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The Perfect Sidekick: How Automation Transforms The Work Of In-house Legal

Article by: Evan Wong, Co-Founder and CEO of Checkbox

in-house legal automation transformation

For corporate counsel and in-house lawyers alike, legal automation presents an opportunity to remove the burden of myriad manual, menial, and repeatable tasks that have only multiplied in recent years.

The COVID-19 pandemic, regulatory schemes like the GDPR in Europe that have implications across the globe, as well as Australia’s Royal Commissions, for example, have forced significant changes in policy and risk management. But while cementing the critical role that legal plays in business strategy in the process, that has also come with a slew of low-value and low-risk tasks.

At a time when in-house lawyers are being asked to find innovative ways to do more with less, and at a faster pace, automation becomes more than just an IT imperative or a ‘nice to have’, but an essential resource for in-house legal teams. It’s the perfect sidekick.

In today’s business and economic climate, highly-skilled legal professionals must be allowed to apply their expertise where it matters – to provide strategic advice or negotiate – not have their time wasted by the same, basic requests continually coming at them from business stakeholders. 

With every one lawyer responding to an average of 400 stakeholders, automation removes the bottlenecks that inevitably occur when they would otherwise be inundated with untenable low-value requests. It doesn’t threaten legal roles, but improves processes, helps de-risk against litigation, and ultimately drives a measurable return on investment (ROI) to the broader business.

Take Telstra as an example, which leveraged the Checkbox platform to automate various in-house legal processes, such as legal intake and triage, saving its lawyers more than 6,000 hours per year.

As a result, its lawyers spend less time on menial tasks and more on things that require their skills and expertise, and have greater capacity for (virtual) face-to-face time with business stakeholders.

Beyond intake and triage, legal automation tackles the following use cases:

1. Document execution workflow: Digitize and facilitate approvals for document execution, contract review, and delegation of authority.

2. Legal contract automation: Generate standard documents like NDAs, letters, T&Cs, and justification notes with signature workflows.

3. Legal advice automation & FAQ: Generate standard documents like NDAs, letters, T&Cs and justification notes with signature workflow.

4. Contract Negotiation: Automate your contract generation and streamline the negotiation process to get your business deals across the line faster.

5. Delegation of Authority: Free up time for the legal team by digitizing and operationalizing complex approvals through automation.

6. Request For Information: Save time on receiving and processing RFIs to allow your legal team to focus on higher value work.

7. Claims Workflow and Approval: Facilitate and streamline the claims process whilst improving customer experience.

8. Contract Lifecycle Management: Standardize and streamline your end-to-end contract lifecycle process.

9. Compensation Management: Streamline the claims process and improve customer experience.

It also makes reporting a breeze by providing touchpoints that accurately capture and manage information so that data can be used by lawyers to answer all too familiar questions as Boards and CEOs increasingly recognise legal as a strategic pillar, and not just a support function: “How many hours were spent on X task?”, “How many requests did we get from this side of the business?”, and “How long does it take to complete these against SLAs?”.

There is a reason why legal automation has fast become a key pillar of legal operations and transformation strategies. Most technology tools are made to help lawyers organise and manage their existing work, but automation fundamentally changes the type of work legal departments do. This means they can become innovative to truly do more with less, and simultaneously create visible and direct improvements to the delivery of legal services for their business clients.

Whatever its application, legal automation takes care of the low-value, low-risk work so that lawyers can focus on the much needed high-value, high-risk work. 
The rapid advances in technology systems and cloud applications we have seen in the last five years have paved the way for automation tools that don’t need  IT teams’ help to build because they require no coding or technical skills to use. That means in-house legal teams can create processes on their own, and ultimately increasing the value-add they bring to the business.  

The result is creation of no-touch and low-touch legal activities that free up lawyers’ time to practice their skills as intended. Analyst firm IDC estimates process inefficiencies cost companies 20 to 30 per cent in revenue every year. However, organizations that have armed their legal departments with automation continually see ROI through productivity gains, reduces costs, increased accessibility to resources, and enhanced compliance. Take that to the boardroom table.

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