Chat with the Lawyer: Mr Goh Keng Haw Managing Director of Foxwood LLC
It is never easy to speak to a Lawyer let alone getting some time and precious advice from the legal counsel. As a Corporate Treasurer and now covering HR, it is always a daunting task and challenge to review legal agreements and binding contracts on our own without the support from an in-house legal counsel or without engaging a professional legal firm.
We had the rare opportunity to speak to a modern Legal firm founded by an experienced Lawyer in Singapore. Foxwood LLC “is designed from ground up as Law Firm 2.0” and their “focus is in the delivery of legal services in a digital age“. They employ AI technologies and are data driven. Definitely, not your usual legal firm.
Of course we did sneak in some questions to get some free advice. Enjoy the read.
TFAGeeks: Hi Keng Haw, thanks for agreeing to speaking to us and sharing more about Foxwood LLC. We know that Lawyers’ time is precious and you have graciously granted some valuable time of yours to us and our readers. What made you, a trained Lawyer, to break out of the norms and create Foxwood LLC, an online Legal Platform for the market?
Keng Haw: No problem at all! I love the work you guys are doing and am very flattered by the opportunity to speak with you. I would gently point out though that Foxwood LLC is a law firm that just happens to offer solutions through our online platform.
So, having both worked in one of Singapore’s largest law firms previously and then moving in house for a public listed company really opened my eyes to the legal marketplace. I was finally able to look at both sides of the legal buy-sell. Law firms traditionally focus on input (number of hours billable) and apply a brute force, labour intensive approach to all tasks and matters.
However, that approach does not fly in todays environment.
When I was working in house, it was noticeable that a significant volume of work was migrated from law firms to the corporate legal department. The mantra at a corporate level is basically to do more with less. This thus means embracing disruptive change such as new delivery models, efficient use of technologies such as AI and to be a lot more data/metric driven. Feeling that was a disconnect between what was currently offered by existing firms and legal consumers, I felt there was an opportunity to start a more modern law firm and Foxwood LLC was born.
TFAGeeks: Interesting indeed! And I noticed that your website is pretty new and the layout and format is not something that one would normally associate with a typical Legal firm. Is that intentional? And what are your and Foxwood’s aims and goals?
Keng Haw: Thanks! It was most definitely intentional. The website was crafted with the legal consumer in mind. We wanted it to be clean and yet very simple to understand. We explain in plain English how all our solutions work (with videos in some cases) and also decided from the get go to simply give out the most commonly used legal documents for businesses for free.
I maintain that law is not simply about knowing—or selling—legal knowledge. Foxwood’s goal is that our practice of law must be leveraged by technology and process to provide consumers ‘faster, better, cheaper’ and quantifiable results on a predictable, transparent, real-time accessible, and customer-centric basis. To achieve those goals, we have invested and are in the midst of developing several tech based platforms and tools which should be unveiled later in the second half of 2018. So stay tuned!
TFAGeeks: In recent years, many traditional businesses are going the route of being online, and of late, many startups are popping up in Singapore and globally. From a trained Lawyer’s point of view, what are the common oversights or potential issues that such businesses are facing? Can we get some free professional legal opinion here? 🙂
Keng Haw: Online is certainly the way forward! I think the most common oversight I see is that people still believe in doing business with zero documentation. It remains a must that entrepreneurs maintain a certain “corporateness” and set things prim and proper on issues like “Shareholders Agreement”, “Non Disclosure Agreement” and even basic “Employment Agreement” for permanent or temp staff.
One never knows when you need such legal documents, properly worded and professional vetted to back your case up during times of need!
And this is where I would point you to an article written on our website that tackles the issues faced by startups.
TFAGeeks: Wise words indeed for our readers. Technology has brought about many improvements to our life and on the other hand it has created disruptions to many industries. In your opinion, is the Legal industry immune from this technological onslaught?
Keng Haw: Most certainly not. Whilst the legal industry has been largely resistant to the changes that have happened to so many other industries, I believe that it is only a matter of time before we see a wave of change. Law firms are already wising up to the use of AI to maximise their efficiency levels and you also have chatbots that are able to answer your legal queries real-time in the US. It is really an exciting time to live in (if you are one who supports change that is)!
TFAGeeks: We see that Foxwood incorporates AI into your legal advisory work. How does this work? Is this the only differentiator between Foxwood and your competitors?
Keng Haw: The AI tech that we use enable us to review a huge amount of standard documentation in a very small amount of time. This becomes useful for corporate legal departments in that they now can outsource having to review NDAs, service agreements and other standard documents for a very small fee. In-house counsels are now freed up from having to spend a few days to get something standard reviewed, allowing them to focus on issues that truly matter to the business and the business units no longer have to wait a lengthy period of time for something as straightforward as an NDA.
I think the true differentiator between Foxwood and the competition is how we fundamentally approach the legal marketplace. We are in the business of delivering legal services and not simply selling legal knowledge. The use of AI simply makes us that much better at delivering a better product to our clients and is not used as a marketing tool. #lawfirm 2.0 as I like to say.
TFAGeeks: What are the issues that will cause any lawyer to lose sleep at night?
Keng Haw: Interesting question! I have actually never thought of that before….. ummmm…. The dog eating all the documents required for court filings? Either that or all the amendments to the latest document was somehow not saved and we have to start from scratch.
TFAGeeks: Last one, what advice would you give to any aspiring Lawyer or fresh graduate from the Law School?
Keng Haw: Go supplement your legal knowledge with other knowledge! Take courses or even a full degree in something else other than law. The age of the current cookie cutter type of lawyer is fast going out of style so be more than just another lawyer!
Be willing to learn. Law school is very different from practice and the learning curve will be steep.
Lawyers are in the service industry. Our work and the practice of law is to provide them with solutions to solve their problems within the framework of the law.