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Challenge: Reduce Paper for Board of Trustees Documents and Routine Legal Requests, Leverage Technology

Solution: Board Portal, Automation, and Online Services

“We were printing loads of paper and taking a lot of time to collate; a lot of our work was through emails — now it's all done primarily online,” says Gregory Chew, general counsel and chief legal officer, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. 

From All Over the Place to Just a Few Places 

Board Portal 

Part of Chew’s role is company secretary for Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) board of trustees and his team was thrust back and forth turning out board packs, collating them, and delivering them for each meeting. In the past, “The board would leave their packs at the meeting when done and it took days to collect and dispose of them,” he says. Now it’s all in the cloud (internet storage), secured, and in an app. And board resolutions no longer need ink signing — it’s all done through e-resolutions and time-stamped. All in one place, it's not just about efficiency, says Chew, it’s about “sustainability.” 

Just Ask Law, Legal and Compliance Team (LSO) Chatbot 

Amidst the paper trail tracking, his department, NTU’s legal and compliance team (LSO), often volleyed emails for just routine legal and compliance questions. Just Ask Law, the chatbot they had developed, is able to quickly interpret the breadth of the questions and responds with direct answers, including self-help contract templates and, if needed, who to turn to in LSO for help or to use LSOnline. 

LSOnline (ServiceNow Platform) 

Just Ask Law users who need more help than the chatbot provides and those whose needs are complicated can be supported via LSOnline, which is also available as a mobile app. Requests are entered for legal advice, reviewing and drafting documents, and more, using, if needed, templates in the platform. Work is tracked and saved in the cloud and users can monitor status along the way. 

Electronic Request for Contract Approvals and Signing (eRAS) 

Contract review and approval had been a laborious, manual process of “moving paper around,” says Chew. LSO conceived of and spearheaded the implementation of an automated, mobile-enabled process that turns out a completed approval flow and routes the approved contract to an electronic repository. 

Online Whistleblowing Forms 

Enabling a secure opportunity for filing complaints or asking for help is a key part of NTU’s compliance requirements. Whistleblowers can now access the forms online. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) 

Signed legal documents are now automatically categorized in LSO’s folders, with little human intervention needed. 

LSO Intranet Revamp 

Directing and assisting NTU staff — of which there are estimated 10,000 — to LSO’s online services would be a complex endeavor if not for the new intranet. Redesigned with a clean look and easy-to-find content, users get briefed on simple legal matters and how to use and access the platform and all its capabilities within a single touchpoint, Chew says. 

Becoming Adept at the New Tech 

“The change management for the board platform was the real learning curve, but once they knew what to do, it worked perfectly,” says Chew.  

For the board, says Chew, “The biggest challenge was members who are used to paper, but they all supported the technological change. Now they bring laptops, iPads, and some just use their phones.” 

The move to LSOnline was essentially a synch, he says. “It's a ticketing system — we're just leveraging what the university already has for enterprise work requests and assignments.” 

Still, LSO provided a comprehensive onboarding process. 

“We got a board platform that is user-friendly first,” he says, “So, it was 100 percent adopted,” And now, “Easily three years in the running, we only get better at using the tools.” 

Moving Forward 

Consistently monitoring needs, Chew says they are planning to look into acquiring a contract lifecycle management tool. “That will be a big one,” he says, considering the large numbers and wide variety of contracts the sizeable university staff utilizes.  

And, while Just Ask Law is well-used, he plans to get a survey out to find out how effective it is in responding to the questions users ask. 

“We are also learning more about AI (artificial intelligence) and how contract clauses can be picked out to tell the lawyer to review them and suggest changes. “I'm not seeing it done as well as I’d like now,” he notes, but it's going to be ready in the next five years.”  


“Other agencies have been reaching out to us here in Singapore -- they heard what we are doing and how well it works,” says Chew. 

Among the specific wins for the department and its customers: 

  • Great feedback has come in for Just Ask Law chatbot in using it for routine inquiries. 
  • “I don’t even need to see a lot of the work — it just goes into the repository.” 
  • The technology and buildout were not expensive but much of the savings in resources — staff time, as well as paper and storage, and more — is immeasurable. 
  • More than 2,000 legal agreements were managed via LSOnline by the middle of 2022. 
  • More than 100 legal documents are automatically deposited each month via the robotic process automation. 
  • Outsourced legal services have been integrated into LSOnline further streamlining the transition of assignments. 
  • “Significant operational efficiencies” have been achieved, says Chew, including roughly 2,000 staff hours per year in preparing board meeting packs for the more than 120 meetings involving over 315 attendees.  
  • In use for roughly three years, LSOnline has enabled LSO to employ analytics they are using in resource planning. 

Ways to Gain Legal Ops Expertise 

“ACC has put a lot of impetus in Singapore and talking to chapter members about benchmarking and issues has been helpful. I read many of the articles. I love the ACC meetings and apart from the social, which I love, I learn about technology.  

“Some ACC members are doing things that are fairly novel. Lawyers want to do it but they struggle with budget, buy-in, and change management — talking to others can help you figure out an approach.” 

Work-Life Balance and High Expectations 

“What I typically do when I come back home,” says Chew, “is mentally switch work off. And I am intentionally present. I put my phone away when talking with loved ones.  

“It’s become more evident even in societies like in Asia, where hard work is a badge of honor, that cutting off work at appropriate times is survival. I think it's what we saw during COVID with people becoming sick or dying — we need guardrails. 

“Still, with all the communication we have now, somehow we struggle to communicate — we need to continue to fine tune, both with chat bots and humans.”