Driving greater legal efficiency with automation

The term 'time is money' is particularly true for law firms. In fact, productivity is critical to their success especially with the growing popularity of fixed-fee billing, where every minute counts against profitability. 

With a finite amount of time and growing workloads, law firms of all sizes need to find better ways to become more efficient and make lawyer’s lives easier. Doing this will not only help them to become more profitable but will also improve the legal experience for both employees and clients.

Making document creation more efficient

While many law firms have turned to cloud platforms to help them manage, discover and share their documents, there are more efficiency gains that could be made when it comes to document creation. 

This is because the creation of many types of legal documents, such as conveyancing and contracts, the process remains highly inefficient. Many firms rely too much on manual processes and data input, which can be time consuming and prone to error. 

So how can law firms come out on top in this highly competitive world? The answer lies in automation.  

Speeding up processes and creating error free work 

Whether you are a small law firm creating a client intake form or a large law firm creating M&A documents, many of these workflows can easily be automated which could save a significant amount of time and money. In fact, lawyers have reported up to 82 percent time savings when using document automation to generate contracts and other legal documents.

By automating the production of legal documents through smart templates and apps, legal teams can increase their efficiency, reduce errors, and eliminate the need to manually fill out the same information across multiple documents and formats.

Here are some specific examples of how document automation can help law firms of all sizes and corporate legal teams:

  • New client intake for small law firms: With the amount of competition between small firms, efficiency can mean make or break when it comes to winning new business. Automating client intake and engagement letters that can be passed to clients to sign electronically can save administrative time and effort. At the same time, it shows prospective clients that the firm is fast, attentive, accurate, and innovative.
  • Document generation: Especially useful for boutique firms -- such as estate planning, family law, or bankruptcy practices -- that offer fixed rates for legal packages rather than charging hourly, the ability to save time creating documents is critical to keeping hourly work within the scope of pricing structures. Automation can help firms gather the needed information and automatically generate most, if not all, of the documents included in a fixed-price package. This helps to save time and free up specialized consultative time with clients.
  • Mergers and acquisitions term sheet intake and deal document generation: With time-sensitive legal work, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) -- where the timeliness and success of large deals going through will impact a lot of people -- any time-saving opportunities are useful. This is where automation can help larger law firms. By automating the process of creating a term sheet intake and automatically populating standard M&A documents, lawyers can get a head start on the process as well as eliminate the risk of potential errors.
  • Case intake for corporate legal teams: Ordinarily, when corporate lawyers are served with lawsuits, they would have to manually generate responsive pleadings to ensure the case is handled properly. Automating the intake process ensures that no steps are missed, responsive pleading templates are automatically generated, and all relevant information is exactly where it should be. This frees up legal staff to spend more time responding to a lawsuit and less time on administrative work.

In a world where law firms are competing on price and talent, adopting automation has never been more important. It’s clear that automating workflows and document creation can help law firms on the road to a more productive and profitable business. 

Photo Credit: r.classen/Shutterstock

Scott Kelly is Senior Product Manager at NetDocuments and Co-Founder of AfterPattern (recently acquired by NetDocuments).

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