Pens down – time for tech?

(2 minute read)

Pens down

As lawyers, it’s rare to encounter the prospect of an extended “pens-down” period. Most lawyers, if they’re not actively progressing a transaction or project, are engaging in troubleshooting, advising and firefighting. 

As any business navigates along its path, it generates legal problems, nuances and opportunities. However, with lockdown now firmly established in most major global economies, there will be an inevitable business slowdown and lawyers are facing the prospect of having more time on their hands. 

In this post we will discuss:

Taking stock

With that extra time and facing the prospect of staring at four walls until June, now is the perfect moment to take stock of what went well over the first quarter of 2020, what could be improved on, and to dig out the list of “to-dos” that never quite gets conquered while things are in full swing.

New tech? Not so fast…

One of those things that’s usually high on most of those to-do lists is process improvement, which might involve evaluating a new tech solution. Although, as a legal tech provider, we’d be the first to encourage you to think about automation; we’re very aware of square pegs and round holes.  

What’s far more important, while lawyers aren’t firefighting, is for them to take the time to work out where they’re adding value in their role and where they’re not. If, after that evaluation, it turns out that you spent Q1 trawling through documents looking for key terms in a portfolio of contracts, then your problem is likely to be one around access to structured contractual data. Now, a solution to that could be as simple as using an excel spreadsheet for logging key data points, or as sophisticated as an AI extraction tool.

Shiny tech might be exciting, but try to avoid finding a problem for a glossy software solution!

Contributing to the discussion

We think that effective process improvement is a subjective exercise that’s rooted in the scrutiny of each organisation’s unique working habits. As a tech vendor, the best thing we can do is provide anecdotal examples of problems that other lawyers have faced when they examined their own workflows. If those problems strike a chord, then that’s great – we effectively contributed to the discussion either by suggesting our own technology or by suggesting that they speak to another vendor (most vendors will have heard a lot of pain points over the years, so are well placed to assist you with finding the right advice – the good guys will tell you who to speak to!).

We’ll also tell you if we think more evaluation work is needed, as most solutions won’t fit your problem right out of the box (sorry!). 

Areas to think about when examining your workflow
  • Document filing, searching and tagging
  • Precedent management
  • Document drafting
  • Workflow and approval management
  • Negotiation, playbooking and escalation methodology
  • Re-keying of information between documents and systems
  • Contract lifecycle management and clause tracking
  • Document review
  • Key term extraction 
How we might help (or not!)

Over the next few months we’re going to be running a series of webinars for lawyers that, after having evaluated their working practices, have decided that they might benefit from automating aspects of the drafting, negotiation or approval process. 

The sessions are free to attend and we’re providing real hands-on experience of learning to automate by setting up users with accounts on our application. We’re also canvassing what problems lawyers are frequently experiencing and will try our best to connect as many with solutions as possible.

For those evaluating if automation might be useful, we’ve prepared a simple flow diagram below

Should I be thinking about automation?