Marcus Lim Sits Down With Serena Lim of Bizibody Technology
As Lupl’s Director of Asia-Pacific, I recently had the pleasure of hosting three webinars with our early adopters and partners in Singapore about all things legal tech.
In the second talk, I sat down with Serena Lim, founder of the legal tech consultancy, Bizibody. Serena has worked with firms and legal institutions both great and small for over 30 years, as not only a legal professional but also a tech guru.
I wanted to tap into that wealth of experience and ask Serena about what her thoughts were on the future of legal tech. The following is a summary of our chat, I hope you enjoy reading it!
Suggested reading: In case you missed it, you can read the summary of our first webinar here.
The Current Landscape
I first asked Serena to give a run down on how legal professionals interact with technology at the moment.
It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on lawyers. It made firms think about how they performed remote and paperless work, and how savvy they were with legal tech.
Even before the pandemic highlighted the critical importance of legal tech, however, the Singaporean government were already involved in its promotion – and still is. For example, they offered support to firms who wanted to adopt legal tech solutions via various schemes including the Singapore Tech-celerate for Law support scheme. Today, we have the Legal Technology Platform Initiative (LTPI), under which we have the the Legal Technology Platform (LTP) powered by Lupl (the Ministry of Law’s technology partner). The platform has been co-developed – and continues to be co-developed – by the LTP Partners in consultation with hundreds of lawyers from small and medium Singapore law firms.
Aside from Singapore, however, there has been widespread adoption of legal tech from firms over the last few years. LPM magazine recently reported that over 60% of firms are now interested in increasing productivity and efficiency with the help of technology. 1
Serena has seen several trends emerge out of the pandemic and subsequent adoption of more legal tech:
- Many lawyers are breaking off from larger firms and starting their own smaller firms or becoming sole proprietors.
- Large firms are very concerned with data, both in the sense of privacy laws and how it can be used to measure KPIs.
- Automation and AI are being looked into more and more to cut down on admin costs and streamline processes.
- Practice management systems (PMS) are currently very popular.
None of these are surprising, however there is something else that is starting to quietly gain more traction. With the Singapore Ministry of Law’s plans laid out in the Legal Industry Technology & Innovation Roadmap,, and the early adoption of the LTP by small and medium firms of Lupl, more firms are being introduced and exposed to the idea of legal project management and its benefits.
We talked more about legal project management later on in our discussion, but the next thing I wanted to pick Serena’s brain on was the current challenges that firms face when attempting to adopt legal tech…
The Challenges of Legal Tech
Even with all the benefits that legal tech brings, there are undeniable challenges that still hang over law firms who want to try it out.
- Lawyers don’t have time to play and train: Any solution requires time for people to get comfortable with it. Moreover, even those keen on new solutions are often too busy to fully utilize all the features that are available. This leads to concerns with value and how much a new tech platform would actually be used.
- Concerns about data and privacy: The push from the government to adopt legal tech could be a deterrent to some, as there may be concerns about whether their data will be collected and mishandled.
- Not valuable enough: Too much of the wrong tech can certainly be costly. There is a perception that legal tech is only good for managing the business side of things, and does not actually bring value to the client experience. This may be true when it comes to practice management and case management platforms, but with the emergence of legal project management platforms, this is set to change.
- Old habits die hard: Lawyers are risk-averse by nature, and this is not helped by the fact that they are not taught how to use any legal tech solutions in law school. There is also the notion that if they are able to do their jobs well enough without tech, then why disrupt existing work processes with the challenges above?
Lawyers are smart…but this does not necessarily make them technologically savvy.
This is why people like Serena are crucial in the legal community, as there are solutions that do not come with all these issues if firms are better aware of their options.
Legal Project Management: The New Trend
The challenges and concerns outlined above are understandable, however what some lawyers may not know is that they can be solved through what we hinted at earlier: legal project management (LPM) platforms.
But what are LPM platforms, and how are they different to traditional practice management systems (PMS) like Tessaract and Clio?
LPM platforms VS PMSs
The key difference between the two is that a PMS is focused on helping firms with the running of their business, while an LPM platform is focused on helping firms with the running of their matters.
A PMS provides lots of data for firms so that they can handle their finances and KPIs, whereas an LPM platform harnesses client and matter data so that actual legal work is completed faster and to a higher quality.
PMSs are primarily used by admin and support teams, whereas LPM platforms are designed to be used by everyone in a firm in order to speed up deliverables.
Suggested reading: Want to get deeper into the nitty gritty of legal project management? Check out our What is legal project management? guide for more information.
The Benefits of an LPM Platform
More and more, Serena is encouraging her clients to adopt an LPM platform.
Aside from the obvious benefits listed above, an LPM platform also:
- Elevates LPM: Legal project management is emerging as a critical approach to how law firms are run — online communities such as Law Vision continually report that LPM is ‘here to stay’2 — and so it’s important to have legal tech that can facilitate it. Modern LPM platforms have firm-wide dashboards, checklists, and task delegation functionality so that LPM can be practiced with minimal friction.
- Encourages collaboration: Most LPM platforms have integrated chat functions that are linked to specific matters so that teams don’t have to rely on clunky emails or multiple MS Teams groups. Selected LPM platforms even allow secure cross-firm collaboration so that external input can be taken onboard in a secure fashion.
- Matter-focused: LPM platforms are specially designed to make matter management easy by allowing users to link documents, people, and tasks to them so that everything can be accessed from one place. A good LPM platform will also provide matter templates that can speed up and standardize processes.
Something else to remember is that an LPM platform can work alongside a PMS in a complementary fashion — you really don’t have to choose one or the other.
In fact, as Serena pointed out to me, very often having both is highly effective as one deals with the business side of things, while the other handles the legal work. If you choose wisely, your LPM platform can even integrate with your PMS for a complete, seamless experience.
Embrace the LTP as your LPM Platform
Legal tech is already moving to accommodate LPM, and for good reason.
Law firms must embrace LPM platforms into their workflow, and if they choose one such as the LTP powered by Lupl, many of the tech challenges they face can be overcome.
- Everything in one place: Matters, people, and documents are all linked in one place to make online legal work seamless. The Pins functionality allows you to even link external web pages and sources of information to specific matters, which is especially useful for legal research.
- Easy to adopt: The LTP’s user interface is designed by lawyers for lawyers, with the user experience front and center of mind. Lupl also offers 24/7 support and an extensive Help Center to make learning the LTP quick and easy for new users.
- Integrations aplenty: Law firms do not need to abandon the tools that work for them. Lupl has integrations with the common online solutions (such as Tessaract, Clio, WhatsApp, Sharepoint) that Singapore lawyers use everyday.
It’s also worth pointing out the benefits specific to Singaporean law firms. As part of the LTPI’s funding support, small and medium law firms can enjoy up to 70% off their subscriptions for up to two-years under the Productivity Solutions Grant. Further information can be found on the official site.
I asked Serena what her biggest piece of advice was for law firms looking to improve their workflows. Her answer was that lawyers mustn’t be afraid to invest in legal tech:
‘I have clients who spend more on tech than they do on rent – as they should do!’Serena Lim, Founder of the legal tech consultancy
I want to thank Serena once again for taking the time to talk to me and her peers for this webinar. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!
Want to embrace the future of legal tech? Book a demo today!
Marcus has over 10 years of experience in the legal world as a practitioner, mediator, trainer, and Assistant Adjunct Lecturer at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about bringing the legal profession the tools they need to succeed and is now Lupl’s Director of Asia-Pacific. You can follow him on LinkedIn here.