Follow us

Is technology the new way of law?

January 3, 2017

Innovation, transformation and disruption are the buzzwords of today.

Whenever we think about how technological revolution, the emergence of newer industries such as fintech (financial technology) wave and medtech (medical technology) come to mind. Technological innovation, other than transforming the way we live and work, have also introduced new ways of solving world issues such as an ageing population.

One intersection that is increasingly garnering attention is that of law and technology. Legal technology, or legaltech for short, harnesses innovations in technology to better meet the legal needs of both legal professionals and clients. The benefits of technological adoption in legal include increased efficiency, reduced risk, as well as time and cost-savings for both the provider and recipient of legal services.

According to a BCG report titled ‘How Legal Technology Will Change the Business of Law’ (Jan 2016), the legal tech landscape is organised into three broad categories of solutions: 1) Enablers, 2) Support-process solutions, and 3) substantive law solutions.

Enabler technologies such as cloud storage tools and cybersecurity solutions focus on facilitating the digitisation of processes.

Support-process solutions allow processes ranging from customer relationship management to accounting to be managed more efficiently.

The third category of substantive law solutions involves the automation of simple or repetitive legal tasks, such as contract drafting and contract analysis, as well as document screening.

The legal tech solutions that are in development are wide-ranging, but here are the three key things you need to know about the landscape:

1) Legal tech is changing the way lawyers work

The majority of legal technology solutions are targeted at improving the way lawyers perform their work in firms. Technologies that facilitate or automate aspects of the legal process, from electronic discovery to legal process outsourcing, are not at all new. An example of such is Ravel Law in America, arguably leading the pack their analytics platform that aids legal research.

Serving the same market at a much higher level is legal technology that employs artificial intelligence (AI). AI refers to machines that are able to comprehend natural language and put forth well-backed hypotheses to problems. In a fraction of the time, AI has the ability to sieve through pages of precedents and develop conclusions, encroaching more and more into territory that legal professionals considered to be their sole domain and area of value-add.

Source: ROSS

A prime example was when law firm Baker & Hostetler employed IBM’s AI Ross for its bankruptcy practice. While some fear that legal technology will replace the role of junior associates and put fresh law graduates out of the job market, experts have argued that lawyers are still considered to still have a role to play in adopting and integrating these tech solutions into their practice of the law.  

2) Legal technology can also serve the end-user – clients

Apart from being a productivity and efficient tool for lawyers, technology can also be a solution for the end users – the clients themselves. The transition from conventional to online legal services has been going on for a while now. Lexoo in the UK allows small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to post their jobs and receive quotes for the job from pre-screened lawyers. In Asia, online platforms such as Asia Law Network enable the average individual to access a comprehensive network of lawyers and assess the options based on factors such as price and expertise.

With increased recognition of e-signatures and the availability of the cloud as a common platform accessible to a multiplicity of stakeholders, clients are also increasingly beginning to self-service their basic legal needs. LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer are examples of legal tech companies in the USA that helps clients better manage their legal requirements online. In Asia, Dragon Law provides a web app that allows clients to draft legal documents using its simple, Q&A interface.

Source: Dragon Law

Try for free

 

While the legal needs of a business have conventionally been regarded as a cost-centre that business owners place low on their priority list, the growing availability of online legal services has rendered legal services more cost-efficient and accessible.

On the consumer front, developments include chat bots that aim to provide basic level advice and automate appeals processes – all made available online and for free.

3) Legal technology as an industry is only set to grow

A Forbes article from more than two years ago declared that the legaltech boom had yet to begin. New developments in legal technology have arguably been slow given how most lawyers have been set in their ways. This is particularly true in less tech-savvy small firms that may find technology adoption financially challenging. Nevertheless, the industry is picking up speed. Beyond the legaltech startups cited above, there are a whole host of other startups that target the whole gamut of pain points faced by legal professionals and clients in their quest to tackle their legal needs.

Source: How Legal Technology Will Change the Business of Law, BCG

 

According to same BCG report, legaltech is moving past automation of standard legal tasks and towards ‘more bespoke, specialised activities done by lawyers’. This will compel law firms, both big and small, to re-examine their value proposition to clients. This, ultimately, can only be beneficial for the industry and for clients, for whom legal services will now be more within reach.

For companies: 

Learn more about streamlining your legal processes with Dragon Law.

Try Dragon Law for free

For law firms:

Service your clients more effectively with the help of Dragon Law’s document automation technology.

Check out Dragon Law’s partner programme

 

___

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post. See more of Dragon Law in the news.

How to select the right freelancer for the job

Small businesses don’t always have the luxury of hiring a full-time staff for each business function that needs fulfilled.

One way fill the requirements gap on a shoestring is to consider using freelancers – an option that is not only more cost-effective, but also provides additional flexibility. If you are careful in your selection process, chances are the freelancer could be capable of fulfilling your role requirements just as well, if not even better!

