Singapore Calls on Law Schools to Innovate

Apr 11, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

While the law sector may be relatively late to the disruption party, it’s not immune to the phenomenon. In an effort to ensure that its law students are equipped with future-ready skills, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called for law schools to revise their curricula in order to accommodate changing times and the changing needs of the profession. Here’s a closer look at what PM Lee had to say, along with what it means for law students in Singapore.

Technology Gains Traction

While law may not be the first industry that comes to mind when you think of the impact of technology, the reality is that change is well underway.

During last month’s opening ceremony for the new School of Law building at Singapore Management University (SMU), PM Lee told attendees, “Technology is automating many routine legal tasks, like drafting straightforward contracts and conveyancing documents. International law firms are already using data science for discovery work, to analyze voluminous registries, and to answer legal questions. This will change the way law is practiced, and lawyers will need different skills to add value.”

Mr. Lee went on to call on law schools to keep their curricula up-to-date in order to  “produce lawyers who are prepared for the demands of the new working environment.”

The Government Steps In

Mr. Lee also announced the government’s commitment to providing extensive support during the adoption and adaptation processes through a new Tech Start for Law scheme aimed at helping smaller firms build capacity and increased productivity. Larger firms, meanwhile, will receive assistance enabling them to expand and explore new areas of practice.

In addition to helping law firms create opportunities, Mr. Lee also promoted the value of cross-disciplinary learning and collaboration for law students themselves.

According to a report from TODAY, meanwhile, this is just the beginning: “The government will soon debut a new “five-year technology blueprint to chart the roll-out of various IT initiatives in the legal sector.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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