Singapore (Photo: anekoho/Shutterstock.com)

 

Linklaters and Clyde & Co have become the first international law firm members of Singapore’s Future Law Innovation Program, a set of government-sponsored initiatives aiming to help the legal community in the city-state adapt to technological change and innovation.

The Magic Circle firm and Clyde & Co’s joint law venture Clyde & Co Clasis Singapore join Singaporean firms Rajah & Tann and Dentons Rodyk & Davidson as members of the program, which is known as FLIP.

Current FLIP participants also include the in-house legal teams of media company Discovery Networks and French bank BNP Paribas, nine small and medium-sized Singapore law firms and nine legal tech companies.

The Singapore Academy of Law, a government body that runs FLIP, said it hopes to recruit 10 more organizations by early August to join the program.

Launched in January of this year, FLIP will help member law firms build capacity for innovation and explore new revenue streams, new business models and new legal solutions, according to a statement.

Linklaters said it has been involved with FLIP since its early stages, having worked closely with the FLIP team to provide insights and guidance throughout its development. In addition, Singapore partner Sophie Mathur has been on the program’s board of directors.

Linklaters launched a global innovation team in 2016 with Mathur co-leading alongside London partner Paul Lewis and Frankfurt partner Christian Storck. Earlier this month, the U.K. firm hired lawyer-turned-entrepreneur Shilpa Bhandarkar as head of innovation, overseeing the firm’s innovation and efficiency program from London.

The Singapore Academy of Law said Linklaters will bring the firm’s global innovation experience to FLIP.

In May, Clifford Chance announced a plan to set up a Singapore-based Asia Pacific delivery and innovation hub. The initiative is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board, a government body that launched the Professional Services Industry Transformation Map, another series of initiatives designed to help drive innovation in the industry.

Both Clifford Chance and Linklaters are under Singapore’s Qualifying Foreign Law Practice scheme, which allows them to hire Singapore-qualified lawyers and practice Singapore law in a limited range of areas—mostly corporate and commercial law.

Last December, the Singapore government gave a temporary two-year extension to Linklaters and three other firms’ QFLP licenses, which were due to expire this year. The Ministry of Law cited weaker-than-expected performance as reasons not to give a full renewal.

Clifford Chance is among the five firms whose QFLP licenses are due to expire in 2019.