Top 5 Reasons Why Organisations Are Increasing Their Use of Contingent Talent

  1. Leverage the increased availability of expertise
  2. Reduce cost
  3. Avoid adding permanent headcount
  4. Increase the speed of getting things done
  5. Challenge our thinking and assumptions with outside ideas

Source: Harvard Business Review

Here are a few quick tips for choosing a freelancer right for your job:

 

Do you freelance? Learn what your rights are.

1) Make your organisation attractive to freelancers

While you may think you have your pick with freelancers, successful freelancers also have their pick with clients! So what are freelancers looking for? A portfolio, of course. What’s in it for them? Are you working on an exciting project that delivers impact on the community? Post-completion, will you provide them with a written testimonial? Will they be able to associate themselves with your logo or brand, and claim credit for specific projects?

Aside from credit, flexibility is also the Number 1 thing on a freelancers’ mind – for most of them, this is exactly why they set out to freelance in the first place! What tools and processes do your organisation have in place that will help them work flexibly, or even virtually?

Related reading: The technology tools to help you do more with less in your small business

Lastly, how will you reward them? Freelancers deserve to be paid fairly, so the least you could do is pay them at market rate. When freelancers go above and beyond to deliver your expected output, consider giving them a bonus to show that you appreciate their outstanding service. Words spread quickly in the industry; so cultivate a good reputation for your company and you will be able to attract top freelancers.

Related reading: How to incentivise your employees without burning a hole in your pocket

2) Use reliable online freelancer platforms

Freelancer and Upwork are great portals for sourcing for freelancers online. Take your pick of web and mobile developers, designers, customer service agents, consultants, and more – based on ratings that have been given to them based on their past projects.

Source: Upwork

If you’re a local business requiring field support, consider Singapore-based GrabJobs who provides ready-access to part-time talent, solving big manpower issues for the F&B, Hospitality, Events, Retail, BPO, Warehousing, and Logistics industries.

3) Shortlist based on bid and profiles

Depending on the type of expertise that you require, you might get tons of bids very quickly once you post a job. However, be wary of accepting the cheapest bid even if budget is an important consideration. Shortlist the bids that fall within the acceptable range and check out the online profiles of the bidders. Freelancers who have done previous jobs would have gotten ratings from their clients, which can help you assess their work ethic and reliability. Samples of their past projects can also help you assess whether their style will fit in with what you have in mind.

4) Shortlisting Round II: Test!

Once you have shortlisted to about three candidates, test your top candidates to ensure that your freelancer is who they claim to be. The ideal test would be as close as possible to the demands of your job at hand, and take somewhere between 20 minutes to one hour. Consider paying the freelancer for the test project, in order to simulate a real working environment and ensure the freelancer puts in his best effort into the test.

Assess whether or not the freelancer has been able to produce a sample piece that meets your criteria. This test portion should allow to more realistically and accurately evaluate the suitability of the applicant, not just in terms of the deliverable, but also in terms of communication, ability to meet deadlines, and overall work ethic.

If you are still unsure about which candidate is the best fit, you can offer each a one-month trial period, which will give you more time to determine which person is the most suitable candidate.

5) Align expectations and on-board

Once you have selected your freelancer, ensure that you align expectations with your freelancers with proper documentation. You need to have a properly-drafted Consultancy Agreement that regulates the relationship between your company and the freelancer (or independent consultant) who is not an employee of the company.

Key details that should be included in a Consultancy Agreement include:

  • Scope of the freelancer’s work, the duration of work,
  • Method of payment,
  • Conditions for termination of the relationship, and
  • How intellectual property (IP) created by the freelancer is assigned to your company.

In particular, it is important for you to define clearly who owns the IP rights of the deliverable or work product that your freelancer produces. Not setting this out clearly could lead to disputes about the duration for which the IP rights are assigned from the freelancer to your company, or the conditions that must be fulfilled for the IP rights to be assigned.  

Learn more about the different legal obligations your company has towards Freelancers as compared to Employees. Download our free eBook on Employment:

Singapore version      Hong Kong version

Even though freelancers are temporary resources for your company, it is still recommended that you provide a well-structured on-boarding process for him/her. This will help connect freelancers with your company’s culture and enable them to approach their work from an employee’s perspective.

