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Commercial Firms Can Take a Leaf Out of the Book of High Volume Legal Services Providers article image

Commercial Firms Can Take a Leaf Out of the Book of High Volume Legal Services Providers

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Struggling to gain the attention of your firm’s business leaders for IT investment? Explain how the new technology will help increase lawyers’ productivity! Why? Because increased productivity means that lawyers can focus on what matters to the firm – i.e., output in the form of unique, specialised advice to clients.

One sure fire way of increasing lawyer productivity is helping to reduce the time that they spend on administrative tasks – reviewing shed loads of documents, re-inventing the wheel by re-creating certain types of documents that are routinely used, and so on. Such activities unnecessarily take up their valuable time, when they really should be focused on delivering legal advice that will help solve their clients’ problems utilising years of remarkable skill and expertise.

A logical way of going about reducing administrative activity in a law firm is to go back to the drawing board. Evaluating how activities are undertaken and who performs those tasks is a good place to start. You will be surprised to see how many things are done (out of sheer routine and habit) that don’t actually need to be done. In a firm, a change in legal procedure that meant a number of tasks were no longer mandatory, but the organisation continued to do them until they reviewed their processes via a process map exercise and realised it wasn’t required, thus saving them time in producing the documents and cost in sending them. So, if there’s no benefit of an activity to the firm or your clients, simply get rid of it.

Review if the activities and tasks are indeed being undertaken in the most economical manner. For instance, are there tasks that paralegals and case handlers could easily do to free up the time for lawyers? Do senior lawyers and partners often resort to producing things like court bundles themselves because there isn’t enough support staff? The usual objection cited is risk and trust, but that’s where the systems come in to control the way activities are undertaken in an agreed and standardised risk-free way.

Finally, are there processes – both internal and client-facing – that could easily be automated? This is where you are likely to see the most tangible results. For instance, if your firm has a mobile app, you could easily integrate it with the case management system. This will enable case handlers to work from within the case management system, and effortlessly share information, key documents and updates with clients via the mobile app with no additional effort.

Similarly, you could look to digitise and automate specific workflows such as client onboarding so that the process is an optimal combination of technology and human intervention – ensuring that a personalised and value-added service to clients isn’t compromised.

In fact, high volume legal service providers such as conveyancing, personal injury and debt recovery firms have successfully adopted this kind of approach, realising big gains in efficiency and productivity. Commercial law firms can potentially take a leaf out of their book to benefit from enhanced productivity. For example, anti-money laundering, risk checks, billing, management information and reporting processes are all rife for automation. Let’s face it, whilst these practices are important from an operational standpoint, they are internal processes and don’t necessarily contribute towards adding value to clients or optimising lawyers’ chargeable time.

The analogy of a Formula One and family car comes to mind. Commercial firms may not need the speed and efficiency that high volume firms require to complete transactions, but they can hugely benefit from adopting some of the high spec technology that these firms use to help improve lawyer productivity by freeing up their time and enabling them to focus on client-facing activity.

Some forward-looking firms are already exploring such technology. A leading global law firm has created processes such as matter take-on and self-service advice that take place end-to-end without any human involvement, with some cases being entirely run without the need of staff intervention. The key is taking the knowledge and expertise from your team rich in legal experience and allowing it to be repeated on-demand where appropriate. For things like management information, the firm is instituting processes that will run automatically in the background, providing the organisation with highly interrogatable datasets to enable business leaders to draw on business insights at their point of need within their individual workflows. All this means that the lawyers themselves will be entirely focussed on the elements of the cases that require their legal expertise – i.e., areas that simply cannot be “workflow’d” or automated – all whilst ensuring that the systems have the most up-to-date legal ideas and procedures to ensure they work smoothly without supervision.

If you are exploring such an approach, we’d love to talk to you. Please contact us via Lexis® Omni is a highly flexible and customisable platform that can be tailored to your firm’s unique way of operation. You can genuinely introduce efficiencies and service improvements through automation, whilst enhancing service levels by optimising your human resources across the board – from partners and senior lawyers through to admin and support staff.

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