This article was initially published in June 2018 and has been updated in November 2020.
Use of robotic process automation for the legal industry has been empowering companies of all sizes discovering that intelligent automation can significantly change the way they work.
Structuring huge amounts of data, enhancing focus on end users and thus significantly improving customer satisfaction, or even more complex processes like drafting contracts or incorporating startups, are among the key roles that bots can play in law firms.
We have also stated in an article for Asia Law Portal that high-class customer service is a critical attribute of competitive companies, and hence its improvement is the centerpiece argument for upholding RPA in the legal industry.
At the end of the day, robotic process automation can help you reclaim up to 40% of your time for higher value work — so you can save money while your team can focus on more strategic initiatives.
Technology is one of the the main sources of innovation in the industries of the 21st century, irrespective of the kind of industry. RPA and AI provide a perfect illustration of this claim. In what follows, we will look at the contribution of software robots to the modernisation of the legal industry. CiGen’s experience with law firms has proven that RPA can be an extremely useful tool in the industry and can assist law firms in a number of way, not just in finance.
The main function of automation in the legal industry is to release high value staff (lawyers and associated staff) from the mundane tasks of handling paperwork, timesheets, interaction with Law AI applications, etc. so that they concentrate on the tasks that matter more for their customers and reduce non billable time. Law staff assisted by bots can indeed focus more on the critical components of cases, improve services with their clients and provide accuracy in a number of areas such as contract law.
How to leverage robotic process automation in the legal industry
“Doing more with less” is one way in which RPA can increase efficiency. It can be operationalised in terms of an improved proportion between the cost and the value of the large amount of bureaucratic processes that are inherently involved in law. With outcomes of this kind, automation is likely to become a ‘must’ and not merely a (good) option for an efficient legal industry of the future.
As you probably know, RPA is generally applicable to rule-based, repetitive processes that are as uniform as possible, i.e., that have few exceptions. Processes with these traits are amenable to automation, irrespective of industry sector or business size. But let us see what this means when we focus on the legal industry in particular.
CiGen emphasises that processes in the law area like those mentioned above together with support functions in the legal industry, functions like finance or HR, for example can greatly assist law firms of all sizes. We list just a few of them.
1. Robot assistants can be used to structure huge amounts of data, which can consequently be accessed with a lot less effort from the part of rational human minds. Particularly in the law system based on the doctrine of judicial precedent, like the system at work in Australia and New Zealand, searching through huge databases of precedents and coming up with relevant analogues is crucial. But this is also extremely time consuming and rather tedious, and hence error-prone.
In the case of a legal firm from Australia, they used robotic process automation to automate their database migration to the cloud.
Software robots can speed up the work and improve accuracy of findings. According to UiPath, bots’ role in this case is that of “super-smart consultants”, while the RPA platform is an effective e-discovery instrument. This has at least two other important positive consequences that we list next.
2. The human capital of law firms, that is, the law clerks’ bright critical minds, are freed up to focus on what they, and only they, can do: reason well! Job satisfaction is thus greatly improved. According to social scientists, this boosts performance of human services workers. So here is the improved cost/value ratio of implementing robotic process automation in the legal industry in all its glory.
3. RPA has an enhanced focus on end users, significantly improving their satisfaction. Since software robots can work more for less, the long term benefit is that the price of legal services can decrease by automation of wisely chosen processes. As a consequence, these processes become more affordable for customers.
In this sense, use of robots in the legal industry can be seen as a form of prosocial innovation. Robotic process automation lends legal counselling more accessible, which, in the long run, increases its sustainability in the legal industry.