Singapore's First Legal Database Links Users And Lawyers Seamlessly
AsiaLawNetwork.com already features over 2,500 legal professionals worldwide.
Singapore, Oct 2015 - In an age where information is readily available, the hardest task is to get at only the facts and figures one really needs.
When it comes to looking for professional help, for example, database directories perform that function, but can only go so far.
As Singapore's first 360-degree legal database, AsiaLawNetwork.com aims to solve the problem for the legal profession by linking businesses to users directly. Law firms and lawyers can publicise their services to users who can access the right legal help by specifying search terms in line with what they require.
AsiaLawNetwork.com is part of the newly-established Interstellar Group, which intends to roll out similar one-stop resources for other professions in due course.
Just over a year old, AsiaLawNetwork.com already has a database of over 2,500 lawyers and intends to increase its reach even further. Currently, half of its listed legal professionals are from Singapore and the region, with the other half based internationally. Out of the 5,000 or so legal professionals in Singapore, about 1,000 are already represented on AsiaLawNetwork.com.
Founded in August 2014 by technopreneur Cherilyn Tan, the idea for AsiaLawNetwork.com came about when she was looking for a lawyer to help her restructure a previous business she had been involved in.
"I found that, despite the fact that I had many lawyer friends and acquaintances, it was hard for me to get an objective assessment and quotation. That was when I realized there was a niche in the market," she says.
While there had been previous attempts by lawyers to create legal databases in the past, these quickly stalled as they were too resource-intensive to maintain. Being run by lawyers, they also faced conflict-of-interest issues.
Benefits For Users
For users, the benefits of using AsiaLawNetwork.com are obvious. It provides a one-stop shop when it comes to looking for legal professionals as well as legal advice and quotations.
Mr Patrick Khoo, the company's chief technology officer, explains: "We aim to match the view of legal services by lay people with the correct aspects of the law according to practitioners. By utilizing Web 2.0 technologies like AJAX and responsive web, together with multi-dimensional database structures, we are able to deliver a powerful interface to a large and detailed data warehouse of profiles and expertise for both lay people and professionals alike."
AsiaLawNetwork.com, which boasts a team of 15, also makes sure all lawyers and law firms on the site are verified members of the Law Society, to ensure the veracity of its database.
Benefits For Lawyers
For law professionals, being on the site also carries numerous advantages. It allows them to highlight their areas of expertise but also to contribute to the knowledge pool by offering articles which showcase their authority in their respective legal areas.
Mr Shashi Nathan, partner at WithersKhattarWong LLP and vice chairman of the criminal practice committee of the Law Society, is on AsiaLawNetwork.com's board of advisors. He says: "I think this is also a valuable and timely resource, given the opening up and internationalization of Singapore's legal sector, as well as the Government's moves to promote small- and medium-sized law practices (SLPs)."
In November 2014, Law Minister K Shanmugam, in a speech to the Association of Muslim Lawyers, highlighted the growing pie for the legal profession here. He noted that Asia-Pacific's share in the legal market is expected to double from US$109 billion in 2012 to US$215 billion in 2017, to become the second largest regional market. In contrast, North America and Western Europe's share in the global legal market is predicted to fall from 69% in 2012 to about 61% by 2017, and may continue to fall for some years.
He added: "It is partly relative because Asia-Pacific is simply booming as an economy. We see that regional demand for legal services will be driven by domestic and cross border M&A activity, finance and capital markets, infrastructure and capital investments, and cross border trade."
Aligning itself with these new demands, AsiaLawNetwork.com offers SLPs a regional and global far-reaching visibility alongside bigger firms and gives them an opportunity to reach end users effectively. While previously, a potential client would only seek out large brandname firms because of a lack of information on alternatives, he or she can now use AsiaLawNetwork.com to tap on many SLPs which might be able to offer the same service at more competitive prices.
Ms Lee Ee Yang, associate director of litigation and dispute resolution at Characterist LLP, a small law firm, says: "Through AsiaLawNetwork.com, we secured a Singapore client who had a specific claim involving a Korean entity which we were in a position to help resolve. It turned out to be a win-win situation that benefited us and our client. Without AsiaLawNetwork.com, the client might have ended up going to a larger better-known law firm instead."
Says Ms Tan: "All in, it is a win-win situation for everyone as it makes relevant information readily available to all in the user chain - whether it be users looking for lawyers, or lawyers looking for a platform to talk about the work they do and share their expertise. The end result is a more useful, more productive and more dynamic use of resources that can only be good for the legal industry here."
For more information on AsiaLawNetwork.com, please visit www.asialawnetwork.com
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Ong Soh Chin