Love.Law.Robots. by Ang Hou Fu


Feature image

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, including a sudden prevalence of free online talks and seminars. If you're an introvert or have no qualms to stay up till late to catch what the other side of the world is doing, this is a boon.

I am afraid those days may be numbered. Once restrictions are rescinded, the push to go online would not be strong anymore. It's challenging holding an online event effectively, so many events may prefer to stick to its “core” audience.

When one window closes, perhaps one should look for others. Something old school still exists — books. They can deal with depth and complexity. At possibly a hundred dollars or two at most, books also seem fairly efficient in delivering information, compared to recorded videos.

A primer on technology law struggles to get on the same boat

I was excited about the forthcoming “Law and Technology in Singapore” book by the Singapore Academy of Law. Its mission felt ambitious:

This primer by experts in their respective fields offers students and practitioners an overview of the relevant technologies, a survey of their impact on the content of law today, and a window into future issues that may arise – as well as some of the potential solutions. The text is meant to be accessible to students and practitioners, as well as to interested laypersons. The authors have strived to be clear and avoid unnecessary jargon – simple, but not simplistic.

I managed to download the first chapter, which expands on the explanation quoted above and provides a roadmap of the book. If you want to know what's in the book, that chapter will be illuminating.

Lawyers are supposed to be wary of semantics, but I believe this needs highlighting. It's a book on the law and technology. Based on the road map in the first chapter, you're probably going to hear lots about technology and lots about law, but not much on practice. The road map spends three paragraphs on one chapter on legal education, which might not be surprising considering how many professors flood the list of contributors. One sentence mentions process automation and innovation in law practice in a chapter co-written by four professors. Thankfully though, it counts a founder of Rajah and Tann's digital arm as its other co-author.

Esplanade_whiteskyPhoto by OpticalNomad / Unsplash

I will be pessimistic and recount all my fears about what this book is going to be. Unlike most primers I am aware of, this book will be thick, heavy and impossible to finish in one night. Like almost every book that the Singapore Academy of Law publishes, it will have end to end walls of text. For lawyers on innovation, this might be an interesting reference book. Students will learn a lot from the text.

For innovative lawyers, I suspect that this book is not going to be helpful. If you are motivated enough to go through a hefty tome, you don't need more convincing that technology has a profound impact on the law. Substantive law is an essential aspect of a lawyer's toolkit, but this book's emphasis seems particularly heavy.

It's unfair to criticise a book on technology law for not having much content on the impact of technology on law and the changes facing the legal profession. Smart contracts, AI and the Internet are minor characters in the legal innovation story. In legal innovation, it's all about People , Process and Technology. The contributors list and the topics chosen don't reflect this.

A short aside: Books I recommend for the innovative lawyer

If you're an innovative lawyer and you want to do technology as opposed to talking about it, these books are far cheaper and contain much more actionable advice.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases made on the books linked here.

I've already reviewed “Sign Here” by Alex Hamilton. I remarked in the review that the book contains excellent insights and actionable advice on the interaction of technology and contracts, an essential aspect of law practice.

Five things I wish I learnt from “Sign Here” by Alex Hamilton“Sign Here” is great for anyone who wants to improve their contracting process, but it came too late for me.Love.Law.Robots.Houfu

If you want a real primer on legal innovation, I recommend Lucy Endel Bassli's “The Simple Guide to Legal Innovation”. ALSPs, alternative fee arrangements, legal operations, project management and a dozen other concepts feature here at a level lawyers of all levels of familiarity and students can grasp. Its reflections on the state of legal innovation in the States might appear alien in Singapore, but you'd still find enough here to make yourself the most thoughtful person in #matchworking.

I liked Bassli's book so much I am excited about her new one: “CLM Simplified: Efficient Contracting for Law Departments”. It touches on topics that aren't regularly featured, like a legal department's contract review policies. 😮 I'd preorder soon.

