Managing Partner – DFDL, Myanmar
1. How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the way you work as a lawyer?
The most obvious, and physical, is that I no longer go to the office and I do not travel between the two offices and jurisdictions (Myanmar and Singapore) that I manage. I also do not meet with clients or my teams and conduct all such communications via various web apps and emails. What are the key positives and negatives that have emerged out of lockdown? There are of course some efficiencies in eliminating commute and travel times however the negative is that sometimes not all information is fully communicated between the relevant parties and individuals.
2. Will you and your firm continue to use flexible and agile working in the future?
Formal policies have not yet been confirmed or issued however I believe my Partners and I will sooner than later debate the pros and cons and implement some kind of policy that includes the continued use of flexible and agile working arrangements. The details will not include the current 100% work from home arrangement however will presumably involve a split schedule where relevant advisors/staff can work some of the business week from home. Will you reduce the size of your physical office space? It is too early to make such a conclusion however in my opinion, I would like to reduce our physical office space and thus reduce our costs. As we are still in the throes of this Covid pandemic, there are quite a few unknown factors. For example how many advisors may want to continue to always work from the office; how many are more productive from working from the office, as Myanmar (and Singapore) economy grows and our office size increases; possible upfront costs of changing offices…
3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis?
Many aspects of our work had gone digital a long time ago. However, this crisis has now made everything go digital. The most obvious is how we communicate. It is not just the use of emails anymore, it is how we meet, talk,… All communications that would have previously been conducted via a meeting or a phone call are now digital: Skype, Teams, Zoom,…What has been successful and what has been lacking? I have been surprised at how successful it has been. However, more complicated contract negotiations are more difficult and less efficient. Also negotiations with many parties. It also is less effective in creating new relationships and business. In this case a in person meeting is more impactful and new clients and work is easier to produce/secure.
4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?
I think it will drastically change the legal industry however I do not think it will end the industry as we know it – there will still be plenty of lawyers in the world.
5. Has your firm changed its remuneration structure during the crisis?
Certain cost saving measures have been implemented however at this time major remuneration structure changes have not been formally considered.
Will the firm consider using a “Keystone” or hybrid remuneration model in future?
Possibly. This crisis has destroyed the status quo, it seems all of them. And as a result, there are opportunities to remake those that have in recent modern times become less efficient, outdated or simply don’t work anymore. Because the norm, the way it’s been done, habits,…now cannot be continued anyway, there is less resistance to changing them to a better, more appropriate and efficient new model. Remuneration is possibly just one of many such areas.
6. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years time.
To various degrees, legal research, due diligence, drafting will be automated and produced via artificial intelligence (AI). I believe lawyers however will still be involved and most definitely relevant. For example refining (and likely still involving major editing) contact language to better suit client and situation nuances and goals; strategic litigation considerations; drafting details in all scenarios, documents, letters,…; interfacing with clients and relevant parties and stakeholders; finalizing all first drafts of work products/deliverables that an AI produced; the actually using the work products/deliverables.