Love.Law.Robots. by Ang Hou Fu


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One can have a variety of opinions about the pandemic but I will insist on this one. It made everyone treat online not as a cute sideshow, but as an essential part of working life.

While stuck at home, I made it a point to attend any conference or talk online that seemed adjacent to my interests. I attended talks on machine learning and AI. I even learnt a bit of linguistics.

One of the more life-changing seminars I attended was the first Bucerius Legal Tech Essentials in 2020. In short, I highly recommend it for someone who doesn't have much time but needs to dive deep and swim wide in this field. They lived up to their taglines: “ Curated. Intense. Remote.

You swim wide because they cover a wide gamut of speakers, from academics, thought leaders and entrepreneurs with their own LegalTech companies.

You dive deep mainly because the speakers are talking about their expertise (this isn't a panel show). I recalled that many speakers took questions, so you can engage with them.

The only bad thing was that since all the speakers were based on both sides of the Atlantic, the timing was horrendous for the other side of the world. I remember falling asleep in front of my desk, trying to figure out the Six Sigma rule around 1 in the morning.

Nevertheless, I didn't think I was the only person from South East Asia attending the talks. During the customary roll call of various attendees at the start of each session, you would get a taste of how global interest in LegalTech was.

People in Singapore would also get a taste of Bucerius Legal Tech Essentials when Prof Daniel Katz, one of the “hosts” of Legal Tech Essentials, gave a lecture in 2021 at SMU, Singapore. It was a whirlwind of 500 slides in 60 minutes. Note that there are no certifications or brownie points for attending or interacting. These people stayed up late for the LegalTech.

It seems that being in Singapore has borne other fruit. 2022's Legal Tech Essentials would feature timings more convenient for this part of the world. This means 8:30 pm here... which I reckon is a marked improvement over 1 am.

Legal Tech Essentials 2022Curated, Intense, Remote.You can sign up for updates at their site.

So if you're interested in the field but don't know where to start, I strongly recommend this. I didn't enjoy it as much in 2021 since I found most topics less effective a second time. Maybe I will give this another try.

At the end of 2021, I repeatedly feared that online seminars would be buried and in-person conferences would be back in vogue. I'm glad that Legal Tech Essentials is back and still remote. It was a light in a very dark time of the pandemic, but now I hope it will still light a few light bulbs to anyone interested in Legal and Technology.

#Newsletter #LegalTech #Lawyers #News #tech #TechnologyLaw #Training #Presentation

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

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Presentations are a crucial part of your professional life. In my line of work, presentations function as introducers, reports, training, proposals, summaries and explainers. Sometimes, presentations are watched in person or through web conferencing. Other times, they appear on websites for browsing or e-learning.

To do the job, many people will start PowerPoint, plunk in many words in bullet points and let their “showmanship” do the rest.

Your old ways of doing PowerPoint are no longer enough

Montreal Design ClubPhoto by charlesdeluvio / Unsplash

Since the pandemic and remote work changed the ways we work today, the demands on presentation have also changed drastically:

  • A “presenter” may no longer be present. You might not even be visible through a Zoom Window. Some presentations are watched in a video. Some people may even view your presentation on “mute” or by continuously scrolling to the “interesting” points.
  • Your audience consumes content differently these days. If I wanted to read a wall of bullet points like this one), I would rather read an article. Worse, if the content doesn’t engage, I lose the audience. You also want the audience to come back to you too.
  • Some studies claim that an audience’s attention span is about 20 minutes. Context matters. You might be forced to sit through the entire presentation like at a conference, but your attention still has to be maintained. Viewing it from home or somewhere else, you must get to the point quickly.

As a lawyer, I seem to have endless things to say. Figuring out how to say it? That’s the tricky part. Your personality and style contribute to your best presentations. Reading a block of bullet points on a template PowerPoint presentation wouldn’t bring that out. You would need opportunity, practice and feedback—all the time.

If you want to look at new ways of doing things, I wrote this post for you.

You can express more on your slide.

I found that the easiest way to improve your presentation is to abandon bullet points. The first step towards approaching any slide is to think about its purpose:

  • Am I making a list?
  • Am I describing a process?
  • Am I highlighting a point which I want the audience to know?
  • And so on.

Once you know what you want, it becomes evident that bullet points aren’t the only way to achieve them. A process can be described with arrows, steps or even a map. A list can be made of post-its, boxes and maybe even articles (for example, a list of news items can be illustrated with “newspaper clippings”). Such design elements will help an audience, no matter how far they are from you, to get the point.

Since presentations aren’t my core area of work, I don’t find myself being able to come up with a design quickly. A quick reference could be helpful.

In the end, I found The Better Deck Deck by Nolan Haims. Essentially they are a bunch of flashcards showing deck ideas. This is not an essay about how to make great presentations, just a collection of examples which condenses excellent ideas and how to execute them.