  1. Connect them (virtually) into the office. Introduce freelancers to team members via video chat. Ideally, you can illustrate team member names, titles, and contact information in an organisation chart.
  2. Gather project documents. Help freelancers get up-to-speed faster and understand expectations by providing project documentation that shows the scope, research, and other relevant information.
  3. Prep the technology. Make a checklist of any systems, applications, and programs they may need to access, such as VPN or a company file sharing system. You may want to give the freelancer a list of programs and applications in advance so they can make time to familiarise in advance.
  4. Explain the brand. Provide a brand document/brand guidelines and explain the company’s core values, mission, and expectations towards freelancers.
  5. Give information in chunks. Freelancers often digest a deluge of project, company, and industry information in a very short time. To prevent overwhelming them and opening the door to possible errors, give information to them in chunks. 
  6. Encourage questions. Freelancers should feel able to reach out when needed, or projects may veer off-course. Creating a culture where asking questions and sound boarding are encouraged can save potential confusion and time spent correcting errors.

Source: Upwork

 

With an increasingly mobile workforce and connectivity that eliminates geographical boundaries, your business’ access to great talent is boundless. Businesses today should set themselves up to be flexible and accommodating towards contingent labour so they may receive the most benefit of a flexible workforce, while limiting the administrative and logistical impact of managing them. Well-thought out processes, as well as communication through documentation, help to balance this.

Lastly, don’t forget that the freelancer you hire is only as capable as you empower him/her to be: More often than not, freelancer engagements flop not because of the lack of ability of the freelancer; but rather the fault of the organisation for not setting out the right expectations, documenting a clear brief, or executing per the freelancers’ recommendations.

Have you had any good experiences with freelancers? What have you done to ensure you select the right freelancer for the job? Share your thoughts with us below!

5 Common Startup Mistakes

December 27, 2016

Intellectual Property is usually low on the list of priorities for startups. But founders shouldn’t be so fast to write off the importance of IP, as it can prove to be an essential building block for growth, investment, and even acquisition. If you take a look at many innovative and successful start ups you will most likely find that they started patenting early, and have a strong hold on their IP portfolio.

Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions we hear from startup founders when discussing intellectual property:

 1) “My startup has nothing worth protecting”

When a founder makes this statement, it is extremely hard to convince them otherwise. But what most startup founders don’t realise is that intellectual property is not just limited to patents.

Your company name, product names and logos can be protected by trademarks. There are also lots of forms of unregistered IP, including copyright (which may apply to company brochures, website content and other literature), licensing and partnership agreements, and database rights associated with your company data, as well as any trade secrets or know-how you have developed. Intellectual property in should be recorded and founders need to have a plan in place to ensure all forms of IP are appropriately protected. 

2) “All I care about right now is getting funding”

In order to secure funding, investors will conduct extensive due diligence, including looking at your startup’s intellectual property. Investors are much more likely to consider your startup is suitable for investment if you have an intellectual property strategy in place. 

The thing to bear in mind is that it is not only about protecting at this stage, it is about differentiating your company from every other startup seeking funding. Owning the right IP proves that a company is innovative and is able to differentiate itself from competitors.

On the other hand, a company that has a number of disjointed, unrelated patents may cause alarm bells to ring and provoke further investigation. It’s good, therefore, to have the IP house in order, especially if the goal is to attract investment.

A robust patent strategy also reduces the risk of underpricing, especially as patents will provide investors with some level of comfort regarding a start-up’s defensive capabilities, while also providing insight into a company’s future product pipeline.

3) “We can think about intellectual property when we’re ready to exit”

This is another common stalling tactic for startup founders to use. While your exit strategy may seem a long way off, now is the time to put the foundations in place to make sure that nothing will halt your plans when the time to discuss acquisition or IPO comes along.

It’s absolutely crucial to be ready for M&A approaches with an extensive list of documented IP assets to hand. This is a far easier exercise to compile this list while the company is smaller and before IP proliferates rapidly.

It’s another advantage to starting the process sooner rather than later. There is also the added advantage that carrying out an IP audit exposes any weaknesses in your IP portfolio at a much earlier stage, when problems will be easier (and less expensive) to address.

4) “Patents are so expensive, it’s just not worth it!”

Yes, patenting your ideas and products can be costly in the short term, especially when you consider registering your IP in multiple territories and factoring in renewal fees – but you need to think about the bigger picture. 

In Europe, the acquisition deal value is generally four times higher for companies with European patents than those without, according to research by Antti Saari of the Aalto University School of Economics.

Taking a financial hit can be painful at the very beginning, but by failing to think about IP early on, you may be cheating yourself out of a bigger company valuation further down the line. Think of your investment in IP like an insurance policy that will help to look after you later on.

5) “I don’t need to focus on IP right now. I need to be focusing on getting customers”

Acquiring customers is always a priority for startups, but it’s difficult to emphasise how important it is to secure and assert your right to develop, manufacture and distribute your products and services, now and in the future.

_______

This a guest contribution submitted by patent analytics platform, PatSnap, and adapted from Joe Bamsey’s original article here. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

Start your FREE 30 DAY TRIAL of Dragon Law.

How e-signing works with Dragon Law

December 26, 2016

As Head of Legal at Dragon Law I’m normally the one doing seminars and presentations. I get a lot of challenging questions from business owners, and recent one encouraged me to write this article.

