Document Automation Webinar ELTA Live InvestCEE Workshop

Document Automation Webinar: Takeaway Notes

On May 15, 2019, InvestCEE LegalTech Consultancy hosted a webinar organized by the European Legal Technology Association (ELTA) regarding practical aspects of implementing document automation for law firms and corporate legal departments. The panel of experts included Kaisa Kromhof and Hannele Korhonen from Contract Mill, Alex Hamilton from Radiant Law and Prof. Dr. Florian Gerlach from IJOS. The discussion focused on using document automation as a back-end tool for increasingly value-added legal service delivery. The purpose of the webinar was to inspire for more creative use of legaltech and packaging traditional legal work into new delivery models.

The webinar covered four key topics of document automation and had a dedicated expert for each of the following:

Digital transformation in legal: why start with document automation?
Roadmap: DOs and DON’Ts of document automation
Customer journey: user perspective in implementing document automation
Greater good: document automation as a tool for access to justice.

Here is a summary of the 5 +1 key takeaways of which we took note.
#1 Routine legal work is very manual and consumes too much time

An excessive amount of lawyers’ time is spent on drafting text and delivering documents to clients. Often, we do this work on repeat within our specific field of expertise: providing answers to the same or similar legal questions over and again. Admittedly, this sort of repetitive and manual work is slow, inefficient and non-scalable. All this effort could be directed into meaningful actions while also saving time and costs. Document automation makes it possible to execute routine operations via document templates and enable client input and output on a higher professional standard.

#2 Benefits for law firms: creating digital back-end and selling value instead of the billable hour

Digital transformation is one of the top challenges in making legal innovation a reality for law firms. Using document automation tools like Contract Mill enables creating the digital back-end for legal service delivery, while it also empowers lawyers to focus on delivering more value to clients. Instead of selling time, lawyers can identify creative ways to accelerating legal workstreams and ensuring efficiencies for clients. Law firms need to look ahead of themselves and become comfortable with using digital tools to offer value-added legal services.

#3 Benefits for corporate legal teams: enabling better business processes

To turn legal departments into a valuable strategic asset for business, in-house lawyers need to reduce time spent on repetitive, less complex work and instead release time for more complex, demanding tasks. Document automation enables: (1) increasingly lean processes: by reducing the need to revert all changes to the legal team all the time, (2) sharing knowledge and best practices effectively: by embedding playbooks into the automation tool, and (3) reducing the amount of redlining upfront: by carefully crafted templates.

#4 Three-step roadmap for implementing document automation

Innovative law firms like Radiant Law started rolling out automation projects for corporate clients (i.e., managed legal services) several years ago already. In the context of the document automation webinar, Alex Hamilton (co-founder and CEO of Radiant Law) suggested the following roadmap for implementation: 

  • STEP 1: Get a document automation platform in place! There is quite a variety of solutions on the market in terms of usability and sophistication, so one needs to consider the complexity of documents to be automated, the licensing models, as well as the document life-cycle processes in the organization that is looking to automate legal workstreams. While it is important to choose an automation tool that best reflects on priorities, it is worth focusing on simple solutions that truly ease a certain part of the drafting process rather than all-inclusive solutions that are too complex to integrate into existing processes.
  • STEP 2: Appoint a team dedicated to document automation! The reality is that some lawyers will be more keen on using legaltech, while others will be more motivated to provide the legal content for automated documents. The expertise needed to create and edit automated templates may be developed internally over time or it may also be outsourced to external consultants or managed legal service providers. Consider what fits your organization best, start working on simple automated questionnaires and increase complexity levels over time. 
  • STEP 3: Invite users (clients) to provide input via questionnaires! In the case of automated documents, the answers submitted in response to the online questionnaires are automatically embedded into the document template. Once clients finished filling out a questionnaire linked to a certain template, the customized legal document will be ready for download and further use (negotiation, signing, etc.). Turning client input into first drafts is a powerful way to simplify legal processes. As we found out in the context of the document automation webinar, such effortless drafting turns out to be rather addictive, especially to business-minded people in the team.

Contract Mill enables legal and business teams to create customized drafts within minutes and have optional clauses readily available for users. InvestCEE uses the Contract Mill platform to help clients better manage their routine drafting needs: creating and uploading templates and getting started with document automation pilot projects.

#5 Customer journey: client-facing legaltech tools must be user-friendly to offer great utility

It is essential for both sides of the automation process to access platforms that are easy to use. Lawyers doing the automation work certainly prefer an intuitive platform that enables them to easily compile legal questionnaires for clients. The end-users of such questionnaires (i.e., internal or external clients) certainly value a simple fill-out process that guides them through the given set of legal questions and results in a downloadable document in the end. Instead of being the bottlenecks of business, document automation enables lawyers to create value by simplifying the drafting process and improving client communication.

+1 takeaway note: time to use legal automation to enable access to justice 

Document automation paves the way to more accessible legal services. By becoming more comfortable with document automation technology, lawyers can diversify their services: create less expensive workflows available to a larger public and enable more efficient workflows for complex tasks. This should simplify access to basic legal expertise and recognize the added value of sophisticated legal advice. 

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