The Better Deck Deck: 52 Alternatives to Bullet Points | Nolan Haims CreativeThis deck of cards gives you 52 proven design alternatives to the dreaded bullet point layout and over 150 professionally designed examples of slides using these techniques to spark your creativity and improve your next presentation.Nolan Haims CreativeShop

Before I embark on any presentation project, I flip through these cards to get those creative juices flowing. If you do lots of presentations, I recommend it!

SmartArt isn’t stupid once you tear it apart.

If you believe bullet points are not the right direction, fret not; Microsoft PowerPoint agrees with you too.

In recent years, Microsoft PowerPoint has been improving on a function named “SmartArt”. It is an excellent tool for converting your bullet points into anything else. Today, they have galleries of ideas for you to choose from, including 3D.

I’m just kidding. Please don’t choose a 3D SmartArt! I beg you!

Unfortunately, it’s too much of a good thing. SmartArt, as well as the fancier “Design Ideas”, doesn’t teach you which design is best for you, leading to stock templates and bullet points in various shapes and sizes. These days, I can tell which slides were designed by PowerPoint, not you.

Furthermore, because PowerPoint tightly merges design and content, it isn’t easy to customize SmartArt in any profound way. This includes translating any ideas you have from the reference guide in the previous tip to PowerPoint.

The key to making SmartArt do what you want is to convert it to shapes. Once your SmartArt loses its form, you can arrange and align your shapes in any way you please.

This is my current workflow: sketch the contours of my design in SmartArt, then refine it by converting it to shapes and working on them.

This opens many possibilities and speeds up your presentation production by quickly creating basic shapes and designs.

Don’t be a Presenter, Be a Coder: SlideDev

Everybody loves PowerPoint because it is WYSIWYG — what you see is what you get. It’s easy to understand the tools, and there’s comfort in getting what you want right from the development stage. Most alternatives to PowerPoint like Google Slides and Apple Keynote also rely heavily on WYSIWYG.

WYSIWYG is excellent for novice users, but it’s easy to outgrow them.

The first problem with PowerPoint is that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of options. We had seen one of them already when we tried to create an ugly and unreadable 3D SmartArt. You can also wreck your presentation with different fonts and sizes and unprofessional-looking work.

If you’ve always wanted to approach a different approach, try Slidev.

SlideDev employs many features familiar to Coders — Markdown syntax, installation using npm and hosting on a website. You also get to write your presentation on your IDE, version control using git and include anything a website can do, such as embeds and CSS animations.

I can’t use Slidev at work because nobody knows how to read a markdown file, so don’t throw away your PowerPoint yet.

However, having tried it, I appreciated being able to condense the essential parts of making a presentation. Suppose you aren’t a coder but are very familiar with presentations. In that case, I recommend trying Slidev to get a taste of what it is like to code and increase your familiarity with web technologies.


I hope this post helped you with some new places to explore how to make your next presentation. During the pandemic, I searched high and low for ways to improve my presentations, and these are some of the things I found. Did you find something worth sharing? Feel free to let me know!

Would I still use Excel for Contract Management?Many people would like to use Excel to manage their contract data. After two years of operating such a system, would I still recommend it?Love.Law.Robots.HoufuAnother one of my Microsoft Office posts.

#tech #MicrosoftOffice #MicrosoftPowerPoint #Ideas #Slidev #Presentation #Books #Programming #Training

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

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Bar admission applications in Singapore are mainly administrative and symbolic affairs. If you missed the big one in July/August, you would gather in a chamber and have your admission acknowledged by a High Court judge. That would be the last time they would ever see a court robe for some.

In a rare show of drama, six applicants had to wait for their admission to the bar. Five of them cheated on the bar exam in 2020 by sharing their answers on WhatsApp. One colluded with another but fought the charges. All of them had, anyway, retaken their exams and passed. At the Attorney General’s proposal, their admission to the bar should be delayed by six months or a year so that they can “reflect on their error”. Choo J agreed.

[2022] SGHC 87Choo Han Teck J:You can read the full facts and reasons of the case in the judgement of this case here.

Update: Originally Choo J decided to anonymise and seal the case, so that the identities will not be revealed. Choo J reversed his decision on 27/4. “strong sentiments may sometimes interfere with the proper understanding of the idea of second chances.”

Choo J’s concluding remarks, in his characteristic brevity, are worth reproducing:

Measuring justice is never an easy task. Judges are ever mindful not to set standards that they themselves cannot achieve. They are loathe to shut the door on a wrongdoer with no prospects of redemption. But they also have a duty to prevent a repeat of the wrong, and to do so without breaking young backs in the process.

Some might claim that their treatment is too lenient. Don’t we expect lawyers to represent the highest standards of honesty and integrity? Wouldn’t cheating in an exam for bar admission strike at the heart of all that?

However, if the bar exam is supposed to show one’s readiness to become a lawyer, I start to feel conflicted. Do we expect lawyers to collaborate or show off their mettle doggedly? The approach would likely result in a better product for the court or the client is obvious.

