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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Innovation Insights

Key takeaways from TechLaw.Fest 2021

Thousands of top legal, tech and government leaders convened in TechLaw.Fest 2021, discussing trends, challenges, and opportunities at the intersection of technology and law. This year’s event witnessed a record number of attendees, topping last year’s record of 6,000 participants.

We speak to the representatives of Clifford Chance who featured on the main stage, including April Brousseau, Director of Research & Development, and Shanice Choo, Legal Innovation Advisor, to find out more about their takeaways.

This is not your first TechLaw.Fest – how did you find this year's event?

A: We're proud to have been a supporting partner of TechLaw.Fest for the past three years. Technological advancements are progressing rapidly these days and the legal industry has been front and centre of some of the most exciting developments – TechLaw.Fest is a great flagship event which allows us to share and celebrate such progress.

S: This is not our first rodeo – it has been a great experience working with the Singapore Academy of Law over the past three years. The TechLaw.Fest is yet another visible indicator of Singapore’s commitment to supporting its legal industry to digitalise, transform and thrive. This year's event was interesting because it not only highlighted issues regarding the Technology of Law but also emerging issues around the Law of Technology. For instance, Rocky Mui (Partner, HK) was invited to speak on a panel discussing legal issues arising from blockchain-based financial transactions.

What were some highlights from your talk?

A: My panel discussed public-private partnerships and what it takes to make them successful. Joined by Xin Juan Chua, Ministry of Law (Singapore), Christina Blacklaws, CEO of BlackLaws Consulting Ltd and Evan Wong, CEO of Checkbox we talked about the importance of sharing a common goal and having open dialogue to make a partnership work. Different partners have different priorities and it's important to find the right alignment to succeed.

We also acknowledged the importance of empathy and patience in innovation partnerships. Different partners work at different paces and its important to work constructively together, acknowledging that some institutions may have different barriers to overcome.  Through that open dialogue and shared goals, a successful partnership can drive real change and meaningful outcomes for both parties.

S: My talk was centred on The Future Lawyer and questioned if lawyers were harnessing the right skills to remain relevant. What we're seeing is that despite the reality of the rapidly evolving legal market, traditional legal education continues to be rooted in the old paradigm. Beyond just stating the black letter of the law, technologically empowered clients are beginning to demand more from their legal service providers.

We also talked about advice for people starting out in innovation or legal tech careers and how people looking to make the jump to this space can often overestimate the importance of technology and technical skill. While technology is a key catalyst for legal delivery transformation, it is merely an enabler and not a panacea. Rather, the true differentiator lies in soft skills such as the ability to collaborate with colleagues from a spectrum of disciplines, empathy, and client-centricity.

How does this tie into how Clifford Chance is driving momentum for innovation?

S: At Clifford Chance, we have been leveraging our innovative culture and programme to continually support lawyers in thinking and working differently. One example of how we do this in practice is through our global Innovation Academy, a hands on education programme which focuses on ideation, encourages mindset shifts and teaches participants how to build a successful prototype solution to a real-life problem. It's a great combination of helping our lawyers adopt an innovator's mindset and giving them an opportunity to put it into practice.

A: During my session, my fellow panellist Josh Lee referenced a quote about innovation which really resonated with me and the other panellists: "1+1=3" when it comes to public private partnerships.  Truly successful public private ventures can bring positive change to the wider ecosystem or, as my other fellow panellist Christine Blacklaws put it, "a rising tide lifts all boats."

This kind of wider ecosystem collaboration is a critical part of our innovation strategy at Clifford Chance and together with partners like the Singapore Economic Development Board, we are working to shape the legal services model of tomorrow so that our clients, partners and peers can benefit today.