Buying a digital book shouldn't cause this much angst

I am quite certain there is no Kindle version. (Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel / Unsplash)

Whatever views I may have, I will still buy “Law and Technology in Singapore” because I like technology, I like law, and I like the depth and breadth of the book.

However, I am still dithering on the preorder because I couldn't decide whether to get a “digital” version for an extra $15. The page has no information on the “digital” version, so I emailed the Academy for details on what I could get. I wasn't about to pay $15 for a DRM laden PDF (even if I ignore my deep hatred for PDFs).

The reply I got was quite cryptic:

The digital version ID will be emailed to you once when our platform is ready for it's release in mid-October. [ sic ]

It gave me palpitations. I imagined a web page where you can click on the right column, and the page will animatedly “flip” to the other side. Other than that piece of magic, you will need an internet connection to access it, and you can't copy or search the book. Furthermore, if the Academy doesn't want to support the website anymore, it can flush your digital book down the drain. It's worse than a PDF!

Update (23/9): I have a slightly better idea of what will be provided during TechLawFest. Thankfully, it won't be as lame as a flipping book, but still...

Anyway, I ordered the book with the digital version because I had a lot of Academy credit to burn. Hooray for COVID!

Are books the best solution for this age?

The issues regarding the delivery of this product (a heavy tome partnered by a possibly DRM-laden web platform) dampened my enthusiasm for this book.

These issues are pretty ironic considering that authors wanted the book to be accessible. As mentioned in the chapter, they have consciously made it cheaper and provided a digital version.

However, to be fair, if they considered my wish list, I would have wanted it free as in free beer , and free as in libre.

To take their goals further, I even wonder whether a book is the best medium to provide a fast reference for practitioners and a deep primer for students. Books aren't searchable, take up space on a cupboard and can't be shared. Considering that the book will get outdated really fast, it will become very expensive too when you always have to get the latest iteration (if ever, if any) .

Wikipedia for desktop A wiki might have been more effective solution, if lawyers wanted to share their knowledge. (Photo by Luke Chesser / Unsplash)

If I wanted to find information fast, what would I do? Evidently for small firms in the UK, Google it. For myself, I like reading Wikipedia. It can be a detailed primer and a fast reference. It can also be searchable. It can even be updated continuously. Honestly, they can take away my Academy credits if they provided this resource free to all Singaporeans.

It's not as if such a project is without precedent. Last week, “Civil Procedure and Practice in Ontario”, Ontario's version of Singapore Civil Procedure”, became available for free on CANLII. A book that might have cost $1,280 is now available for all, including litigants in person.

Besides an open access e-book, there are probably other ways to make this book more accessible. To cut through the walls of text and overlaps of content across discrete chapters, a chatbot using machine learning might be able to automate the searching of answers. This sounds like a fun project to get my hands dirty in machine learning again. Now to figure out how to scrape this thing once it comes out.


The goals of “Law and Technology in Singapore” are laudable. However, it's readily apparent that it doesn't go far enough. The authors wanted to write a book, and have tried to push it as hard as it can go. Maybe the real lesson is that we haven't grappled directly with the challenges of the medium. So for the innovative lawyer in me, I am always going to appreciate books, but I would always be reminded of what it could have been.

#blog #BookReview #COVID-19 #Law #Singapore #TechLawFest #TechnologyLaw

Author Portrait Love.Law.Robots. – A blog by Ang Hou Fu

Feature image

Everything changed about the pandemic — we now work from home, learn from home, and attend video conferences rather than phone calls or face to face meetings. Some of this is weird, but some of this is even weirder. One example of the latter is that I have become more used to seeing myself on the screen.

What does this mean for the blog? I will be exploring how to make videos to write posts. This is not a change I would have expected in June when I moved to Ghost. (Certainly, Ghost's membership functions have made it easier to convince me that the effort to learn and produce will be worth it.)

I originally believed that video posts take a lot of effort to create but are also lame. (I read faster than I watch someone.) Now, I have come to believe it can be more fun and engaging. So, you might hear my voice and see my face soon. I ain't a handsome fella, so please don't be turned away!

