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With AI being more present in different industries these days, it may be a concern for some about whether or not they will be replacing human talents.

For the law industry, however, having an AI to help out with the workload is probably news that many lawyers would rejoice for. 

“Having an AI eases the burden and workload of a lawyer by completing tasks that are less complicated, like guiding clients in the hiring and termination process, or preparing documents,” shared Dato’ Fion Wong, founder of AskAILA, with Vulcan Post.

“Lawyer can then focus on more complex tasks, which eventually increases their productivity and efficiency,” she added.

Helping SME Employers During The Pandemic

AskAILA is an AI trained and equipped with knowledge of Malaysian labour laws and regulations that are sufficient to support HR departments and employers in Malaysia. Clients can access its assistance 24/7. 

Dato’ Fion Wong is also the Managing Partner of Shang & Co., a Malaysian law firm known for providing divorce and employment legal services. AskAILA was originally created in 2019 to assist Shang & Co.’s lawyers in attending to existing family law clients. 

The rest of the team behind AskAILA are Dato’ Chris Chin, Shayne Thum, and Regene Ng, who are the Founding Partner and Partners to the firm respectively. 

Dato’ Fion Wong (left) and Dato’ Chris Chin (right) / Image Credit: Shang & Co.

During the pandemic, the firm saw a rise in the demand for legal services on employment issues, such as unlawful terminations. 

“Too many unlawful terminations stem from ignorance of the HR departments or employers that cause difficulties to employees. Although they may seek compensation and damages in the Court, it is time and cost-consuming,” Dato’ Fion explained.

Many SMEs would then seek out legal advice to deal with this but are unable to afford these legal fees, especially those running their businesses on a tight budget in the pandemic.

Hence, AskAILA was created to provide cost-effective solutions to employers and HR departments, in particular for SMEs with smaller budgets.

AskAILA Fees VS An Average Lawyer’s Fees

Currently, the pricing plans for AskAILA are as such:

PlanSmall teamGrowing teamLarge team
Team SizeLess than 25 employees25-70 employees71-150 employees
These plans are valid for 12 months

All plans include the basic features of the AI which are:

  • Access to AskAILA
  • Access to all sample documents & checklist
  • Invitation to events
  • Updates on the Malaysian Employment Law
  • Reviews of letters of employment

According to Dato’ Fion, the average price of seeking legal advice for employment issues through a retainer basis ranges from RM15,000 to RM60,000 annually, depending on the size of the company.

Dictionary Time: Paying for legal services through a retainer basis means paying the legal fees upfront for the year. It guarantees the commitment of the service provider but does not usually represent all the fees for the entire process.

Corporate Finance Institute

Some companies may choose to pay for legal services on an ad hoc basis, especially when they know exactly what they want from a legal service or do not need legal consultation regularly.

For SMEs who feel it’s a necessity to have a legal services subscription all year then, AskAILA would be a more affordable choice.

Adding Value To Your HR Department

If you’re working in the HR department and struggle with legal issues related to employment, AskAILA could be helpful.

“HR departments often terminate their employees without adherence to the basic rules of natural justice and procedure fairness, such as the failure to observe the proper procedure in termination,” Dato’ Fion shared. 

“This may seem insignificant, but the AI plays a vital role in ensuring that termination is lawful and the conduct of the employer is not seen to be tainted with biases,” she added.

An example of how AskAILA may help with the process is by providing extensive advice, guidelines and precedents in guiding employers and HR departments to exhaust necessary steps prior to termination. 

These include HR sample documents and checklists to eliminate errors that may cost a company up to millions of Ringgit in compensation.

“It is common for employees to be terminated for being absent to work. So, for instance, when an HR person is dealing with an employee who is late to work, AskAILA will prompt questions to see if they have allowed the employee to provide an explanation,” Dato’ Fion explained.

It Ensures Procedural Fairness

Dato’ Fion assured that AskAILA will not be taking away the job of a lawyer, especially in executing court work like cross-examining a witness and attending hearings.

That being said, she also highlighted that AskAILA does not determine what’s fair or unfair in legal employment issues. It’s only meant to provide guidance to ensure procedural fairness.

“Letting an employee go is not an easy choice for any employer. Meanwhile, for employees, losing a job without a potential alternative is very daunting,” she shared with Vulcan Post.

“Ultimately, our vision is to prevent unnecessarily time-consuming and costly employment disputes by ensuring that both employer and employee are armed with adequate legal knowledge and guidance.”

In the future, Shang & Co. plans to expand AskAILA’s knowledge to other areas of law and even out of their own jurisdiction, by collaborating with other equally reputable law firms in neighbouring countries.

  • You can learn more about AskAILA here and Shang & Co. here.
  • You can read more AI we’ve written about here.

Featured Image Credit: Dato’ Fion Wong, founder of AskAILA

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© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)

Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)