The Clifford Chance Innovation team recently attended the annual TechLaw.Fest in Singapore. The event brought together more than 1,500 delegates from the international business, banking and technology community to discuss innovation, regulation and business transformation in law.

Here's our top 5 takeaways from the event about how to future-proof yourself as a lawyer.

1. Understand where technology is headed

Law and Home Affairs Minister, K. Shanmugam, urged lawyers to understand where technology is headed and to keep pace with other jurisdictions. He cautioned against underestimating the pace at which technology is transforming how law is being practised, citing a 2018 study where 20 experienced US lawyers were challenged by an AI program developed by LawGeex. Although the lawyers finished their task in a commendable 92 minutes with 85% accuracy, the AI program completed the task in only 26 seconds, with 94% accuracy!

Shanmugam stressed the immense transformative potential that technology wields – unless lawyers learn to embrace technology (and the opportunities it presents), they are bound to be left behind.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

2. Recognise that the 'Tech' in LegalTech is not everything 

Bas Boris Visser, Global Head of Innovation and Business Change, recounted his experience implementing CCDr@ft, a tool which paved the way for the inception of Clifford Chance Applied Solutions.

"Despite the overwhelming cost and time savings the tech afforded, it remained as a good idea, and nothing more, for a long time."

Technology alone is not enough. It must be complemented by effective stakeholder management (in encouraging buy-in from decision makers), an effective product-team fit (in assembling a specialised team comprising legal experts well-versed in selling technology solutions), and anchoring innovation to the value it grants lawyers, instead of the 'hype' surrounding the technology itself.

Ideas are nothing without execution. Focus on creating value.

3. Stay aware of the risks accompanying technology

With great power comes great responsibility… and in the same vein,  great advancements bring great risks. Just like a vaccine must be continually improved to stay effective, lawyers must keep abreast of the latest risks that technology poses to stay relevant. Lijun Chui, Counsel, is keenly aware of the emerging risks that will arise from 5G.

"It is clear that 5G will bring about new challenges in cybersecurity. To effectively meet such challenges, we need to first identify key risks, followed by mitigation and allocation. For instance, a legal liability regime can help enhance cybersecurity by setting the right standards and providing certainty in the allocation of liability following a security incident."

Stay sharp, stay relevant.

4. Engage with the legal technology ecosystem

"At Clifford Chance, the fuel for innovation is our collaboration across teams, with clients, universities and legal tech communities."

Laura Collins Scott, Innovation Lead, Singapore

It is no wonder that Singapore hosted TechLaw.Fest, with its commitment to being Asia Pacific's, if not the world's, most vibrant legal technology hub. Laura Collins Scott, Head of Innovation, highlighted the importance of engaging with different stakeholders in the legal tech ecosystem to keep informed and connected. After all, no law firm will be able to build all of the technology it needs in-house, so collaboration is critical.

Be bold. Go forth and connect.

 5. Acknowledge shifting client expectations

Legal practice was once synonymous with legal delivery where law firms focused primarily on the sale of legal expertise. Law firms are now tapping on a combination of legal, technological and process expertise as a key differentiator. In short: value!

"We have noticed that the conversation has shifted. Where clients used to solely focus on legal advice, they now also want to understand how it is delivered, and especially how technology can be used to generate efficiencies."

Andrew Beasley, Regional Program Director, Best Delivery

This holistic approach to client challenges—one where legal issues are part of a broader solution that involves technology and process change— will be the paradigm for new legal services. Cue the rise of new roles such as legal project managers and technology delivery advisors.

Listen to your clients, because if you don't, someone else will.

The final word: Whether you're an industry veteran or fresh graduate, leveraging technology as a strategic advantage is key.

Bring on TechLaw.Fest 2020!


Please note this blog post was written by a Clifford Chance LLP employee. Clifford Chance LLP is the parent company of Clifford Chance Applied Solutions (CCAS). The content within this post does not constitute legal advice.