I know how to do it technically, and the equipment should not be difficult to get. I will be experimenting, though, so hang on.

What I am reading now

  • I am a big admirer of Suffolk Law School's LIT Lab. I might be biased because they pervasively use docassemble, a free and open-source LegalTech tool. During the pandemic, they have managed to take docassemble further and write a law review article about their experience. It's an encouraging story about building community and marshalling disparate resources for access to justice (A2J). I believe Open Source was an important factor in its success, so hopefully, it is a blueprint for other labs.

Digital Curb Cuts: Towards an Inclusive Open Forms EcosystemIn this paper we focus on digital curb cuts created during the pandemic: improvements designed to increase accessibility that benefit people beyond the populatiSee all articles by Quinten Steenhuis

  • What in the world is Moneyball? It's a strange story whereby a baseball team followed the data by hiring players based on their statistics rather than traditional indicators like reputation and overachieved. Can this be applied to hiring and retaining law firm associates? Legal Evolution suggests it can, but that's not what's interesting about the story. You will read about the intransigence of law firm leaders in the face of data, and you'd be convinced of the importance of leadership in innovation. This is especially the case where the results can be counterintuitive, upsetting, or confusing to leaders. On the other hand, I am sure a law firm leader will be willing to employ “sabermetrics” to achieve the best team on the cheap.

Moneyball for law firm associates: a 15-year retrospective (257) | Legal EvolutionPretty much everything was a counterintuitive curveball. In April of 2006, more than 15 years ago, I wrote a memo to file that would go on to exert aLegal EvolutionBill Henderson

TechLaw.Fest 2021TechLaw.Fest 2021TechLaw.Fest 2021

  • I have always wondered whether I should get Singapore Corporate Counsel Association membership. Quite frankly, the only benefits I see so far are the self-satisfaction of belonging and the somewhat discounted LawNet subscription. Here's something else to consider: the “First” Technology Law Course in Singapore from SCCA. It looks pretty, but I can't find the module details... oh wait, here it is. Since technology law is prevalent and not well taught in law schools (at least during my time), this will be of interest if you need to pick up some substantive knowledge.


  • If you think it's ridiculous to cough out nearly $2,000 for a bunch of recorded videos (that's why I'm getting in the video business, baby!), you can wait a little longer for a book. It's coming out in October. The introduction to the book outlining its contents is available if you surrender your personal details. Its coverage is definitely broad, so it's useful for fun reading. That's about the only reason why I would get it. It's the second book in Singapore regarding the substantive legal issues of technology, along with several tomes of books on data protection. I am exhausted. Really.


I finally managed to do some housekeeping and write a featured post containing all the content I have worked on for PDPC Decisions. I know it's not easy to find the “journey” on the website, so hopefully, you will have a better experience.

Post Updates

As mentioned above, videos are coming to this blog. I haven't decided exactly what kind of content should be in a video. However, I am sure that any tutorial or long-form video will be a full member's privilege. It takes away the vexing question of whether I have to “lock up” posts to provide value to full members and what kind of posts should be public. As I said, I am experimenting with this model, so I will be changing as I go.


I am using my laptop to obscure the mess on my table.

That's it for this newsletter. Maybe there's a chance you will see me in a video for the next one.

(For curious subscribers, there isn't a “swag” shop for this blog. However, if you would like a shiny sticker on your laptop, you can email me with your details, and I can send one for free to you.)

#Newsletter #COVID-19 #docassemble #TechLawFest #TechnologyLaw #DataScience #Singapore

Author Portrait Love.Law.Robots. – A blog by Ang Hou Fu

Feature image

😩😢😴 I am not surprised these days were coming, although less than 2 months is a bit sooner than I expected.

I am sure this would make a great post one day , but I am feeling burnt out right now. Implementing a policy is always a tiresome project, but I am glad it's about e-signature. The roll-out has received a lot of praise and I liked many aspects of it personally.

