Written By Josh Lee Kok Thong & Amelia Chew, LawTech.Asia
First published on 29 March 2018
News services are important for three reasons. First, it provides lawyers with commercial awareness, an essential but often unspoken attribute of a successful lawyer. Second, it broadens your horizons and may allow you to chance upon relevant cases or deals that you can follow up on. Third, it provides you timely updates about developments within the legal profession.
1. News services provide commercial awareness
Put simply, commercial awareness is an understanding of the business or industry that you and your clients operate in.  It is about understanding the latest major events in that industry, recognising the biggest players (and your client’s competitors) and understanding how the industry works and the major changes and trends that will affect the industry.
Having strong commercial awareness enables you to provide better, more bespoke services to your client. It is built-up by always being in the know. This requires lawyers to invest their time in keeping up-to-date, and to finding the services that give them the right information, at the right time, at the right (or no) cost.
2. News services are a source of secondary legal research
News services may also be an unexpected source of research. For example, in many industries, while watershed events are far and few between, a single blockbuster case in an area could be a harbinger of more similar cases to come.
News services can therefore be a useful source of secondary information for such cases. Another example is where you are looking at esoteric cases where Boolean searches on online law reports do not provide anything useful – a quick search on news services can provide helpful clues that help you refine your search.
3. News services provide updates about the legal profession
News services can also provide updates that affect how you practice directly. For example, news about the accreditation schemes launched by the Singapore Academy of Law and the Law Society’s young lawyer mentoring scheme – among many other changes and trends in the legal profession in the past few years was widely spread by local news platforms. Following the right news services will allow you and your lawyers to stay abreast of these changes, and plan ahead on how they might affect your practice.
This article seeks to provide you with various local resources and news services (from free to professional sources) that will be useful for you and your lawyers.
B. NEWS SOURCES
The following are some local news sources available online that focus on news in Singapore and Asia and major news from around the world:
(a)Straits Times. The Courts & Crime section is particularly relevant for reading about unreported cases.
(b)Business Times. This source focuses on business and financial news, including analysis and opinion on top business stories, as well as local and global stock markets.
(c)TODAY and Channel NewsAsia (“CNA”). Both these sources do not impose a limit on the number of articles you can read (unlike other news services, which allows you to open only 15 free articles a month).
Should you wish to stay updated on news with more international coverage, CNN and BBC News may be useful news sources. CNN and BBC News focus on US and international news, categorised not only according to region (eg US, UK, Asia) but also by topics (eg business, technology and science).
If reading the news on your mobile phone while on the go is more your cup of tea, these news sources also have available mobile apps. Some of these mobile apps come with a function that enables personalisation of in-app news feed with topics and industries that interest you, accompanied with a push notifications function that pushes the latest news to your device’s lock-screen.
C. FREE NEWS SERVICES
It may also be more efficient to use news aggregators that bring together the latest news from a variety of sources. Free news aggregators that can be saved to your internet browser’s bookmark list include Google News and Singapore Law Watch (“SLW”).
Google News aggregates not just news from local and international outlets. By tracking your regular searches and visited websites, Google News is able to surface news articles that are most likely to be relevant to you.
On the other hand, SLW is hosted by the Singapore Academy of Law, and specifically curates news relating to the local legal profession and industry. In order to make the process of staying updated more seamless, you can subscribe to free email updates by SLW to receive the day’s latest legal news in your email inbox.
SLW also aggregates the latest judgments from the Singapore High Court and Singapore Court of Appeal, commentaries of legal cases, updates from various law firms, and the latest legislation that has been passed in Parliament.
D. NEWS DATABASES
Finally, should you need to search for news based on specific parameters, it would be useful to use news databases that bring together news from a variety of sources. Factiva and SPH Newslink available on LawNet Premium are databases that focus on global and local news respectively. While subscribing to such news databases may be costly, the search function available can facilitate finding news from a specific time period or region.
For instance, see Kamini Devadass, “New mentorship scheme for lawyers to be launched”, Channel NewsAsia (29 August 2017) (accessed on 17 February 2018). See also Ng Huiwen, “New accreditation scheme for lawyers”, Straits Times (10 January 2017) (accessed 17 February 2018).