This knowledge and experience allow our team to understand and empathise with clients’ requirements and pain points in their matters, leverage on their strengths while managing any exposure to risk they may have. 

2022 Spotlight: Asia

Sam Bock is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, and serves as editor of The Relativity Blog.