Right now though, I feel like I need to bury myself in a hole and stay quiet for a while. So, forgive me if this newsletter feels a bit truncated than usual.

What I am reading now

Before I leave the topic of implementing e-Signature policies in your company, I just wanted to write about Sign Here: The Enterprise Guide to Signing Contracts Quickly by Alex Hamilton from Radiant Law. I mentioned Radiant Law in my previous post about law firms that are different. I finished this book in a few weeks ago and found it actionable. Unfortunately, I had to obtain my insights the hard way, i.e. looking at things critically and a bit of experimentation.

You don't need to go through that like me. Just buy the book.

Sign Here: The enterprise guide to closing contracts quickly : Hamilton, Alex: BooksSign Here: The enterprise guide to closing contracts quickly : Hamilton, Alex: BooksAlex HamiltonI earn a commission from purchases made through this affiliate link.

In Singapore, our return to normalcy has been stayed by the latest COVID-19 cluster. What started from a KTV cluster moved quickly into fish markets and has now extended its tentacles in several locations of everyday life here. It's not been highlighted, but this scenario would have been very dangerous at the same time last year. Our neighbours are vivid examples. We have to thank vaccinations.

Amidst all this, there's been talk as to how to push more people to vaccinate. At last, we have come to a very sticky situation.

Adrian Tan on LinkedIn: EXPLAINER: Employers have legal right to mandate COVID shots | 48 commentsCan a business require employees to be vaccinated, in order to protect other employees and customers? Google and Facebook have said that US employees ... 48 comments on LinkedInLinkedIn349 Posts

I actually encounter loved ones who refused to be vaccinated. Many of their reasons aren't rational. They are unmoored by emotions. They are clouded by misinformation. Worse, when you think about it, many of them (like old folks) are the ones who stand to gain the most from vaccinations.

In the meantime, my family and I feel threatened by their stupidity and selfishness.

At this point, I feel that people should be ordered to vaccinate. These subtle nudges just don't help. People who think they are exercising their free choice look like they are just waiting for the rest of us to protect them. What do you think?


Somebody might have read my post. I was excited about the HTML conversion of the PDF judgements in the Singapore Supreme Court website but complained why this feature was being hidden.

Now that the page is more powerful, it makes the secrecy about it even more confounding. From a UX viewpoint, the way results are displayed make it look like a PDF is the only way to read them. The hint to the search box still suggests that you can only search case titles. Why improve something if you're not going to show it off?!

New homes for judgements in the UK... and Singapore?I look at envy in the UK while exploring some confusing changes in the Singapore Supreme Court website.Love.Law.Robots.Houfu

Now, the pretty PDFs are hidden by default on the Supreme Court Website. The converted HTML judgement is now the primary way to access the judgement. The search options now seem to have left Beta and are reflecting its new powers in the descriptions.

In order to get the PDF, you now have to click on the judgement and then click download PDF.

... and now the case summaries have disappeared from the page.

Still, It's a step in the right direction. We will take whatever little victory we can get.

Post updates

While I get over my work hangover, I am currently working on my first feature since moving to Ghost. It's gonna be a list of free legal resources in Singapore... and it'd be free. This might upset Full Subscribers, of which they are currently 0 (why? Come on, guys!!). As mentioned, being a full subscriber should be a token to say thanks, and I will be grateful.

I am moving posts slowly in the meantime. The move is nearly complete since I don't intend to move everything here. While I learn more about how Ghost affects my search engine performance, I reckon that I will not make any new restrictions for now.

That's it!

My TraceTogether app now says I am fully vaccinated. Some have claimed that September is the month to go travelling. Well, I don't know much about that. I'll be staying home and nursing my burning out for now.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to reach out!

#Newsletter #E-signature #COVID-19 #Judgements #SupremeCourtSingapore

Author Portrait Love.Law.Robots. – A blog by Ang Hou Fu