Addressing 700 lawyers and other members of the legal profession at the Singapore Academy of Law’s 25th annual lecture, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon underlined the need for investing in legal technology for the sake of the nation’s future.
The lecture was held at the Supreme Court Auditorium on Thursday, October 11, marking the 30th anniversary of the Academy. Founded in 1988, the Academy is not just comprised of lawyers and judges, but also academics and legal service officers.
Chief Justice Menon is the president of the Academy, and is the first Singaporean to give the lecture. Chief Justices from various countries, aside from others, have delivered the lecture in the past.
While he admitted that the nation no longer leads the world when it comes to legal technology, he said that the Academy aims to encourage those in the legal profession to advance this area once again.
The Chief Justice gave the example of how some courts in China use virtual courts, artificial intelligence now assists in transcription, and technology makes two-way translations possible.
He said that in Singapore, “we are some way from implementing these in our courts.”
He emphasized that the Singapore Academy of Law needs to work to stay relevant in the light of today’s challenges, such as the rapid development of legal technology that resulted in the retrenchment of 31,000 jobs in the legal sector in the UK.
CJ Menon said, “Regrettably, our response to legal technology has been lukewarm.”
He urged necessary adjustments in perspectives in order to bring about real and lasting changes. Though he admitted that investing in legal technology would be costly, it is “integral to future-proofing our profession”.
The Future Law Innovation Programme (Flip) was started last January. It aids law firms with integrating baseline technology into their processes and facilitates an exchange of ideas among the legal sector and the technology sector.
As part of their initiatives to encourage growth in the profession, the Singapore Academy holds annual lectures, advanced computerized legal research as well as launched the Singapore Academy of Law Journal. The Academy has also partnered with the Singapore Management University for the purpose of looking into issues related to legal innovation and the future of the law practice and profession.