If you start walking down that path, how we conduct bar exams becomes questionable. How much of civil procedure we learnt then is relevant today? Does everyone need to know about family law when only a minor subset of us will specialise in it? Do we need to test people who recently graduated from law school all the things they learnt from law school again (or find something they might have missed)?

I remember very little about what I studied or was tested on in my bar exam. Indeed, this shows how the bar exam has such little bearing on my activities in the law today.

I hope this incident is an awkward reminder of how relevant the bar exam is today. Interestingly, other jurisdictions are relooking the bar exam radically, though they have not taken that step. I like how this Above the Law article summarised the nub of this issue.

The bar exam has been a rite of passage barrier to entry for lawyers in America since the late 1800s. After more than 130 years of forcing would-be lawyers to go through months of intense study of laws they’ll never need to know in actual practice, the bar exam will finally be changing — four years from now.

Ideally, the new test will focus on seven skills areas, including client counselling and advising, client relationships and management; legal research; legal writing; and negotiation. It hasn't been implemented, and it's easy to be cynical about this.

Cheating should not be allowed on a test to assess your capability. But unwittingly these applicants might have drawn attention to something worth considering: what is the place of the bar exam, and is it instrumental in transitioning a student to practice? The absurd result is that those who wish to be admitted to the bar might have to learn to cheat on the bar exam to prepare them for the real world.

#Singapore #Law #Lawyers #Training #Ethics #SupremeCourtSingapore #Judgements #Updated

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

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I have been following the Centre of Computational Law at SMU with keen interest. They're the guys who illustrated the history of Singapore law with pretty graphs.

Phang Goh and Soh “THE DEVELOPMENT OF SINGAPORE LAW: A BICENTENNIAL RETROSPECTIVE” at paragraph 62/page 32. (From Celebrate 200 Years of Singapore law with pretty graphs)

They've also been involved in a pretty nifty combination of “Rules as Code” and docassemble.

Brand-new #legaltech
✅ Open Source
✅ Runs on #RulesAsCode
✅ Understands exceptions
✅ Answers legal questions
✅ Gives explanations in English
✅ Gives all valid explanations for each answer
✅ Integrated with @Docassemble

— Jason Morris💻⚖️🇨🇦 (@RoundTableLaw) June 3, 2021

I've heard a lot about Rules as a Code and I am curious how it could apply to real world applications. So I am definitely going to give this a run and see how far I can go with it.

As such, I was pretty curious to see the Centre in the news. Unfortunately, it's not really about those cool applications of computers and law I mentioned, but something dearer to every Singaporean's heart — jobs. It features SMU's new four year Computing and Law undergraduate course.

BSc (Computing & Law) | School of Computing and Information Systems (SMU)Singapore Management University (SMU)

This excerpt from the news article tells you most of what you need to know about the course.

Students take modules from both the university's law and computing faculties, with an even split of modules across the two fields. The course starts off focusing on areas where there is significant overlap such as intellectual property. Prof Lim said that when they graduate, students will be able to work in various places like tech or legal firms, in roles that may not exist yet.

There are some interesting things written between the lines, so let me extract them here for you.

First, Students graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BSc), not a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). This means they can't apply for admission to the bar when they graduate. It's possible to progress to a JD in SMU Law, which would allow you to practice, but that would mean 6 years of studies instead of the usual 4.

Second, the article appears to concede that graduates might not be able to find work which takes full advantage of their skills.

If you would like to know what jobs exist in LegalTech in Singapore right now, you can take a look at Legal Tech Jobs:

Legal Tech Jobs filtered for jobs with location “Singapore”. By the way, that single job does not require a computer science degree.

In all, a course combining law and computers like this is going to require (1) bold students, and (2) students who have bold and supportive parents.

But maybe we are looking at this the wrong way. This isn't for lawyers who want to code. They are for coders who want to law. And if you want to look at it from that perspective, many things start to make sense. Take a look at the mix of subjects in the compulsory part of the degree: from (as of June 2021)

Some knowledge of intellectual property law is going to be helpful for someone building solutions. Contract law, company law and the like are going to be beneficial for someone who is going to start a company, even if it isn't strictly in LegalTech. Torts, data protection, criminal law? Good to know, and will be very useful if you were thinking about Access to Justice. I am less familiar with the Computing Core section, but they seem more focused on creating products and running software development than I expected. Throw in some project management experience, and you have a unique candidate who can hit the ground running.

Would I take a course like this when I was 18? I don't think so. Students would generally expect to follow a well-trodden path to a career they already know. As a law student, it would be a lawyer. Maybe, as a backup plan, an in-house lawyer.

This is still an alternative career, but in an age of disruption, being able to think outside of your silo would be excellent preparation for a long and fruitful career. If I could speak to my 18-year-old self, I would tell him to carefully look at this.

#Singapore #LegalTech #Law #Training

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