In general, automation represents different more or less advanced technological solutions to reduce human assistance for particular task or process (e.g. turning off the lights automatically when leaving an apartment). Similarly, legal automation is the usage of LegalTech software solutions to automate and execute tasks that are frequently performed manually by lawyers. On a more advanced level is the legal automation used for drafting contracts, negotiating content, managing approvals, risks and compliance and finally e-signatures process, while not so much on providing legal advice. However, basic legal automation is already used unknowingly with tools which innovative lawyers are already using in their day-to-day work (e.g. “find and replace all” function in MS Word). The fact is that even sophisticated legal automation tools (cloud based solutions) will not bring much joy to lawyers and organisations, if they do will not perceive the benefits of legal automation and fully embrace all the functionalities legal automation tools are offering.
The truth is that legal automation will not solve 100 percent of the problems related to creating legal documents. LegalTech enthusiast may decide to start with automation of very complex legal document(s) which contain(s) many pages, lots of clauses and different options. It is nothing wrong with that, if it is going to solve crucial problems and bring-in more effectiveness to the organisation. However, we should be realistic and start systematically. Therefore, it is usually better to focus on simple legal documents, since it would be more rewarding to complete the task faster, at least in the beginning of legal automation project. Regardless the complexity, the first stage before diving into legal automation is to analyse what kind of documents does our organisation has. Do you have many repetitive documents which are drafted frequently? Do legal documents have lots of standardized wording or draft options? Does certain document causing me the risk and compliance issues? Is the legal team overloaded and under pressure to do more repetitive drafting under time pressure and reduced costs? To successfully implement legal automation, the following requirements may be useful to consider:
- Organisation should be supportive before starting with legal document automation and give the project leader necessary resources to complete the project;
- All legal documents need to be finalized (agreed upon by all relevant people within the organisation, embodiment of standardized wording, all clause options should be taken into account and prepared in advance). It is hard to draft and automate at the same time;
- Legal documents need to be categorized, bundled into families and consolidated. The relation between different documents should also be made for increased effectiveness while implementing legal automation;
- Analysis of processes within the organisation and required documents to support these processes. We need to have clear picture what we would like to automate and what effect do organisation plan to achieve.
Once the organisation successfully implemented legal automation solutions, it will enjoy next benefits:
- Saving time and money by delivering legal documents more quickly while reaching the clients expectations effectively;
- Consistency and accuracy while reducing human error when preparing considerable number of the same legal documents;
- Increased productivity, since it is hard to maintain many legal documents manually, especially when minor changes need to be implemented (e.g. replacing certain clause due to the legislation change);
- Retain talented employees and improve job satisfaction due to the fact that routine legal work is reduced, so people within organisation may focus on more meaningful work and engaging projects which bring additional value to the organisation;
- Improvement of user experience due to the increased efficiency and productivity;
- Productization of legal automation and widening the circle of users outside the organisation for even more efficiency;
Document automation is not new. It has been around for quite some time. The more and more organisations started to recognize all the potential benefits of legal automation. It is important to have clear vision what the organisation want to achieve before preparing legal automation strategy. Many legal automation projects are driven by LegalTech enthusiasts and may very quickly run out of steam, if not managed properly. Therefore, it is necessary to have in mind all the benefits for the lawyers and organisations, while following the legal automation strategy once it has been set out.
Did you organisation managed to implement legal automation successfully? What challenges did you face during the implementation? What benefits did legal automation bring to you? Are you planning to start with legal automation in the future? Feel free to post your thoughts and comments.
This article was prepared by Marcel Hajd.