Being a lawyer is a rewarding profession. However, a combination of demanding clients and overwhelming amounts of emails and documents can lead to some lawyers becoming overworked to the point of exhaustion. This can impact not only lawyers’ careers but more importantly their mental health. Figures from a 2019 Meritas Australia and New Zealand survey revealed that almost two-thirds of legal professionals have either experienced depression or knew someone who had, highlighting how employee wellbeing needs to be high on the corporate agenda.
So, how can firms lawyer reduce burn-out while at the same time boost productivity?
The right technology can play a key role in relieving legal teams from tedious, time-consuming tasks that drain their time and increase their stress. By identifying these repetitive, manual processes and applying automation to improve their workflows, lawyers can spend more time on core work and strategic value-adds such as client development.
The different flavours of automation
Automation can come in a number of flavours, all of which can help legal teams’ lives easier:
Business Process Automation focuses on systems and processes, applying technology to simplify and automate workflows. For example, a law firm or legal team might apply business process automation to find documents and emails more easily and work with them efficiently in a document management platform.
Intelligent Process Automation takes Business Process Automation to the next level, optimising automated workflows. It automates even more parts of the process, reducing the number of manual interactions further. To accomplish this, Intelligent Process Automation introduces natural language processing and similar technologies to process data from various sources. For instance, a software platform might use intelligent process automation to scan contracts and identify how various clauses match (or don’t) with expected language.
Robotic Process Automation is distinguished by its powerful capabilities to handle high volumes. Using robotic process automation, a firm can configure the software to capture and interpret applications for manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems. A firm might use robotic process automation to run trademark searches globally; monitor regulatory issues and receive alerts when an issue requires attention, or conduct due diligence on suppliers and partners.
Hyperautomation refers to the use of multiple technologies to accelerate automation across the organisation. It typically relies on machine learning and other advanced technologies to identify and implement opportunities to improve efficiency. Hyperautomation is not intended to replace human input. The goal is to fully optimise processes and reduce risk while allowing humans to apply their expertise for better performance. For example, hyperautomation can be used to automate the process of scanning emails and attachments, downloading data, extracting relevant portions of the data, and then inputting this data into a document management system. It can then be used to trigger an alert to someone within the organisation with important information that needs to be actioned.
Hyperautomation has a significant payoff because it dramatically reduces errors and improves quality while freeing team members with valuable expertise to focus on more consequential work.
Unlocking the key to automation
A significant challenge in achieving automation is connecting systems together and having all the data points you need. Most organisations have pieced together systems and processes over time, resulting in potential failure points. By evaluating systems, processes, applications, workflows, and the people doing the work, organisations can look for opportunities for automation and create a standard approach that’s consistent across the organisation.
It’s essential to strike a balance with best-in-class platforms that integrate seamlessly with one another. Firms will need to look for technologies that provide an easy-to-use interface with the features needed to perform the desired automation. While having everything you need in one platform is ideal, for more complex applications firms could consider multiple integrated solutions. For example, leveraging tools like Microsoft’s Power Automate to extend the functionality of individual platform APIs can provide powerful solutions to day-to-day problems. Platforms that openly share their APIs should jump to the top of the list.
The time is now. At a time when talent attraction and retention are becoming more important, the legal industry in Asia-Pac must adjust and invest in automation to help make lawyers’ lives easier. By using automation to give their lawyers time back and relieve the stress of repetitive tasks, firms can keep their talent happy while also improving business outcomes.
Authored by NetDocuments.
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