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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Innovation Insights

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HKU LITE Lab: New learning opportunities for the next generation of lawyers

No single law firm or organisation can solve the problems and challenges facing the legal sector today. As technology evolves, so too do the expectations of our valued clients. At the same time, we must also consider the service delivery needs of frontline lawyers. We believe that innovation can unlock the solutions that will ultimately drive our sector forward. But it will take a concerted, collaborative approach – such as a new initiative by the Hong Kong University (HKU) LITE Lab.

LITE stands for Law, Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. And, at Clifford Chance, we are pleased to have contributed to this HKU Faculty of Law programme. The aim is to create a lawtech community in Hong Kong, one that unites like-minded individuals and companies focusing on the future of legal technology. But where to start? Well, for LITE Lab, it begins by engaging those who are most open to change and innovation – law students and the next generation of lawyers.

The future skills of lawyers: Why is technology important?

Our sector is seeing fundamental change and disruption thanks to technology and innovation. It isn't a period of drastic or rapid change. Nor are these 'events' necessarily easy to identify. As a law firm, however, we are committed to ensuring we don't miss anything. It's this approach that keeps us at the forefront of our profession. But we must first be aware of the disruptive trends and influences before properly harnessing technology's impact on legal services.

Too often, it can be tempting to go out and acquire a tool or solution without fully understanding what it needs to do. Instead, our approach is to address the source of a problem or challenge. It helps us deploy new technology for lawyers or clients that can be fully tailored to their exact and unique needs. It does, however, require some level of buy-in from our lawyers. And this leads us to ask about the future skills of lawyers in relation to technology.

LITE Lab: Building a new lawtech community in Hong Kong

For the next-generation lawyer, that conversation is one we are already having. HKU’s LITE Lab  unveiled a course called ‘LITE Lab: Lawtech & Regtech Sandbox in 2021’ with this very much in mind. Legal design thinking, agile methodology, and computational thinking are core components of the new course. And it serves students with a better understanding of the future of legal technology.

One area of interest is the use of no-code/low-code development. In relation to this LITE Lab course, HKU students get access to document automation platforms (such as Josef and Checkbox as well as Microsoft Power Automate) to address real-world pain points. For example, in this context, it means co-designing and creating proofs-of-concept with in-house counsels, start-ups, NGOs and law firms.

This isn't just helping the next generation of lawyers either. It gives us a chance to explore other ways of solving problems – using the fresh ideas that a new generation of lawyers will have.

Creating a model for the future of legal education worldwide

At Clifford Chance, we added real value and expertise to the LITE Lab initiative by mentoring the Lawtech & Regtech Sandbox students. Tania Kuklina and Naomi Herman are part of our Innovation & Best Delivery and Regional Learning teams and spent three weeks guiding students and answering their practical questions in several areas:

  • How to think about legal problem statements, potential improvement opportunities, and the application of design thinking.
  • Effective ways to manage legal project execution while overcoming the challenges and obstacles that can typically emerge.
  • The use of legal technology, which draws on Clifford Chance's practical knowledge of its day-to-day use.
  • The delivery of feasible outcomes to all relevant stakeholders and expertly manage the expectations of those parties involved.

The true measure of success is how well the students' solutions helped lawyers use automation to reduce their workloads and laypersons get access to justice. And the initiative is having such a positive effect that LITE Lab@HKU's proposed online platform was recognised as the only university-led initiative nominated as a finalist for the Financial Times (FT) Innovative Lawyer’s inaugural and global Collaborative Innovation Award to recognise how interdisciplinary collaboration can and should steer the future of legal technology and delivery of legal services.

With this LITE Lab course, however, the benefits are reciprocal. We can share what we already know about the impact of technology on legal services from a practical perspective. Meanwhile, we see the innovative ideas that fresh talent can bring to a matter. Such collaborations are hugely important to us too. By connecting corporate legal teams, law students, and lawtech start-ups in Hong Kong, and involving law firms like Clifford Chance, LITE Lab@HKU presents a hopeful and collaborative direction for the development of the future of legal technology and future of legal education. .

Are you interested in discussing possible new collaborations and what we can achieve together? Please get in touch with a member of our Best Delivery team to start the conversation today.

Written by:

Tania Kuklina, Continuous Improvement Portfolio Manager, Clifford Chance Hong Kong

Naomi Herman, Regional Learning and Development Manager, Clifford Chance Singapore