Features & AnalysisLaw Firms

Why content automation is good for business

Solutions have evolved into content enablement platforms, actively accelerating business performance through connected content, yet whilst many law firms are automating a few document production processes, many are not taking advantage of automating the totality of their content

Smith and Williamson’s 2021 Law Firm Survey highlighted that while many law firms thrived during global lockdowns, flaws were exposed in existing business models. As we enter the post-pandemic era, law firms globally are struggling with immediate issues like meeting client demand in face of talent shortages exacerbated by national lockdowns. The concerns over retaining talent have sent salaries rocketing skyward, with some US firms offering £150k in yearly wages to newly qualified lawyers.

PwC’s Legal Firm Survey for 2021 identified law firms need to take advantage of more advanced technology to meet future challenges, and not just ensure the basics are working. A particular problem with existing technology employed by law firms are the issues caused by disconnected legacy technology that lacks efficient integration.

The problem with current tech solutions

Disconnected technology results in work becoming arduous and repetitive, making lawyers unproductive – something that is becoming increasingly important for firms as centuries-old pay structures evolve. Competition for talent is forcing UK ‘magic circle’ firms to move away from the traditional “lockstep” structure of linking pay to length of service. Instead, firms are now adopting flexible models to modernise and rethink policies and link pay to individual performance. This means increased productivity results in larger paychecks.

In response, firms are adopting automation tools to reduce costs, increase efficiency and therefore increase productivity. To do this, many are implementing content enablement software that maintains strict confidentiality, increases speed, and reduces human error in document creation.

Indeed, according to research from analyst firm Forrester, template management solutions allow users to create documents and presentations up to 50% faster. These solutions have evolved into content enablement platforms, actively accelerating business performance through connected content. However, whilst many law firms are automating a few document production processes in limited cases, many are not taking advantage of automating the totality of their content.

Legislating for change

Content enablement solutions bridge the gap between disconnected software delivering exactly what employees need most within the application when and where they need it. These solutions integrate with technology businesses already use to create more streamlined workflows. This means the whole firm, whether it be the lawyers, the finance team, or marketing teams, are able to work together effectively without the need to rip and replace technology. Whether it be by automating email signatures or automating inputting past cases into new business presentations, automating content increases productivity. This increase in productivity can allow firms to efficiently reach out to more potential clients faster, therefore increasing revenues.

From a retention perspective, automating content makes workers’ lives easier, which can help fight the industry’s infamous ‘burnout culture’. This burnout rate is reported to be just under 30%, attributed to various factors like too few personnel, too few resources and inefficient ways of teaming. As a result, law firms on average lose 15 associates for every 20 they hire. Minimising time spent on mundane admin tasks through content enablement solutions means aspiring lawyers can focus on the part of the job they actually enjoy.

So, what’s next?

The Law Society’s analysis of legal technology reveals that whilst lawtech is still at the embryonic stage in contrast to other fields, notably fintech, investment in lawtech is predicted to rise with encouraging levels of backing. Since demand for lawtech is already well established in areas from governance and compliance to contract and document management, it’s clear the legal profession is moving towards an automated future.

Half of employees worldwide feel overwhelmed and frustrated by the number of tools they use, and more than one in four, 29%, feel the number of tools they use to do their work decreases the work they can complete. Content enablement platforms allow law firms to reduce the number of solutions that lawyers use while simultaneously supporting functions they need to access in order to meet ever increasing client demands.

With the global legal services expected to reach USD 750 billion this year, only firms using automation to streamline processes and increase productivity will be able to stand out from the competition. Giving lawyers back valuable time previously spent on banal admin tasks doesn’t just increase productivity, it also increases quality of life and therefore retention.

Jean-Marc Chanoine, Vice President of Global Accounts, Templafy

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