Photo - (From left) Art Harun of Hisham Sobri & Kadir; Xian-Zhen Mah, Executive Director of OMESTI Group; and Edmund Bon of Bon Advocates.
During an open canvas session hosted by Malaysian digital solutions provider The Omesti Group at the 2014 International Malaysian Law Conference held recently in Kuala Lumpur, 250 legal practitioners discussed how technology was changing law practice in the country.
Omesti Group executive director Xian-Zhen Mah introduced a panel, which included Judge Lee Swee Seng, Art Harun of law firm Hisham Sobri & Kadir and Edmund Bon of Bon Advocates, and outlined how technology was already disrupting businesses across all sectors.
"Even though many dislike and continue to dislike change - as we all know, change is the only constant," she said "Companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook have disrupted markets. Records and CDs have been replaced by digital downloads, Kodak film is no more. Borders has been disrupted if not bankrupted by Amazon. Blackberry is now a fruit once again. Even supermajor Nokia joined the smart phone game too late. What all this tells us is: with technology, if you don't change you become extinct."
"In the legal landscape, clients are re-evaluating their supply chain and looking at costs. Traditional law firms need to embrace technology to offer more for less," she added.
The panel shared views on how various law disciplines were already affected by technology. Speaking of conveyancing, Judge Lee said the five principles of simplicity, security, speed, skills and satisfaction needed to be incorporated into the system. "We need to go back to basics and question for example why we really need a cumbersome, lengthy Sales & Purchase Agreement when a much simpler document will suffice - and help save trees along the way. By introducing greater simplicity, we can focus on expanding our skills base into the more meaty areas of our profession."
Art Harun said many practices were specialising in a particular area of law while others are evolving into one-stop solutions providers. "This trend could help streamline processes and make it easier to achieve faster progress for clients. Even setting up a meeting can sometimes be challenging when there are so many parties involved."
Meanwhile, Edmund Bon stressed that the profession needed to embrace the changes triggered by technology. "We have been talking about change for years. Now we need to embrace it and take action. We need to adapt and adopt what technology can bring in order to enhance our delivery, create new opportunities and sustain future growth. New look law firms are already emerging where the pyramid structure is discarded in favour of a more open organisation with flexible resourcing models. We need to foster entrepreneurial environments that allow young professionals to flourish and take on broader roles."
"There is no reason why sharing of information cannot take place in secure cloud environments. Online dispute resolution is already happening and we should be looking to adopt templates for some types of transaction," he said.
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