Long the realm of physical work and manufacturing, automation is now well and truly part of the professional services world.
With digitisation and cloud-based technology empowering an ever-greater ability to automate lower-level tasks, lawyers across the world should look at this as a real opportunity to “let lawyers be lawyers”. Automation, in time, will give the legal profession the capability to effectively “outsource” routine and burdensome work to technology – and to augment the provision of legal services- all with the important layer of human oversight.
But if you’re still not yet convinced about the value of automation, or if you are facing some resistance towards beginning an automation journey, here are our top 10 reasons to automate your processes:
The most obvious one to start with – automating will mean you can dedicate more time to high value, high risk work and less time on routine work. You can rely less on headcount, or deploy headcount more strategically, and rely more on software – with the proper training, deployment and human oversight. To ground this in the practical world, if you have a small team of lawyers who spend an hour a day completing rudimentary tasks, this roughly costs you one full-time equivalent lawyer!
Not even the fastest human lawyer can crunch thousands of documents simultaneously. Of course, immediately, it might be simpler and quicker to just create one document manually. But once you’ve done the set-up behind getting an automation process ready, it is exponentially quicker. What’s important here is to understand the time horizon- automation makes everything faster.
3) Consistency & accuracy
By defining and plugging in your rules and standards at the beginning of the automation process, you can be sure that your work will be consistent and precise. You remove a whole tranche of errors that can be attributed to typical human mistakes. This can be particularly relevant for global businesses, fast-expanding organisations or post-merger integrations.
4) Staff engagement
Give them something much more practical and helpful than a ping-pong table. Automation will help your team by stripping out a layers of repetitive and low-level work. Without countless hours spent on ‘low hanging fruit’ your staff will likely feel more engaged and have a higher level of fulfilment in their work.
As mentioned in point two, automation brings greater speed. With greater speed, this can often mean better cashflow or cost savings for your business. Depending on your automation set-up, your business might be able to immediately self-serve and have no blockers to getting work done. The reduction in time to review, negotiation and approval will often result in more cash and savings, more quickly.
Automation will typically come hand in hand with data. Instead of wondering how much work you’re doing, or relying on your gut instinct toward – automation will bring you data-backed insights. This can provide you the evidence you need to drive certain decisions and also give you a better understanding of trends in your work. You can leverage this insight to nip potential problems in the bud or work out the bottle-necks to your team.
7) Demonstrate innovation
Not only does automation bring all the other benefits listed here, it also meets the growing expectations of clients and corporate leaders. Often tenders for legal work will ask organisations for evidence of how they are leveraging technology. Showing them your automation efforts will more than tick that box.
8) Risk management
Now not everything will be appropriate for automation. Highly bespoke, complex or sensitive legal work is not the best place to start your automation journey. However, for the more routine, lower-risk work, the introduction of automation should bring greater risk control – and ensure you have clearer (read: programmed) lines of approval and sign-off.
Depending on how you go about designing and deploying an automation process, it will often result in your team members getting skilled up in automation – at some level. Now, they’re not going to become hard-core automation coders, but they’ll begin to understand the limits of the programming conditional logic, the terminology and taxonomy of legal workflows and much more. Automation will give them a new language for business – this can be helpful in the wider context of your legal team understanding the commercials of your organisations.
10) Don’t get left behind
Even if after all the reasons listed above, you’re still not sure about automation, here is a great final reason: your competitors or peers will be or already have automated legal workflows. So if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you need to think about what you can automate.
Written by our automation expert, Claire Vines.