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“At JPMorgan, a learning machine is parsing financial deals that once kept legal teams busy for thousands of hours!”, announces Hugh Son of the Independent. The AI-powered programme JPMorgan has been using since 2017 to interpret commercial loan agreements reportedly reduces work that previously took 360,000 lawyer hours, to seconds.
An increasing number of legal practices and functions in commercial and government organisations are likely to take a similar path and automate non-strategic repetitive tasks not only to drive revenue growth but also to comply with the customer demand to provide greater efficiency, higher quality and new types of services.
“This year a mistake in drafting a contract cost a leading London law firm nearly £2 million”, reports an article on how RPA is going to disrupt legal services, published on techradar.com.
Nick Ozga discusses on UK Law Society, the challenges present-day legal firms face. Most such challenges can be managed by automating repetitive, non-cognitive and highly time-consuming tasks. Not only that, process automation in legal sector work is shown to reduce costs by 20-40 percent, whilst reducing human error and increasing compliance, as per the TechRadar article quoted before
Therefore choosing the right digital service provider for the automation requirements of legal services is vital to ensure the intended efficiencies are delivered.
We provide six questions to answer when choosing a desirable tech solutions partner.
1. Do they understand the business of legal services?
Choosing a service provider with domain expertise, ideally in the legal sector, if not in high-end services, will give you the confidence that they understand your business priorities. The service provider needs to be aware of the KPIs and the metrics used in a legal business, e.g. percentage of time saved during contract negotiations and the increase in the productivity of lawyers.
Their previous experience will position them better to advise you on how to improve your KPIs. For example, they might suggest automatic alerts for contract renewals. They can also inform you of third-party systems that can drive efficiencies, as not everything needs to be built bottom-up (for example, digital legal research tools).
They will also know the standards they need to adhere to support a legal firm. Among them are the security standards and rules and regulations governing legal services in your jurisdiction, such as data protection and cyber security laws.
Also, you may or may not have experience building technology to understand what of your requirements can be achieved by digitizing. Previous experience with and knowledge in the legal industry will enable your service provider to help you articulate your requirements and how best to digitalize them.
2. Do they have the expertise to build a solution that will help your business?
It is important to assess the service providers’ competencies in the latest technologies relevant to your project before hiring them. Be it data mining, analytics, data protection or artificial intelligence or any other, the service provider should have the ability to summon relevant talent fast, if they do not have in-house expertise.
Another area to assess is their expertise in the product development process. Over the last decade, agile development practice has become more popular, while interest in the sequential method has decreased. The Standish Group shows that the number of failed projects has decreased as the number of agile project methods increased. The agile process aligns with the DevSecOps approach that embeds security at every phase of software development. It places a proactive focus on security as opposed to it being reactive, which is crucial for legal services.
It is good to ensure that your service partners conform to quality standards. That they follow a process will give an indication that they deliver good service, even if they don’t have certifications. If you are a large company, you might request your service providers for quality assurance certifications obtained from international bodies such as ISO (International Organization for Standardisation).
Lastly, can they advise you on practical means by which you can remain compliant and efficient without incurring significant costs? For example, the service provider may suggest plugging in a regulatory bot that monitors and updates changes of the legal and regulatory requirements databases available in your jurisdiction.
3. Can they help you roll out the solution without disruption to business and help train your people?
Your service partner should excel in rolling out the technology in service organisations and promoting user adoption. Poor rollout and lack of support in training the users to encourage the adoption of the new tech solutions can cost your organisation.
For example, after spending money and time building a complex legal digital solution, let us assume that you did not get the right support to educate your staff on how to use it. The staff, struggling to make sense of the system, will get highly frustrated and resist using it. In such a situation, the solution will not deliver the intended efficiencies and might even be cast off as a white elephant.
Change management is a joint effort between you and the service provider that will lead to the successful adoption of new technology, and is equally applicable in the legal space or any another. This critical area is often overlooked and mismanaged. Guaranteeing your service provider has the experience to support you in this crucial aspect will ensure the success of your investment.
4. Are they capable of delivering on time and within budget?
A key aspect you should look for in digital solutions partners is their ability to align with cost goals. They should demonstrate their capability to scope the project, estimate realistic delivery time frames and set milestones, giving you the assurance that your project will meet its intended targets, without overrunning the budget.
5. Will they prioritise your interests and work well with your team?
During the development process, your team will need to spend considerable time with the service provider in requirements gathering, brainstorming, storyboarding, user testing, etc. Therefore, although not a general rule, choosing a service provider of compatible size who understands the constraints of a similar-sized organization works well for bespoke solution development.
Also, a large organization may not give the attention you need if your project is deemed too small for them. On the other hand, if you are a large-scale law firm, a smaller service provider may not have the resources to cater to the magnitude of your project. Take, for example, a large cross-border legal practice that requires the onsite presence of technical and domain experts in several geographies for rapid rollout. A smaller service provider may struggle to put such teams together.
6. Will they be able to maintain and upgrade your system after development?
We live in a changing world. The legal services industry, too, is not immune to the changes in the external world. Your systems need to evolve to support these changes in the external environment. If you do not have an in-house team to do so, your service provider should be able to service those needs.
The right service provider will appreciate how the processes of legal practices integrate to ensure that the solutions seamlessly align for the common purpose of serving clients. The right partner will help you achieve your project goals, be it improving billing efficiency, maintaining client confidentiality, researching material for case preparation, contract management, or cross-border collaboration.
Spending time critically assessing prospective service providers’ competencies to deliver scalable, practical and cost-efficient solutions will help you identify the ideal partner to work with to support your clients.
JPMorgan software does in seconds what took lawyers 360,000 hours https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/jp-morgan-software-lawyers-coin-contract-intelligence-parsing-financial-deals-seconds-legal-working-hours-360000-a7603256.html Putting Products into Services, A revenue-growth playbook for consultants and law firms by Mohanbir Sawhney, https://hbr.org/2016/09/putting-products-into-services The 10 biggest challenges facing the legal profession in 2022, https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/small-firms/10-biggest-challenges-facing-the-legal-profession-in-2022 Robotic Process Automation to transform legal sector https://www.techradar.com/news/robotic-process-automation-to-transform-legal-sector The Swedish Market for IT Services (kommerskollegium.se) 7 Tips From Industry Experts, https://hapticmedia.com/blog/customization-definition-examples-tips/ Legal technology solutions: Buy versus build https://home.kpmg/au/en/home/insights/2021/04/legal-technology-solutions-buy-build.html Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2014.257.01.0073.01.ENG New Software Development Technologies to Keep an Eye on in 2022 https://www.koombea.com/blog/new-software-development-technologies/