Technology could oust junior lawyers: SC Thio
LAW Society president Thio Shen Yi has urged lawyers to brace for new technologies that could do what junior lawyers currently do.
These "disruptive technologies" may challenge the industry's structure.
"Soon, innovative legal services which mass produce legal solutions may not only be cheaper alternatives to lawyers, but may also become better alternatives as they gain economies of scale," said Senior Counsel (SC) Thio.
Writing in the latest issue of the society's Law Gazette publication, he cited the example of the legal search engine named Ross, launched earlier this year, which can search over 200 million pages of simple text in under a second to provide better answers than most first or second year legal associates.
SC Thio also pointed to United States-based business LegalZoom which provides low-cost standardised legal documents online, allowing millions of people to create wills, incorporate businesses and register intellectual property rights.
"LegalZoom is now one of the best known legal brands in the US, better known than most law firms," he added.
That is why lawyers will have to differentiate themselves. He pointed out though machines can do basic groundwork cheaper and faster, they remain limited in other areas where legal skills are involved.
Singapore Management University law graduate Chan Yuk Lun, 26, who launched a portal where people can look for legal information and lawyers online, said disruptive technology may create a consumer market for people who could not afford legal services previously.
"But it is a tool that has to be shaped to fit the local market," he said.