A gentleman asked me if electronic signing (e-signing) is legal in Hong Kong. ‘Yes’ I answered confidently, ‘legal in Hong Kong, Singapore and a host of other common law jurisdictions’. This is normally enough, but he followed up with a more interesting question: Is it more open to fraud?

I used to be a specialist fraud lawyer, so I found this particularly interesting. We’re used the idea of ‘wet ink’ signatures, and seeing somebody sign with a pen leaves you pretty certain that it was they who signed the contract! But what if you don’t see them sign?

Before you enter into a contract you have no doubt communicated with the other side (it would be strange if you hadn’t), so that is why we normally comfortable with sending a contract by post or email, and why you can often sign ‘counterparts’…..each party signs a different document. If you send a document in the post then you assume that it’s signed by the person you sent it to. Why wouldn’t you?

Dragon Law e-signing uses the email (provided by the other side of course) to which a signing link is sent.  The signing dates are time stamped and the document (stored in our cloud) cannot be amended after signature (as can be done with a print out). So it might be argued, and I would strongly, that e-signing is more secure that sending a contract in the post or as an email attachment.

Not sure what e-signing is?  We’ve summarised everything
you need to know in this guide: E-Signatures

The gentleman in question seemed satisfied with my answer, but suggested that e-signing might be used to create ‘fake’ parties……fake shareholders or fake buyers maybe. This, I agreed, might be the case, but a fake name and signature can be added to a word document.

I’ve since had a good long think about how e-signing might make fraud easier than old fashioned signing. I even asked my colleagues to try and come up with any idea. No ideas yet!

Like most technological advancements e-signing is quicker, easier, cheaper, and here to stay.

Christopher Sykes

Upload and Sign your own documents with a Dragon Law free account.
Start your free 30 Day trial of Dragon Law now

 

Finishing 2016 The Right Way

December 25, 2016

The end of the year 2016 is closing in and there is a ton to do before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. In order to make the best of this holiday season, there are a few things you could get out of the way before the countdown begins! Lets take a look at how businesses can look at finishing 2016 the right way.

Sitting down to deal with legal paper work is not something we look forward to, in fact how often do we procrastinate taking even the most basic legal steps to better improve situations around us. But worry not! This Christmas use Dragon Law to make your life easier and to get the ball rolling before the New Year starts.

The New Year means new beginnings. If your business is expanding, or your favourite employee is leaving, don’t hesitate with hiring new staff as Dragon Law can help you quickly draw up a contract between you and the contender for your company in just a few minutes. Enjoy the party season knowing that you won’t have to worry or waste your resources looking for suitable candidates, and just focus on pursuing that really great business idea.

Looking to hire new staff? Click to learn more about the 12 Fundamentals of employment law with our e-book “The New Hire”:

Singapore Version; Hong Kong version.

Speaking of business ideas, if you are struck by sudden inspiration (the holiday season can bring out a lot of happy thoughts) – don’t postpone it to the point where you forget how awesome the idea was in the first place. Make 2017 the year that hesitation is a thing of the past and ambition in action – the way forward. Using Dragon Law, you can incorporate your business and have the legal documentation ready in under ten minutes.

Read all about the essentials on forming a business with our
 e-book “Incorporating”:

Singapore Version; Hong Kong version.

Motivated but still intimidated by the legal and procedural work that goes into getting started up? We are here to help you throughout the process, from knowing how to choose the right business structure when getting started up to when you should have your first AGM and getting familiar with early stage funding, even through the eyes of entrepreneurs, investors and lawyers! More so, learning from others’ mistakes can often help your process be a lot smoother, so here are a few mistakes to avoid if you are looking to start your business in Asia.

Another consideration when getting your business going is finding that perfect office, ie. the right workspace for your team. We have a few tips for you. Global cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore are great hubs to get your business started and we list 5 reasons why for each.

These cities are young and bustling and have a dynamic startup work culture. If you are looking for that perfect office space to get your business started or simply looking to cut costs from expensive monthly real estate rent, considering a co-working space might be beneficial. Great for networking and cheaper on your company expenses, these workspaces will definitely liven up your new year! Ensure your move in and agreements with the co-working space are clearly outlined and defined. The Dragon Law document building tool will help you quickly create new agreements and sign on new terms and conditions before you can say the words “bah humbug”.

Senior HR staff, please note – all your employees will be looking forward to the Office Christmas party. Why not make the night even more exciting for them this year by rewarding your employees for their hard work done in the past year. Remember happy employees leads to a happy work environment thus paving the way for your business to thrive and flourish!

This New Year come join us in being proactive and let Dragon Law take care of your legal headaches. Start your FREE 30 DAY TRIAL now. The solutions we offer are plenty and major time savers in busy times.