In conjunction with the official launch of the Singapore Management University (SMU) Pro Bono Centre’s new premises at the SMU School of Law building today, the University announced a gift of S$300,000 from the RHT Rajan Menon Foundation, which will support the Centre for a period of five years starting from Academic Year 2017-2018. Both parties are also delighted to announce the appointment of Mr Chan Sek Keong, former Chief Justice and current Senior Judge of the Singapore Supreme Court as the Centre’s Advisor. Mr Chan unveiled the new premises today at the launch ceremony today, together with SMU Provost, Professor Lily Kong, and Mr Tan Chong Huat, Chairman of RHT Rajan Menon Foundation. Since its establishment in 2013, the SMU Pro Bono Centre, headed by SMU Associate Professor Rathna N Koman, has been instrumental in cultivating the pro bono culture at SMU and in sensitising students to social justice issues. By involving students in regular legal clinic work at the Centre which serves indigent members of the community, training students in client interviewing skills and managing legal clinics, and offering internship opportunities, the Centre exposes SMU law students to legal aid work and enables them to integrate academic work with real-life experience. At the regional level, the Centre also collaborates with Asian universities, such as through internships, to raise pro bono consciousness among students. RHT Rajan Menon Foundation is pleased to support the SMU Pro Bono Centre to advance the pro bono spirit within the legal fraternity. RHT Rajan Menon Foundation, a Singapore registered charity and grant-making philanthropic organisation, is the corporate social responsibility vehicle of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP (ranked 6th largest law firm in Singapore by the Singapore Business Review) and the RHT Group of Companies. Mr Chan Sek Keong has kindly agreed to act as an advisor to the Centre. In his previous public roles, he had been a strong advocate of pro bono work by lawyers for the less fortunate in our society. He also advocated the establishment of a mandatory pro bono programme for all Singapore law students as a realistic and simple for law students to learn from first-hand experience the legal problems that the poor encounter in their daily lives. As Advisor, Mr Chan will provide counsel and guidance on the SMU Pro Bono Centre’s activities and plans. Mr Tan Chong Huat said, “This collaboration with SMU Pro Bono Centre came about naturally. Both parties shared a common objective of instilling social responsibility in law students and lawyers towards the underprivileged. The Foundation’s support towards the SMU Pro Bono Centre embodies the philanthropic community spirit which we endorse. We are excited to work with and engage the students from SMU School of Law, guiding them to use their legal training to help those in need. We have already put in place a very exciting project to serve the elderly which we shall announce shortly. The Foundation’s work with the Centre will enable us to extend the impact of our pro bono initiatives by combining resources from the corporate world with the passion for pro bono that SMU, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and RHT Group of Companies exemplify.” Associate Professor Goh Yihan, Dean, SMU School of Law, said, “As stakeholders of the justice system, and in line with the University’s ethos, our School advocates a pro bono culture among students through various pro bono programmes which we have nurtured since our inception in 2007. We are grateful to RHT Rajan Menon Foundation for their generosity and vote of confidence towards our efforts. I am confident that together, our work will go a long way in nurturing law graduates with a strong sense of empathy and service.” “We are also extremely honoured and humbled to be able to benefit from Mr Chan Sek Keong’s wealth of experiences. A highly-respected and eminent figure, he has 50 illustrious years of legal experience under his belt. I have no doubt that, under his guidance, and through the combined efforts of all at our Pro Bono Centre, we will be able to make an even greater impact,” Associate Professor Goh added. Please watch the video for the full interview.
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner Azman Jaafar was quoted in The Edge article titled “Lawyers may need tech skills as AI changes nature of legal industry”. The article was first published in The Edge Singapore on 2 October 2017. As the legal industry is being swept by the digital wave, this articles discusses that artificial intelligence (AI) allows legal firms to be more innovative and efficient in providing legal services to clients. Azman commented that AI will result in a reduced headcount in law firms. While the initial commitment to acquiring AI is high, the cost of implementing AI will be cheaper in the long run. On whether legal fees will decline and if law firms could be forced to modify their business models, he noted that fees are largely dependent on the complexity of a transaction and the desired outcome rather than the costs of achieving it, though automated components of legal work may become less costly over time. The full article dated Monday 2 October 2017, can be found in The Edge Singapore.
Intellectual Property & Technology Partner Jack Ow was featured in the article ‘Space Invaders,’ published in Asia Business Law Journal on data protection and cybersecurity of technology in the legal sector. The article was first published on 19 September 2017. With the recent increase in cyber attacks, Asia Business Law Journal explores how the once abstract concepts of data protection and cybersecurity are quickly gaining traction. There is a clear trend that legal frameworks are becoming more stringent in Asia Pacific (APAC) countries. One such example is Singapore’s recent draft Cybersecurity Bill, in which Jack commented, “The Cybersecurity Bill gives the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) powers to require any person to assist and co-operate in investigations, and also to take steps to prevent and respond to cybersecurity threats and cybersecurity incidents.” Regulations concerning the transfer of personal data across jurisdictions are likewise becoming more stringent. “Where international transfers of personal data are concerned, then it is an express requirement under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) that the transferring party must ensure, before transferring personal data overseas, that the receiving foreign party is bound by legally enforceable obligations to provide a standard of protection that is at least comparable to the standard of protection prescribed in Singapore,” Jack advised. While many believe APAC countries could consider adopting standards to facilitate cross-border data transfer through a harmonisation of the various regimes, Jack rationalised that with differing levels of economic development, harmonisation is likely to face a stumbling block. However, he shared a reason for optimism. “The cross-border exchange of digital goods, services and even ideas between Asian economies could very well be a key driver toward harmonisation in order to facilitate and regulate intra-Asia trade.” Please click here to view the full article, as published in the Asia Business Law Journal.