Could document automation offer law firms the fastest route to increased productivity, efficiency and profitability?

04 May 2021

The majority of businesses run on paperwork.  There seems to be processes, forms and templates for everything, and many employees spend a disproportionate amount of their time completing them. 

And if you look at the professions – and, arguably, law firms most of all – the issue is even more acute with a huge number of expensive fee earner hours being taken up by the drafting of highly detailed documents.

Recent advancements in technology have provided the solution.  Document automation.

Adopting document automation offers law firms a wide variety of commercial benefits.  It allows you to streamline your processes, many of which will have simply been accepted over time despite the fact they are probably no longer fit for purpose. 

It will make your lawyers more productive which by extension can help reduce redundancies and more importantly, increase profitability.

It will make you more efficient.  This will increase client satisfaction, repeat purchase and ‘word of mouth’ referral. 

However, it is important to remember that automation is not simply about creating new documents.  Automation can also take care of a range of other tedious time-consuming tasks like filling out contact information, dates, collecting the required money laundering details and drawing out any special instructions.

It can also take care of the numbers by calculating fee estimates and make the signing process easier wherever in the world your client is and however many times they need to sign, initial, or confirm their acceptance of the terms.

Why should you consider adopting document automation. 

Unfortunately, the document automation process is often dismissed too early. 

Partners feel it will be too difficult, too involved, and too expensive and that all this additional effort would outweigh the benefits.  However, if document automation is managed properly this will certainly not be the case. 

Although the functionality of the implementation software will vary depending on the package, they will come with dashboards, storage, collaboration tools, and a simple step-by-step document creation process.

And the documentation creation process is always the first step towards a successful adoption.

All you are doing is taking your firm’s existing documentation (the commercial contracts, licencing agreements, property leases, purchase agreements or estate planning documents you use most often) and using them to create a range of new automated templates.  These templates are then used to produce new documents but producing them to complete rather than forcing fee earners to start from scratch every time.

For us this is the business-critical reason for law firms to at least discuss document automation.  Moving your standard operating procedure from creating to tailoring your most used documents will make you:

More efficient 

From day one you will reduce the time it takes to create a new document freeing up your team to complete a range of other tasks.

More profitable

With less time being spent on document creation there will be more time for everyone to play their part in driving the business forward and your fee levels up.  This will lead to an increase in productivity, revenue, and ultimately profitability.

More proficient

It’s easy to forget just how much legal ‘know-how’ is held in your documents.  If you automate the process, all this know-how is not only stored centrally but also made available to everyone.  This will increase your workforce’s competency and help you bring new staff up to speed more quickly.

More collaborative

Giving your lawyers the ability to create, edit, and work on documents from multiple locations will encourage more collaboration.  This will result in better outputs both internally and for your clients.  And this is despite the fact we are currently working remotely and look likely to be doing so for some time to come.   

Less likely to make mistakes

Pulling new documents together from different sources can lead to mistakes and omissions.  The potential for mistakes increases further when the work is repetitive or monotonous.  However, if as much of the process as possible is automated, the accuracy and consistency of your documents will immediately improve.    

Faster

Being able to respond to clients more quickly and more efficiently will allow you to improve your client experience.  This will increase your client retention levels and your repurchase and referral rates.  Better still, if your clients keep coming back and are telling their personal and professional networks to try you out, your cost of sale drops which again will impact positively on your firm’s  profitability. 

More attractive to new clients

Not only will your growing reputation for speed and accuracy produce some good PR and help you build your ‘word of mouth’, the way you use technology to benefit your clients will also provide you with a stronger marketing message.  You can use this messaging to differentiate yourself from those amongst your competitors who are still unwilling to embrace technology.

More cloud friendly 

With even more long-term agile working models expected to follow in the wake of the COVID crisis, the cloud will play an increasingly important part in your working life.  With less time being spent in the office, your team must have instant access to the documents they need wherever they are and whatever device they use without having to worry about system crashes or files being wiped erroneously.

A genuinely global reach

Once you are automated and operating from the cloud, you can service clients anywhere in the world, irrespective of time differences, operational preferences and even language.  

 

 

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