Archaic traditions are no longer tolerable under the scrutiny of impatient client expectations. While the legal sector has held out for so long, we now face a deluge of game-changing automation software designed to circumvent lumbering practices.
The McKinsey Global Institute estimates as much as 23% of a lawyer’s task load can be automated today. This statistic is enough to ring the gabble for many as the unanimous complaint of losing billable hours to non-billable work persistently festers. Automation is feverishly scanning the industry eliminating bottlenecks and offering early adopters a distinct competitive advantage.
With so much at stake including survival, improved client experiences, decreasing overheads, increasing profitability and the reduction of errors; how does a law firm automate work?
1. Conduct an Internal Assessment
Over 74% of lawyers feel they spend too much time on administrative tasks and non-income generating ventures. Furthermore, the annual Aderant survey again highlights operational efficiency (31%) and technology adoption (26%) as two of the biggest challenges facing the industry today. Clearly, there are frustrations.
Uncover the Resource Draining Tasks
To begin the process of automation, a firm must discover its priority needs. To do so, a combination of assessing expenditure and tracking time offers a rounded view. While repetitive tasks may be carried out by junior staff and not be as costly, they still impair turnaround times. Have each member of the firm track all billable and non-billable time to trace exactly where congestion is occurring.
Collate the information gathered into a digestible report showing what areas cost the most financial and human resources. Once you can clearly see the most challenging areas, rank each cost in the order of priority and effectiveness within your organization.
2. Locate Solutions
Having ranked priorities focuses and directs your search for automation solutions. Depending on the timeline available, it is best to cast the net wide to find the right solution for you.
Market evaluation sites help to streamline the process, taking out a chunk of the grunt work. It is worth knowing that some sites have pay-to-play rules around their featured results. This means you get vendors that have paid to be there whether they are the optimal solution or not. Olive.app seems to be the best-unbiased platform currently on the market while Capterra and G2 are the most well know.
Once you are armed with a solution list, you need to do your due diligence. Assess reviews and references and ask for demos. Note what the vendor demos for you. Do they answer your questions and priorities, or do they show you the pieces that they want you to see?
For example, let’s look at Loio who are considered the leading automation software in legal document analysis, reviews, and proofreading. According to Capterra, Loio is highly compatible with operating systems and commonly used applications, offers a free trial, and has back-up support. These are important features in the decision-making process as the implementation ought to be as smooth as possible.
3. Choose Between Your Alternatives
Depending on how many alternatives you have unearthed (Over 5), it may be wise to include a shortlisting step. If not, you have arrived at the final stages of the automation procurement process.
Without question, your priorities need to be met. Vendors have traditionally held an advantage in the sales process and can dazzle with add on features. Disregard this to an extent and ask the questions of it that matter.
- How does it serve your team and needs?
- Is it compatible with other software?
- Is there a healthy customer care framework?
- Are there extras that could be helpful going forward?
- Which vendor spoke directly to your priorities?
- Are your team on board?
A positive answer to each of these questions means you have likely found the right automation software to augment your firm.
Popular Automation Choices
Gartner has predicted hyperautomation and AI to permeate most industries rapidly in 2024. The understanding is technology trims the costly fat that customers are no longer willing to pay for. With that in mind, let’s look at which automations have grown in popularity in the legal sector:
Legal Research Automation
The ABA had been dragging its heels over approving many automation tools including research. However, it has granted access to a selection of tools that answer the demands of forward-thinking lawyers. Perhaps the best-known automated research tool to emerge is ROSS Intelligence who provide incredibly quick results based that don’t require a consummate knowledge of legalese.
Client Intake Automation
The client intake process is utterly critical in the development of a trusting relationship. However, it is also often where errors can occur, and information can slip through the net. Automating client intakes with e-forms and client relationship management platforms cuts down on sunk time, no shows and human or disclosure errors.
Clients patience is continuing to dwindle but due diligence and accuracy standards remain. The divergence has presented the need for a new tool that quickens document preparation time.
The aforementioned Loio is one of the pioneers of augmenting lawyer performance whilst simultaneously cutting down wastage of human capital on repetitive tasks. Contracts and other legal documents are among the most inefficient of tasks and many firms have begun to use automation tools to reduce client dissatisfaction.
Plain and simply, getting paid has been a source of major frustrations to new and old law firms. The traditional process of sending out invoices that are routinely disputed before they are eventually paid some months later is incredibly outdated. A host of options have sought to address this issue with automatic billing cycles that increase transparency and trust in clients and get invoices paid quicker.
Similar to the outdated billing processes, document signing is even more incredulous. Faxing or mailing documents for signatures is well past its expiry date. DocuSign and Adobe are among the leaders in the e-signature space taking days out of the previously clumsy process.
Deloitte estimates, in 20 years time, 100,000 jobs will have been replaced by automation, AI and machine learning. The legal industry will be freed of many overheads, inaccuracies and possibly even bias. Legal valuations are in the process of automation with the argument that settlements become less subjective and based on the arguments of powerful lawyers.
Whichever way the legal sector trends toward, lawyers can be assured that automation-free firms will no longer be viable. Competition and client expectation will induce a race to the bottom for inefficiency leaving behind an industry far lighter of cumbersome processes.