The legal profession has come a long way in adopting technology to improve operations. However, legal and compliance tasks continue to concern most organizations with slow, manual, and paper-based processes. This leads not only to high costs and slow response times, but many errors, duplication of effort, and even missed opportunities.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help in-house legal departments, as well as independent law firms, automate many repetitive legal and compliance tasks. This allows highly skilled legal professionals to focus on the work that matters most: mastering the law and providing clients the best legal advice possible.
Legal and compliance leaders are also eager to play an increasing role in driving innovation, such as intellectual property advances in new technologies, products, and business models.
Addressing Cost Pressures
A recent survey in LegalTech Buyers’ Guide indicated cost pressures to improve efficiency are cited by 69% of general counsel as a driving force in their daily roles. Only 28% of legal departments are hiring, yet 82% of departments expect their legal needs to increase. In a bid to reduce costs, in-house teams now handle approximately 75% of their legal work. This is in direct reaction to the inevitable pressure for law firms to try to increase billable hours. Because of cost pressures many in-house legal departments and independent law firms have turned to using Alternative Legal Service Providers (ALSPs) as a cost reduction solution. According to a recent survey, at least 51% of law firms and 60% of corporate legal departments use ALSPs for at least one type of service.
Engaging in More Strategic Lawyering
Another challenge facing the legal profession is a need to move away from less valuable work to accomplish more strategic legal activities.
General Counsels that successfully move into performing more strategic work are rewarded with higher levels of C-suite peer satisfaction. However, C-suite approval ratings still remain lower in terms of General Counsels’ abilities to maximize value (47%), leverage technology (27%) and empowering the broader business with training or self-service tools (19%). Those that stay too focused on meat and potato legal and compliance work don’t fare as well with their peers.
Increasing Compliance and Regulatory Workloads
As business continues to globalize, organizations face a bewildering and growing array of regulations and compliance requirements. Also, despite the adoption of digital technologies like cloud, mobile, blockchain, and e-signatures in much of the private sector, many government jurisdictions lag in adoption and still require paper formats for a host of legal and compliance documents: employment contracts, commercial contracts, and deeds, just to name a few. The administrative burden on both people and the environment is enormous.
Key to solving many of these challenges is an approach that seeks to identify all routine rulesbased tasks and uses RPA to automate them,
freeing the professional to achieve their full potential: an Automation First approach. With the convergence of RPA, artificial intelligence
(AI), and business process automation (BPA), leading organizations’ boardrooms are positioning automation as a critical way to drive successful digital transformation initiatives. The approach distinguishes the type of work that is more suitable to humans in comparison with the type that’s more suitable for today’s modern technology. Forward-thinking legal organizations can promote higher value, complex, and fundamentally more human tasks for their
employees by supplying them with robots as a technology to do the mundane, less-valuable and time-consuming tasks their jobs entail. In order to maximize the opportunity from automation, it is critical to democratize access to it, freeing every person from the mundane so they can focus on what matters most is the objective. The necessary requirement therefore is a platform that is available to all, not just highly trained developers or data scientists. Legal departments and law firms are in the unique position to take RPA to the next level in its evolution by designing innovative legal processes that are far more complex than simple repetitive tasks. Automating legal, ting More Effective Legal, compliance, and other regulatory mandatory processes will impact the way we think about compliance with law. It will shift the perception that legal compliance delays business opportunities to a perception that compliance drives them.
Processes for Legal to Start Automating
• The receipt, routing, storage and recording of contracts
• New Matter Requests
• Vendor forms
• Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
• Conflict of interest statements
• The review of external legal data sources for changes in regulations and compliance requirements
• The comparison of documents for flagging or verifying changes in the documents including more complex reviews
Automation Approach to Take
STEP 1: Embrace Automation through Rapid Prototyping
The first step in any automation journey starts with an analysis to identify the best initial target processes. One best practice is to look for processes that are based on common data sets or document types and that are repeatable. Within the legal department, a good place to start would be processes
that require the receipt, routing, storage, and recording of contracts, new matter requests, or other common documents, or the review of external
legal data sources for changes in regulations and compliance requirements. More advanced automations can compare documents; for example to flag
and verify changes in two documents. They can also identify and replace provisions with pre-approved fall-back provisions, sending them to other
parties for their approval.
STEP 2: Operationalize and Scale RPA with Center of Excellence and AI
As legal departments and law firms successfully complete and benefit from pilot process automations, setting up a legal automation center of
excellence (CoE) can serve as an internal focal point for automation best practices on legal and compliance as well as other vital departments. The
CoE structure depends entirely on the needs and business structure of the organization. Some organizations find value in a single, global automation
CoE, while others see benefits in creating parallel CoEs by function or division. Finally, as intelligent automation efforts tie closely to both BPA
and AI efforts, look for opportunities to align with, or even merge with, those BPA and AI CoEs. As the legal department and the rest of the organization become more comfortable with automations, they can add AI to the mix to expand to processes that have less repeatability and more unstructured data. As automation frees up time for legal professionals, they should spend some of their newly acquired time on process discovery, to determine
which, if any, further processes can be automated. Of course, they can now spend more time focusing on strategic legal activities that enhance
business performance. Automation, when done in a strategic manner, can catapult legal and compliance departments out of the cost center spiral and into the open expanses of strategic transformation and revenue-generating space. The result: a more nimble, compliant, and responsive organization
overall; higher employee engagement and retention; improved customer experiences; and business success.