Automation is a hot topic in the legal industry and 2018 really seems to be the year that firms are investing significantly in automation technology. Even though the benefits of automation are numerous, Briefing's Legal IT Landscapes 2018 report found that there is a lot of ground to be made up when it comes to making it a reality for staff. On a scale of one to 10 for 'how automated' legal work currently is the average response from firms was only 3.1. Compare this to how automated these same firms think such work could be – jumping all the way up to 6.8.
So, why isn't the industry automating more and automating faster? Technology budgets are a factor here since, in the same report, 50% of firms said they were restricted by the way technology is financed internally. An option, then, is to look at which parts of legal services delivery in your firm would benefit most from automation, and work down the list in descending order. Not sure where to start? Read on.
Automation should start with document assembly, review and drafting
When the legal IT industry was asked which parts of legal service delivery would benefit most from automation the clear winner was document assembly, review and drafting. And it’s not hard to see why. These workflows are often labor intensive but light on value add. Automating the creation of commonly-used documents like a Share Purchase Agreement or Legal Due Diligence Report means less chance of human error while simultaneously freeing lawyers from repetitive tasks.
There are many products in the document assembly software market, but one quick, easy, and affordable way to get instant efficiency is to look closely at your PDF software and how it fits into key document workflows.
I recommend firms to look at how they are ingesting paper files and adding them to electronic document bundles. Think of how often a contract comes back printed and signed from clients, or the number of documents scanned into the system needing to be sent to a client or filed with the courts. PDF software, like pdfDocs Binder, can automate the process from beginning to end. Here’s how.
First, the user scans a paper document in the office which is sent to a watched folder. From there, pdfDocs automatically picks up this document and imports it into a Binder project, also called electronic binder or e-binder in the industry. This is simply a collection of files all relating to a client, case, or matter. This process can also convert the image-based scanned PDF in to a text-searchable PDF through an OCR process (optical character recognition). The user also ‘imports’ or ‘prints’ all the other documents for the client into the same Binder.
Once the user clicks ‘Make Binder’, pdfDocs automatically applies pre-determined templates and styles to the final product – including a Table of Contents, page numbers, or Bates Numbering. The documents in the Binder are converted to a collated PDF and saved to a document management system (DMS) or other location. (Rather than convert to PDF, users could choose to keep documents in their native format as an attachment in the final output.) They can also be easily sent through email once they are collated from the Binder project.
By making sure a must-have product like PDF software is automating workflows firms can make quick gains on efficiency without blowing the budget. A better use of resources, less time on proof-reading, and minimal chance of human error is all made possible with automation.
This article was originally published online at Ascertus on May 2,2018. Click here to view the original publication.
As President and Co-Founder of DocsCorp, Dean has been the driving force behind its global expansion. Dean continues to work closely with key stakeholders to develop new products and ensure that existing applications deliver real benefits to workplaces.